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Vikas Kalyani asked: Can you explain the initiatives taken by India towards enhancing her maritime interests?

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  • S. S. Parmar replies: Maritime interests of a nation are extensive and cover a vast ambit. They broadly include protection of national integrity ranging from military intervention, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy actions; economic growth through trade and commerce; exploitation of the sea resources under the nation’s jurisdiction and maintaining the ecological balance.

    India has been taking initiatives towards enhancing her maritime interests by engaging neighbours and other international players at various fora so as to ensure a stable regional security environment. These fora are at political, diplomatic and military levels. The main thrust is to work out common grounds to tackle maritime terrorism and piracy as well as ensuring freedom of navigation on the high seas especially in the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs). The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are responsible for ensuring that the nation maintains the freedom to utilise the seas for its national purposes and therefore safeguard India’s National Interests at all times. Both of these services have ongoing plans to induct ships, aircraft and develop infrastructure to support this responsibility.

    Economic growth in the maritime arena is being enhanced by developing port infrastructure, rail and road connectivity and ship building capabilities. There is an equal impetus given towards harnessing the resources from the sea, mainly oil and gas. Fishing, however, remains a weak area and could be developed so as to put India in the top slot of fishing nations.