Coastal security is everybody’s job, says Pune author Brig (retd) Hemant Mahajan The book ‘India’s Coastal Security, Challenges, Concerns and the Way Ahead’ by Brig (retd) Hemant Mahajan was released in Pune on Tuesday. HT spoke to Brig Mahajan about the b
The book ‘India’s Coastal Security, Challenges, Concerns andthe Way Ahead’ by Brig (retd) Hemant Mahajan was released in Pune on Tuesday.HT spoke to Brig Mahajan about the book and the challenges the Indian coastalareas face. Following are excerpts from the interview.
Why focus on the Indian coasts in this book?
India pays lot of attention to its land borders. Coastlinesecurity has not been taken seriously. The first chapter of the book deals withthe history of coastal security with details about how India approached theproblem. In fact, 26/11 was the first time coastal security was taken seriously.The book includes challenges that Indian coasts face. There there are 15chapters in my book and at the end of each chapter there are two pages ofrecommendations. After all, the Navy is not going to get adequate resourcesbeyond a point. So the book also talks about using resources in an optimummanner. The last chapter is only about major recommendations. The aim of thebook is to generate discussion among all the stakeholders, including the IndianNavy, the coast guard, the customs, intelligence agencies and the bureaucracy.
Given that you hail from the infantry, why march on thebeach?
Yes, I have been an infantry man. After my retirement Istarted writing regularly on national security and have written nine books, ofwhich first three were in Marathi. So while I was involved in all these issuesone of the naval officers asked me whether I can do research for the IndianMaritime Foundation, a think tank. So this book was born out of research over aperiod of two years. While writing the book, I travelled for nearly five monthsalong the coasts of the country. Moreover, there are hardly any books oncoastal security and I thought it was neglected thing.
3.What are the main challenges we face along the Indiancoastline?
Coastal security is not just the job of security forces. Itis the job of everybody. It includes the fishing community on the coastlinealso. A normal person living on the coast has to become the eyes and ears ofsecurity agencies. The challenges are exactly the same like with the landborders. It includes the threat of terrorism, smuggling of arms and explosives,illegal trade and illegal migration. If you remember the 1993 Mumbai blasts,the explosives came by sea. Even today, one of the threats India faces isnaxalism and naxals need ammunition. Since naxals do not have the capacity tomanufacture the ammunition they prefer to get smuggled from the east coast. Onour west, particularly at Sir Creek in Gujarat, there is fair amount ofinfiltration. Then on our south, particularly the Sri Lankan border is achallenge as the material for bombs in the southern parts of India has comefrom these borders. In fact one of our prime ministers was martyred by theLTTE, who came in from the southern sea. Similarly, Sunderbans in West Bengal isused for infiltration by Bangladeshis.
What is the way ahead ?
There are many things one can do to improve the securityenvironment of the coasts. To keep the coast safe, everybody has to do theirjobs properly. From local fishing community to security agencies, all have towork together.
Your main recommendations to overcome the challenges.
There are large numbers of recommendations I havegiven,these include cost-effective agencies. A territorial army (TA) battalionis one of the most cost-effective ways for maintaining a vigil. The TA soldiergets paid only when he is on duty. Secondly is there are far too many agenciesand there is no centralised control. Thirdly, we have to beef up oursurveillance. We have to manage our coastal traffic as it has become afree-for-all. The sea traffic at all important harbours has to be managed andregulated. These are some of the recommendations I have made in my book.
India’s CoastalSecurity, Challenges, Concerns & Way Ahead”BY BRIG HEMANT MAHAJAN,YSM,Pages-336.Price-Rs 600/-,Madhavi Prakashan,Dattakuti,1416,SadashivPeth,Pune-411030,Maharashtra,Tele-020-24474762,020-24475372,MOB-09325097494.E Mailemail@example.com