NEW DELHI: Asserting that the Indian Ocean Region was an important asset for the country, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on Thursday said it was becoming competitive and has a potential for a clash of interests and the country has to be vigilant to protect it.
The NSA, addressing a meeting of the Multiagency Maritime Security Group on policy, emphasized the salience of maritime security in an increasingly complex and challenging landscape and said that defending maritime borders is complex.
During his speech, the NSA appreciated the role played by the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy in strengthening the overall maritime security of the country.
“In national security discourse importance of land and maritime borders are very different. You cannot fence them, put 24×7 vigilance, concept of sovereignty in land borders is territorial and well-defined. Its focus has been less but its importance is much more. Defending our maritime borders is complex, with problems it causes and challenges it brings. But it serves several interests, especially strategic and economic… It is an important trade route globally,” the NSA said.
Calling the Indian ocean a great asset to India, NSA Doval said, “With the cardinal principle of security, our vulnerabilities are directly proportional to our assets. More we develop, more assets we create, more prosperous we get, greater would be vulnerability and greater would be needed for security.”
He said that in the changing geopolitical scenario, the Indian ocean which has been an ocean of peace is gradually becoming competitive. “We see a potential of having a clash of interest, we need to protect it and be vigilant,” he added.
“We have a responsibility towards neighbours be it disaster management or security for them, we have been doing it. We recently had an example of countries coming together when Colombo Security Conclave was held to tackle maritime threats in the Indian Ocean,” the NSA further said.
“The trajectory of this nation is well defined, we know where we are going. And when our time comes, India will not be able to become the power it deserves to be unless it has a very strong maritime system. This is perfect timing for it,” said Doval.
“In the last few years, the Government has given special attention to the maritime domain as enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the SAGAR initiative in 2015, the announcement of India’s Indo-Pacific Policy in 2018 as well as growing focus on the blue economy,” he said.
He said that 95 per cent of Indian trade by volume is maritime and routed via 12 major and over 200 non-major ports.
“India is a maritime nation with interests that extend well beyond our maritime zones. 95 per cent of Indian trade by volume is maritime and routed via 12 major and over 200 non-major ports. Over 90 per cent of our hydrocarbon requirements are met through seaborne imports and offshore production,” Doval said.
He further said that with over three lakh fishing vessels, the marine fisheries sector is a major contributor to the economy and livelihood of the fishing community.
“As India’s economy grows, so will its dependence on sea-borne trade and maritime resources. Securing our maritime interests from a range of threats and challenges necessitates a coordinated approach,” Doval added.
“Maritime security has, therefore, rightfully gained prominence in India’s security discourse as well as international outreach. While chairing the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Enhancing Maritime Security in August last year, the Prime Minister had exhorted for an inclusive approach for a safe, secure and stable maritime domain,” he said.
The meeting was chaired by the National Maritime Security Coordinator Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar (Retd), who assumed charge as the country’s first NMSC on February 16 this year.
The group has members from key Central Ministries, Agencies and Security Forces dealing with maritime affairs and State Maritime Security Coordinators representing all 13 coastal States and UTs. The CNS and Deputy NSAs from NSCS were also present.(ANI)