Navigating Security Concerns: Analyzing the Impact of Government Policies on Maritime Security in Indian Ports
1. Introduction
Maritime security ensures the safety of goods and services (through international trade exchange) by safeguarding the sea against its threats, and at the same time helps sustain peace and stability ashore. Beginning from the 17th century, India’s maritime security had always been in the hands of the influential European maritime powers due to the fact that the country was the bridge between the Middle East and the Far East. The Indian subcontinent, lying in the center of the Indian Ocean, could not develop capabilities to protect its maritime interests. It was only after independence that India realized the importance of the sea as a dominant factor in economic development and security, and how maritime security was an important issue for her. Like all other issues in foreign policy and national security, maritime security too was a neglected area. With the end of the Cold War, the nature of conflicts and security threats to India’s maritime interests underwent a change. Owing to the growing economy and the need to protect its raw materials, trade, communications, people, and its offshore assets, India had to make provisions for a security shield to protect its maritime interests. The Kargil conflict highlighted the army’s inability to sustain the limited war due to a lack of high-tech weapons, especially in the information technology arena. The attack on Parliament in 2001 too was a grim reminder of the fact that India’s land borders were still not safe and she was always vulnerable to attacks from neighboring countries. This resulted in focusing the government’s attention towards the need for all-out security. The establishment of the Tri-Service Andaman and Nicobar Command in 2001 was a step in the right direction, for the first time it linked the military strategy to India’s East. To get a joint approach for the security of the seas, the National Security Council Secretariat set up an Integrated Defense Staff in 2002. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone were the focal points for the strategy because they were strategic assets and were vulnerable to internal and external threats. This would involve the issues of naval intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and obtaining information dominance. The navy has the primary responsibility for maritime security because the threats are mainly from the sea and the possibility of force-on-force conflict to protect national interests.
1.1 Background of Maritime Security in Indian Ports
Indian Peninsula has a long coastline of approximately 7517 km and about 1197 islands. The Indian coastline and territorial waters are patrolled by the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, and Marine Police of various coastal states. The Maharashtra state took the lead in appointing a Police Nodal Officer for ISPS Code and an Implementation Monitoring Committee. IMO had organized a “National Workshop for ISPS Code Implementation in India” to further assist the Government of India to fulfill its obligations under the ISPS Code. In a meeting between the IMO representatives and senior Indian officials, India has announced its decision to accede to conventions of IMO during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Maritime Law Association. IMO had conducted an audit of India’s implementation of IMO instruments under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme. On the basis of this audit, IMO had identified various areas of concern such as inadequate implementation of international safety and anti-fouling conventions, insufficient capacity to respond to ship-source pollution, and inadequacy of national legislation to implement MARPOL 73/78. Steps have been initiated by the Directorate General of Shipping to address these concerns identified by IMO.
1.2 Significance of Government Policies
The policy is an authoritative decision made in the political or executive arena. According to Kaplan, policy is defined as an intention to act by an authoritatively authorized actor in pursuit of. However, according to Munro, the administration of public affairs, organization of society, or formulation and execution of a principle, plan, or course of action which is advantageous to people, whether at the local, regional, national, or international level, is known as public policy. The actions of government, as seen by an external observer, chiefly its own protection or advantage, to impose its influence on society as a whole or on some of its members. The policy of a government, at whatever level (e.g. national, regional, or local), has a goal or objective, and its actions are directed to the ways and means of achieving that objective, which will result in intentional change. According to these definitions, the purpose and outcome of public policy are the change or improvement in certain issues in a society. It happens through the decided actions of the authority, in this case, the government. So policy is a decision-making guide for a plan of actions that will lead the policymaker and his division to achieve the objective in that policy. In the context of this research, the taking of policy in security and preemptive actions that will improve the level of security in Indonesian ships and the prevention of terrorism attacks. During this time, security in Indonesian ships is still less than adequate. This has an impact on fishing theft and transnational crime, and even worse is the increase in the number of pirate attacks in and around Indonesian ports. Petungsewu and Irawan (2008) argued a direct correlation between the increased level of international shipping traffic and piracy activities. Piracy is increasing as Indonesia gradually becomes a big player in the regional and global maritime sector. The attacks by the pirates still repeatedly occur until now, causing uneasiness on ship owners or the ones who operate the vessel. So it will be a good opportunity for the attack to the ship (Petungsewu & Irawan, 2008), and attacks like this are vulnerable to terrorism modus.
1.3 Research Objectives
(iii) Public and Private Sector Companies Involved and Their Impact: Indian ports have a multitude of organizations involved in their day-to-day operation and have a historical legacy of being run by the public sector. But the scenario is fast changing with the liberalization of the Indian economy and ports being identified as vital to the economic hub of the country. This has led to increased participation by private sector joint ventures and other forms of privatization in port operations. Now, with increased security concerns, it is imperative for companies to change their security setup. The study will try to see the impact of government security policies on these companies and the changes incurred by them in their security setup.
(ii) Changes in Security Scenario at Indian Ports: Since independence, a lot of things have changed at Indian ports with respect to their security scenario. The security concerns have become more acute in the wake of increasing terrorist activities and their non-standard spillovers on different frontiers of the country. The various forms of political and civil unrest have made it imperative to enhance security measures at the ports, which can be defended as very important installations of the country in view of the economic gateway they provide. An improved security scenario will also be useful for the international image of the country, which is a major player in many world trade organizations. The study will try to find out the changes in security concerns and the causal factors for the same.
(i) Policies That are Directly or Indirectly Linked to Security: It is now the time when policies on Indian ports are being framed, keeping in mind the security interest as a result of the evolving security concern. There are a variety of policies which might not be directly linked to security but aim to create a better security environment as the final objective. Then there are policies that are particularly targeted at enhancing security measures, like the development of the ISPS code. The study will try to find out these policies and analyze how they have altered the security scene.
The research aim is to analyze the influence of government policies on the development and execution of security measures in Indian ports. It will identify how government policies have influenced the navigation of security concerns and changed the security scenario in Indian ports. The study will also assess the positive and negative effects of these policies on various public and private sector companies involved in port security. An additional aim is to suggest applicable policy measures for effective security administration in Indian ports, given the present international and national security scenario. To achieve the research aim, the study will try to do the following:
2. Government Policies and Maritime Security
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 comprehensively defines both the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans. It provides a general framework, addressing a variety of ocean-related matters, however it does not cover the vast topic of maritime security directly. The modern-day issue of maritime security was truly brought to the forefront of international discussion and policy in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. D.P. Houghton highlights that through cooperation in the field of maritime security, states may undermine the specific character of the law of the sea and be tempted to reintroduce traditional power politics in this sector. This assertion was evident in the United States of America’s immediate reaction to tighten maritime security measures following 9/11, an act which was undertaken not within the guidelines of any international convention, but unilaterally. This included the US Coast Guard implementing a 100-meter moving security zone around vessels and the implementation of strict security checks on all vessels and crew. This was enforced despite the potential inconsistency with the United States’ obligations under UNCLOS and the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. The extent of the impact of these new security measures on international shipping and trade was felt globally, regardless of whether ships and ports were trading with the United States. Measures introduced within the US were mirrored in other countries in response to the threat of global terrorism, further undermining the specific character of the law of the sea.
2.1 Overview of Government Policies
For the developed nations, the concern is more towards the safety of their own flagged vessels and the implications of attacks on shipping for insurance and the safety of energy supplies. Indian ports being prominent hubs for the import and export of goods are crucial to the energy security and economic prosperity of the nation. Hence, any wrongdoing at the ports could have a huge impact on the nation.
Though for the developing nations, it’s a matter of concern for both national security and, in most cases, the economic security of a nation. Increased trade has led to an ever-growing reliance on the seas, making it an important part of the global economic structure. Energy supplies in the form of oil and gas are mostly transported across the sea, making the safety of shipping a matter of vital interest to the international community. Any interruption of the energy supply can have a significant impact on international trade and economic growth. In the worst-case scenario, the environmental impact of disrupted or destroyed oil tankers can be catastrophic.
Government policies are an expression of a state’s desired direction and conscious to realizing objectives in a certain field of action. Thus, maritime security being a crucial aspect of a nation’s security due to its vulnerability to attack and recently its emergence as a potential target for large-scale terrorist activities is a matter of concern for both the developed and the developing nations.
2.2 Impact of Policy Implementation
The next section attempts to dissect the aforementioned government policies by analyzing the direct impact they have on the security level in Indian ports. In doing so, it will identify the level of success that each policy has had in achieving its objectives, and whether or not this has led to an improvement in the security environment. This will involve looking at the specific security problems that each policy is targeted at, with discussion on the nature of the problem, and analysis on how well the policy has combated this problem. Other intended and unintended effects will also be identified. Where possible, the effect of the policy will be compared against the extent of maritime security, providing an indicator of the success of the policy at that time. This section is heavily reliant upon the knowledge and opinion of the author, as much of the success of these policies is a matter of how security and safety is understood and interpreted by the government and others involved at that time.
2.3 Challenges in Policy Enforcement
Another issue in policy enforcement is the cost sharing arrangement of the ISPS Code between the government and the private sector. Many policy makers from the government and public sector are of the opinion that security is the responsibility of the private entities within the industry and that security measures should be funded solely through the companies themselves. This attitude has led to a lack of proper funding, resources, and training in security measures at port facilities. Without government assistance, security is not a high priority in the cost-cutting shipping industry and results of policy enforcement can be weak.
Secondly, the structure of the maritime industry has made it difficult for coordinated policy enforcement. Due to the vast geographic scope of the industry in India, often policy enforcement is left to the discretion of individual ports. This can lead to inconsistent policy enforcement and gaps in security awareness. Also, many shipping companies do business at several different ports, both public and private. This can make it difficult to assess and adequately address necessary security measures at each port facility.
The enforcement of security policies throughout the maritime industry in India has been met with several challenges. Firstly, there is a general lack of recognition of the maritime industry’s significance within the government. Control agencies are not solely concerned with the maritime industry, and often their policy enforcement is linked with terrorism or domestic security threats which are not in relation with the safety and security of the industry. This can lead to divided loyalties and fast tracking of funds for other security issues, leaving the maritime industry without adequate security.
2.4 Case Studies on Policy Effectiveness
Indian Ocean is essential for global trade and oil shipments. Security in the ocean is vital for all the littoral and island states in the Indian Ocean to protect their economic interests. The vulnerability of ships to terrorism, piracy, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has grown rapidly in the last few decades. Penetration by extraterritorial powers has also undermined the security of the littoral and island states of the Indian Ocean. Primary responsibility for security of the Indian Ocean lies with the states located in the region. Collectively, it has been the least successful region in comparison to other regions in terms of creating a regional security mechanism. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been a reasonably successful for Indian Ocean states. The convention has provided the legal framework for maritime security while balancing the interests of all states. Indian Ocean is a zone of peace is the marker for collective security in the region. The declaration has been reiterated in a number of United Nations General Assembly resolutions. The nature of the pledge first and foremost is to prevent war and conflict in the region and secondly to promote social, economic, and cultural cooperation. Although the declaration has not been translated into a formal treaty or alliance, it has been responsible for the comparative absence of interstate war in the region. A number of confidence and security-building measures have been implemented in recent years by various extra-regional powers. These efforts, however, have been largely uncoordinated and on occasions conflict with the interests of the Indian Ocean states.
3. Security Concerns in Indian Ports
Security concerns have become paramount in the last few years due to a number of disturbing developments. The prime among them are the increased incidence of theft, pilferage in port areas as also at sea, the latest being the attack on an American ship off Mumbai. General threat from the anti-national elements and insurgents in the form of sabotage aimed at the strategic and defense installations has direct bearing on the naval establishments and assets. The insurgent groups have links with the anti-national elements, have been of late using small boats to transport arms and explosives to the coastal areas. This was brought to focus by the recovery of a large quantity of arms and explosives near Gosabara, Porbandar in 1999 from a boat which had originated from Pakistan. Last but not the least is the grave threat posed by the pirates in certain areas close to the Indian peninsula e.g. the Malacca straits. All these threat perceptions have serious implications in the security of the ports and the shipping.
3.1 Threats to Maritime Security
An array of traditional and non-traditional threats pose significant challenges to maintaining maritime security in the present era. The modern definition of maritime security goes beyond the traditional domain of security threats in the form of a military attack. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), maritime security is “the maintenance of order at sea, dealing with crime, and the protection of seafarers”. Security safeguards the maritime common, which constitutes over 70% of Earth and 90% of the world’s construction. Globalization, the escalating dependency of offer and demand of goods, and the liberalization of the services sector involving the outward-looking of domestic economies have all placed great importance on the timely and safe shipment of products by sea. Approximately 90% of global transactions are conducted through the ocean, largely as a consequence of greater economies of scale in container transport over other types of freight. This has led to an increase in the value and volume of the goods being transported through the ocean, hence providing greater attraction of the goods being targeted by pirates and thieves. This in itself has also improved the demand for maritime security in offering a secure corridor for said goods.
3.2 Vulnerabilities in Port Infrastructure
Security Concerns in Indian Ports
The dynamic nature of global shipping and porting activity has led to a shift in the focus of maritime security. Historically, the main concern associated with ports has been the issue of theft, but with ships being used as transport mechanisms for terrorist attacks and the current patterns of global organized crime, the nature of port security has had to adjust to provide greater deterrence against security breaches. This is also true in the case of India, where the government has implemented various security measures at its 12 major ports. The 2005 International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code is an international agreement to the safety of port facilities and ships, and was ratified by India on the 2nd December 2004. The ISPS code is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. It is an ongoing reviewable piece of legislature that is implemented in phases, and will be a part of a continuing process towards the further development of security systems and procedures. The primary objective of the ISPS code is to provide a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities through the identification of security levels and the specification of associated security measures. Failure by a port to enforce these measures can have repercussions such as the detention of ships or denial of entry to a foreign port. These enforcement measures have somewhat forced a change in the method of security being a provision against security breach as opposed to the prevention of security breaches. This is contrary wise to the traditional view that enhancing security was to reduce the level of security breaches.
3.3 Role of Technology in Enhancing Security
The second aspect to overcoming the security hurdles in Indian ports is the wide scale employment of advanced security technology. Information technology, electronics, and modern communication tools are important enablers for security. The X-ray inspection systems, CCTV cameras, sensors, motion detectors, and video analytics systems, command and control systems, and the various software employed for intelligence fusion are mechanisms with great potential to act as force multipliers and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of security operations. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) systems can be used to establish the identity, location, and presence of ships in near real-time. Simulation tools and security training modules based on virtual reality are cost-effective means of preparing security personnel to respond effectively to security incidents. Though the benefits of technology are many, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and often, the expertise in operation and maintenance of such systems is lacking. These technologies are vulnerable to obsolescence, and given the rapid rate of change of technology and defense systems in the maritime domain, it is important to ensure that all security technology retains pace with contemporary threat. This would require sustained investment and committed political will. As such, it is important to develop technology indigenously, ensuring that it is tailored to specifically address the needs of maritime security and is capable of being maintained and sustained over the long term. In the light of this, a comprehensive national policy on maritime security and allocation of specific funds for maritime security technology becomes imperative.
3.4 International Cooperation in Addressing Security Concerns
Countries facing similar threats often form deep strategic partnerships and understandings in the security sector. The dynamism of international security in the post 9/11 world has created a shared perception of diverse security threats with interrelated policy implications. This situation has a direct bearing on security at Indian ports as many of the threats to maritime security in India have an international dimension. Traditional security issues and the emerging non-traditional issues both require greater cooperation with other countries to keep the seas safe. This involves India being proactively involved, offering assistance and cooperation with other nations, and contributing to an international environment that ensures maritime security. An important point to note here is that the level of security at Indian ports greatly depends on the security of the region in which the port lies, especially in the case of non-traditional threats. This can be explained by using an example. If Afghanistan’s opium issue remains unresolved, it is likely that some of this opium will eventually find its way to Europe or the US, much of it through the Arabian Sea and landing in Indian ports. To avoid this situation, India may need to involve itself with the security and rebuilding process in Afghanistan and try to influence policies that will affect the security of the region around India. The most comprehensive way of doing this is by becoming involved in UN-led operations and contributing to the security of the area through regional or international conflict management and resolution. By doing this India can hope to ‘globalize’ the area security to a point where it will affect the security of Indian ports in a positive manner. Indian involvement with UN and regional organizations also has other added benefits.
It can be said that the period of modern India is one of paradox. On one hand, it is a rising economic power and on the other hand, it still faces various social and economic issues at home. This means that India has a cost-sensitive special interest in ensuring that the measures to enhance security do not hinder the facilitation of free and open trade. The ISPS code and various other security measures put in place since 9/11 have greatly raised the cost of doing business in the international trade and transport industry. This has had an effect on developing countries and the various measures have been a point of contention to some. UN and other global and regional organizations still provide the best forum for developing a security environment with minimal impact on world trade and best allows India to protect its national interests.
4. Recommendations and Conclusion
Given the potential constraints on the international community that could result from conflict with Iraq, the United States must approach this issue with caution. It should stress the importance of security against WMD without using the issue as a pretext for war. The end goal should be the creation and enforcement of international law pertaining to maritime security with regards to WMD, through organizations such as the United Nations and the IMO. These laws would serve to make the world a safer place from WMD terrorism, without disrupting the flow of international trade.
Given the grave security and economic implications of a terrorist attack using WMD on the United States, it is clear that terrorism needs to be addressed as a matter of national security. And while globalization has led to increased vulnerability to terrorist attack, it has also led to increased interdependence in the global economy. Nowhere is this truer than in the shipping industry. This increased vulnerability in shipping combined with the potential for WMD attacks makes maritime security an issue of global importance. The United States should seek to globalize the effort to increase maritime security, in an attempt to make other nations take responsibility for the security of their own ships and port facilities.
Policy recommendations are perhaps the most effective method for articulating the conclusions of the analysis. A policy recommendation is an in-depth, well-researched explanation of a specific course of action that should be taken with regards to policy. It is the desired goal of those who wish to see a change in policy. Analysis has changed into policy prescription with the hopes that the explanation of the research has led to a need for change in policy with its focus on openness in the policy process. It is to that end that the following policy recommendation has been made.
4.1 Policy Recommendations for Strengthening Maritime Security
The analysis conducted above has sought out the constituent elements of India’s maritime security and the impact governmental policy has on the security environment. Given the significant deficiency in the present security situation, we proposed that the policies currently being undertaken are inadequate in preserving and advancing India’s security interests in the maritime sphere. The proposed policy changes are specifically targeted to assist in crafting a strategy to counter the three perpetual challenges in the maritime security environment, i.e. traditional security threats, the prevention and management of conflict, and lastly to help it deal with emergent non-traditional threats.
Traditionally, security has depended upon the dominant correlates of state power: military force. India seeks strategic autonomy in South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and areas of importance to its national interests. This recently has been challenged with increased Chinese involvement in the South Asian region and the Indian Ocean, and an escalated arms race in South Asia.
4.2 Future Prospects and Implications
The realization to develop a safe and secure environment for the Indian maritime industry is gradually catching up. There is increased consciousness about the importance of maritime security at the government, industry, and organizational level. This is evident from the fact that India is in the process of setting up an autonomous nodal agency for maritime security – Ministry of Defence Committee on Maritime and Coastal Aviation Safety and Security. The focus is shifting from mere compliance of international conventions to total security integration at all levels. A prime example would be the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code which has moved the focus of government and industry from mere port State control on security aspects to self-assessment and implementation of security measures at the port facility level. Similar measures are being enforced on ships with the recent amendments to SOLAS chapter XI-2. It has been recognized that the solution to better security lies in effective information sharing and coordination between all the agencies involved and steering security culture. The ISPS Code itself is an output of cooperation amongst various maritime bodies in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. This has refocused the attention of the IMO towards maritime security and has translated into various national policies and programs to build a safer environment for sea trade.
4.3 Conclusion
Nevertheless, this assessment strongly argues that for India, maritime security has primarily been about a neat and clean maritime industry rather than the safety and security of the state through sustenance and growth in national power. This trend needs to be reversed in a fundamental manner. There are numerous assets in the maritime sector, many of these are yet to be realized and are under development or acquisition. There is also a dual-use potential for a large number of merchant marine platforms and infrastructure for military and security purposes to enhance national strength.
From the above discussion and analysis, it is clear that the maritime security system in India is lacking and insufficient. Political leaders to strategists and analysts, all agree that there is a lack of good governance at all levels of Indian maritime security. One of the consultants in the international shipping business, Neil Peterson, states that it lacks coherence, has not been senior led, and lacks a culture of taking maritime security seriously. There was insufficient attention paid to the problem, and the government consistently failed to take necessary steps to improve the situation. The implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) in India is only a small part of the overall maritime security effort, but it did address several security gaps and weaknesses within the Indian maritime industry. India is improving its national maritime awareness and surveillance capabilities with significant investments and enhancement in technologies. These technologies can also be fielded to exercise control in its territory and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

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