Maritime Security

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  • Sandya asked: What is India’s perception regarding maritime security in the Indian Ocean?

    S. S. Parmar replies: India’s perception of maritime security stems from the “Freedom to use the Seas”. This is an important aspect that is the focus of any maritime nation’s outlook. There are some issues that require to be viewed and assessed when correlating maritime security to the Indian Ocean Region as they form the basis of India’s perception.

    • The IOR is a region of diverse economies and systems of governance. One third of the world’s populace resides here in a quarter of the world’s land mass. It consists of 56 littoral and landbound nations.
    • It accounts for 65% of strategic raw material reserves, 31% gas and more than half of the world's oil exports.
    • The region is the largest producer of rubber, tea, spices, and jute. Some other important minerals found are manganese, cobalt, tungsten, coal and iron ore.
    • This region has seen the maximum number of conflicts post the cold war and is considered the hub of global terrorism.
    • Piracy, gun running, human and drug trafficking are issues that are also affecting the maritime security environment.
    • Around 70% of the worlds natural disasters occur in the IOR.
    • The region has the presence of extra regional powers.

    Therefore the perception of India vis-à-vis the IOR is based on ensuring a safe and stable maritime environment that will firstly ensure security of India’s national integrity and sovereignty; secondly, protection of our national interests; thirdly, ensure safe passage of maritime trade both national and international; fourthly, ensure cooperation amongst nations to combat and reduce the impact of non-traditional threats like terrorism, piracy and natural disasters.

    These aspects require certain mechanisms that exist in the form of engagement with India’s maritime neighbours. India also engages the extra regional maritime players who have a stake in the IOR. This has led to bilateral and multilateral understandings at the diplomatic, economic and military levels that cover the issues highlighted above.

    The Proposed PLA Naval Base in Seychelles and India’s Options

    India must actively engage the island nations in the Western Indian Ocean and enhance the scope and deployment of the Indian Navy and its air aim in these waters.

    December 15, 2011

    Islandic Hop Scotch in the Indian Ocean Region

    The island hopping game being played out is an indication of China’s strategy for gaining access to the IOR by developing the capabilities of “reach”, “presence” and “sustainability”.

    December 15, 2011

    Case Study of MV Suez and Anti Piracy Operations: Lessons for India and Pakistan

    A study of how the case of MV Suez a pirated vessel was handled would serve to provide some invaluable lessons on how India and Pakistan should join hands to take on this menace in the Indian Ocean. An otherwise well conducted rescue operations by the Pakistan navy, resulted in a near collision between PNS Babur and INS Godavari endangering the crew and the ships. Briefly put, the MV Suez was hijacked by the pirates who held the ship and its crew hostage while negotiating the ransom money for over ten months.

    October 2011

    RoK’s Jeju Island Naval Base

    The Jeju naval base is intended to serve two objectives: to protect the country from possible missile attacks from North Korea and to allow the United States to station Aegis class destroyers.

    September 01, 2011

    Securing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

    The Andaman and Nicobar islands are of immense strategic significance for India. The geographical configuration and the location of the island chain in the Bay of Bengal safeguards India's eastern seaboard as well the approaches to the Indian Ocean from the east. Its proximity to the Southeast Asian region enables India to forge friendly relations with its Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbours. The physical isolation and remoteness of the archipelago, however, make it vulnerable to conventional and non-conventional threats.

    May 2011

    Piracy in Somalia: Addressing the Root Causes

    Rampant piracy off the Somalia coast has brought the strife-ridden country back into attention. Economic hardship, and a deep resentment and anger against foreign exploitation of Somalia's maritime resources, have inspired the pirates to declare themselves 'coast guards of Somalia'. However, the growing attacks by the pirates have had an adverse impact on global commercial shipping. The international community has responded to this predicament by massive naval deployments in the Gulf of Aden.

    May 2011

    A Founding Era for Combined Maritime Security?

    In a nutshell the article posits that American naval power, and thus the United States' ability to police the seas, will continue to decline, and that Washington is attempting to compensate by fashioning a new paradigm of multinational maritime security. With no likely candidate for a global navy in the offing the challenge is to create one or more multinational guarantors of free navigation. I attempt to gaze into the future, discerning the likely dynamics of this coalition-building project.

    May 2011

    Vikas Kalyani asked: Can you explain the initiatives taken by India towards enhancing her maritime interests?

    S. S. Parmar replies: Maritime interests of a nation are extensive and cover a vast ambit. They broadly include protection of national integrity ranging from military intervention, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy actions; economic growth through trade and commerce; exploitation of the sea resources under the nation’s jurisdiction and maintaining the ecological balance.

    India has been taking initiatives towards enhancing her maritime interests by engaging neighbours and other international players at various fora so as to ensure a stable regional security environment. These fora are at political, diplomatic and military levels. The main thrust is to work out common grounds to tackle maritime terrorism and piracy as well as ensuring freedom of navigation on the high seas especially in the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs). The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are responsible for ensuring that the nation maintains the freedom to utilise the seas for its national purposes and therefore safeguard India’s National Interests at all times. Both of these services have ongoing plans to induct ships, aircraft and develop infrastructure to support this responsibility.

    Economic growth in the maritime arena is being enhanced by developing port infrastructure, rail and road connectivity and ship building capabilities. There is an equal impetus given towards harnessing the resources from the sea, mainly oil and gas. Fishing, however, remains a weak area and could be developed so as to put India in the top slot of fishing nations.

    Nidhi asked: What are conventional and non conventional threats to maritime security and how maritime security can be precisely defined?

    S. S. Parmar replies: Maritime Security is a subset of national security and therefore nations would view it in direct correlation to their national interests. Therefore, the definition could vary from nation to nation and a generic definition would be more appropriate. Maritime Security is a term that encompasses the aspects and issues arising from the oceans surrounding the nation that impinge on its national interests.

    The division of conventional and non-conventional threats again varies from nation to nation. Conventional threats traditionally would be the military threats faced by a nation from another nation that impinge on its sovereign integrity, trade, maritime area under its jurisdiction as per international law in which the various laws, both international and national, apply.

    Non-conventional threats would cover a host of other aspects. The major ones being terrorism, piracy, natural disasters, drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal immigrants, changes in the climate and ecology to name a few.