March 24, 2023

India gets its first national maritime security coordinator | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In a long-pending reform almost 14 years after the deadly Mumbai terror attacks, the government has now appointed the country’s first national maritime security coordinator (NMSC) to ensure effective coordination and cooperation among multiple central and state authorities dealing with the domain from the coast to the high seas.
Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, who retired as the Navy vice chief in July last year after over 39 years of service, will be the NMSC in the National Security Council Secretariat under national security advisor Ajit Doval.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in November last year had approved the NMSC post with the mandate to bridge the gap among the disparate authorities to strengthen the country’s maritime and energy security as well as expanding “blue economy” and technology requirements, as was first reported by TOI.
“The NMSC will also ensure cohesive policies and plans in the maritime domain, including on the technology front, while also acting as the interface between military and civilian agencies,” a source said.
It has for long been felt that the myriad authorities involved in maritime issues, ranging from the external affairs, defence, home and shipping ministries to the Navy, Coast Guard, customs, intelligence agencies, port authorities, state governments and maritime police forces, all need to work in close coordination. “There is a need to overcome the silos in which they operate, often pulling in different directions,” the source said.
An apex maritime mechanism or coordination is crucial for India, which has a long 7,516-km coastline including island territories and a two million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone, apart from 90% of its trade by volume and 70% by value transiting through the seas.
A maritime security advisory board (MSAB) headed by a maritime security advisor was on the CCS agenda after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, which had exposed the lack of “critical connectivity” among different authorities, including the intelligence agencies and the security forces. But it never took off due to general politico-bureaucratic apathy and turf wars.
Even the 2001 Group of ministers’ report on “reforming the national security system” had stressed the need for “an apex body for management of maritime affairs for institutionalised linkages among the Navy, Coast Guard and ministries of central and state governments”.
After the 26/11 strikes, the national committee on strengthening maritime and coastal security against threats from the sea (NCSMCS), with the cabinet secretary as its chairman, was set up in August 2009.
But the NCSMCS meets only occasionally to coordinate among the 13 coastal states/UTs and other maritime stakeholders as well as review the progress of various coastal and maritime security measures.

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