time-for-naval-resurgence

CONTEXT

India is essentially a maritime nation and the last decade has witnessed substantial expansion of India's dependence on the maritime environment

EXPANDING HORIZONS AS A NAVAL POWER

  • Significant SLOCs: Sea permits free flow of commerce and ideas, the unique geographic location of India bestows upon us unmatched advantages, as the country sits astride some of the world's most critical sea lines of communication (SLOCs)
    • 70%  of trade by value and 90% by volume occurs through sea, 99% of communications are running through undersea cables
  • Pre eminent naval power: India has come a long way and transformed itself into multidimensional and highly capable blue water force ready to address threats and challenges of the maritime domain
  • Strategic importance of Indo Pacific: the growing maritime geopolitical importance of the indo-pacific region has led to transition in global strategic and diplomatic course

PRIORITISATION OF MARITIME SECURITY

  • Economic importance of Indian Ocean: the Indian Ocean is growing in eminence for being an important channel for international trade especially for energy
    • It has large coastal area lined by some of the fastest growing economies of the world besides being a treasure of marine sources
  • China Factor: the Indian and Pacific Ocean remained almost undisturbed throughout the cold war but the gradual rise of China as a sea power coupled with an expansionist policy is causing ripples in maritime diplomacy of many nations in the Indo-Pacific region
    • The vitals of Indian Ocean region has compelled Asia, Africa and Australia together to pay heed to Indian ocean stability by countering Chinese aggression in the region
  • Centre stage of global trade: Indian ocean is at the centre stage of global trade between hotbeds of North Atlantic and Asia-Pacific economies
    • About 40% of world's oil supply and 64% of oil trade through Indian Ocean
  • Maritime resources: Indian Ocean has immense supply of crucial natural resources including oil and related products, almost 15% of world's total fishing and it is yet not saturated unlike other regions
  • Ensuring Maritime security: the burgeoning of challenges from China has spilled over Indian ocean region creating an atmosphere of ruckus, Indian ocean is an important geopolitical arena for collective security for all nations in the region

MULTI DIMENSIONAL NAVAL FORCE

  • Enhanced preparedness:The Navy has maintained enhanced preparedness capable of operating above, below and on the ocean surface, over land, across the electronic spectrum and also in space
    • Periodic firing of long-range precision weapons were undertaken to hone ‘Ordnance on Target’ skills, and for strategic signaling to potential adversaries.
    • TROPEX Exercise:During the pan-Navy Theatre-level Exercises TROPEX,contingencies across emergent spectrum of operations were also war-gamed and refined 
  • Building a comprehensive maritime picture: Measures like mission Deployed ships at key locations in the IOR, near-continuous maritime air surveillance and the Information Fusion Centre (IFC-IOR) at Gurugram have been undertaken
  • Swift response to developing situations:it has been facilitated by warships patrolling the Bay of Bengal, Malacca Strait, Andaman Sea, Southern IOR, Central IOR, Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf
  • Ensuring safety of merchants:A warship deployed 24x7x365 on Operation Sankalp in the Gulf since 2019 has provided protection to Indian merchants passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Countering illicit trade:The Indian Navy, in consultation with its other maritime neighbours like Sri Lanka and Maldives, has  been proactively engaged in counter-narcotics operations
  • Tackle terrorism:Near-coast surveillance has also been coordinated by the Navy by synchronising the resources of government agencies to draw an electronic fence over the coastline, to deter any 26/11 type incident.
  • Disaster Management:There has been increased deployment of the Indian Navy for HADR missions in the past year.
    • Operation Samudra Setu II: warships made numerous trips amidst the brutal second wave of COVID-19, traversing nearly 100,000 km to bring LMO, oxygen cylinders, oxygen containers and other critical medical aid from friendly foreign countries.
    • Assistance during cyclone:Ships and aircraft were extensively deployed for days as part of rescue operations during Cyclone Tauktae.
    • Under Mission SAGAR: the Navy has also been proactively engaging with countries in the region undertaking numerous humanitarian operations
  • Bilateral/Multilateral exercises:the Indian Navy has also been a key instrument of India’s foreign policy through its deployments and outreach.It has been seeking collaboration with friendly and like-minded nations with interests in the wider Indo-Pacific.

WAY FORWARD

  • Indo Pacific-theatre of opportunity:Growing importance of Indo Pacific has brought unprecedented transformation in India's foreign policy Outlook and priorities
    • The Indian Ocean region has now been altered into a theatre of opportunity, helping India to reinforce its on Maritime security and bonding with other friendly countries frustrated with Chinese infiltration in the region
  • Maritime infrastructure:India needs to increase its budget for Maritime infrastructure coupled with dauntless activities to forge international peace and security in the region
    • Role of aircraft carriers: they are central to the Navy’s concept of operations and the Navy considers carriers inescapable to safeguard maritime interests against the backdrop of the changing geopolitics in the Indian Ocean region and beyond
  • Theatre Commands:Indian Naval Chief has emphasized on the need for theatre commands can play in safeguarding India’s maritime interests.
    • The ongoing flux in the geopolitical situation and its security implications require India to adopt an integrated approach towards development of combat capability and its application, to protect its national interests.
    • The effective application of ‘Joint Force for Joint Effects’ across all domains is the prerequisite for winning future wars.

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