Security Challenges

The Indian Ocean region covering a vast maritime zone of nearly 68.56 million sq. km. faces many traditional and non-traditional safety and security challenges and is vulnerable to criminals and anti-national activities. including piracy, armed robberies at sea, terrorism, human trafficking, drugs trafficking, illicit trafficking in wildlife, trafficking of weapons, crimes in the fisheries sector such as IUU fishing, degradation of ocean health, unlawful exploitation of marine resources, and climate change with its related repercussions on environmental security.

Maritime Security includes elements of

  • International peace and security,
  • Sovereignty/territorial integrity/political independence,
  • Security from crimes at sea,
  • Security of resources and environmental security



  • China’s regressive behavior in the critical sea lanes in the South China Sea and there inroad to Indian Ocean are the centre of the entire maritime security challenge. Thus there is Concerns over maritime security and of rule-based order in Indo-Pacific.
  • China is increasing its influence not just with military force but through the belt and road initiative too.
  • The sea lanes of communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region.


  • The undertaking of terrorist acts and activities within the maritime environment, using or against vessels or fixed platforms at sea or in port, or against any one of their passengers or personnel, against coastal.
  • Mumbai Attack on November 26, 2008, is the most glaring examples of how vulnerable the country’s coasts are.


  • The movement by sea of large volume of commercial freight and its mandatory movement through maritime choke points, such as the Panama Canal, Suez Canal, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of  Bab-el-Mandab, the Malacca Strait and the Bosporus Strait invite piracy. Near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden Piracy has been predominant in the seas of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden between 2005 and 2012.

Smuggling and human trafficking:

  • Organized crime, trafficking and smuggling are increasingly linked to global patterns of violence. Drugs and arms smuggling jeopardizing much of the Indian Ocean.

Infiltration, Illegal Migration:

  • India’s land boundaries have always been porous to infiltration by large scale illegal migration. These large scale influxes over the decades have resulted in widespread political turmoil in the Border States.
  • Creek areas of Gujarat have been highly vulnerable.
  • The Tamil Nadu coast has been experiencing a steady inflow of Sri Lankan refugees since civil war broke out in that country.

Environmental security

  • The degradation of the environment, climate change and the overexploitation of ocean resources are threatening the interests and futures of all the region’s countries and peoples.
  • This will increase the likelihood of flooding, resulting in loss of life and damage to property, as illustrated by recent tsunamis and cyclones.

Unsustainable Ocean resources usage- Competition for resources in and under the oceans, specifically energy and protein, is intensifying.


Strengthening security institutions

Multilayered Surveillance System: A multilayered system of  surveillance of  the country’s maritime domain involving the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Police, Customs, and the Fishermen

  • Indian Navy continuously carries out patrols, goodwill visits and joint training to display a show of force.
  • Government of India created 2 specialised forces: the Customs Marine Organisation and the Indian Coast Guard.
  • Customs Marine Organisation: to curb smuggling through the sea.
  • Indian Coast Guard:
  • Patrolling the territorial and contiguous waters;
  • Enforcing criminal laws in these waters;
  • Ensuring compliance of laws relating to shipping, fishing and pollution;
  • Assisting the Customs Department in anti-smuggling operations; and
  • Conducting search and rescue and other specified duties.
  • Marine Police Force: for patrolling and the surveillance of the coastal areas, particularly the shallow areas close to the coast.
  • Electronic Surveillance: Government of India has launched the coastal surveillance network project. The network comprises the coastal radar chain, the Automatic Identification System (AIS).
  • Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of Fishermen: All big fishing trawlers (20 meters and above) are being installed with transponders. for small fishing vessels to fit them with the Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID).

Cooperating with regional countries

  • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)- The IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean region. It has 23 countries as members including India.
  • Indian Ocean Rim Association- It has 20 countries as members including India. IORA serves as the ‘first line of defence’ to build upon existing national, regional and international measures, thereby enhancing coordination and supporting harmonized international Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) collaboration.

Checking aggressive china

  • India’s Call for Free and Open Indo-Pacific: India has called for a free, open and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific, based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.
  • India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce in the international waterways.
  • India also supports utilization of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.
  • India is coordinating with the other powers such as the QUAD nations to contain china in the Indo Pacific region.

Exercises like Malabar with USA, JAPAN, and recent participant AUSTRALIA is significant in this regard.