Homeland Security

The Question of Sea Security in IR
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 Mar , 2024

The recent induction of MH-60 R Helicopters and deployment of INS Jatayu in the Lakshadweep area by the Indian Navy will strengthen India’s maritime prowess in the Indian Ocean Area and enhance its reputation as a security provider in the region. The post-2022 has seen increasing concern by nations over the question of strategic edge about Maritime Security as the centre of International Politics. India is recently trying its best to give more teeth to Naval power in recently joint-launched projects such as an airstrip, community development projects and ajetty on the Agalega island of Mauritius.

The recent efforts highlight our increasing concern over the need to change the existing — and also evolve a new — strategic approach to not only enhance economic and commercial cooperation but also ensure strategic surveillance and security of the Indian Ocean Area. The virtual Conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritian PM Pravind Jugnauth is a new cornerstone in building up close cooperation through multiple projects such as India-assisted Aushadhi scheme (providinghigh-quality medicines) commercial and economic cooperation, humanitarian relief assistance and joint patrolling. This also fulfils the main thrust of the Indian Foreign Policy principle: “Neighbourhood First Policy” and Mauritius’s multiple needs inhealth, security and economic areas.

The Indo-Mauritius coordination is a step forward to add a new country to India’s new strategic vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in Region) Besides, it also brings an important fact to light that India and Mauritius need to diversify their strategies to counter the challenges both face from Pakistan and China. The war between Russia and Ukraine, the spreading tentacles of transnational terrorism and the over-ambitious mission of Chinese dominance across the globe have created serious problems for international security. While the world is still grappling with the deadly spikes of war and terror, the issue of sea security is taking the forefront of global politics.

The Leading Realist in IR John Mearsheimer once conceded that states always seek to maximize their power and prowess to achieve security. Realism also contends that states prioritize maintaining their security and status quo power over aggressive expansion, focusing on balancing against threats rather than seeking dominance. It provides a theoretical rationale for comprehending the complex rigmarole in the fluid power equations and how the changing dynamics of Asia particularly around IOA shape India’s defence strategies. There is an increasing tendency of actors in International relations to cluster around the powerful one in the system. China’s expansionist mission has vindicated Raymond Aron’s observation correctly. Aron once conceded that “The two most typical models are called multipolar and bipolar: either the chief actors, whose forces are not too unequal, are relatively numerous, or, on the contrary, two actors dominate their rivals to such a degree that both become the centre of a coalition and the secondary actors are obliged to situate themselves about the two “blocs,” thus joining one or another, unless they have the opportunity to abstain. Intermediary models are possible, depending on the number of chief actors and the degree of equality or inequality of forces among the chief actors”.

These are changing times and many changes have occurred in International relations recently. Sharing and working on a common strategic vision and a combined approach to ensure mutual economic prosperity and approaching through a multi-layered and multilateral strategy if the situation demands is going to dominate the world order in the coming days. What is required is to develop a fresh perspective for a more mature reliance on international cooperation between nations to enunciate a new strategy of retaliation, threatening a severe response to any attempt to destabilize the order.

In this direction In order to counter the increasing tentacles of Chinese aggressiveness endangering India’s Maritime Security through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),  deployment of Naval bases in the IOC areas, Naval base in Djibouti, construction of Gwadar Port to help Pakistan, its policy of Strings of Pearls through which China is encircling  India by enhancing strategic partnerships with IOR countries India has reached out to its neighbouring countries such as Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius and had a  defence strategies of developing coastal Radar System between these countries. Besides, it has already started a Fusion system with regard to providing information related to security of Indian Ocean Region.  

The recent procurement of an India-Russia Joint Venture BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile for India Navy and aero-engine for MiG-29 Jets for Indianan Air Force are major initiatives enhance India’s defence capabilities. India  has also developed a Necklace of Diamonds  Strategy under which there was a vision of establishing a Changi naval service Base in Singapore, Chabahar Port in Iran, ports in Myanmar and Oman .India is moving ahead with its Act East Policy  to enhance economic and trade cooperation among east Asian neighbours  in addition to this started with an extensive web of ports and  Coastal Surveillance Radar (CSR) building systems. India’s recent strategy has set out a clear way forward by getting fully involved in new techniques and developing challenging strategies to meet the need of  all the partners.

The issue that remains vital is to bring so many neighbouring countries to a negotiating table of working out a strategy of maritime security and protecting economic interest. The increasing support and agreement with regard to limiting climate change issues and opening up gateways for renewable energy and development in technological know how along with channelizing the sources of power generation and creating a mechanism to withstand any sudden threat posed by BRI (Belt and Road Initiatives) augur well for peace and prosperity of all the member countries. There has always been a series of extremely good relationship between India and the its neighbouring countries with regard to trade share having  crossed a decent  landmark during last half a decade which was way more than expected.

The recent efforts by India to protect IOA’s security    through cooperation with Mauritius would further boost and cement their ties and create a genuine environment for stabilizing  economic  growth (along with ensuring free flow of goods and services) strategic  security, prosperity, stability and combating sudden challenges  arising due to climate change and  maritime and border threat  . Further, the panel discussion focusing on “The Quad Squad: Power and Purpose of the Polygon,” during early 2023 provided another step towards solving the  expansionist plans .The member countries showed their commitment to support Pacific Island countries with regional institutions through cooperation in several areas along with the terror such as climate change, resilient infrastructure, and maritime security to strengthen the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

The role of India’s leadership in finalizing the IORA in India-Pacific areas was greatly appreciated and getting even more important due to its impeccable reputation. Further negotiation may lead to creation of a strategic mechanism to provide a shield against maritime security, piracy, drug trafficking, armed robbery, terrorism, international crime, smuggling and cyber threat unleashed by  any non-state actor as well. This may also accelerate maritime friendly ties and bolster up security around Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific areas which have lately become areas of concern. Hence, a collaborative partnership among the nations around Indian Ocean Area through equity and access to those who are in need at the time of unprecedented crisis may show the level of insight in empowering and motivating people across the board towards extending helping hand and saving lives. Besides, the pursuit towards promotion of their well beings would lead to tremendous effort towards enhancement of overall development scenario in India  and neighboring countries.

The sum and substance of the idea is to ensure that the New structural Thinking and orientation changes through a fresh perspective and a framework for key demands while maintaining a synergy among various stakeholders to negotiate even on the issues of  different perspectives. Since then, cooperation among Quad Group countries has set a new road map through diplomatic endeavour towards building a new apparatus for the management of terrorism. Foreign relations are operated through efficient diplomacy and diplomacy is all about the right gestures and cooperation and coordination at time of crisis. India is indeed a leading partner in this regard. India is a mature democracy and its leaders are capable of cashing in on any opportunity and strategy that’s a combination of tactful strength and resilience.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Dr Sudhir Hindwan

is Chandigarh based professor of Political Science and an expert on strategic affairs.

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