Panel Discussion by NMF: Achievements of the Chola Navy – Lessons for Modern India

by OldSailor on November 9, 2014


Year 2014 happens to be the Millennium Year of Coronation of Emperor Rajendra Chola I of Tamil Nadu and his Chola Navy.

As part of the commemoration of this historic event, National Maritime Foundation (NMF) in association with Indian Navy organised the following:

  • a sailing expedition by the Indian Navy’s Sail Training Ship INS Sudarshini was flagged off by His Excellency Dr. K Rosaiah, Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu on 04 November 2014. INS Sudarshini entered Nagapattinam, historic port of Chola Empire on 05 November 2014 and was received by the local elite.
  • also on 04 November 2014, the Governor gave the prizes to the winners of Elocution Contest ‘Legacy of Emperor Rajendra Chola I’ in English and ‘சோழ பேரரசின் கடல் ஆதிக்கமும் கடல் வணிகமும்’ in Tamil which was conducted earlier in colleges.

Now on 08 November 2014, a ‘Panel Discussion: Achievements of the Chola Navy – Lessons for Modern India’ was organised by NMF, Chennai Chapter at Hotel Hilton, Chennai.

Press release on this Panel Discussion from NMF is given below:



Media Contact: Name : Khalid A. Khan

Email :; Phone : 98417 29392

India Gears up to Emerge as Maritime Power of Twentyfirst Century

Samudra Bharat – Samrudha Bharat slogan launched

Chennai,  Nov.08, 2014 – As is well known, Emperor Rajendra Chola I is considered to be one of the greatest rulers of the Chola Empire, and was known as much for his statesmanship and governance as for his military prowess, especially of the building and operational deployment of the Chola Navy.

The coronation of Emperor Rajendra Chola I took place in 1014, exactly a thousand years ago.

To commemorate the millennium year of this great event, the National Maritime Foundation, Chennai Chapter, conducted a Panel discussion. Commodore Amar K Mahadeven, Naval officer in Charge, Tamil Nadu, and Puducheri was the Chief Guest. Commodore S Shekhar, Regional Director, National Maritime Foundation, Chennai Chapter was the Moderator of the panel.

The purpose of this panel discussion was:

a) To establish that the Cholas used maritime power as an extension of state power, as early as 1000 years ago

b) To bring out that this was done, by Emperor Rajendra Chola I in particular, by understanding that:

    • national influence should not be restricted to one’s own borders
    • strategies were required to extend national influence across one’s borders
    • trade was an important constituent of national power,
    • maritime capabilities was critical for increasing trade,
    • a Navy was required to protect maritime trade,
    • indigenous ship building capability was required-to build a strong Navy
    • this required an eco system including know how, design, materials, skills and human resource development

c) To arrive at a conclusion that all above are equally relevant to modern India

d) To suggest a road map for India to evolve into a maritime power  in keeping with its desire to be a world power of the twenty first century.

Panelists brought out the following:

Shri M Ganapathi, IFS (Retd), Former Secretary, (West) MEA

Overview of the evolution of India as a credible maritime power –– determinants of maritime power – dynamics of the Indian ocean – need for a clear maritime strategy as emanating from a well defined national strategy – need to link foreign policy with national and maritime strategy– SWOT analysis of India as a maritime power – success story of the Cholas

Lieutenant Commander Swarnava Chatterjee, Rep Eastern Naval Command

Overview of the Indian Navy – components of a credible three dimensional maritime force – transition from a Buyer’s Navy to a Builder’s Navy – factors involved in credible and sustainable operational deployment – force levels – repair capability – logistic requirements – How did the Chola Navy manage all these – road ahead

Mr Ishwar Achanta, Joint Managing Director, Portman Ltd:

Does Indian industry have a maritime perspective? – comparisons with other maritime nations – How can India implement the “Make in India” initiative in the maritime sector? – possibilities of linking “smart city” concept with ship building clusters – role of MSMEs – Can the automobile industry story be replicated for the maritime industry – other areas – marine tourism – marine food processing etc?

Commodore (Retd) M Jitendran, Former CMD, Cochin Shipyard Ltd

What was the state of ship bulding in Chola times? – Indian ship building today – warship building – policy issues – design aspects – success story of Naval design – technology assimilation – need for emphasis on systems, equipment, components, material – infrastructure aspects – need for shipbuilding eco system – productivity enhancement

Capt Suresh Bhardwaj, Resident Director, Maritime Research and Training Foundation:

The Merchant Navy perspective – linkage between afloat and ashore requirements – commercial aspects – manning, training, ship repair – importance of skill development – Where do we stand today – what do we need to do to realize the expectations spelt out in the National Maritime Agenda 2011? What can we learn from the Cholas?

Open house discussions:

The following issues were brought up during “Open House” discussions

    • If 1000 years ago, Emperor Rajendra Chola could create a Navy with Chola design, Chola technology, Chola material, Chola technicians, and using Chola strategies and maritime leadership, spread Chola influence in the far east, what could the Indian Navy of today learn from this?
    • If this was actually, the forerunner of our “Look East” policy, what could our strategists and idealogues  of today learn from this to supplement and augment our current “Look East” policy?
    • Surely, Emperor Rajendra Chola had a broad world view of using maritime power to further national objectives. What should we do today, to ensure that India sheds its “sea blindness” of centuries, and more so of recent decades, and emerges as a Maritime power of the twenty first century? What can India of today learn in terms of technology assimilation, ship building skills, material development, maritime logistics et al in pursuit of above?
    • What kind of strategic policy do we need to adopt in the form of Human Resource development in the maritime domain?

Commodore Shekhar concluded that in the context of the evolving dynamics of the world and the enhanced interest of the world navies in the Indian ocean, if India is to be a prosperous nation, it must emerge as a strong maritime nation, as it was during the reign of Emperor Rajendra Chola, more than 1000 years ago. He suggested that we should give ourselves the slogan “Samudra Bharat – Samrudha Bharat” or “Maritime India – Prosperous India”.

———————- End —————————-

Here are some photographs:

The Panelists

The Audience

Dr T S Sridhar, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary to Government & Commissioner Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation, Government of Tamil Nadu giving his views.

Thanks to Commodore Shekhar, Regional Director, NMF, Chennai Chapter for organising this thought provoking Panel Discussion.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jones January 7, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Very well written post with impressive information.

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