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At 1st Maritime Security Group meet, NSA chief Doval stresses on coordination among stakeholders

Meeting chaired by Vice Admiral (retd) G. Ashok Kumar, India’s 1st national maritime security coordinator. ‘Crucial policy issues’ such as ‘blue economy initiative’ also discussed.

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New Delhi: National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval Thursday inaugurated the first meeting of the Multi-Agency Maritime Security Group (MAMSG), chaired by Vice Admiral (retd) G. Ashok Kumar , India’s first National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC).

The meeting was held eight months after the Narendra Modi government approved the post of NMSC and four months after Vice Admiral Kumar’s appointment.

As previously reported by ThePrint, the post of NMSC and the MAMSG are 22 years in the making, since recommendations to establish “an apex body for the management of maritime affairs” were first made by a Group of Ministers (GoM) after the Kargil war.

“The constitution of the MAMSG by bringing together diverse stakeholders at the Centre and coastal states/UTs is a significant step…,” an official press statement on Thursday’s meeting read.

In his opening remarks, Doval urged for “seamless coordination” of the maritime space and spoke about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic initiatives for the marine fisheries sector. The meeting also focused on several “crucial policy issues” such as the “blue economy initiative”.

Some of the other major points of discussion, as mentioned in the official statement, were “mapping of existing orders and policies on maritime security to identify gaps, review of standard operating procedures for maritime contingencies, security of ports and coastal infrastructure, creation of a national maritime database, capacity building of coastal states and UTs”.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a Washington DC-based programme set up by the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, India is said to have a “rich maritime tradition”. However, it noted, India was on the receiving end of “significant security threats” during the British Raj and post-Independence, and it wasn’t until the 26/11 attacks that the government’s prioritisation of maritime security issues increased, culminating in a Rs 46,323 crore allocation in the Union Budget for FY 2022-23.

“As India’s economy grows, so will its dependence on sea borne trade and maritime resources. Securing our maritime interests from a range of threats and challenges necessitates a coordinated approach. Maritime security has, therefore, rightfully gained prominence in India’s security discourse as well as international outreach,” the government press release said, on the background behind the establishment of NMSC.

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