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India’s Maritime challenges

India’s Maritime challenges are associated with the security and Governance of Indian Ocean, the threats to the littoral countries and the problems of Indian Navy.

India’s densely crowded littorals have a higher density of human habitation than the global trend.

Governance and Security
Good Governance and social economic development nurtures a vital stake of India’s citizenry the vital synergies as primary stakeholders in combating crime and terrorism. Heavy handed security measures and draconian legislations have no appeal for a discounted populace. Human security form human development is the derivative of good governance yielding comprehensive security.

India crafts its operational response as a joint operations approach that would brings in the Navy and Coast Guard as the prime enables linking with the Air Force and civilian administration at the central and state levels.

Joint operations go by nodal agency that would shape and lead the response mechanism. Littoral-maritime operations demand a single maritime agency that coordinates the coastal and off shore security.

A rising India should adeptly balance the imperatives of governance and security on one hand while accentuating growth and stability.

hallenges to Littorals

  • India faces a perilous vulnerability of its littoral and the Exclusive Economic Zone fraught with a wide-spectrum of maritime asymmetric as asymmetric threats of increasing incidence of piracy, maritime terrorism, narcotics and light, small arms smuggling – This has been the dense maritime domain of both of native and alien maritime activity with little governance and regulation;
  • India’s second maritime – littoral challenge and nightmare is the security of India’s littoral and the security of Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs) that abounds the Indian peninsula. Shipping in this domain ranges from fishing trawlers to supertankers and super-container ships. The intense shipping and poaching of foreign trawlers in India’s littorals and the EEZ have wrecked the delicate environmental balance of the diversified and rich marine life and resources of the Arabian Sea-Indian Ocean-Bay of Bengal areas.
  • India’s third maritime – littoral challenge and threat is the established nexus between organised crime in the hinterland with terror groups in the proximity of India’s borders and boundaries with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and importantly from Pakistan (the recent Mumbai terror attacks) have a evidently revealed. The crime syndicates have used the external linkages in the sea-smuggling of narcotics, small arms, explosives to be used in the various criminal are the staging points for the long chain of links in the smuggling process.
  • India’s fourth peril in its maritime-littoral corridors is the trafficking of weapons of mass destructions in its components, subassemblies etc. Earlier such merchandise have often been in maritime transit connecting Pakistan from China and North Korea.
  • India’s fifth clear and present danger is the daunting weakness in the Maritime domain awareness due to the vast littoral territory and the dense populations in these areas.
Challenges to rise of Indian naval power
Naval power had always been technology intensive and most innovative like aerospace power. Waves of technology revolutions have rendered obsolescent the concepts, doctrines, operations and the hardware of the past era.

Four cardinal challenges stand out for India.

  1. The pace of platform buildup outpaces by the platform ageing of the current inventory-therefore the order of battle of the fleet is constantly under flux with falling numbers. Although considerable service-life-extension-programs have gone into the platforms with hybridization of technology, these platforms are now coming to an end of their immensely useful operational life. The imperatives for newer platforms on emerging technology templates require urgency. However, the addition of platforms to the ratio of retirement has- not been sufficient in numbers.
  1. Secondly, the complexity and diversity of missions have been increasing stressing the existing fleets into missions often beyond their capacity.
  1. Thirdly, the pace of Revolution in Military Affairs or even specifically the Revolution in Naval Affairs produces new synergies in technology, doctrines and operations resulting in new templates of naval platforms, organizational and operational complexity.
  1. The operational reputation of a navy is often intact unless challenged by a rising challenger or a new wave of technology and weaponry that may reduce the robustness of an established navy be inflicting a shocking defeat.
  2. The pace of the plan modernization and the strategic alliances that it is building with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka for access and basing engages the Navy into inevitable regional overdrive to sustain and leverage its power and domain. It demands the Indian Navy the buildup of capacities in organizational, order of battle and operational wherewithal that would be able to develop a strong forward presence in the Strait of Malacca-South China Sea all the way to the East Pacific as a counterpoise to the Chinese maritime access building

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