Boosting Maritime Security – UPSC GS3

Challenges to the maritime security of India:
  • Invisible enemies: in the form of a terrorist, a pirate, a criminal or a sea-robber (non-state actors.)
  • Greater and Stealthier Chinese presence: 
    • Greater Chinese presence in the eastern littorals.
    • Ex. recent discovery of a Chinese unmanned underwater vehicle close to a southern Indonesian island has demonstrated Chinese invisibility at seas.
    • Technological sophistication of China’s submarines that will make it difficult to detect them in the Indian backyard.
India’s Initiatives regarding improving Maritime Domain Awareness:
  • Expanding surveillance footprint:
    • Setting up radar stations: in Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
    • Monitoring Chinese activity in the eastern littoral: Through P-8I aircraft and other navy ships and deter any maritime adventurism by Beijing in the Andaman Sea and eastern chokepoints.
    • Installing an array of undersea sensors: near the Andaman Islands with the help of Japan to detect Chinese submarines.
  • Neighbourhood synergies:
    • Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (Gurugram): under it, Liaison Officers will be posted to various neighbouring nations like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles.
    • Collaboration in the Western Indian Ocean:
      • A Liaison Officer posted at the Regional Maritime In­ formation Fusion Centre (RMIFC) (Under Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)) in Madagascar.
      • India recently gained the ‘observer’ status to the IOC. (through French connection)
      • Posted an of­ficer at the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) in Abu Dhabi to assist in the monitoring of maritime activity.
  • Fighting transnational crime in the littorals:
    • White shipping agreements: with 21 countries in the Indian Ocean.
    • India’s military satellite (GSAT-7A): will facilitate a real-time sharing of maritime information.
    • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR): Promoting the idea of India as a ‘security provider’ and ‘preferred partner’ in the Indo-Pacific region.
Conclusion: To bring real change, India must ensure seamless information flow, generating operational synergy with partners, and aim to expand collaborative endeavours in shared spaces.
For what reasons should India improve its maritime infrastructure and build robust maritime strategy? What initiatives have been taken in this regard? Examine. (200 Words)
Why we need maritime infrastructure?
  • Transport through seas are the cheapest and most efficient mode of transport.
  • There is need to deepen ports, provide constant dredging and maintenance in eastern ports for docking of large ships which will save time, energy and money.
  • Building warehouses, logistics, support infrastructure ,trained staff and container terminals for handling cargo and freight will improve our turnover time and ease of doing business
  • The proposal of corporatisation of ports will infuse professionalism, transparency and sense of urgency in the management of major ports
Why we need a maritime strategy?
  • Increased forays by other nations like CHINA in the Indian ocean and littoral nations undermining our hitherto unhindered influence in the region
  • CHINA’S OBOR initiative and string of pearls theory to encircle India
  • Continued threat of piracy, disasters, tsunamis in the region
  • Huge reserves of mineral rich seabed in the region can lead to conflicts over its control in future.
  • Terrorist attacks like 26/11
  • Porous coastal regions which leads to smuggling and drug peddling
  • Critical installations like nuclear projects along coast
  • Current developments like USA’s Pivot to Asia; string of Pearls; Russia coming close to Indian Ocean by signing Gas pipelines agreements with China and Pakistan; Pakistan arrests our fishermen
Recent Initiatives:
  • PROJECT SAGARMALA to enable modernization of port infrastructure ,multimodal transport, efficient evacuation, optimum split among others
  • Project MAUSAM linking our cultural linkages across west asia, north africa and maritime nations
  • Proposal to build base in strategic andamans, pact with seychelles for maritme collaboration, logistic agreement with USA, LOOK WEST MARITIME DIPLOMACY and vision of blue water navy are other notable initiatives in this regard
  • Coastal Police stations
  • National Automatic Identification System
  • National Command Communication Control and Intelligence Network
  • Bilateral ties with Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
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