Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Security challenges and their management in border areas;
April 5 marks the National Maritime Day of India. On this day in 1919 navigation history was created when SS Loyalty, the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, journeyed to the United Kingdom. The National Maritime Day was first celebrated on 5th April, 1964.
The strategic geographical position of the Indian sub-continent with vast expanse of the seas around naturally led to seafaring even in the days of the Indus Valley civilisation
Since time immemorial Indians have displayed a remarkable interest in seafaring and maritime activities. The shipbuilding industry in India had shown great progress so long as sailing ships with wooden hull were in vogue.
Since the dawn of history Indians have participated in international sea-borne commerce. The advent of Europeans opened India’s coasts for trade and commerce.
Today, International Maritime Organisation is the United Nation’s specialised agency which is responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. The Organisation also convenes international maritime conferences and drafts international maritime conventions from time to time. India joined IMO in 1959.
India has about 7516 kilometres of coastline serviced by a total of 182 ports, 12 of them under a special status as Major Ports being under the purview of the Central Government. The Indian Ports Act (IPA), 1908 is the governing Act which defines the jurisdiction of Central and State Governments over ports. The Act empowers the respective governments in administering and developing the ports. The Act also provides for private sector participation in a Government-controlled port.
The States administer the minor ports either through State Maritime Board (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal) or through State Government Departments. Maritime Boards have structures and power to a large extent similar to those of Board of Trustees in a Major Port.
Importance of navy
The Indian Navy, which is responsible for guarding the country’s shores and protecting our shipping in times of war, has also considerably expanded and strengthened into a potent force.
Importance of National Maritime Day
It celebrated to encourage the merchant shipping industry of India. Shipping contributes a lot to the country’s economy. At present, 90% of India’s international trade in terms of volume and 77% in terms of value is moved by sea.
Indian merchant captains, officers and sailors are highly regarded round the world- one of the maximum captains of VLCC- very large crude carriers are Indians.
Talking about national maritime policies, to have a healthy trade and keep it going, there is a need of strong navy. Two of the biggest sea lane communications pass close by from India.
India also had issues of piracy which was moving towards India’s west coast but was pushed back by Indian Navy. Thus Indian navy as well as Coast Guard has played an important role in maintaining the sanctity of the sea.
However, despite being 13th largest shipping nation in the world, India depends on foreign ships to bring goods into India. Therefore, growth of Indian navy is important with 46 ships to be made in India but merchant navy shouldn’t be also neglected.
Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India’s Ports so that port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute in India’s growth. Now it has been further developed to SAGAR- Security and Growth for All holds true.
Integration of railways, shipping, navy, security, intelligence agencies, sensors, radars is the main aim of Sagarmala. Its main aim is improving the connectivity. The departments have to cooperate with each other, thus it is a task where interdependence between ministries.
Thus, the seas are today blue economy with more and more industry, ports, exports etc depending on sea trade.
For a country like India, navy must be much bigger. After independence, there was a need for increasing infrastructure spending as well as battling more chronic problems like poverty. Hence, balancing of fiscal availability was important.
The merchant ship building and the navy ship building offers lot of opportunity for jobs, especially the technical jobs. Building of nuclear submarine or ship requires high-end technology which India had been lacking till now. However, unfortunately, the merchant shipping building has not taken off because India has not been able to give subsidies for it compared to China, Japan, Korea. This has made India lag behind even today in merchant ship building though small private ports do build ships. There is a lot of infrastructure, technology and job opportunities to be built in India. Hence, the seas and the land have to be developed in a balance manner.
White shipping agreement
White shipping information refers to exchange of relevant advance information on the identity and movement of commercial non-military merchant vessels. India has white shipping agreements with 24 countries, especially who are India’s trading partner. It is linked between naval operations and commercial shipping companies.
The seas of the entire world are inter-linked and vessels can sail routinely around the globe in pursuit of cargo. Thus a vessel that is in Indian waters today maybe sailing towards a distant destination and similarly several vessels set sail from ports around the globe could be bound for India. Having advance information of the vessel, its destination and planned itinerary, etc. is thus extremely helpful towards collating an effective MDA as it can then be properly identified when detected.
Thus, white shipping cooperation is one of the largest movements to make sure the seas are safe- freedom of navigation, unfortunately one nation is stopping this navigation. More cooperation with nations and exchange of information will help to identify the needy resources.
Marine police is first tier near the coast, followed by coast guard and then navy- the three tiers of coastal security network. The mercantile shipping depends largely on it. The police has to maintain the sea borders and become more professional. They have to maintain boats, keep it 24/7 moving as coast guard and navy are more deep into the sea. The ministry of home is trying to . It has also established a Central Marine Force.
Coastal shipping is more cheaper than roads and railways. However, the procedures of custom, security and terrorism doesn’t make it easy and viable. The foreign companies are not allowed to invest in coastal shipping. Thus, India’s ships do the coastal trade of less than 300 tons. 40% of cargo is carried by foreign ships. Thus there is a need of 40% more ships from 11.2 dead weight tons currently present to 20 million tons dead weight.
A position of National maritime security advisor has to be created as it is of immense importance. Future of India is dependent on maritime. Such a post will boost India’s security status, economic growth, tourism industry giving rise to blue economy.
Thus, India has to develop an integrated plan which will connect railways, shipping, navy coastguard.
Connecting the dots:
What is the importance of maritime security in India’s economic development? Analyse.