Book Chapter: Non-state threats to India’s Maritime Security

Book Chapter: Sailing deeper into an era of violent peace: Non-state threats to India’s maritime security
Nitin Pai, Co-Founder and Director of the Takshashila Institution


The Rise of the Indian Navy: Internal Vulnerabilities, External Challenges
Harsh V. Pant, Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies Series
Ashgate, New Delhi. 202 Pages. (2012)

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The broadest definition of non-state threats to maritime security would include all threats to India’s national interests emanating from non-state entities from the maritime domain. These would include both anthropogenic (arising from human activity) and non-anthropogenic threats to India’s survival, security and development.

Such a definition encompasses threats at sea, threats to land and air, threats to domestic and international order and threats to the environment. The inclusion of threats to international order and the environment in this definition suggests that at the broadest level, such threats transcend national boundaries. This calls for an co- operative international response. It also indicates, however, the opposite: that if in- ternational co-operation is non-existent or hard to obtain, to the extent that a threat to the global commons affects an individual state’s security, it is in its interests to act unilaterally if necessary.

The broad definition is most useful in the context of discussions on national mari- time strategy. In the context of implications for the Indian Navy, this chapter confines itself to a narrower definition focussing on non-state threats that involve human agency at some point in their causal chain. It emphasises threats that involve the use, or potential of violence. Broader non-anthropogenic and non-violent aspects, where they are relevant, are incorporated into the analysis.

In general, non-state threats need not necessarily be expressed through (human) non-state actors. Yet perhaps barring natural disasters that strike Indian interests directly, most non-state threats involve a degree of human agency. For this reason, the following analysis concentrates on scrutinising non-state actors: the roots of their origin, the nature of the threats they pose and how India might address them.

This chapter begins with an investigation of the origins of non-state actors. The second section analyses how these threats manifest themselves, and offers a brief, overall assessment of what these threats imply for India’s maritime security. The concluding section explores how India could address such threats and identifies high-level changes necessary for the Indian Navy to be able to competently address non-state threats.

Read a preview of the chapter online (91KB).

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