[Model Answer QP2022 GS3]  What are the maritime security challenges in India? Discuss the organisational, technical and procedural initiatives taken to improve maritime security.

India’s maritime security concerns stem from the threats, largely in the primary area of interest of the Indian Ocean, which have a direct bearing on India’s maritime interests. While most of these threats also have a bearing on the other stakeholders in the region, the impact on India will be greater considering India is ‘already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region’.

Maritime Security Challenges in India

  1. Traditional Threats to India’s Maritime Security
    1. Pakistan’s ‘Concept of Operations’ in the Arabian Sea: Pakistan released its first ever Maritime Doctrine, entitled “Preserving Freedom of Seas”in December of 2018, wherein it considers the north Arabian Sea as its primary area of interest, and the broader Western Indian Ocean as its extension. Pakistan’s maritime doctrine advocates the use of submarines to cause “high-intensity diversion and disruption of enemy’s sea lines of communications (SLOCs)… to dominate the war theatre”
    2. Proactive Presence of Chinese Maritime Assets in Indian Ocean Region: Since 2013, the pattern of deployment of PLA Navy submarines in the IOR — and particularly in the Arabian Sea —incorporates at least one submarine with a support-ship being deployed for a duration of three to four months.
  2. Non-Traditional Maritime Security Challenges
  • (Non-traditional maritime challenges can be described as those arising primarily out of non-military sources, but which present a substantial level of risk to the survival and well-being of the State and its people.)
    • State-supported acts of non-State rogue elements at- or from- the sea: Ex: Marine Terrorism which involves armed robbery to finance terror activities.
    • Non-traditional security challenges of human making: involves piracy, hostage-taking for ransom, armed robbery, drug-running, and human trafficking, to environmental pollution of the oceans, as also illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Proximity to Golden crescent and Golden triangle further adds to the problems. Also, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is rampant in the Indian EEZ, particularly in the Andaman Sea. The prominent players belong to China and Taiwan
    • Non-traditional security challenges arising from natural causes: This includes cyclones, tsunamis, global-warming-induced rise of sea level and resultant inundation of land areas, undue salination of soil and potable-water in coastal areas, etc.

Organisational, technical and procedural initiatives taken to improve maritime security.

  1. Organisational: 
    1. At the apex level the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by the Cabinet Secretary, coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security.
    2. Joint Operations Centres (JOCs), set up by the Navy as command and control hubs for coastal security at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair are fully operational.
    3. Inter–agency coordination, between nearly 15 national and state agencies has improved dramatically, only due to regular “exercises” conducted by the Navy in all the coastal states
  2. Technical:
    1. Modern technical measures have also been implemented for coastal surveillance, by way of a chain of 74 Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, for gapless cover along the entire coast. 
    2. This is complemented by a chain of overlapping 46 coastal radars in the coastal areas of our mainland and Islands.
  3. Procedural: 
    1. National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3I) is set up. This overarching coastal security network collates data about all ships, dhows, fishing boats and all other vessels operating near our coast, from multiple technical sources including the AIS and radar chain. Feeds this information to IMAC (Information Management and Analysis Centre) at Gurgaon. 
    2. IMAC (Information Management and Analysis Centre) disseminates all compiled Common Operating Picture for Coastal Security to all 51 nodes of the Navy & Coast Guard spread across the coast of India. This Nodal Hub for the coastal security of our country, which has been conceptualised by the Indian Navy, is a major step in the establishment of a coastal security shield along the coast.
    3. Issue of ID cards to all fishermen with a single centralised database, registration of over 2 lakh fishing vessels operating off our coast and equipping fishing boats with suitable equipment, to facilitate vessel identification and tracking are some of the other steps taken
    4. The Navy and Coast Guard have also provided periodic maritime training to marine police in all coastal states.
Of course, for India, perhaps the most visible act was the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008 by Pakistan-supported terrorists. This is commonly referred-to simply as “26/11”. The ability of such terrorists to move freely across largely unregulated seas, constitutes the greatest contemporary threat to all globally interconnected economies.

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