India adopting multidimensional approach for maritime security in IOR: Navy chief

Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Monday said that India is adopting a multidimensional approach for maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) while highlighting the importance of the region for the country.

"All these traditional and non-traditional challenges require India to commit substantial effort, resources and continuously evolve its strategy for maritime security in the region," he said while delivering a lecture here on Indian Ocean Region-Changing Dynamics-Maritime Security Imperatives for India.

"Given the enormity and complexity of the challenges to India's maritime security, India is adopting a multidimensional whole of government approach to ensure safety and security of India's maritime interests," he added.

"India has rightly prioritised the corporate solution of challenges. India is committed to a rule-based approach to our maritime issues. The Prime Minister during Shangri La dialogue in June 2018 had articulated India's policy of a free, open and inclusive region ... There are certain forces trying to buck this rule-based order approach ... India prioritises on regional solutions to regional problems," added Singh.

"The traditional maritime threat canvas for India is dominated by restive Western front and the Army is confronting with it on a regular basis and increasing Chinese presence in the IOR... We maintain a multi-dimensional combat-ready conventional maritime force as well as a credible second-strike nuclear capability," he said.

"The impacts of the fault lines in maritime security are further exasperated by a rapid rise of non-state actors. You have seen terror attacks in Sri Lanka. These are alarming developments and demonstrate the extremist ideologies find resonance with anti-national elements in the region. As you know, India has also been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism," Singh said.

He said that the IOR holds 5 of the top 20 fastest growing economy in the world as per the IMF, thus it is substantial to provide security to trade plying in the region.

"This IOR accounts for 50 per cent of the globe's sea trade... More than one lakh ships each year carried in these international sea lanes. The unhindered flow of maritime trade through IOR thus assumes tremendous significance an underlines the umbilical connection with the economies within inside and outside IOR. This enhances providing security to trade plying on maritime highways in the region," the Navy chief said.

Singh asserted on the need to protect oil coming from the gulf region and said need to see solutions so that we don't rely on one single point of supply of oil.

"The Indian Ocean is a dominant energy source but at the same time, Persian of Gulf remains politically volatile and conflict-prone. And as the recent standoff between Iran and US shows, these global lines are vulnerable to been cut off. Since 60 per cent of our oil is coming from the gulf region, we need to protect that," he said.

"Navy is doing operation Sankalp which is to position our ships in the Straits of Hormuz to protect and provide reassurance to our merchant shipping but the fact is we need to look at this energy basket very carefully. We need to see solutions so that we don't rely on one single point of supply of oil and also we must have our own larger fleet of Indian flagships which we don't have any," the Navy chief added

Speaking about the competition in the IOR, Singh said: "The ongoing crisis in Straits of Hormuz, confrontation in the South China Sea and increasing use of naval platforms for political signalling are unmistakable fallouts of the great power confrontation in the maritime domain. This desire to claim a greater share in global affairs is one of the key drivers of the greater competition that is taking place now in the IOR.