Indian navy staff assist South African school

April 27th, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Durban, April 27 (IANS) Indian navy staff enroute to Cape Town to participate in an IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) naval exercise next week, stopped over here to repair a local school, offer medical assistance to the underprivileged, and allow locals an opportunity to see India’s naval might first hand. The inaugural IBSA (Indian-Brazil-South Africa) Maritime Exercise will take place off Simonstown May 2 to 16. This is part of a package of measures announced after the second IBSA Summit of the heads of state of the three countries in Pretoria in October last year.

India has brought two of its top naval vessels - the INS Mumbai, a guided missile destroyer of the Delhi class; and the INS Karmuk, a guided missile corvette of the Kora class - for this first venture between India, Brazil and South Africa.

Brazil’s navy has sent the Liberal and the Independencia, both of which are guided missile frigates of the Neteroi class.

The two Indian naval vessels docked here Friday and immediately the staff got to work to assist the locals.

A team of 25 sailors joined a doctor and a dentist to provide free services at the Westham Secondary School in Phoenix, a sprawling township north of here that was started by the apartheid government to house South African Indians under the separate development legislation of the time. Today, tens of thousands of Indians and Africans live in the area, many of them under poor socio-economic conditions.

The team also set about repairing the facilities at the school, which the Principal, Jayanth Singh, described as something to be “ecstatic” about.

Singh said the school management, parents and learners were thrilled at having been selected from among the many schools in the area for the social intervention by an institution from so far away.

Indian Consul-General in Durban, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said it may have been a small gesture on the part of the navy personnel but it was a symbolic intervention to show that the Indian naval vessels do care about the local community as well.

The two Indian ships will remain in Durban until Monday, greeting visitors with an assortment of Bollywood music, which is hugely popular here, from the bands on the vessels. They will join their counterparts from Brazil and the host country in the South African naval base of Simonstown for the exercises starting later next week.

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