The Defence Minister
Shri AK Antony today assured India's maritime neighbours of the
country's “unstinted support for their security and economic
prosperity”. Addressing the top brass of the Indian Navy and MoD here,
Antony said the Indian Navy has been “mandated to be a net security
provider to island nations in the Indian Ocean Region”. He said “most of
the major international shipping lanes are located along our island
territories. This bestows on us the ability to be a potent and
stabilising force in the region”.
While acknowledging the benefits of conducting several exercises in the
South China Sea, East China Sea and the Western Pacific Shri Antony also
brought out the need to maintain a balance between the various
responsibilities of the Indian Navy by saying “Although reaching out to
our extended neighbourhood is important, you must always be mindful of
the core area of your responsibility that mainly includes preserving and
strengthening our shore lines and coastal security”.
Talking about coastal security Shri Antony said “We have taken several
measures to strengthen our coastal security, our maritime forces are
capable of protecting our maritime frontiers. However, this should not
lead into a feeling of complacency”. He went on to say that ''isolated
incidents, which though directly did not pose a challenge to maritime
security, highlighted the need to further strengthen our coastlines and
maritime security”. Saying so Shri Antony emphasised the need to
replicate coastal security exercises with all stakeholders “as
frequently as possible”.
The Defence Minister spoke on other issues and challenges that face the
Indian Navy. Describing piracy as a continuing cause of major concern,
Shri Antony acknowledged the proactive efforts of the Indian Navy but
noted that, “the international community as a whole needs to do a lot
2 Shri Antony observed that the modernization of the Navy was going
apace. He however, pointed out that indigenous shipyards must “develop
and expand rapidly, as well as adopt latest best practices”. Saying that
the Navy has been making satisfactory progress in indigenisation
efforts, Shri Antony said that such efforts must not only be continued
but also accelerated.
Talking about infrastructure development, Shri Antony said that the
development of infrastructure in the island territories must be pursued
in synergy with other stakeholders. He also stated that Phase II of the
Karwar project must be pursued vigorously.
The Defence Minister was addressing the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral
Nirmal Verma and Defence Secretary Shri Shashikant Sharma among other
senior officers of the Indian Navy and MoD at the beginning of the three
day Naval Commander's Conference.