Updated: February 17, 2022 1:40:38 am
FORMER VICE Chief of Navy Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, who retired last year, has been appointed as the country’s first National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC).
Proposed after the 26/11 terror attacks, the NMSC will be part of the National Security Council Secretariat, and will report to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
As the NMSC, Kumar will have the responsibility of coordinating between all the agencies involved in maritime security and maritime civil issues as well. He will also be tasked with improving the country’s blue economy needs. He will look at all aspects of maritime security, and will be the nodal point for all issues related to it.
He will also be mandated to ensure better coordination between the different authorities that work on maritime issues, but work independently.
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At the Centre, the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, External Affairs and Shipping are some of the main stakeholders; and states too have their own agencies, along with authorities such as the customs, police, intelligence agencies, port authorities among others.
The need for such a coordinating agency was first expressed by the Group of Ministers formed after the Kargil War. The GoM had recommended in its report that an “apex body for management of maritime affairs should be formed for institutionalised linkages between the Navy, Coast Guard and the concerned Ministries of the Central and the State Governments”, and had asked the Defence Ministry to “take necessary action to constitute the apex body”.
After the 26/11 terror attacks in 2008, the Defence Ministry had proposed the creation of a Maritime Security Advisory Board, and appointment of a Maritime Security Advisor, but that was kept pending.
In November 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Security finally cleared the creation of the NMSC.
The Navy has also proposed development of a National Maritime Domain Awareness Center, which will be a multi-agency body including the Navy, Coast Guard, intelligence agencies, state marine police forces, ministries of Shipping, Ports and Fisheries among others for a stronger integration for maritime security.
Kumar retired as Navy Vice Chief in July 2021. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, and was commissioned in the Navy’s executive branch in 1982. He held several important staff and command assignments in his nearly four-decade long Navy career.
India has a 7,516.6 km coastline, which includes the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
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