Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Indian Maritime Security Strategy 2015

As depicted by recently concluded International Fleet Review, India's has been increasingly focussing on escalating its maritime capabilities. The Indian Maritime Security Strategy 2015, titled ‘Ensuring Secure Seas’ revealed in Oct 2015, is another ploy towards the same. Its highlights are:
1. Imperatives:
-- India’s principal maritime enterprise would be the need to “shape a favourable and positive environment”.
-- Towards this end, India would need to constructively involve in multilateral maritime/ military engagement, local capacity building, technical cooperation/ communications etc
-- Coastal and offshore security, in light of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai 
-- Security of the Indian Ocean sea lines of communication,protection of overseas investment and Indians residing abroad
2. Challenges:
-- Acknowledges the blurring of lines between traditional and non-traditional threats
-- These may range from terrorism, piracy and organized crime to climate change and natural disasters
-- Emphasises the need for greater coordination between different maritime agencies at the same time keeping the actions "holistic and seamless"
3. Strengths:
-- Experience in evacuation of Indian and other nationals from Libya and Yemen
-- Successful disaster relief operations,eg: cyclone Hudhud (2014)
4. Opportunities:
-- Navy will be the primary instrument to secure the seas for economic purposes, especially considering India’s unique maritime geography with a central location in the IOR
-- Greater indigenisation of maritime platforms can boost “Make in India” push.
However, some major flaws exist:
1. Avoids discussing areas that might be deemed controversial
2. China’s growing presence in the IOR and its implications on India has not been in detail
3. Limits its scope to its operational comfort zone in the IO, and does not adequately account emerging framework of the ‘Indo-Pacific’
4. Though it mentions India's recent maritime initiatives like Projects Mausam and SAGAR, it fails to draw a connection among them also lacks details on their operationalisation
5. Absence of an online version for public viewing resulted in speculations and also deprived the document of potential public expert's advice and opinion
As opposed to the previous versions, the document mentions revised and updated operational concepts and threat-scenarios. This, and accounting for the flaws, can allow it to set the guiding tone for India's global maritime aspirations and take them forward in an organised manner.

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