Strategic thinking absent at political, bureaucratic level: Ex-Navy Chief
New Delhi, Aug.8 (ANI): National Security Advisory Board member and former navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, today blamed the absence of strategic thinking at the political and bureaucratic levels for India's ineffective maritime policy.
"For 65 years, we have been unable to formulate a maritime vision, and there is lack of cohesion and coordination in maritime policies; mainly because there is no one to provide leadership and focus, and the left hand does not know what the right is doing," Admiral Arun Prakash told a conference on "Enhancing maritime capacity of India", organised by Observer Research Foundation here today.
He said due to the absence of strategic thinking, India has utterly failed to capitalize on the immense potential that resides in the maritime sector.
"While the world has moved on, our ports and infrastructure remain inefficient, our shipbuilding industry is sluggish and merchant shipping grows at snail's pace, offshore energy exploitation is stagnating, the fishing industry is backward, and human resource development is inadequate.
"We are sitting on a goldmine which could generate huge employment and investment opportunities and actually transform our economy. While at the same time, nations which were on par with us, or even lagging behind in many indicators, a few decades ago, have surged ahead because of the vision, dynamism and resolve they have demonstrated in this vital area," Admiral Arun Prakash said.
In India, there is not even a single government agency, which either the span of responsibility or the authority to act as the focal point for India's maritime policies, he said, adding that besides Indian Navy and Coast Guard, 16 other government departments are involved in the maritime sector.
Admiral Arun Prakash said unless the 'Maritime Agenda 2010-2020" announced by the Prime Minister last year is translated into a time-bound action plan which is resolutely implemented and closely monitored, it may remain just another document, as announced by the government three times earlier also.
Saying it is time to involve private sector in the maritime capacity building through public-private partnerships, Admiral Arun Prakash said "most politicians leave the running of ministries to bureaucrats, who for all their brilliance and administrative skills, are not known either for commitment or decision-making. So, if there is any salvation, it lies, in private enterprises, because as the saying goes: India grows at night while the government sleeps".
Another former navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta also stressed on the need to involve private sector in shipbuilding, which also needs to be incentivized by the government.
Rear Admiral (Retired) Arun Saxena underlined the need for evolving a practical strategy for technological upgradation as national security and defence capabilities are highly dependent on technology and its exploitation. He said long term technology vision and forecast will provide the unique benefit of seeding the right technologies and developing them in to militarily deployable systems.
Commodore M Jitendran, former CMD of Cochin Shipyard, said lack of government incentives are badly affecting the growth of the shipbuilding sector. He said this could in future turn into a maritime and trade security issue as foreign companies controlling traffic of imports and exports could imbalance costs of Indian merchandise.
Lt. Gen. Nirbhay Sharma, Distinguished Fellow, ORF said there is a need for a realistic and effective maritime policy. He also stressed on the need for a coordinated authority to control the maritime sector of the country, which was once a great maritime nation.
Other speakers on various components of maritime policy included Vice Admiral (retired) P C Bhasin, Vice Admiral Y Prasad, Rear Admiral (retired) Raja Menon, Vice Admiral (retired) Pradeep Kaushiva and Commodore (retired) Rajiv Sawhney. (ANI)
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