The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Chetna Kohli, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
“The maritime agenda will complement the ambitious infrastructure plan for the hinterland which is going on in parallel”, said the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi at the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai on 14th April 2016.
India has always been slow and ad hoc in developing infrastructure for the various seaboards it naturally has and thereby losing out on related economic opportunity they provide. Having been Chief Minister of Gujarat – a State that stands out in port development, Mr. Modi has an unmatched sense of this untapped potential. He pointed out that India’s maritime potential lies in its strategic location as it is a part of all major shipping highways.
The emphasis on maritime infrastructure has increased in the recent years and the Modi government has provided impetus to it. The ambitious Sagarmala programme intends to promote port development, improve coastal economy, modernize the ports, integrate ports with existing SEZs, and create port-based smart cities, industrial parks, and transport corridors. India has also started to collaborate with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar in establishing waterways and port infrastructure. This is inevitable as infrastructure provides the necessary push to take forward strategic ventures.
India should strengthen its maritime and costal strategy. At the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam in February, Mr. Modi had observed that the ability to reap economic benefits from the water bodies and the country’s capacity to respond to the opportnities and challenges in the maritime sector. The Indian Navy plays a pivotal role in containing piracy on the seas and is positioning itself as the security provider in the broader context of economic exchanges. The emphasis on oceanic trade is two-sided — first, securing energy and trade routes to sustain economic growth, and second, keeping a check on increasing foray by other countries into Indian waters. Indian strategic interests in the larger Indian Ocean are converging with the U.S. India, who has traditionally been defensive, is also indicative of a change in its posturing.
All in all, the future of maritime domain is infused with endless possibilities whose benefits can be repaed if expolited properly.