Maritime Security

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    Syllabus: GS3/ Security Challenges and their Management

    News

    • On December 23, an armed drone struck a merchant ship, the MV Chem Pluto, with a crew of 20 Indians in the Arabian Sea.
      • These attacks on commercial shipping pose serious challenges to marine security.

    Maritime Security of India

    • India, with its vast coastline of over 7,500 km and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, faces a diverse range of maritime security challenges. 
    • Ensuring the safety and security of its maritime domain is crucial for its economic prosperity, national security, and international trade.
    Do you know?
    – Earlier, considering the rising militant assaults on commercial shipping, the US announced Operation Prosperity Guardian, with the support of allies and partners to protect regional maritime traffic. 
    – Houthis are members of the Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. 
    – The Houthis took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014 and seized control over much of north Yemen by 2016. 

    – It is alleged that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon have provided arms, training, and financial support to the Houthis. 

    Significance

    • Span of the region: As the third-largest ocean in the world, the Indian Ocean covers more than 19.8 percent of the earth’s surface. 
    • Pivot to important areas: Important sea lanes of communication and trading routes link Africa, Asia, and Australia, substantially increasing connectivity in the broader global economy. 
    • Trade routes: Over 80 percent of petroleum transported through the maritime domain transits the Indian Ocean choke points of Malacca, Bab-el Mandeb, and Hormuz. 
    • Threat prone: The Indian Ocean and its peripheral waters remain vulnerable to destabilizing actors, including pirates and armed robbers, maritime terrorists, and illicit traders.

    Challenges

    • Traditional Threats: Restricted freedom of navigation (India-Sri Lanka Fishermen issue), China’s foray into India’s backyard (String of pearls policy), etc.
    • Non-Traditional threats: Terrorism (26/11 attack), piracy, drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal migration and climate change related threats (cyclones, tsunami, etc).
    • Infrastructure Gaps: Limited infrastructure capabilities in terms of coastal surveillance, communication systems, and logistics pose challenges
    • Manpower Shortage: The Indian Navy and Coast Guard face a shortage of personnel, requiring efficient recruitment and training programs.
    • Technological Advancements: Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and unmanned vehicles require adoption and integration into security measures.

    Measures

    • Enhancing Cooperation: India is actively participating in regional and international maritime security initiatives, collaborating with countries like the US, Japan, and France.
    • Strengthening international cooperation and Intelligence Sharing: Improved intelligence gathering and sharing among maritime security agencies are crucial for proactive threat detection and prevention.
    • Investing in Technology: Investments in advanced technologies like drones, satellites, and artificial intelligence can enhance surveillance and response capabilities.
    • Developing Infrastructure: Upgrading coastal infrastructure, including ports, harbors, and communication networks, is essential for effective maritime security operations.
    • Capacity Building: Training programs for personnel involved in maritime security, including fishermen and coastal communities, are vital for raising awareness and preparedness.

    Steps taken by India

    • Modernization of the Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is one of the most powerful navies in the region, with a growing fleet of modern warships, submarines, and aircraft.
    • Establishment of the Indian Coast Guard: The Indian Coast Guard plays a vital role in coastal security, patrolling the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to combat smuggling, piracy, and illegal fishing.
    • Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR): It enhances maritime domain awareness by facilitating the exchange of information between Indian Ocean littoral states. 
    • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA): It is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region.
    • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS): It is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum.

    Way Ahead

    • India’s maritime security landscape is constantly evolving, hence adequate preparedness is needed with its rising stature in the geopolitics. 
    • By continuously adapting to new threats, investing in technology and infrastructure, and strengthening cooperation, India can ensure the safety and security of its maritime domain.

    Source: IE