Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Musings of a Retired Naval Officer


Today is the 4th of December.

Today is Navy Day.

However, it appears that in the midst of all the political and sensational news, the media has forgotten Navy Day and, also, most citizens of India are not aware of Navy Day and its significance.

Navy Day is celebrated on 4 December to commemorate the daring and deadly attack carried out by missile boats of the Indian Navy on Karachi harbour during the 1971 Indo-Pak War


By the way, Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) K. M. Cariappa taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander, in 1948

Air Force Day is celebrated on 8 October (the precursor to the Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire and the prefix Royal” was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II)


Army Day is on 15 January, Navy Day on 4 December and Air Force Day on 8 October.

Not only are the days different, but we see that even the reasons for which the three services celebrate their “days” are different:

Navy Day – to commemorate the first wartime heroic act of the Indian Navy (successful combat action)

Army Day – in recognition of an Indian taking over as Chief of the Indian Army (personality based)

Air Force Day – to celebrate the day the Indian Air Force was born (birthday or foundation day)

(By the way, till a few years ago, the Indian Air Force celebrated Air Force Day on the 1st of April since its first squadron, No. 1 Squadron, was commissioned on 1 April 1933. Or was it because it was on the 1st of April 1954 that Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee, one of the founding members of the Air Force, took over as the first Indian Chief of the Air Staff?)

The distinct manner in which each uniformed service celebrates its “day” aptly illustrates their contrasting service cultures and it is no wonder that there is not much of so-called “jointmanship” among the three services.


In the Navy, the Navy Day celebrations actually extend across the entire week in which the Navy Day falls, and this is called the Navy Week.

You can have a glimpse at the Navy Week 2013 Celebrations by here (click the link below to open in a new window, but remember to return back to this post):

The celebrations are held mainly at Mumbai, and on a smaller scale at Visakhaptnam and Kochi too, and the Navy Week Celebrations culminate with the spectacular Navy Ball at the end of the week on Saturday.  

During the Navy Week the Navy tries to showcase its capabilities to the civilian public by holding a series of combat demonstrations, live displays, parade drills and events like band concerts. 

Sometimes, naval families, veterans and prominent citizens are taken out for a day at sea to observe “shop window” exercises which demonstrate salient aspects of the navy at sea.

In a nutshell, the aim of Navy Week is to showcase the Navy to civilian citizens.

Let me end on a lighter note.

This happened many years ago.

The sailors on our ship were practicing very hard and rehearsing day and night for the “continuity drill” display to be held at the Gateway of India during Navy Week.

A continuity drill is a most precise and difficult parade drill since the entire parade drill sequence and movements are to be performed without any words of command.

That is why it requires rigorous practice and repeated rehearsals before it can be perfected.

The sailors were practicing without break for over a month, in working hours and off-working hours, including on Sundays and holidays, in order to perfect the continuity drill.

The long hours of painstaking efforts paid off and the event was a great success.

After the event, I came across one of my newly recruited sailors who had taken part in the continuity drill.

I congratulated the young sailor on his performance and asked him, “Do you know why Navy Week is celebrated?”

“To impress the civilians,” he said.

At first I was taken aback by his answer – then I saw that there was wisdom in what the raw young sailor had said.

The entire Navy, all of us, were slogging away for weeks, to put up a show for civilians – yes we were desperately trying to impress the civilians who frankly didn’t give a tinkers damn about us, although they seemed to be enjoying the spectacle we were putting up for them.

I remember a friend of mine, who was in-charge of organizing Navy Week activities, heave a sigh of relief once it was all over.

Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth it putting in so much effort to try and impress civilians who do not seem to care two hoots about the Navy and Navymen.

I wonder whether civilians understand the sanctity of such occasions, parades, demonstrations and displays or whether they treat them as spectacles for entertainment and enjoyment.

Be that as it may, do spare a thought for our Navy today on the occasion of Navy Day and think of all the sailors slogging it out on ships and submarines guarding the seas so that you can sleep in peace

Wish you a Happy Navy Day and Happy Navy Week.

Click the link below to watch a video on Training at the Indian Naval Academy

And if you know someone in the Navy, serving sailor or retired veteran, why don’t you wish them a Happy Navy Day.

Jai Hind  शं नो वरुणः  May the Lord of the Oceans be auspicious unto us

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
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All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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