India's maritime Policy Towards Gulf States


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This paper deals India's maritime policy towards the Gulf states. India's stakes and challenges and Gulf countries need to look towards India for maritime security and strategic requirements.

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India's maritime Policy Towards Gulf States

  1. 1. India’s Maritime Policy towards the Gulf States: Planning, Projection and Prescription Zakir Hussain Research Fellow Indian Council of World Affairs Sapru House, New Delhi. 110 001 India 1
  2. 2. Abstract: The peninsular outreach of India in the Indian Oceanassigns it a naturally predominant maritime status among theworld powers. The incontestable fact, however, is that though thevarious coastal kingdoms constituting present-day India hadlegendary maritime prowess, independent India took aninordinately long time to evolve its hesitant maritime doctrine. Inthe positive perspective of history, this is merely a recounting oftimes bygone. Nevertheless, current policymakers can learn fromthis recounting. In the current scenario of India’s growingpresence on the international scene, the country’s policymakersneed to take advantage of every available opportunity to ensure itspresence in the maritime field in the interests of a prosperous andsecure world order.This paper would aim at studying India’s maritime policy towardsthe Gulf states, which account high in India’s overall nationalinterests, including security of energy, safe passage of trade andcommerce, maintaining a safe and secure Sea Line ofCommunications (SLOCs), besides ensuring effective security tothe nation.The present paper is divided into three sub-parts. Part I deals withIndia’s Maritime Policy; Part II deals India’s Maritime Stakes andChallenges in the Western Indian Ocean Region; Part IIIManagement of India’s maritime Interest.About the Author: 2
  3. 3. Dr. Zakir Hussain is Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs. His area of research is the political economy of West Asia and the Gulf. He has a rich experience on diverse issues of the Gulf region, including migration, energy, nuclear, maritime geo-strategy and India’s foreign relations with Gulf countries in the age of globalization and post-cold war. Before joining this institute, he was associated with International national Organisation, National Labour of Institute of India, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and National Maritime Foundation. His book on India and Gulf: Emerging Dynamics is forthcoming. He can be accessed: Mobile: +91-7838608840. Currently he is working on Saudi Arabia and India in the 21st Century in the Gulf. Disclaimer: Views are solely of the author. ICWA has nothing to do with this view.India’s Maritime Policy towards the Gulf States: Planning, Projection and Prescription 3
  4. 4. Dr. Zakir HussianMaritime policy essentially enunciates the protection, preservation, and augmentation of thenational interest accruing from a country’s territorial waters and in international waters. Sincetime immemorial the oceans have played a crucial role in safeguarding and enhancing India’snational interests.Peninsular morphology has assigned to India a maritime status based on incontestable naturalfoundations. It is a fact, however, that India’s hesitant maritime doctrine took a long time toevolve, mature, and assert itself. For long decades the country suffered from virtual “seablindness”. The consequence was that it prospered less than it could have and compromised onits territorial sovereignty. This in spite of the fact that Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first PrimeMinister, asserted: We cannot afford to be weak at sea. History has shown that whoever controls the Indian Ocean has, in the first instance, India’s seaborne trade at her mercy and, in the second, India’s very independence itself. (Berlin, 2000)Geographically, the southern Indian peninsula halves the country’s maritime domain into easternIndian Ocean Region (IOR) and western IOR. Eastern IOR encompasses the South China Seaand beyond: India’s seaborne trade and traffic extends to the US in this direction; western IORreaches up to the Cape of Good Hope and east of Africa; while the lower south reachesAntarctica. The western IOR is controlled by four entry points: Cape of Good Hope, Strait ofHormuz, Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and Suez Canal; eastern IOR is safeguarded by three straits:Malacca, Sunda and Lombok.In India’s policy regarding IOR, both IOR halves have helped, even beyond IOR, including theSouth China Sea, through which a great deal of Indian trade transits. However, on account ofvital stakes such as energy, trade, diaspora and major sea lines of communication (SLOCs),western IOR plays a crucial role in India’s economic and political strategy regarding IOR.For India, in both advantages and security challenges, the two halves of IOR have differentconnotations. China’s presence in the eastern region poses for India a geo-strategically toughpolicy option. The Indian Maritime Doctrine of 2004 takes note of “attempts by China to 4
  5. 5. strategically encircle India” and comments adversely on “China’s vigorous exertions that tend tospill over into our maritime zone”. While western IOR does not pose any big-power threat, theemergence of strong asymmetrical forces in recent years, including non-state actors and theirattempts to make inimical use of the sea, pose serious challenges to the maritime interests ofIndia as well as other nations in the region. Statistically, only 20 per cent of the seaborne tradethat transits through the Indian Ocean belongs to the littoral states, the rest of it belonging toexogenous countries.Based on these realities, India’s maritime policy towards the Gulf, though not openlypronounced, has some nuanced differences from its policy towards eastern IOR. The diverse setsof stakes and challenges have convinced Indian policymakers to develop different sets ofmaritime policy matrixes between the two IOR sectors.Against this backdrop, this paper attempts to elucidate existing elements of India’s maritimepolicy vis-à-vis the Gulf region and the required modifications in it. It aims at the following: (i)explain and analyse the broad contours of India’s maritime policy; (ii) discuss India’s maritimeinterest – both stakes and challenges – in the Gulf; (iii) discuss India’s efforts to manage itsmaritime interests in the region, including policies and alliances; (iv) and based on thisdiscussion, come to certain conclusions.I. India’s Maritime DoctrineThe Rig Veda of yore invokes the following prayer: Shano Varuna (“Be auspicious to us, OVaruna”, Varuna being the Lord of the Sea). This is reflective of India’s long maritime tradition,spanning more than four thousand years. The term “maritime” in general encompasses manyaspects that pertain to the sea, such as economic, political, military, scientific, technological, andenvironmental. Maritime issues include seaborne trade and commerce, delimitation ofinternational seaward boundaries, deployment and employment of naval forces, and themanagement of the living and non-living resources of the sea. The strategy of the IndianMaritime Doctrine is designed to “respond to a range of external threats and safeguard India’seconomic, political and security interests in the maritime domain, with a purposefully designedset of maritime capabilities”. The doctrine has explained the concept of and principles underlyingIndia’s naval power. We notice that in recent years the Indian Navy’s maritime strategy has 5
  6. 6. focused on three crucial elements, namely, national interest, perceived threats and navalcapabilities.India’s Maritime Doctrine has enumerated the role, missions and operational tasks of the IndianNavy, underlining the likely scenario of the use of naval force: • Conflict with a state in India’s immediate neighbourhood or clash of interest with an extra-regional power • Operation in extended and/or strategic neighbourhood in response to a request for assistance from a friendly nation • Anti-terrorist operations, conducted multilaterally or unilaterally • Actions to fulfil international bilateral strategic partnership obligations • Ensuring good order at sea, which includes Low Intensity Maritime Operation (LIMO), to combat asymmetric warfare, poaching, piracy and trafficking in arms/ drugs • Ensuring safety and security of international shipping lanes (ISLs) through the Indian Ocean • Actions to assist the Indian diaspora and Indian interests abroad • Peacekeeping operations, under the aegis of the United Nations, independently or as part of a multinational force.Maritime Domain AwarenessThe next focus of the Indian Maritime Doctrine is to clearly outline the maritime domain of thecountry, so that the Indian Navy can perform its task smoothly and confidently, particularly inthe presence of neutral warships and mercantile marine during maritime warfare.Table 1 shows the basic features of the Indian maritime domains, total length of coastline, islandterritories and maritime jurisdictions. Table 1: Maritime statistics of India Total Length of Coastline 7516.6 km Mainland 5422.6 km 6
  7. 7. Lakshadweep Islands 132 km A&N Islands 1962 km Island Territories 1197 A&N Islands 572 Lakshadweep Islands 27 Off West Coast mainland 447 Off East Coast mainland 151 Maritime Jurisdiction UNCLOS Ratification dated 29 June 1995 Territorial Waters 45,450 sq km/155,889 sq km Extent of EEZ 587,600 sq km/2,013,410 sq km Deep Sea Mining Area 150,000 sq km Pioneer Investor 1987 Posn-180 Cape Comorin 1080 km Antarctica Dakshin Gangotri-1983 Maitri-1989 Source: Freedom to Use Sea, 2007.Area of Maritime InterestThe Indian Maritime Doctrine has reiterated its faith in the sixteenth-century PortugueseGovernor Alfonso de Albuquerque’s view, who once ruled in the IOR, that “the control of thekey chokepoints extending from the Horn of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope and the MalaccaStrait is essential to prevent any inimical power from making an entry into the Indian Ocean”.Considering the vast expanse of the IOR, around 68.558 million sq km, and the present capacityof the Indian Navy to manage the maritime affairs, Indian policymakers have bifurcated India’smaritime interests into Primary and Secondary Areas. The former represents the immediate andcore interests of the country; the latter carries futuristic stakes, depending upon the futureexpansion of the Indian naval power in the region and beyond. The Indian Maritime Doctrine2009 enumerates the following areas of interest: The Primary Areas of maritime interest include: • The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, which largely encompass India’s EEZ, island territories and their littoral reaches • The chokepoints leading to and from the Indian Ocean – principally the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the Cape of Good Hope 7
  8. 8. • The Island countries • The Persian Gulf, which is the source of majority of the country’s oil supplies • The principal ISLs crossing the IOR The Secondary Areas include: • The Southern IOR • The Red Sea • The South China Sea • The East Pacific RegionFigure 1 graphically shows the area of India’s maritime interests.Figure 1: Maritime Domain of IndiaSource: Berlin, 2006 8
  9. 9. II. India’s Maritime Stakes and Challenges in Western IORA: StakesIndia’s maritime stakes in western IOR are significantly high. India’s rapid economic growth,soaring energy dependence, presence of vast diaspora, geo-political location as well as overallpeace, security and stability in the region are crucially linked to the state of affairs in this sectorof IOR. Over the years, these factors have required of India to evolve a consistent, stable andbroad-based maritime policy towards the Gulf States.Maritime Trade and Energy SecurityIndia’s economic future depends on maritime trade; nearly 95 per cent of its trade by volume and77 per cent by value is seaborne. Sustained high economic growth in the post-liberalization erahas not only increased India’s trade-GDP ratio from 9 per cent in 1990-91 to 19 per cent in1998-99 to 25 per cent to the present but also enhanced its share in global trade from 0.5 per centto 1.8 per cent. The Indian economy has become integrated with the major economies of theworld; consequently, its trade both by volume as well as value has grown rapidly. For instance,in 1998-99 India’s total foreign trade was of US$ 75.52 billion which increased to US$ 467.12billion in 2009-10. As a result the capacity of Indian ports to handle foreign trade has also grownsimultaneously; the volume of traffic handled by Indian ports grew from 244.15 million tonnes(MT) in 1998-99 to 849.9 MT in 2009-10. According to the Maritime Agenda 2010–2020, overthe last ten years (1998/99-2008/09) the Indian seaborne trade has been growing at a compoundaverage growth rate (CAGR) of 11.38 per cent; before the economic crisis, it was 12.25. AtCAGR of 12.25 per cent, the Maritime Report estimated that in absolute terms, the Indianseaborne trade is expected to grow from the current 598.7 MT to 2,134 MT by 2020, i.e. about3.56 times the current trade, leading to an increase in India’s share in global seaborne trade fromthe current 3.66 per cent to 9.3 per cent by 2020. Table 2 shows the past and projected Indianseaborne EXIM trade. Table 2. India’s past and projected seaborne EXIM Trade, 1998/99–2008/9 Year 1998-99 1999-00 2000-1 2001-2 2002-3 2003-4 2004-5 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2019-20 9
  10. 10. Million Tonnes 203.7 224.6 244.3 273 280.3 345.7 400.6 447.1 497.8 576.4 598.7 2134Source: Maritime Agenda 2010–2020.The rise in India’s seaborne trade is attributed more to the countries in western IOR. Theintensity is more towards the Gulf-OPEC and African countries. The Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) has emerged as the second-largest trading hub of India. India’s non-oil trade with some ofthe GCC countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Iran has been consistently going up. In2009 the UAE emerged as India’s leading non-oil trading partner, with a total trade of more thanUS$45 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia as the fourth-largest non-oil trading partner (around$23 billion).Several factors have contributed to the quantum jump in Indo-Gulf bilateral trade. A prominentfactor is policy transformation of both sides. India considers the Gulf region as its “extendedneighbourhood”. Similar to the 1990s’ “Look East Policy”, in 2005 the Indian governmentannounced a “Look West Policy”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated: The Gulf region, like South-East and South Asia, is part of our natural economic hinterland. We must pursue closer economic relations with all our neighbours in our wider Asian neighbourhood. India has successfully pursued a “Look East” policy to come closer to the countries of South East Asia. We must come closer to our western neighbours in the Gulf.1He directed the Commerce and External Affairs Ministries to rapidly conclude the Free TradeAgreement (FTA) negotiation with the GCC. He also emphasized the need to promote bilateralnegotiations with all individual member countries of the GCC for a Comprehensive EconomicCooperation Agreement (CECA) covering the services and investment sectors.It is expected that once the FTA is signed, India-GCC trade between will increase by about threeand a half times the current size.Similarly, the Gulf countries have realized the growing potential of the Indian economy andtechnological prowess. Under its Look East Policy, the GCC Chamber of Trade and Commercehas also shown an interest in economically targeting large and populous countries like China,India and Malaysia in Asia.1 PM Launches ‘Look West’ Policy to Boost Cooperation with Gulf”, Press release, Prime Minister’sOffice, July 27, 2005. Available at Accessed21.11.2011. 10
  11. 11. This has considerably increased the prospects of maritime interactions between India and theGulf countries. During his recent visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Indian Prime Minister hasalso opened the prospects of better trade and commercial relations with African countries.Table 3 shows the rising volume of trade between India and the West Asia and North Africa(WANA) region. Table 3: WANA share in Indian trade during 1998/99–2009/10 (in US$ Million) Year 1998-99 1999-00 2000-1 2001-2 2002-3 2003-4 Total Indian 75,607.43 86,560.55 95,096.74 95,240.00 114,131.57 141,991.66 Trade WANA Share 15.8 16.4 9.1 9.4 9.7 10.6 (%) Year 2004-5 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2009-10 Total Indian 195,053.37 252,256.26 312,149.29 414,786.19 488,991.67 467,124.31 Trade WANA Share 12.2 10.9 23.8 24.7 27.0 25.9 (%) Source: Ministry of Trade and Commerce, India, accessed 17.08.2011.Energy SecurityA factor that can seriously compromise India’s economic growth, currently at 9 per cent, isinterruption in hydrocarbons supply from the Persian Gulf countries. Currently, 65 per cent ofIndia’s oil import comes from the Gulf region; this is expected to grow to 85 per cent of the total95 per cent import by 2030. Nirupama Rao, who was then Foreign Secretary, said that by 2020India would be consuming around 245 MT of oil, which would be third in the world and secondin Asia. Any blockade either at chokepoints – Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and atthe Suez Canal; or disruption in SLOCs – in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea– would not only severely threaten India’s energy security but also critically affect its economy,polity and society. Other countries that critically depend upon the Middle East oil, such as China,Japan, European countries and the US, would also encounter a serious energy crisis. Therefore,security of energy at sea is a crucial agenda of India’s maritime policy and maritime interest. To 11
  12. 12. India, securing energy supply is more important than for any other country in the world. According to Rao (2000), India is far more dependent than the US or even the former Western Europe on import of crude oil from West Asia. Whereas 90 per cent of India’s total imports of oil were sourced from the Persian Gulf, the equivalent figure for the US and Japan were 19 per cent and 74 per cent. In addition, the bulk of India’s domestic oil production is offshore; these offshore installations also need effective protection. Besides building huge offshore oil establishment, ONGC, GAIL (Gas Indian Limited) and other bodies have invested massively in on land infrastructures, including pipelines, LNG terminals etc. As noted by Freedom to Use Seas (2007): “Today, the offshore infrastructure of ONGC includes over 25 Process Platforms and more than 125 Well Platforms. In addition, over 3000 km pipeline has been laid on the seabed for the flow of oil and gas from the process platforms to onshore terminals at Hazira and Uran. The offshore regions where productions are taking place cover a total area in excess of 17,000 sq nm and it extends more that 100 nm into the EEZ. Offshore fields are, therefore, national assets of vital economic importance and any breakdown in either production of oil or gas or deviation in planned construction and expansion of the means of production is likely to adversely affect the long term strategic planning of the national economy…Since there are no physical barriers at sea, our offshore infrastructure is extremely vulnerable to disruptive attacks. It is obvious there is a need for constant surveillance and protection of these assets.”2 Since 1990, India has also ventured out to acquire oil acreages abroad. India’s OVL (ONGC Videsh Limited) has been actively engaged in a dozen foreign oilfields; except Sakhalin, Russia, its bulk of oil is transported through three most risky chokepoints: the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb. Table 4: India’s Domestic Oil Production and Consumption, 1970-/71-2009/10 (000’ tonnes) Year 1970-71 1979-80 1989-90 1999-00 2001-2 2003-4 2004-5 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2009-10Domestic 6,822 11,766 34,087 31,949 32,032 33,498 33,498 32,190 33,988 34,118 33,506 33,691ProductionDomesticConsumptio 18,505 27,887 53,577 89,754 1,10,738 1,23,807 1,29,355 1,22,353 1,31,669 1,40,697 1,45,312 1,49,803n Source: Petroleum Statistics, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, (relevant issues) 2 Freedom to Use the Seas: India’s Maritime Military Strategy, 12
  13. 13. Figure 2: Domestic Production and Consumption of Crude Oil in India, 1970/71-2009/10(in 000 Tonnes)Source: based on Table 4.Figures 3 and 4 show the oil demand, domestic production and total import as well as majordestinations of crude oil imports. Fig 3: Demand Projection Fig 4: Import & Domestic Production Destinations 13
  14. 14. Figures 3 and 4: Projection of oil demand, domestic production and percentage of importfrom different regions and countries, 2001/2–2024/25.Source: Indian Hydrocarbons Vision (IHV) 2025 and data from the Ministry of Petroleum and NaturalGas.However, India has also emerged as a significant supplier of refined petroleum products to mostof the countries like Iran, Oman. Its export of these products increased from 23.4 MMT in2005-06 to 144.03 MMT in 2009-10. The importing countries on western IOR are primarily Iran,Oman, Bahrain and some Western countries. This also demands security of transportation.Natural GasIf the twentieth century was the century of oil, the twenty-first, it is said, belongs to natural gas.Natural gas is a clean and green source of energy; it is 40 per cent less polluting, relativelycheap, geographically more evenly distributed, as well as less susceptible to price fluctuationthan oil. Consequently, under its energy diversification programme, the Indian government hasalso promoted the use of natural gas. Consumption of natural gas in India has grown rapidly inrecent decades. Under the government’s Vision Document, by 2020 the authorities have targetedto increase the share of gas in the total energy mix from the present 9 per cent to 15 per cent. Tomeet its demand, India has signed one of the biggest long-term LNG contracts with Qatar. Over aperiod of twenty-five years, Qatar would supply approximately 24 MT of LNG, in three phases.Bedsides Qatar, Iran and Oman have been India’s LNG suppliers from the Gulf countries. Onaccount of political logjam in the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline) and TAPI(Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipelines on one hand and growing gasconsumption in India on the other, LNG import will increase in a big way. (Table 5) Most of theLNG carriers will ferry through the Western IOR, hence, they need effective protection at sea.Table 5 shows the past and projected demand for natural gas in India. Table 5: India’s Projected Natural Gas Demand,2004/5-2024/25 Base Year: 1997-(59 MSCMD) Year 2004-05 2009-10 2014-15 2019-20 2024-25 Gas Demand 195 277 329 358 391 Source: Indian Hydrocarbons Vision (IHV) 2025. 14
  15. 15. The DiasporaAnother important dimension of India’s maritime policy regarding the Gulf countries has beenshaped by the presence of the vast Indian diaspora community in the region. Approximately 5million Indian expatriates are present in different Gulf countries, the majority being in the sixGCC countries, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (Table 6) Inany emergency situation, such as occurred in the Gulf crisis 1990, the Lebanon war (2006) andthe recent Libyan crisis, the Indian Navy has been called upon to evacuate the Indian expatriatesat short notice. This possibility has been enunciated in the Indian Maritime Doctrine of 2009 as“action to assist the Indian diaspora and the Indian interests abroad”. During the Lebanon crisis,the Indian Navy deployed two ships to evacuate Indian workers from the region; workers fromBangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal were also taken on board. In the recent Libyan crisis the IndianNavy was assigned the task of evacuating 17,000 Indians from Libya. Three ships were engagedin the task and within a fortnight the mission was accomplished.Table 6 shows the share of GCC countries in total clearance of migration during 1975-2010. Table 6: Percentage Share of Migration Clearance to the GCC States in Total Year 1975 1979 1981 1990 1995 2000 2001 2005 2010TotalClearance 2,66,555 5,01,000 5,94,500 1,43,565 4,15,334 2,43,182 2,78,664 5,48,853 6,41,356sGCC 96.7 86.5 88.3 95.6 92.6 72.4 83.5 82.8 95.2Share (%)Source: Office of Protector General of Emigrants, Govt. of India & Annual Report,2010-11, Ministry ofOverseas Indian Affairs, GOI. .Economically, the Gulf diaspora community has been consistently contributing to the Indianeconomy through constant flow of remittances. Currently, India receives approximately $53billion remittances; approximately, 40 per cent is coming from the Gulf region.B: ChallengesThe challenges to India’s maritime interests in western IOR are myriad. Although unlike theeastern sector, western IOR is not intensely subjected to international rivalry and encirclements,in recent years the rise and presence of strong asymmetrical forces, including non-state actors,and their alliance with forces that contemplate inimical use of the sea have posed serious 15
  16. 16. challenges to Indian maritime interests. Re-emergence of piracy in the Gulf of Aden andadjoining regions, the possibility of terror-piracy (alliance between pirates and terrorist groups atsea), geopolitical instability in the energy-rich nations leading to possible blockade ofchokepoints, instability at sea as well as protection of SLOCs and ISLs and the misuse of sea forillegal activities like narco-terrorism, gunrunning, human trafficking, etc., are some of the majorchallenges India and other nations might confront in the region.Piracy in the Gulf of AdenAt the onset of the current century, piracy resurfaced in the Gulf of Aden and its suburbanregion. Somali pirates made global headlines for the first time on 5 November 2005, when theytried to hijack the US cruise-liner Seaborne Spirit approximately 75 nautical miles off the coastof Somalia. Their second, and successful, attack was on an Indian dhow Bhakti Sagar inFebruary 2006. Since then these pirates have stepped up their adventurism. In 2006, only 22incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Aden were reported; 51 in 2007; 111 in 2008; 217 in 2009 and2010; and by mid- 2011, 117 cases were reported.Figure 5 shows the rising tide of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. It also shows the shifting destinationof piracy from the South-East Asian nations to the Gulf of Aden and adjoining region. 16
  17. 17. Figure 5: Incidents of piracy worldwide and the Gulf of Aden, 2000–2011 Source: International Maritime Bureau Reports (various).The increasing menace of piracy has produced cascading effects both on security at sea as wellas increasing the economic cost of seaborne transportation, including trade and commerce. Thepirates have been raising their ransom demands steeply, from an average of $100,000–200,000 in2005 to approximately $5.4 million in 2009. The highest ransom was paid to secure the releaseof Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker, around $9.5 million. The pirates have been usingthe ransom money to modernize their attacking equipment and extended their area of operation:they even reached Lakshadweep in Indian territorial waters.Several insurance companies have declared the Gulf of Aden and its suburban area as war-affected region and raised their premiums. Since 2008 the premium charges on ships transitingthe Gulf of Aden have increased by 300 per cent, from $500 per ship per voyage to $150,000 pership per voyage in 2010. Annually, 24,000 ships transit the Gulf of Aden; with increasedpremium rates the insurance companies are making a profit of approximately $3 to $4 billion 17
  18. 18. annually, which is a net loss to maritime trade passing through the Gulf of Aden. Big ships arenow avoiding the area and choosing the Cape of Good Hope as an alternative sailing route,suffering in the process additional costs of oil consumption and delays. For instance, it entails anadditional $100,000–500,000 per voyage and 15–17 days of supplementary sailing time for thelonger route.About 10 per cent of the crew involved in maritime trade are Indians. Consequently, Indiancrews suffer considerably from the ravages of piracy. Mostly, owners of merchant ships do notcare greatly for the safety of their crew: only the parent country comes to their rescue. Therefore,Indian authorities are under great pressure to ensure the safety and security of Indian personnelstaffing these ships.Figure 6 shows the expanding area of piracy in the Indian Ocean. Figure 6: Expanding Threat Areas of the Pirates in the Gulf of Aden Source: Upadayay, 2011.SLOCs and ChokepointsSLOCs and ISLs 18
  19. 19. IOR connects the Western world like Europe and Africa with the eastern Pacific and AtlanticOcean. Almost 100,000 ships transit the IOR annually, and 24,000 transit though the Gulf ofAden. These ships ferry two-thirds of global oil, half of the maritime trade, and one-third ofcontainerized cargo. As much as 95 per cent of India’s foreign trade is seaborne. Being the sixth-or seventh-largest naval power in the world and foremost in the region, India has two majorresponsibilities in IOR: one, to protect and safeguard the SLOCs and ISLs for legal maritimeactivity; second, to prevent inimical use of the seas.Figure 7 provides a glimpse of the importance of the Indian Ocean. Figure 7: Major Maritime Arteries of the Indian Ocean Source: Upadayay,2011.ChokepointsPeninsular India is equidistantly placed between the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz. In westernIOR four chokepoints are seriously considered under India’s maritime security and need specialpolicy attention. These chokepoints are not only crucial to energy security, but they are also 19
  20. 20. important to India’s trade and communication links beyond the Indian Ocean. For instance, the Cape of Good Hope and Bab-el-Mandeb are important for India’s trade and commence, besides the security of energy: they allow India to take its ships beyond Africa. The Suez allows transit to the European markets. The Strait of Hormuz is a chokepoint to India’s energy supplies. According to the estimates of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the strait recorded a transit volume of 15.4 million barrels of oil per day in 1998, which is expected to cross around 30 per cent of the total trade in the world. In the event that this strait is closed, Gulf supplies to east of Hormuz will be virtually cut off altogether; it will also affect the West considerably. (Table 7) Table 7 provides major energy choke points on the western IOR Table 7: Major Choke Points on the Western IOR and their Energy Significance % of total Capacity, ExportNo. Choke Points world Location, comments mm b/d destination demand Strait of Europe, US, Narrow waterway between the Gulf of Oman in the1 16.5-17.0 20% Hormuz Asia southeast and the Persian Gulf in the Southeast Strait of Lies between & Singapore & connects the Indian Ocean2 15.0 18% Asia Malacca with the South China & the Pacific Ocean The town, northeast of some of the largest Saudi oilfields Abqaiq processing Europe, US, (including the large Ghawar filed), houses the largest oil3 6.8 8% facility Asia processing plant in the world & handles around 2/3s of the entire oil production of Saudi Arabia. Suez Canal & The Suez Canal located in Egypt connects the Red Sea &4 4.5 5% Europe, US Sumed pipeline Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea. Europe, US, Connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden & the5 Bab-el-Mandeb 3.3 4% Asia Arabian Sea Mina al-Ahmadi Europe, US, An oil part is north of Ash Shuaiba, & handles most of 2.0 2% terminal Asia Kuwait’s petroleum products The Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) is an offshore crude oil marine loading terminal located off the south-eastern Al Basrah Oil Europe, US, coast of Iraq in the Northern Persian Gulf. According to6 1.5 2% Terminal Iraq Asia the US Embassy in India in Iraq. ABOT is Iraq’s primary oil terminal & accounts for 97%bof Iraq’s oil exports into world markets. Source: Global Equity Research, Energy and Power, Lehman Brothers, January 18, 2006. Figure 5 shows the significance of the three chokepoints in energy security. It is noted that 19.4 per cent of the global oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, followed by Suez (5.3 per cent} and Bab-el-Mandeb (3.9 per cent). 20
  21. 21. Figure 7: Key Oil Transit Points in the Middle East and Share of Global Demand in 2006 Source: Cummins (2008), Wall Street Journal.Maritime Terrorism and Terror-PiracyThere has been evidence of alliance between the Somali pirates and terror outfits. Al-Shabab ofSomalia and al-Qaeda of Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an affiliate of al-Qaeda in Arab countries,have tried to sabotage the safety and security of the Gulf waters. In 1998 USS Cole and in 2000the French tanker MV Limburg were attacked and destroyed by al-Qaeda. In October 2010 twoparcel bombs via UPS and FedEx were dispatched from Yemen; the packages were interceptedin Dubai and England. AQAP claimed responsibility for the parcel bombs. Several otherunsuccessful attempts on oil takers have also been made. For instance, in July 2010 a Japaneseoil tanker, MV M. Star, was reported to have been hit by an unidentified object whilst passingthe Strait of Hormuz.Two weak and failing coastal states, Yemen and Somalia, have produced an atmosphereconducive to piracy and terrorism. It is said that pressure from the so-called global war on terrorled by the United States, focusing on land and aviation security, could force Al Qaida to move tothe seas: pirates for monetary incentive may forge alliances with its offshoots. 21
  22. 22. Figure 8: Possible Terro-Piracy Hot Spots in Indian Ocean. Source: Upadayay,2011.Gwadar: India’s Tight SpotDevelopments regarding Gwadar are a new perceived challenge to India’s maritime interest onthe west coast. Gwadar is located at the coastal tip of Baluchistan in Pakistan, few hundrednautical miles away from India’s nearest port of Kutch, but China’s involvement in the projecthas been seen as a part of China’s policy of encircling India to the regional confines of SouthAsia. The issue has been seriously discussed ever since Booze and Hamilton, a private consultantagency, produced a report termed String of Pearls, mentioning a conscious Chinese policy ofbuilding a series of ports in the littoral states, from the South China Sea to western IOR, toencircle India in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans (Figure 9). Gwadar forms part of thestrategy of checking India in western IOR. With this development, China could also avoidpassing through the main IOR during crises and access the seas via Tibet. China is also 22
  23. 23. significantly dependent upon energy supplies from the Gulf, and has tried to develop alternativeroutes to ensure uninterrupted energy supply from the region. Figure 8: Location of Gwadar and Indian Port. Source: Jaffrelot, 2011.Figure 9 shows the series of ports built by China in the Indian Ocean, which India suspects as anencirclement policy of India by China in the Indian Ocean. 23
  24. 24. Figure 9: Ports under String of PearlsSource: India’s Management of its Maritime InterestsIn recent decades India has taken four broad steps to safeguard, secure and enhance its maritimeinterests.First, it has launched a massive modernization and expansion programme of its navy. TheDefence Ministry has raised the budget of the navy by 79.2 per cent between 2003-4 and2010-11, from approximately Rs. 11,980 crore to 21,467.51 crore.Second, the Indian Navy has been equipped with modern weapons, equipment and nimbleplatforms, both large and small. It has acquired a nuclear submarine, Arihant, purchased aircraftcarrier Gorshkov renamed Vikramaditya, and inducted several missiles and anti-submarinemissiles in its armoury. 24
  25. 25. Third, the Indian Navy is conducting joint naval exercises with a number of countries. Theseincluded Ex. Malabar (with the US and Japan), Ex. Indra with Russia, France, Ex. Varuna, UK,Ex. Konkan with France, and two exercises with China, one at Belgaun and second in YunanProvince. Since 1995, India has also started a multilateral naval meeting under Milan.Approximately 16 to 13 countries participate in this annual exercise, including some of the Gulfcountries.Fourth, India has taken an active role in developing regional mechanisms to protect the maritimeinterests of IOR littoral states. Among the regional cooperative forums that it has promoted arehe Indian Ocean Rim–Association for Regional Cooperation (AIR-IOR) and the Indian OceanNations Symposium (IONS). The former established in 1995 consists of 17 member states; it hasthree major divisions: (i) Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI); (ii) Indian OceanRim Business Forum (IORBF); and, (iii) Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG). Its mainobjectives are to protect the interests of the IOR littoral states. The IONS, established in 2008,has 32 members, including Oman, Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; its charter definesIONS as a: “voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavours to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.” 3In combating piracy the Indian Navy has avoided joining any patrolling groups but has beenactively engaged in patrolling the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy sent its first squad to theregion in 2008. India has also raised the legal issue of piracy and expressed its preference towork under the UN regime than at the behest of any individual country or group. Currentlyseveral major world navies are operating in the Gulf of Aden: US, NATO and European andindependent navies, including those of India, China, Malaysia and Russia. India’s representativeto the UN suggested a five-point programme to tackle piracy under a guided system, rangingfrom active patrol at sea to legal arrangements, including codification of piracy laws. Some3 Indian Ocean Naval Symposium: Accessed 12.11.2011 25
  26. 26. agreements on the Russian suggestion to establish an International Court for Piracy have alsobeen considered as a compatible option.IV. ConclusionDuring the cold war, India’s IOR policy was limited to seeking to ensure that the IOR remained a“zone of peace”. In the changed international scenario it becomes essential for India, tosafeguard its maritime interests, to actively engage with all those whose interests are at stake inthis domain. This involves developing close cooperation with several countries that haveconsiderable naval ability or potential. Among the Gulf states, India has the best relations withOman: while the scope for improving these relations still remains wide open, India needs toconsider seriously broadening its relations with other oil-exporting countries in terms of itsmaritime horizon. Some of the states requiring focused attention in the different regions ofwestern IOR are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Seychelles,Madagascar, and Mauritius. Developing relations with Yemen and Egypt is also required forsmooth transit in the Red Sea and Suez Canal. India also needs to develop a joint policy toprotect chokepoints like the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb.Additional policy measures would entail developing naval alliances with France and the US.India should also provide training and exercise facilities to the Gulf countries. A measure ofuniversal benefit could be suggesting to the GCC to own an aircraft carrier operating under USsecurity protection and supported by Indian naval staff.ReferencesBerlin, L.Donald. 2006. India in the Indian Ocean, Naval War College: ,Newport. Accessed 20.11.2011.Cummins, Chip, 2011. Piracy Grips Gulf of Aden: Attacks on Shipping in Mideast Raise Insurance Costs. Wall Street Journal, Accessed 21.11.2011.Freedom to Use the Seas: India’s Maritime Military Strategy, 2007. Accessed 19.11.2011.Holmes, James J., Andrew C. Winner and Toshi Yoshihara, 2009. Indian Naval Strategy in the Twenty- first Century, London: Routledge.Indian Hydrocarbon Vision- 2025, New Delhi: Ministry of Petroleum and Gas.International Maritime Bureau Reports, London: IIC Commercial crime Service. (various issues) 26
  27. 27. Jaffrelot, Christophe,2011. A Tale of Two Ports: Gwadar and Chabahar display Chinese-Indian rivalry in the Arabian Sea, Yale Global, 7 January 2011. ports. Accessed 22 .11 2011.Maritime Agenda 2010–2020, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India.Mahan, Captain A.T., 2003. The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660–1783, Dehradun: Natraj.Naylor, Thomas P., 2009. Maritime Tankers: Terrorist Threats, Consequences and Protective Measures, New York: NOVA Science Publishers.Nelson, Rick Ozzie and Scott Goossens, 2011. Counter-Piracy in the Arabian Sea: Challenges and Opportunities for GCC Action, Middle East Programme, Gulf Analysis Paper,Washington: Centre for Strategic and International Studies.Noer, John H., 1996. Choke Points: Maritime Economic Concerns in Southeast Asia, Alexandria: Centre for Naval Analysis.Pannikar, K.M., 1945. India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History, London: George Allen & Unwin.Roy Chaudhary, Rahul, 2000. India’s Maritime Security, New Delhi: Knowledge World.Sakhuja, Cdr. Vijay, 2001. Confidence Building from the Sea: An Indian Initiative, New Delhi: Knowledge World (A United Service Institution of India Project).Singh, K.R., 2008. Maritime Security for India: New Challenges and Responses, New Delhi: New Century.The Strait of Hormuz: Global shipping and trade implications in the event of closure, 1997. Office of Naval Intelligence, US Navy, 1997, p. 5.Upadayay, Shisir, 2011. Combating Piracy in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi: Manas Publication.Young, Adam J., 2007. Contemporary Maritime Piracy in South Asia: History, Causes and Remedies, Singapore: ISEAS (Institute of South-East Asian Studies).Basic Statistics on Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas, 2009-10, New Delhi: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India,(Economic Division).Ministry of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi: Government of India. ------------------------- 27