Indian Navy’s medical specialists onboard INS Satpura organise free medical camp in Fiji

India's INS Satpura is the first in four years to visit Fiji as a part of the operational deployment in the Pacific Region.

By Dr Sakul Kundra

The Indian navy ship INS Satpura docked at the capital city of Suva, Fiji from 1 to 3 September 2022 with the goal of commemorating the 75 years of India’s Independence ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ by visiting six continents, 3 oceans and 6 time zones.

INS Satpura displayed the Indian Navy’s capacity to assist national goals through global deployment. The Indian Navy’s INS Satpura is a 6,000-ton guided missile stealth frigate that was planned and constructed entirely in India. It can actively hunt down and kill aerial, surface, and submerged enemies.

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Satpura literally means ‘Seven mountains’, the name is laid after the mountain ranges in Central India. INS Satpura is the first in four years to visit Fiji as a part of the operational deployment in the Pacific Region.

The “ship has a displacement of 6,300 tonnes, a length of 143 metres, beam of 17 metres and is capable of speed upto 30 knots. It is equipped with long-range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, medium and short range guns, anti-submarine rockets and an advanced electronic warfare and communication suite” (Chand, FT, 29 August, 2022).

This has the capacity to operate helicopters that makes it suitable for multitasking roles including coastal and offshore patrolling, monitoring of Sea Lines of communication, maritime diplomacy, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations. This vessel is a combat-ready asset of the Eastern Fleet’s Visakhapatnam home base. 

INS Satpura is seen as a symbol of further strengthening the friendship and cooperation between Fiji-India. This was a goodwill visit that was welcomed by a spectacular live band parade at the port. After arriving, the captain invited the Indian High Commissioner to Fiji, P.S. Karthigeyan to visit and tour the ship.

On the first day, the ship was open to the members of the public for a short duration, but around 300 visitors thoroughly enjoyed touring it. This was later followed by social welfare activities and the planting of 10,000 mangrove saplings at the Nasese Foreshore in Suva.

The next Day, the Indian High Commissioner to Fiji, P.S. Karthigeyan organised a Yoga Session on the Deck of this navy ship, which was led by Yoga instructor from Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, which was well received and participated extensively by visitors and high officials.

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The officers from the INS Satpura laid a wreath at the National War Memorial, Suva to pay homage to the martyred soldiers who laid their lives to safeguard their nation. 

On 2 September 2022, the High Commissioner of India to Fiji also organized a Free Health Screening camp at Albert Park in Suva that was conducted in joint collaboration of INS Satpura, Sai Prema Foundation Fiji and the Fijian Navy. Over 240 people benefited from this free medical camp with expert cardiologists, General Physicians, dentists, Nutritionists and others. 

The visit of the ship ended with an evening dinner reception onboard the INS Satpura organized by High Commission of India and the INS Satpura. This was attended by Hon. Dignitaries of Fiji and many members of the Parliament, with members of the Diplomatic Core.

The next day, INS Satpura departed from Suva for its further journey. This short trip of INS Satpura must have given an opportunity to locals to establish connections and be part of the activities conducted onboard and inland activities. 

History reveals that Fiji and India shares close friendship bond in the past, where India has been sending medical and relief help after many cyclones, donating COVID-19 vaccines to Fiji; handing over vehicles to Fijian Election office; sending disaster relief supplies; supporting Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s heart hospital in Fiji; supplying medical supplies to the government of Fiji; and many more welfare activities.

In this context, the coming of INS Satpura has added another chapter to the growing friendship between these two nations. India has been the frontrunner in supporting Fiji in technology and human capital. These developments strengthen the bond between the two nations. These efforts of the Indian government and the High Commissioner of India to Fiji is praiseworthy and it has further fostered the relations between India and Fiji. 

Image source: High commissioner of India to Fiji with officers of INS Satpura (India t Fiji – Twitter)

The long-distance between India and Fiji can not create a barrier, as their bilateral relations are growing. Hoping, soon, one can have a direct flight from Fiji to India at an affordable price; more scholarships for Fiji students to do tertiary education in India; India to financially support Fiji’s academicians to lead projects on common themes.

Expect more medical experts to visit Fiji regularly to support the medical cause. Future seems progressive, that can only happen with the cooperation of both the nations, and the real benefit should come to commoners.

Contributing Author: Dr Sakul Kundra is an Associate Dean (Research) and Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities and Education at Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. Email dr.sakulkundra@gmail.com

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