Friday, July 23, 2010

Think Tank Calls For Indian National Maritime Policy

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
July 23, 2010

NEW DELHI — India requires greater maritime awareness and a maritime policy for its navy that will allow it to work toward building the right force mix for protecting the country’s interests, according to the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) think tank.

While the Indian navy released a vision document in 2006 focusing on a technology-enabled, networked force to safeguard maritime interests, experts say this will need to be backed by a national policy to give it teeth and direction.

Changing geopolitics in the Indian Ocean have led to new imperatives in the region. Globalization and trade have made China and India more reliant on the seas and nearly 90% of world trade in commodities and goods flows through the oceans. However, Delhi is quite coy about identifying the hierarchy of its threats, says strategic affairs analyst Raja Mohan.

Challenges are many as India becomes a major power with significant maritime interests and substantive naval capabilities. Like India, China also follows the logic of what it calls “far sea defense.”

“The difference, however, is in the level of political and policy commitment to the construction of a maritime grand strategy,” Mohan says. “For example, building a blue water navy needs a policy framework to expand capabilities for design, development and production of naval equipment.”

“Delhi remains sea-blind,” NMF President Uday Bhaskar says. “There is a need for India to become a stakeholder in the Indian Ocean. That will require a change in mind-set. It is time India scores some goals by involving its private and government stakeholders.”

Some also point out that money that has been allocated for procurement remains unspent due to a lack of a cohesive focus. They say a national policy would propel India toward looking at its imminent buys like the tactical airborne early warning aircraft. Northrop Grumman has been in discussions with India about its E-2D Hawkeye (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 2, 2009).

“This is an area that is a glaring deficit in the navy capability,” a Northrop Grumman spokesman says. “The E-2D Hawkeye is a game changer in how the navy will conduct battle management command and control. India’s maritime focus is to make [the] Indian navy fully capable of surveillance of its sea space.”
- Neelam Mathews (

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