Governor address at the Unveiling of the Portrait of Emperor Rajendra Chola – I at Mazgaon Dock
Address by Shri Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Unveiling of the Portrait of Emperor Rajendra Chola – I at Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited Mazgaon Mumbai at 4 pm on Thursday, 29 September 2016
Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Tarun Vijay, former Member of Parliament and Chairman of Rajendra Chola Coronation Millennium Celebrations Committee, Rear Admiral R K Sherawat, Chairman and Managing Director of Mazgaon Dock Limited, Capt. T. Selvan, MLA, Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, Vice Chancellor, University of Mumbai, Shri R.Y. Bhusari, Shri Ram Subramanyam, National Coordinator, Students and Youth for Thiruvalluvar, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon and greetings to you.
I am indeed delighted to visit the Mazgaon Dock and to unveil the portrait of Emperor Rajendra Chola I on the occasion of the Millennium Anniversary of the Coronation of Emperor Rajendra Chola.
During the last few years, Shri Tarun Vijay ji has dedicated himself to the task of cultural integration of the nation through his movement, Students and Youth For Tiruvalluvar (SYT). Through his work, he is not just spreading awareness about our great national heroes in all parts of the country, he is also importantly strengthening the process of national integration through cultural rejuvenation.
I congratulate Shri Tarun Vijay Ji for his thoughtful initiative of perpetuating the memory of great ruler Rajendra Chola of the famous Chola Dynasty, whom the nation had almost forgotten.
Ladies and gentlemen,
India has had a very rich maritime history dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE when the residents of the Indus Valley civilisation initiated maritime trading contacts with Mesopotamia.
The world’s first dock at Lothal in modern Gujarat (2400 BCE) was located away from the main sea currents to avoid deposition of silt, thereby indicating possession of considerable knowledge of oceanography, hydrography and maritime engineering.
Kingdoms on the west coast of India engaged in active sea trade with ancient Persia, Arabia and Egypt, and through them with ancient Greece and Rome.
Between 200 BCE and 1200 CE, kingdoms of eastern and southern India were engaged in active sea trade with what are now Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and established trading posts in these far off lands.
Closer to Mumbai, the port of Sopara (present-day Nalasopara) was an important trading centre during the first century BCE, having trade contacts with Rome.
The great Tamil king Rajendra Chola maintained a standing Navy and called the Bay of Bengal “the Chola Lake”. It has been recorded that at its peak, the Chola Empire stretched from Sri Lanka in the south to the Godavari basin in the north.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the visionary leader realized the necessity of a strong fighting fleet to protect his Kingdom, ensure the safety of his subjects and the prosperity of his ports. This is how he defended himself from the armies of the English, Portuguese, the Siddis and Dutch. Shivaji Maharaj had built a number of naval forts – Vijayadurg, Suvarndurg, Padmadurg, Jaigad, Sindhudurg etc. Some of these forts are surviving to this date and it is our duty to protect them as they are an integral part of our maritime heritage. Great Maratha Admiral Kanhoji Angre occupies a unique position in the history of India and in the annals of Indian ocean history.
Mumbai had the distinction of manufacturing some of the top class ships during the rule of East India Company.
The Mazgaon Dock has a great history of its own. Today it has been manufacturing warships, submarines and merchant vessels for the nation, and the nation is justly proud of the institution.
It is only appropriate that the portrait of the visionary ruler Rajendra Chola is being installed here. I do feel that there should be a chapter in our history books on India’s maritime heritage that would highlight the maritime achievements of great rulers like Rajendra Chola and others.
India is fortunate in having a long coastline. Maharashtra too has a coastline of 720 kms. History informs us that nations which made maximum use of its maritime potential became great powers. Maharashtra must make best use of its coastline for water transport, fishing and other activities. Water transport will give major boost to tourism in the State and the country at large.
With these words, I congratulate Shri Tarun Vijay Ji for his initiative in installing the portrait of Emperor Rajendra Chola I in Mumbai and I do hope that people will draw inspiration from the life and work of the great ruler.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!