Maritime Security

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    • Recently India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) inaugurated the a first meeting of the Multi-Agency Maritime Security Group (MAMSG).

    About

    • India’s National Security Adviser expressed the need of an hour to have a strong maritime system.
    • Major points of discussion included: 
      • Mapping of existing orders and policies on maritime security to identify gaps, 
      • Review of standard operating procedures for maritime contingencies, 
      • Security of ports and coastal infrastructure, 
      • Creation of a national maritime database, 
      • Capacity building of coastal states and UTs.
    • Discussion on significance of maritime security:
      • The Indian Ocean, which has been an “ocean of peace”, is now witness to rivalries and competitions.
      • In the changing geopolitical scenario, we see a potential of having a clash of interest, we need to protect it and be vigilant.
      • The more we develop, the more assets we create, the more prosperous we get, greater would be the vulnerability and the need for security in the maritime domain.
      • Security at the high seas and economic wellbeing is inextricably linked and all stakeholders must work unitedly.
      • In national security discourse, the importance of land and maritime borders are very different.
        • One cannot fence the maritime borders, and that disputes in seas are resolved through international norms and laws, while land disputes are bilateral in nature.
    • National Security Adviser also said that it is a major challenge to deny accessibility to foreign intelligence agencies looking to undertake espionage activities.
    • He referred to initiatives such as the Colombo security conclave for cooperation among the like-minded countries in the maritime domain and that it could be expanded further.

    Colombo Security Conclave

    • Aim: 
      • To “further promote” maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
    • Initiated by: 
      • President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2011.
      • At that time, he was Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
    • Significance:
      • The current geostrategic dynamic that India shares with Sri Lanka and the Maldives is not very favourable to India.
      • The initiative is grounded in military and security collaboration with 2 Indian Neighbours i.e. Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
      • At multiple times India has aired security concerns over China being awarded development projects on an island off Sri Lanka’s northern province. 
        • The project was very close to India’s southern border.

    Multi-Agency Maritime Security Group (MAMSG)

    • In 2021 November, the proposal for the creation of the NMSC post was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). 
    • The NMSC office is under the National Security Council Secretariat headed by NSA.
    • Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar (Retd) is appointed as the first National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC). 
      • Role of National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC) is to ensure cohesion among various stakeholders – Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, security agencies, the coastal states and the UTs.
    • Significance of MAMSG:
      • Maritime Challenges:
        • Terrorism, arms smuggling, piracy, drug trafficking, illegal migration and natural disasters became the major challenges in the maritime domain.
      • Post 26/11 maritime security surveillance:
        • Following the 26/11 the government has been taking several steps to ensure there are no more attacks through the coastal route. 
        • There are several layers of maritime surveillance in place.
        • These steps are taken to ensure coastal and maritime security is critical for India as it has a vast coastline of around 7,500 kms. 
      • China factor:
        • With the growing threats in the region, especially Chinese belligerence, efforts are made to further strengthen maritime security and surveillance of India’s coastline and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
      • Coordinating group: 
        • The MAMSG is envisaged to provide a standing and effective mechanism to ensure coordination of all aspects of maritime security including coastal and offshore security, as well as fill the institutional, policy, technological and operational gaps in meeting present and future security challenges. 
        • Importantly, the group will also address maritime contingencies requiring an urgent and coordinated response.
      •  Group of Ministers (GOM) Report implementation:
        • With the setting up of the NMSC, a longstanding recommendation of the 2001 Group of Ministers (GOM) Report on ‘Reforming the National Security System’ has finally been implemented.

    Way ahead

    • India as a maritime nation:
      • It has interests that are beyond the country’s maritime zones. 
        • Almost 95 percent of India trade by volume is through the sea route involving 12 major and around 200 non-major ports.
        • India’s 90 percent hydrocarbon requirements are met through seaborne imports and offshore production.
    • Blue economy:
      • As India’s economy grows, so will its dependence on maritime resources and sea borne trade. 
      • Marine fisheries sector is one major contributor to the economy and livelihood of the fishing community. There are almost three lakh fishing vessels.
    • India’s foreign relations:
      • Maritime security is a prominent feature of India’s relations with Indian Ocean littoral states. 
      • As a major stakeholder in the Indian Ocean, India should continue to pursue its interests and tackle maritime security challenges at the macro level in the region.

    SAGAR Programme (Security and Growth for All in the Region)

    • SAGAR is a term coined by Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 during his Mauritius visit with a focus on the blue economy.
    • It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to the Indian Ocean region (IOR) for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in the Indian Ocean region.
    • More about the programme:
      • SAGAR involves increasing maritime domain awareness
      • This is implemented through the Integrated Coastal Surveillance System.
      • As part of SAGAR the Indian government, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have assisted countries in the Indian Ocean region with exclusive economic zone surveillance, search and rescue, and other such activities, including first responder initiatives.
      • Coastal radar systems have been sponsored in a number of Indian Ocean region countries.

     

    Source: TH