After the 26/11 attacks, coastal security in India has experienced a sea change, according to Vice Admiral Satish Soni, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command. Rani Durgavati, an inshore patrol vessel, has recently become a part of the Indian Coast Guard. Vice Admiral Soni commissioned the same on 13 July. The ceremony was also attended by RP Sharma, IG (Coast Guard) and Rear Admiral (Retd) NK Mishra, HSL CMD. The ceremony also saw the participation of the following dignitaries:
• Coast Guard DIG (CGRPT) SS Malik
• Zakir Hussain, Commanding Officer of Rani Durgavati
• Commander CG Andhra Pradesh, JS Sabharwal
• Deepa Dasgupta, Chief Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise
• DGNP Vice Admiral DM Deshpande
• Amit Garg, Police Commissioner
Greater Participation of Various Entities: Importance of Coast Guard
While talking to the ones in attendance at Vishakhapatnam, Vice Admiral Soni also said that now every member of the Coast Guard, as well as the related agencies, have become involved and they are all equally important in ensuring that India stays prepared for any such dreadful occurrence in the future.
However, the Coast Guard still remains the most important entity as far as having a close working relationship with the various agencies is concerned. He has said that both the Coast Guard and Marine Police have been increasing the strength of their forces. Vice Admiral Soni has further said that the addition of INCG Rani Durgavati is an important one for the Coast Guard. During the ceremony he also praised HSL for the high-quality service being provided by the same. HSL has constructed 174 ships and repaired 2000 marine vessels inclusive of submarines.
Rapid Growth of Indian Coast Guard
SP Sharma, the Commander Coast Guard (East) Inspector-General, has stated that the Indian Coast Guard is presently growing at an exponential rate. It has 118 ships, at least 1000 officers, and 63 aircraft. This makes it the fourth biggest of its kind in the world. In addition to this, eight yards are presently being used to make 84 craft and ships. These are expected to be inducted into the force by 2019 and according to Sharma their addition will make the force more stable. At that point in time, the entire force will be divided into equal portions across the 42 CG stations.
Improvements in Speed
HSL CMD has stated that there is only a certain amount of weight that can be carried on Rani Durgavati. However, it has still been designed in such a way that it can achieve the maximum possible speed. For this HSL has associated with Thorny Craft of Australia. In making the ship, HSL has had to put in a lot of hard work and was associated with the Refit and Production Team of the Coast Guard. As Rear Admiral (Retd) Mishra has stated, even though it was unable to make much headway in the initial stages, it managed to learn from its mistakes. The same is applicable for several other shipyards as well.
Rani Durgavati is third in a series of 5 inshore patrol vessels. It derives its name from the historic queen of Gond kingdom, who was able to defeat Baz Bahadur, a general of the erstwhile Mughal army. It is a completely-indigenous product. Its optimum speed is 14 knots at which it can endure till 150 nautical miles. However, its top speed is 34 knots.
New Transponders for Tracking Small Fishing Vessels
The new project is an attempt to make the coastlines of India even safer than before. The Ministry of Home Affairs is taking care of the said project, which will make sure that every small vessel can be properly tracked till the time it reaches the shores of India. The project is named Automatic Identification System (proprietary) Transponders. It is supposed to track small fishing vessels till they are at a distance of 50 km from the coast. India’s coastline is 7517 km long. Earlier in 2015, a boat had been blown up near Porbandar Coast because the authorities had suspected that it may have contained terrorists.
Make in India and National Security Clearance – A Loophole?
The MHA has started the National Security Clearance, which is being viewed as an attempt to energise the Make in India initiative started by Narendra Modi. As per this policy, the Indian Government will not take into account previous small offences while providing security clearance to owners and promoters. It will also make it more convenient for countries, which are said to be of concern, to start manufacturing units in the country. As per the new policy, 15 parameters have been created. The different security agencies of India will be asked to provide their opinions regarding the same.
Role of Department of Telecommunications
The Department of Telecommunications has been asked to create an infrastructure whereby it will be able to test if any spyware or malware is being used in products manufactured by international companies. Almost 65% of the telecom equipment used in India is made in China. This is why MHA was thinking of coming up with a new policy for Chinese companies. After Modi’s China visit, the government decided that the policy of creating infrastructure to test malware in foreign goods will be applicable for Chinese goods.
Previously, the security clearance had a maximum time limit of 16 weeks. However, now it has been reduced to 4-6 weeks. The policy had been in the offing for a year now. However, after Sun TV Network, promoted by Kalanithi Maran, was denied the security clearance, the process was speeded up.
Indian intelligence had given rather negative reports regarding the owners and promoters of Sun TV and this is what led to the rejection of security clearance to the same. This is why this time around the government has instituted only the bare minimum processes for providing or denying security clearance to companies. The reasons under which one can be denied security clearance are as follows:
• Charges of money laundering against promoters
• Passport fraud
• Links with terrorism
• Links with intelligence agencies of other countries
• Financial scam and fraud
• Conviction in serious crime such as murder
Need for a Middle Ground
While it is a good thing that the Indian authorities are ruling out petty offences as criteria for denying security clearances, it is also important that they define what acts of crime will be regarded as petty. What needs to be understood is that if a certain entity has committed one mistake – no matter how small it is – and if it is not made to pay for the same it will only be encouraged and soon feel the urge to commit even greater acts of crime without leaving much to chance. It may keep on repeating the same thing again and again as well and then it can have some serious impact. It can rub off negatively on companies that do the right thing and yet do not get the desired clearance.
At the same time, the Indian Government’s stance is laudable to a certain extent, considering it is willing to lend a second chance to entities that have strayed off the right path. This is why a middle path needs to be found – a balance needs to be there so that the interests of all stakeholders are protected properly.