It was a routine evening ‘walk and talk’ Brig Hemant Mahajan was talking about his concerns about India’s Maritime Security. Soon, the darkness fell, and I was back at my residence, sitting on a garden chair, and sipping a cup of tea, my mind drifted back to the events that, took place almost about half a century back.
President Sukarno of Indonesia was claiming some of the Northern Islands of our A & N group of islands. Alarmed by his repeated claims, ‘thinkers’ in our national capital decided to raise an Independent Infantry Brigade Group for the possible amphibious role, to cater for any unforeseen events. Yours’ truly, was fortunate to be posted as a GSO-3 of that formation. Soon, recee, training, and operational plans were being finalised. Indian Coastal Guards – a wing of Indian Navy was also located there.
In the year 1968, gangs of Naga insurgents, armed and trained by China, started returning to Nagaland. This changed the scenario of our Internal Security. Many army formations, including the one being trained for the amphibious role, were inducted in Nagaland.
Notwithstanding this, decades later, the ‘thinkers’ in the capital did locate some army units along with Navy and created ‘Joint Command’ structure for the defence of A & N Group of Islands.
‘Purlia Arms Drop’ Case highlighted our failures in airspace security and coordination between various intelligence and security agencies.
26/11 attack on our Financial capital, heavy civilian casualties and damage to the property raised eyebrows of all – political leaders, ‘thinkers’ in the capital as well as men in uniform. The remarkable ease at which, the attackers landed in Mumbai and inflicted heavy losses highlighted our ‘failures’ on our coastal security.
India’s western coast has been subjected to smuggling of gold, electronic goods, narcotics, arms ammunition, explosives and FICN, since long. Infiltration of Bangladeshis on the east coast, smuggling of arms ammunition for Maoists, poaching in island territories is a big threat. Various bomb blasts and 26/11terror attack, activities in the Indian Ocean by countries like China and North Korea does give rise to our concerns for the coastal security and security of trade routes/ sea lanes. To my mind, this, in fact, is a ‘WAKE UP’ call for all.
India’s western coast has been subjected to smuggling of gold, electronic goods, narcotics, arms ammunition, explosives and FICN, since long. Infiltration of Bangladeshis on the east coast, smuggling of arms ammunition for Maoists, poaching in island territories is a big threat. Various bomb blasts and the 26/11terror attack was an awakening call.
To do justice to the perspectives of these stakeholders would take a tome running into many thousands of pages. Yet, Brig Mahajan needs to be complimented for the valiant effort he has made to present at least the major issues concerning the more prominent of these stakeholders. The chief value of his work is the strong centrality that he has provided to the several practical and, in most cases, eminently viable recommendations that would significantly enhance coastal security. Having travelled extensively along the west coast, with many important forays along the east coast and our island territories on both seaboards, and having spoken first hand to a large number of diverse stakeholders, the author has many primary sources of information, which lends his work both credibility and pertinence.
Comprehensive national maritime and coastal security policy, better management of maritime boundaries, EEZ, traffic and effective mechanism for coordination is required. Operational capabilities of Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Marine police, other agencies require being improved further. The Coastal States have to be empowered. Port security, security of offshore installations and Island territories is important. Actionable intelligence, good surveillance in territorial waters will prevent security breaches. International best practices should be followed to improve our coastal security.
There is tremendous scope for jointmanship among all stakeholders. This will improve intelligence collection, training, sharing of technology. MDA Cooperation, cross attachment with each other, joint exercises during high threat periods will benefit all.
Many positives have evolved since last eight years because of on-the-job training and learning. Establishment of JOC, improved coastal surveillance and infrastructure have improved coastal security. Intelligence generated is better. A large number of coastal security exercises have been very useful. Many operations based on intelligence inputs are being launched to prevent breaches in security.
Induction of Hovercrafts, UAVs, creation of a more effective network of intelligence through fishermen and national coastal security corps should be done at the earliest.
As we hurtle through the opening decades of the current century, inadequate coastal-security will continue to impose large vulnerabilities upon India. Brigadier Mahajan’s book, with its emphasis upon practicable and viable action points, is an important attempt to reduce the deleterious effects of these vulnerabilities. As such, it is a valuable addition to the body of knowledge that informs (or ought to) all those concerned with planning, legislating, coordinating, executing and ensuring India’s coastal security.
A comprehensive book by Brig. Hemant Mahajan on “India’s Coastal Security, Challenges, Concerns & Way Ahead” should be read by all, including the security forces, policymakers, corporate, security experts, technology providers, and much more. This book will generate informed discussion among all stakeholders for improving the coastal security further.
I, therefore, congratulate Indian Maritime Foundation, Pune-1, for encouraging studies on ‘concerns and challenges to our coastal securities’. I also congratulate Brig Hemant Mahajan, who, basically is an Infantryman and a ‘thinker’ for undertaking this study. I am sure that the book will be well received.
India’s Coastal Security, Challenges, Concerns & Way Ahead”BY BRIG HEMANT MAHAJAN, YSM,Pages-336.Price-Rs 600/-,Madhavi Prakashan,Dattakuti,1416,Sadashiv Peth,Pune-411030,Maharashtra,Tele-020-24474762,020-24475372,MOB-09325097494.E [email protected]