The INS Vikrant was India’s first aircraft carrier, which served faithfully for nearly four decades.
The aircraft carrier was crucial in turning the tide of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. She was instrumental in the imposition of the naval blockade of Pakistan by Indian Navy.
Built by Great Britain for the Royal Navy during the World War II, she was never commissioned because the war ended before her completion.
Bought by India in 1957, she was commissioned on March 4, 1961 into the Indian Navy. Since then the INS Vikrant (R11) remained India’s only aircraft carrier till INS Viraat joined her in 1987. Ten years later, the INS Vikrant would be decommissioned.
From 1997 to 2012, the INS Vikrant served as a museum, emblematic of the country’s naval prowess. But in 2012 she was sold, rather unceremoniously, for a mere Rs.60 crore to a scrap.
The reason was simple: no private industrial powerhouse offered to partner with the Maharashtra Government to meet her humongous maintenance cost.
The iconic ship was completely dismantled by 2015 and faded away from public memory. Such was the esteem of the ship that the Indian Navy decided to name its first indigenously manufactured aircraft carrier after her.
But on Republic Day 2016 Bajaj Auto Limited said that it has built a bike from the metal of the carrier bringing back a piece of the glorious ship back into the spotlight.
Called Bajaj ‘V’, the bike is expected to be launched by February 1.
In a video released by the company, Bajaj shows a glimpse of the bike and a monogram on the metal reading ‘Made With The Invincible Metal Of INS Vikrant’.
The video itself invokes a feeling of patriotism. It charts the course of INS Vikrant’s illustrious history and shows a glimpse of that moment when she is being pulled down like some insignificant metal object.
Vice-Admiral (retd) IC Rao had famously remarked after the auction of the ship to scrap bidders:
“I will keep complaining about the lack of public spiritedness, value of history and misgovernance. We sold our nation’s pride for a mere Rs.60 crore.”
So Bajaj Auto, one of India’s biggest two-wheeler manufacturers, has probably done something that will keep the memory of the aircraft carrier alive for everyone.
Update as on Feb 1
Bajaj unveiled an image of the bike and it looks stunning from all angles.
Production of the 150cc motorcycle will begin on February 5, 2016 and deliveries are expected to start in March. It will be priced between Rs.60,000 and Rs.70,000.