Thursday, May 30, 2024

A Retired Commodore’s Voyage: Reflecting on the Lifetime of Service of Commodore KC Choudhury (Exclusive Interview)

Robin Bhuyan (Editor)

Mohsin Khaiyam

Naba Kumar Sharma

The Indian Navy ranks 5th in the world among naval forces and it has nearly 295 vessels in service. It boasts an array of modern warships, including 150 warships and numerous auxiliary vessels. Among these, two are aircraft carriers and destroyers, which are now manufactured in India. How crucial is the Navy for India’s national security? What are the challenges that a Navy officer has to go through, during their entire career?

In our recent interview with Commodore Kamalesh Choudhury, Vishisht Sewa Medal (Retd.), he spoke about the fascinating journey of his naval career, the challenges that he faced, and his contributions post-retirement. A retired Indian Naval officer, Kamalesh Choudhury was also appointed as the Director of the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Govt of Assam. He has also been appointed as the Honorary Advisor to AIWTDS due to his vast experience in the field of Water Transport, in the greater interest of the Inland Water Transport Sector in Assam. He had taken lots of important initiatives such as building the War Memorial in Guwahati as well as the Sainik Bhawan. Let us learn more about Commodore KC Choudhury and his journey and challenges in the Indian Navy.  

When did you join the Navy? What was it that inspired you?

I joined the Indian Navy on the 1st of July, 1974. My interest in joining the Navy, had risen during my time at the Goalpara Sainik School, Assam which was established in 1964. I was part of the first batch when I had enrolled in the sixth standard. And, it was here that I developed a deep interest in the Navy.

After completing my matriculation in 1970, I got into the National Defence Academy (NDA). Gradually, I specialized in using arms effectively and eventually commanded INS Sukanya and INS Ganga as the Commanding Officer.

In which rank did you join the Indian Navy?

I joined as a Sub-Lieutenant and eventually retired as a Commodore, in Delhi.

Can you tell us about some of the significant operations you were involved in during your naval career?

One of the most memorable experiences was during my time on INS Ganga in 2001 when the Gujarat earthquake struck. We played a very crucial role in rescuing nearly 200 people and transporting them safely to Mumbai. Another remarkable operation in my career, was in 1993 when INS Sukanya participated in a UN operation against Somalian pirates, successfully apprehending 17 of them.

Is there sufficient Assamese representation in the Indian Navy?

Unfortunately, there are very few Assamese personnel in the Indian Navy. This is partly due to the lack of awareness and publicity regarding naval opportunities in the region. Unlike the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), where Assamese personnel are more prevalent, naval representation remains relatively low.

After retiring, you became the director of the Sainik Kalyan Board in Guwahati. What initiatives did you undertake for the welfare of retired personnel?

As the director of the Sainik Kalyan Board, I focused on developmental schemes to benefit the wives and children of deceased veterans. We allocated 50 crore rupees for various welfare projects such as building Sainik Bhawans in the state, as well as the grand war memorial built in Dighalipukhuri, Guwahati which is worth Rs 7.5 crore.

How has been your life after retirement?  

In my retired life, I am actively involved in the Ex-servicemen Welfare Society, where I extend my support to former servicemen and their families as well as the general public. Apart from this, I am also among the advisors of the Assam Transport Department.

Throughout your naval career, you must have encountered various marine ecosystems. Can you share your experiences with ocean biodiversity?

Indeed, my 34-year-long naval career allowed me to witness the wonders of marine life. The ocean’s enchanting biodiversity, with its myriad of species, left an indelible mark on my heart. Even today, the memories of those days bring back a rush of emotions.

During your service in the Navy, you have travelled extensively. Could you tell us about some of the remarkable places you visited?

Certainly! My naval career took me to 38 countries, spanning diverse regions from Russia to the Arab nations, from Singapore to Tanzania, and many more in between. These journeys allowed me to experience different cultures, witness breathtaking landscapes, and forge international partnerships.

What is the biggest challenge right now in terms of national security?

In terms of security from the Navy perspective, the Chinese are a major force of concern. This is due to the fact that they are expanding their fleet. Earlier some risk was from the Pakistani Navy but now so is not the case. The major risk has now turned out to be from China, a country which has now become quite active in the waters.

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