22November2018

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

MILAN 2014 – Friendship Across The Seas

Port Blair, Jan 30: The Andaman and Nicobar Command will be hosting the international naval event, MILAN 2014 in Port Blair from 3rd to 9th February 2014. MILAN 2014 is the ninth edition in the MILAN series of multilateral naval engagements that was started by the Indian Navy in 1995, in consonance with the country’s ‘Look East Policy’ of strengthening friendly ties with the nations in the Bay of Bengal region and South East Asia. Seas are the common bond between these nations and have been used since times immemorial. As a natural outcome of this interaction the cultural ties and friendly relations also blossomed. There is abundant evidence of the strong bonds that have flourished since ancient times between India and these nations through the sea routes. In the 1990s, when India embarked on the ‘Look East Policy’ to revive our ties with neighbouring nations in the East, the Indian Navy became one of the natural contenders to promote this initiative. As a consequence, the Indian Navy conceptualised the MILAN event, with the underlying theme of ‘Friendship Across the Seas’. The central location of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands made them the obvious choice for the Indian Navy to host this event. MILAN is the Hindi word for ‘Tryst’ or ‘Meeting’, and was chosen as the title for this biennial gathering of naval and maritime forces from littoral countries of the region and beyond.

The initial editions of MILAN were conducted by the erstwhile Fortress Commander Andaman and Nicobar or FORTAN, being the senior most naval authority in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The first edition of MILAN saw participation of four neighbouring countries ,i.e. Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, besides India. The next two editions in 1997 and 1999 saw the participation increase to seven countries, with Bangladesh and Malaysia joining in. MILAN was not held in 2001 as the same year saw the Indian Navy hosting the first-ever International Fleet review in Mumbai.

Post Kargil, the growing strategic significance of the Islands led to the creation of India’s first Unified Theatre Command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command at Port Blair in October 2001. The Command has components of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and the Indian Cost Guard placed under a single Commander-in-Chief, instead of the respective service heads. With its motto of ‘Victory Through Jointness’, the integrated character of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, enables it to orchestrate unified responses to challenges from any dimension.

After its raising in October 2001, the Andaman and Nicobar Command assumed the onus of conducting MILAN. The first edition of MILAN under the newly constituted Command was held in 2003, and saw the participation increase to eight countries. Australia and Myanmar were the new inclusions, while Bangladesh was unable to participate in MILAN 2003. MILAN 2005 was initially scheduled in February 2005. However, following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region in December 2004, MILAN 2005 was postponed to 2007. Andaman and Nicobar Command embarked on a massive relief and rehabilitation programme in aid ofthe Islanders. Seeing the rapid progress and the brisk pace of rehabilitation, a bold decision was taken to advance MILAN to January 2006. Considering the massive scale of planning and co-ordination involved in preparation for the mega event, and the several constraints and limited resources within which the arrangements were to be undertaken, the task was an onerous challenge. However, with relentless efforts the event was successfully conducted in January 2006, thus underscoring the swift return to normalcy in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The participation in MILAN 2006 had also increased to eight foreign countries with Bangladesh rejoining the event after her brief absence in 2003. MILAN continued to bloom into a successful forum during the subsequent years. Thirteen countries participated in MILAN 2010 and the participation increased to fourteen countries in 2012.

Over the years, MILAN has burgeoned into an effective forum to address common concerns in the maritime domain as also to help forge co-operative initiatives. The biennial event has now become an eagerly awaited gathering of littoral nations to build friendship, strengthen cultural ties and foster mutual understanding between the participating nations. MILAN 2014 will be the largest ever gathering with the participation of sixteen countries.

 

Air Marshal PK Roy, PVSM, AVSM, VM, VSM, ADC Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command, along with senior officials of the Command carried out a comprehensive onsite review of the various preparatory arrangements at the Naval Jetty on 29 January 2014. The Naval Jetty will form the centrepiece for several activities of MILAN 2014, and will also berth many of the participating foreign ships. The jetty has been spruced up and presents a festive look in preparation for the international event. Detailed programme for the event will he published in all local newspapers and will be broadcast on Doordarshan, Port Blair. Our fellow Islanders are requested to attend and make the event a mega success.