Maritime Security

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  • Exploring Risks and Vulnerabilities: An Alternate Approach to Maritime Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region

    Maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has become a central consideration. Shared risks and common vulnerabilities for state and non-state actors, generated by traditional and non-traditional security challenges, converge to a significant extent at sea. Risk-based approaches offer the potential for regional and extra-regional actors to engage in a constructive and non-confrontational dialogue that can assist collective security cooperation.

    April 2014

    Naval symposium in China: Decoding the outcome

    The Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) is a small but positive sign towards better communication channels between navies to reduce tension in the seas. But for CUES to become a reality many issues need to be resolved including the time frame for implementation.

    April 29, 2014

    The Indian Navy’s ‘China’ dilemma

    The naval exercise at Qingdao does not detract from the fact that the India-China maritime relationship is essentially an uneasy one. Each side is uncomfortable with the other’s presence in its own theatre of nautical influence, but both recognise the other’s dominance in their respective maritime ‘backyards’.

    April 28, 2014

    Jaydeep Asked: What are the security implications of China's ‘Maritime Silk Road’ for India?

    Abhijit Singh replies: In order to assess the security implications of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), it is necessary to understand what the proposal really entails. China’s plan for a maritime corridor is intended at creating maritime infrastructure and enhancing connectivity in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. First proposed by President Xi Jinping during his trip to Southeast Asia in October 2013, the MSR was originally aimed at enhancing maritime cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries in the South China Sea. Recently, however, China reached out to Sri Lanka and India inviting them to join the MSR, revealing a wider vision for the Indian Ocean.

    An idea essentially premised on the leveraging of Chinese soft power, the MSR is potentially beneficial for all regional states in the near term. Part of its appeal lies in an allied initiative of a maritime cooperation fund announced by Chinese Premier Li Kechiang last year, which regional state have shown interest in. The sales pitch of “shared economic gains”, however, does little to conceal the proposal’s real purpose: ensuring the security of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) in the Indian Ocean. In its eventual form, therefore, the MSR could end up setting up Chinese logistical hubs and military bases, linking up already existing ‘string of pearls’.

    As Beijing becomes more involved in the security and governance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it could pose a challenge to India’s stature of a ‘net provider of security’ in the region, thereby adversely affecting New Delhi’s geopolitical stakes and strategic influence.

    Posted on April 16, 2014

    Ramesh Reddy asked: What does it exactly mean when it is said ‘India is a net security provider in the Indian Ocean,’ and what are the factors responsible for the same?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The broad meaning that one can discern from various statements made about India being a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean is about India ensuring a stable, secure and peaceful environment in the region. The main aspects that are viewed as responsible for this can be construed as follows:

    • India’s predominant central geographic position in the region, especially overlooking the SLOCs that pass through the region.
    • India’s military capacity and capability that has a distinct reach in the region due to its geographic position.
    • India’s friendly relations and defence cooperation with most of the IOR nations.
    • India’s relatively strong economy and market capacity.
    • India’s non-hegemonic stance and its will and ability to provide assistance when requested.

    Posted on April 07, 2014

    Sreenivasuluraju asked: What are the advantages of Northern Sea route for India?

    Abhijit Singh replies: The opening of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), though significant for international trade, does not benefit India directly as the passage does not offer a shorter route for any cargo or energy consignment bound for Indian shores. The NSR is essentially a passage linking Europe with East Asia. While the increasing duration of its navigability – it was open for shipping for nearly six months last year, up from four months in previous years - benefits other Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea because of their relatively larger volume of trade with the US and Europe, Indian trading and commercial interest are minimally affected.

    A permanently navigable NSR may, however, set the tone for a gradual recalibration of the international focus that the Indian Ocean presently enjoys as a 'trade highway'. Currently, the trade flow through the NSR is a miniscule percentage of global trade. But as use of the passage grows, it might result in a gradual shift in trade patterns with a relative decline in traffic being routed through the Indian Ocean. Speculative as the scenario may appear, if it ever does come to pass, India’s existing strategic clout and geo-political leverage in the Indian Ocean could be adversely impacted.

    Posted on March 07, 2014

    New Perspective for Oceanographic Studies in the Indian Ocean Region

    India’s location in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) compels it to play a larger strategic role in the region. The growing energy needs of China—with the Gulf continuing to be its most preferred source—further causes the Chinese merchant fleet to transit the IOR. To ensure uninterrupted supply of energy resource, the Chinese have started to increase their presence in the region and this has, in turn, encouraged the Americans to also deploy their marine assets in the region.

    January 2014

    Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: An Indian Perspective

    For a maritime nation like India, its conception of maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and, specifically, its approach to maritime security has a long historical legacy. The modern Indian Navy has its origins in the colonial period. But it is the post-colonial period spanning independence and then the imperatives of the Cold War, and later to the interim phase in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union to the present day strategic partnerships—all of which have contributed to moulding the Indian perspective of maritime security.

    January 2014

    Is the Submarine Arm Losing its Punch?

    The explosions that gutted INS Sindhurakshak during the early hours of 14 August 2013 caught the imagination of an entire nation that watched the brief footage of the catastrophic event on their television sets. Barring some minor accidents which resulted in structural damage, this is the most tragic incident involving loss of lives in the 46 year history of the submarine arm.

    January 2014

    INS Vikramaditya – Deployment Options for India

    With the INS Vikramaditya’s arrival in India, it is time to undertake a dispassionate assessment of the ship’s possible uses and deployment options. The Indian navy would be well served if it considered employing the ship in a ‘soft power projection’ role – as a versatile asset to be used in diplomacy and regional outreach, disaster relief and humanitarian missions.

    January 21, 2014

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