A biennial multilateral naval exercise incepted by the Indian Navy in 1995, the MILAN series of exercises, started off with the participation of only four countries — Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Over the decades since then, the exercise has transitioned leaps and bounds in terms of the number of participants, scope and its objective. The upcoming MILAN 22 is likely to witness its largest ever participation, with nearly 46 countries having been invited to send their warships and delegations. MILAN 22 will be conducted in the 'City of Destiny', Visakhapatnam from February 25 to March 4, 2022. India is celebrating the 75th year of its independence, and MILAN 22 provides an opportunity to commemorate this milestone with its friends and partners from across the globe.
This year 46 countries have been invited to send their warships and delegations. | Pixabay
The exercise is themed 'Camaraderie – Cohesion – Collaboration', which is the need of the hour for a pandemic torn world, just about tottering back to normalcy. In addition to providing a platform for a professional exchange amongst the navies in the form of multilateral exercises and professional seminars, MILAN acts as a melting pot for cultural exchanges and human connect. A cultural fair, themed 'Milan Village' is being set up, where the navies of the visiting countries will get a platform to share their cuisines, music and culture. An international city parade, with the participation of foreign contingents is also planned during the MILAN. There are cultural visits and tours to Agra and Bodh Gaya, sport fixtures between the teams of the participating navies and many such highlights that make the event a unique mix of professional and social confluence.
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The Indian Navy has also planned the President Fleet Review (PFR 22) ahead of MILAN. President Ram Nath Kovind will be reviewing the Indian Naval fleet on February 21 at Visakhapatnam. 63 ships and submarines from the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and SCI are expected to participate in PFR 22. A Naval Fleet Review is a long-standing tradition followed by navies across the world including the Indian Navy. The PFR is usually conducted once during the tenure of a President. Post Independence, 11 Presidential Fleet Reviews have been conducted by the Indian Navy, of which two have been International Fleet Reviews. The present edition of the PFR will commemorate the 75th year of independence with the theme 'Indian Navy – 75 years in Service of the Nation'.
The conduct of Milan and PFR 22 in the middle of a pandemic is certainly a daunting challenge. The Indian Navy, however, appears all set to make both the events a resounding success, whilst following all COVID protocols and precautions. The events are also expected to bring more colour and life to the host city Visakhapatnam. A beautification drive is in full swing in the city and the tourist infrastructure is being ramped up. The residents are also very excited about the event. Locals see MILAN as a sign of the opening up of the economy, which has been hit by the pandemic and lockdowns, said a senior government official.
There is also a sense of pride and belongingness amongst the people, who have always associated the Indian Navy with their city. The official said that the world today is undoubtedly going through some challenging times, perhaps the most challenging after World War II. The pandemic has stolen lives and livelihood. It has wrecked economies and sown the seeds of new conflicts. The world needs a healing touch and the opportunity to get back together through camaraderie, cohesion and collaboration. "It is time for India to once again emerge as a 'Vishwa Guru' and light a path for the world to come together in these testing times," he said. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords: MILAN, naval, exercise, India, countries, organize, participants, scope, objective, pandemic, government, pride, people, professional, commemorate.)