The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise (AJHE) is a significant initiative that has evolved since its inception in 2015. It is a direct outcome of the directive issued during the Combined Commanders’ Conference of 2015 by India’s Honorable Prime Minister. Since then, AJHE, known as CHAKRAVAT, has grown into a multi-agency endeavor that includes the active participation of India’s armed forces, paramilitary forces, disaster response organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and international organizations. The 2023 edition of AJHE promises to further synergize national efforts and expand its scope by involving eight countries from the Indian Ocean Region.
The Annual Joint HADR Exercise is conducted on a rotational basis by India’s three armed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy (IN), and Indian Air Force (IAF). The previous edition of the exercise was hosted by the IAF in Agra. In 2023, the Indian Navy is set to host AJHE-23 in Goa from October 9th to 11th.
India’s Vision for the Oceans: SAGAR
India’s inclusive vision for the oceans, known as SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), underscores the importance of developing collective and coordinated effective response mechanisms to address humanitarian crises and natural disasters. Within the framework of SAGAR, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations play a pivotal role, given the heightened vulnerability of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to natural disasters resulting from climate change.
The Challenge of Climate Change
Climate change has amplified the challenges posed by natural disasters in the IOR. Littoral states in the region often lack the capacity to effectively address this growing threat. Consequently, the Indian Armed Forces have frequently been called upon to provide assistance to neighboring states in the IOR. This has reinforced the need and commitment of India to be the ‘First Responder’ in the region. While the armed forces continue to render assistance in the event of a calamity, AJHE-23 aims to promote a ‘whole of government’ approach to enhance preparedness and response to such unfortunate events.
Components of AJHE-23
AJHE-23 spans three days and encompasses various components:
- Seminar: The event begins with a seminar on October 9, 2023, featuring discussions on emergent topics such as Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Response in IOR, and NGO Collaboration in Disaster Reduction and Response. Subject Matter Experts will lead these discussions.
- Table-Top Exercise: This exercise involves a scenario-based simulation to assess and refine disaster response strategies and coordination among participating agencies.
- Multi-Agency Capability Demonstration: On October 11, 2023, a Multi-Agency Capability Demonstration will take place. This segment will showcase rescue and relief drills, emphasizing the nuances and important lessons learned in disaster response.
- Industrial Display: Scheduled for October 10 and 11, 2023, the industrial display will feature various HADR equipment and solutions from organizations including FICCI, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, NDRF, SDMA, and NSRC.
The Symbolism of the AJHE-23 Logo
The logo for AJHE-23 symbolizes unity and joint action. It incorporates crests and logos of all participating agencies and flags of participating nations into a single entity, signifying that HADR efforts hinge on joint and integrated actions by all agencies and nations involved.
In conclusion, the Annual Joint HADR Exercise 2023 is a testament to India’s commitment to regional disaster response and relief. It showcases the nation’s readiness to collaborate with international partners, non-governmental organizations, and various government agencies to address the growing challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters in the Indian Ocean Region. AJHE-23 serves as a platform for learning, cooperation, and strengthening collective resilience in the face of adversity.