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India’s Submarine Arm — Returning to Even-Trim

This article originally featured in Geopolitics and is republished with permission.  

By Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, AVSM & Bar, VSM, IN (Retd)

The Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm will celebrate its Golden Jubilee Year in 2017. The imminent commissioning of the Kalvari — in her new avatar as India’s first Scorpène Class submarine — is, therefore, an especially timely portent of happier times for the underwater sentinels of our freedom. For some time now, much media-time has been devoted to lamenting the several perceived inadequacies in the country’s submarine prowess, especially after the tragedy that struck INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai on 14 August 2013, resulting in the loss of 18 precious lives and the loss of an invaluable combat platform. As the Scorpène program ran into time overruns and as the People’s Republic of China began submarine forays into the Indian Ocean, breathless TV anchors defense correspondents have invoked ‘Upgrade’ as a new and urgent mantra against Chinese machinations. The truth is, of course, somewhat more prosaic. ‘Upgrades’ are part of a normal naval response to the technological and tactical changes wrought by the evolution of naval operations through which armed combat is prosecuted upon, over or under the sea. Can technological upgrades make up for numerical limitations? The answer is not straightforward. Although quantity does have a quality all of its own, in undersea warfare, technology has an inordinate influence upon the outcome of combat. So how do we currently fare in terms of both, absolute quantity, and the quality of the quantity that we do have — and what is the prognosis for the immediate future?

Before answers to these questions can be attempted, it is important to understand that warfare at sea differs markedly from that of armed combat upon the land. Terrain is arguably the most important determinant of land-based combat and, as a consequence, armies have goals of ‘occupation’ or ‘possession’ or ‘eviction.’ At sea, however, the effect of terrain diminishes sharply as the distance from the coast increases. The sea is fundamentally a medium of movement and cannot be ‘fortified’ or ‘occupied’. Navies cannot ‘dig-in’ and ‘hold’ sea areas that have great intrinsic value. Consequently, the aims of naval operations revolve around the ‘use’ or ‘denial-of-use’ of specific areas of the sea for a specific period of time. If we want to use a specific area of the sea for a specific period of time AND we don’t want the enemy to interfere with our use, we must exercise what is called ‘Sea Control’ in that sea area and for that period of time. If, however, we do not have any interest in using a specific area of the sea for a specific period of time, BUT we merely do not want the enemy to use it, we must exercise what is called ‘Sea Denial’ — once again in that sea area and for that period of time. Submarines (along with sea-mines) are classic platforms for sea-denial operations. Another feature of combat at sea is that the hunter and the hunted can operate in totally different mediums (surface, sub-surface, air/aero-space), each pretty much oblivious of the presence of the other — as in the case of submarines versus ships or submarines pitted against aircraft — whether fixed-wing or rotary-wing, manned or unmanned. 

Submarines have traditionally been used as a counter to surface ships — both, merchantmen (easy pickings) and warships (far riskier an endeavour). This is where they have the most advantage, operating in a different medium from their adversary and being able to vary their depth to take advantage of the various density-layers that lie between the surface and the sea-bed and affect the propagation of sound underwater. Weapons employed in such cases are typically anti-ship torpedoes and/or anti-ship cruise (i.e., non-ballistic) missiles. Submarines can also be used against targets ashore (on the land) — i.e., for land-attack. They must then be equipped (or be retrofitted) with suitable land-attack missiles with either conventional or nuclear warheads. Naturally, this impacts the size of the submarine’s hull and imposes restrictions upon how close it can approach the coast. 

When submarines are designed or deployed to operate against other submarines, the advantages accruing from disparity of medium no longer apply, for both opponents are now within the same (underwater) medium and torpedoes become weapons-of-choice. Since submarines generate underwater sound in a variety of frequencies, the factor determining surprise is relative noisiness — more usually expressed as ‘stealth.’ SSBNs are inherently noisy. Consequently, smaller and equally speedy but much quieter SSNs, equipped with missiles and torpedoes instead of nuclear-tipped, long-range ballistic missiles are deployed to detect and continuously track an adversary’s SSBNs. Likewise, modern diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) are often far quieter than an SSN and are designed to track and, where necessary, attack not just surface ships but also SSNs — or even other, relatively-noisier diesel-electric submarines. 

Nuclear propulsion maximizes underwater speed and endurance, but demands a larger hull and constrains the submarine in littoral waters. Diesel-electric submarines are far smaller than SSNs and SSBNs and can, consequently, operate both, in the deep seas and in relatively-shallow littoral waters. They make-up for their relative lack of underwater-endurance by one or another type of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) package, but nevertheless yield enormous underwater speed-advantages to SSNs/SSBNs.

It is against this very rudimentary and fairly simplistic backdrop that one should review the state of Indian submarines (aka boats) and their upgrades. 

India currently operates two classes of nuclear-propelled boats: SSBNs (the Arihant) and SSNs (the Chakra), and, two classes of diesel-electric SSKs (the KILO or Sindhughosh Class, and the Type 209/1500 Shishumar Class), with the commissioning of the lead boat of a third class — the Scorpène Class (which will thereafter be known as the Kalvari Class) — imminent. 

Current upgrades to the Arihant revolve about the replacement of its twelve ‘K-15’ submarine-launched ballistic missiles (which have a range of 750 km) by four longer-range (3,500 km) ‘K-4’ Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM), which have already been successfully test-launched (in April 2015) from the Arihant. This weapon-upgrade is well in hand.  However, as India takes the next step in the K-series and begins to produce K-5 — a true submarine-launched inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) — the submarine will need to be correspondingly larger with a greater displacement-tonnage. Consequently, for the next boat of the Class, the Arindham, there is a clear need to upgrade the reactor. The Arihant has an 85-MWt reactor (≈17 MWe, since in a naval reactor, roughly 5 MWt = 1 Mwe). The one for the larger and heavier Arindham will need to be somewhere between 160-190 MWt (32-38 MWe) and this is an upgrade that is ongoing.

There is no immediate equipment upgrade planned for the Chakra whose 10-year lease is at the halfway mark. However, the fact that in February 2015, the Modi government accorded political approval for six SSNs, makes a training and manpower upgrade for the Navy a critical objective over the next decade.

Turning now to the central issue of upgrades to India’s conventional submarines, two overarching aspects need to be borne in mind: 

  • The first is that contrary to some mildly hysterical reports in the electronic media, these upgrades are not a knee-jerk reaction to the large Chinese submarine inventory or Pakistan’s submarine program. Nor are they some desperate measure being taken to counter inadequacies in the numbers of submarines held by India. Even if the Indian Navy had three times as many submarines as it does, periodic upgrades would still be the norm. 
  • The second is that contrary to the alarmist lament that India’s diesel-electric submarines — especially the nine surviving boats of the Sindhughosh Class — have crossed their designed-life and are not much better than floating coffins the truth is much more reassuring. The authorized total technical service life of each submarine is actually 35 years. At or around the 13th year of service, each boat undergoes what is known as a ‘Medium Refit’ (MR). This takes two-to-three years, during which time, major upgrades are effected and the submarine is made ready to operate in the contemporary environment for another decade-plus. Then, around the 26th year of service, each boat undergoes a 27-month Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which enables it to be materially and operationally viable — once again within the prevailing contemporary environment — for the next 9-10 years.

Most MRs of the Sindhughosh Class, have been undertaken in Russia. However, two — Sindhudvaj and Sindhudvaj — underwent MRs at the Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam, while the Sindhukirti suffered a dreadfully protracted MR in HSL. The Sindhukesari is the first to have commenced her SLEP. The residual life of the Class may be assessed through the following tabulation:

Submarine Commissioned 13th Year Medium Refit

(MR)

MR done in: 26th Year SLEP (done in) 35th Year
Sindhughosh 30 Apr 86 Apr 99 2002-05 Russia Apr 12 Apr 21
Sindhudhvaj 12 Jun 87 Jun 00 2002-05 India (ND[V]) Jun 13 Jun 22
Sindhuraj 20 Oct 87 Oct 00 1999-01 Russia Oct 13 Oct 22
Sindhuvir 26 Aug 88 Aug 01 1997-99 Russia Aug 14 Aug 23
Sindhuratna 22 Dec 88 Dec 01 2001-03 Russia Dec 14 Dec 23
Sindhukesari 16 Feb 89 Feb 02 1999-01 Russia Feb 15 2016-2018 (Russia) Feb 24
Sindhukirti 04 Jan 90 Jan 03 2006-15 India (HSL) Jan 16 Jan 25
Sindhuvijay 08 Mar 91 Mar 04 2005-07 Russia Mar 17 Mar 26
Sindhushastra 19 Jul 00 Jul 13 2013-17 India (ND[V]) Jul 26 Jul 39

The corresponding tabulation in regard to the Shishumar Class (Type 209/1500) SSKs is similarly instructive:

Submarine Commissioned 13th Year Medium Refit

(MR)

MR done in: 26th Year SLEP (done in) 35th Year
Shishumar 22 Sep 86 Sep 89 Jun 98-Mar 01 Mumbai Sep 15 Sep 24
Shankush 20 Nov 86 Nov 89 Aug 00-Mar 06 Mumbai Nov 15 Nov 24
Shalki 07 Feb 92 Feb 05 Mar 07-Jul 10 Mumbai Feb 18 Feb 27
Shankul 28 May 94 May 07 Feb 08-Jun 12 Mumbai May 20 May 29

With ‘alarm’ having been removed from the equation, it is possible to dispassionately examine a few major thrust lines relevant to ongoing and planned upgrades. For the professional naval submariner — planner and practitioner alike — upgrades-of-choice are those that enhance:

  • Stealth
  • Endurance
  • Sensor Performance:
    • Radar
    • Sonar
    • ESM
  • Communication
  • External Situational Awareness (Combat-Information Management Systems)
  • Internal Situation Awareness and Control of the Internal-Environment (Platform-Management-and-Control Systems)
  • Weapons and weapon-delivery systems
  • Safety and Survivability Systems

These upgrades may be either through indigenous or foreign replacements of the original equipment. Obviously, the former is preferable and, indeed, has yielded laudable results. 

Stealth-Enhancement. Although such upgrades are often considered by our breathless media analysts as not being ‘sexy’ enough to merit focused-attention, in truth, stealth is always a life-and-death issue in submarine combat. With the hull design being resistant to any modification or change, these upgrades pertain to the reduction of vibrations and the underwater transmission of these vibrations as sound waves that can be picked up by an adversary’s passive listening devices. Thus, engineering-improvements to propulsion equipment such as speed-governors, bearings, fuel racks, supercharges clearances, and rotating machinery such as superior bearings, pumps, rubber-mounts, etc., count as major— albeit largely unacknowledged — upgrades.  Indigenization has been both successful and invaluable, with the increasing involvement of the Indian private sector companies such as L&T, Mahindra, Reliance, Tata, Siemens, Yeoman, Exide, Elcome, etc., being most encouraging.

Endurance-Enhancement. Although enhanced submarine endurance is almost invariably associated with the provision of AIP systems or nuclear-propulsion, habitability is another factor that directly impacts submarine endurance. For instance, the original air conditioning plants (35 TR capacity) aboard the Sindhughosh Class, which were grossly inadequate in Indian conditions, have been upgraded by indigenous (KPCL) plants of 67 TR capacity. This upgrade has increased the life of the on-board weapon-sensor suites and allied equipment, and, has enhanced operational endurance by improving habitability and reducing environmental human-fatigue. Where batteries are concerned, the upgrade to indigenous production by Exide Industries is stable and world-class — so much so that exports to Algeria and Iran have also been achieved. HBL-Nife is another success story in battery-production. 

Sensor-Performance Enhancement

Sonars

  • The NSTL-developed and BEL-produced Panchendriya FCS and USHUS bow-mounted cylindrical array — have certainly had their share of protracted teething troubles but the systems have settled down and are delivering world-class performances on each of the six retrofitted boats of the Sindhughosh. This upgrade is in progress as part of the ongoing MR of Sindhukirti, leaving only Sindhuratna and Sindhuvir with the original (Russian) MGK-400 sonar. 
  • Likewise, all four boats of the Shishumar Class have been upgraded with the ATLAS Elektronik’s ISUS-90 combat management system, the CSU-90 cylindrical active/passive bow-mounted sonar, passive planar flank arrays and intercept arrays (for providing warning against approaching torpedoes), passive ranging array, a three-dimensional mine and obstacle avoidance sonar.
  • As part of their SLEP, the Shishumar Class boats Shalki and Shankul are being retrofitted with thin-line towed-array sonars.
  • Electronic Warfare (EW) systems — especially Electronic Support Measures — are crucial to submarines. The upgrade of the originally-fitted ESM suites of all 13 Indian submarines, through their replacement with the indigenously-developed Porpoise EW system, represents a significant enhancement of combat capability.

Optronics. By and large, the Indian media has a suboptimal understanding of the criticality of optronics aboard submarines and, consequently, little interest in periscope-upgrades. This notwithstanding, the fitment of new optronic periscopes onto the Shalki and the Shankul as part of their SLEP is an extremely significant upgrade.

Communications. Within the many criticalities of submarine warfare, communications enjoy a degree of centrality that is underappreciated. The upgrades provided by the retrofitment of the indigenously-developed CCS-Mk2 communications-suite are hugely significant. Where shore-to-submarine VLF communications are concerned, on-board upgrades by way of receiving equipment and Trailing Wire Antennae (TWA) have resulted in noteworthy improvements in combat deployments of all classes of our submarines.

Weapon Upgrades

Missiles. The most telling upgrade to the weapon-suite of Indian Naval SSKs has been the addition of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) and land-attack cruise missiles aboard the Sindhughosh Class. Of the nine boats of this Class, six now have land-attack missile capability by way of ‘Klub-S’ [3M-14Э] missiles, while seven have anti-ship cruise missile capability by way of ‘Klub-3M-54Э. Likewise, the two boats of the Shishumar Class (Shalki and Shankul) that have commenced their SLEP in Mumbai by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) are being retrofitted with 12 x UGM-84L Harpoon Block II Encapsulated Missiles and 10 x UTM-84L Harpoon Encapsulated Training missiles.

Torpedoes. India’s investment in infrastructure for the development and testing of torpedoes notwithstanding, each such program is time-consuming and can take upwards of 15 years. However, the successful induction of the Varunastra heavyweight torpedo aboard the IN’s surface combatants has led to an ongoing development of a submarine-launched version (an upgrade of DRDO’s now-defunct Takshak project). An unfortunate spinoff from the Sindhurakshak tragedy (and that of the Russian Kursk) is a loss of confidence in thermal torpedoes and consequent uncertainties in respect of DRDO’s development of the Shakti thermal heavyweight torpedo, which was expected to be the main armament of India’s nuclear submarines and additionally represented an upgrade-option for the Sindhughosh Class. 

External Situational Awareness. The Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) of all boats has received a significant fillip with the upgraded communication-and-data capability provided by the Navy’s Rukmini satellite, coupled with excellent progress in VLF communication and its remote keying by naval Long-Range Maritime Patrol-cum-ASW aircraft. Moreover, the indigenous Combat-Information Management Systems (CMS) developed by WESEE represents another critical combat-capability and is fitted aboard all boats.

Internal Situation Awareness and Control of the Internal-Environment (Platform-Management-and-Control Systems). The motion-control system of the Sindhughosh Class has been upgraded from the PIRIT-2E to the PIRIT-M. Likewise, the diving-and-surfacing control system has been upgraded from the PALLADI-2E to PALLADI-M. Functionally-corresponding systems are being upgraded as part of the ongoing SLEP of the Shalki and the Shankul.

Safety and Survivability Systems. Critical upgrades in terms of safety and survivability include the installation of the AIDSS (Advanced Indigenous Distress Alert Sonar System) on the nine boats of the Sindhughosh Class submarines, as also the ongoing retrofit of the Shishumar Class boats Shalki and Shankul with the Alenia Sistemi Subacquei’s C-310 submarine-fired torpedo decoy dispensers and a self-noise monitoring system, being part of their SLEP. Seldom recognized but hugely critical nevertheless, are rubber sealants, O-rings, gaskets, etc., that are used to seal the various periscopes and retractable masts that every submarine operates. There have been past incidences of an otherwise fully-operational submarine being rendered unseaworthy for the lack of rubber sealing devices! Consequently, indigenous upgrades under the aegis of the Indian Rubber Board and the Indian Rubber Institute, are far more significant than most media analysts are aware. 

Conclusion

Even as the country awaits — with bated breath — the arrival of the Indian Navy’s Scorpènes, the process of upgrading the combat capability, safety and survivability of our existing sub-surface assets is continuing apace. The truth of the Indian Navy’s subsurface capability lies somewhat removed from the breathless Cassandran prophets of doom that currently crowd our media airwaves. Perhaps this is because of the abiding belief that bad news — even alarmist bad news — sells.  On the other hand, perhaps our countrymen and countrywomen should be considered mature enough to decide for themselves based upon the facts as they are.

Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan retired as Commandant of the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala. He is an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence College.

Featured Image: INS Khanderi gets launched at the Mazagon dock in Mumbai.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

Indo-Sri Lanka Fishery Conflict: An Impediment to Development and Human Security

This article originally featured at the Pathfinder Foundation and is republished with permission. Read it in its original form here

By Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman & Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Director Centre for India -Sri Lanka Initiatives of the Pathfinder Foundation

Introduction: Fish do not respect boundaries but humans should!

India and Sri Lanka are two neighboring Indian Ocean states. A shallow and narrow strip of sea called the ‘Palk Bay’ and the ‘Gulf of Mannar’ separates the two countries. There is a clearly demarcated, mutually agreed upon and legally binding International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), separating the territorial waters of the two countries. There are binding commonalities in the form of linguistic, cultural, religious and vocational, between Tamil Nadu and the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Until the signing of IMBL agreements in 1974 and 1976, fishermen from coastal districts of both countries used this sea, mainly for traditional fishing. There was a harmonious coexistence between these communities for a long time. However, Tamil Nadu fishermen changed their fishing methods in the late 1970s and upgraded to steel hulled fishing vessels and engaged in bottom-trawling in order to boost production. Continuous bottom trawling on the Indian side of the IMBL resulted in depleting fish stocks therein. Gradually, these trawlers began to cross over to the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL. The newly introduced Indian trawlers were much bigger and more powerful than traditional craft, as they had to trawl and recover nets heavy with the catch. The fishermen of northern Sri Lanka found it extremely difficult to venture in to the sea during the days when Indian trawlers were poaching, as they feared damage to their boats and fishing gear, as well as safety for their lives.

During the time of the conflict, the Sri Lankan government was compelled to restrict fishing by local fishermen in the north and the east due to security concerns. However, the Indian trawlers continued to bottom trawl in Sri Lankan waters regardless, at times coming 2-3 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast. This situation was effectively exploited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who used Indian trawlers to ferry their cadres, fuel, explosives; mainly from the southern Indian coast to northern, north-western and north-eastern coasts of Sri Lanka. However, the number of Indian trawlers operating in Sri Lankan waters was relatively less during this period, as they feared misidentification as LTTE agents by the Sri Lanka Navy. With the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and the gradual resettlement of displaced personnel, local fishermen wished to recommence their livelihood activities and what they encountered was a large hostile Tamil Nadu trawler fleet plundering their resources. With the fishery conflict gaining a new significance, both governments continued discussions at various levels to find an amicable long lasting solution. However, to-date, there has been no solution or even a common agreement of the issues affecting fishermen from both countries.

Legal Implications and Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (FAO, 2001):

Illegal fishing refers to activities: Conducted by national or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a State, without the permission of that State, or in contravention of its laws and regulations;

Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities: Which have not been reported, or have been misreported, to the relevant national authority, in contravention of national laws and regulations; or

Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities: In areas or for fish stocks in relation to which there are no applicable conservation or management measures and where such fishing activities are conducted in a manner inconsistent with State responsibilities for the conservation of living marine resources under international law.

From the above definition, it can be seen that Indian fishermen engage in IUU fishing in every aspect and they are clearly violating the UNCLOS, which permits only the right to innocent passage in another state’s territorial waters. According to Gunasekera (2016), “Article 19.2 (i) of the UNCLOS makes proviso for any ‘fishing activities’ by foreign vessels to be regarded as an act of prejudice towards peace, good order or security of the coastal state, thereby confirming that such passage is not innocent.” Further, Tamil Nadu fishermen do not declare the catch and location, and carry out their activities in contravention of state responsibility to conservation of living marine resources by engaging in destructive bottom trawling.

The United Nations Development Summit in September 2015, adopted UN Resolution 70/1, “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The basis for this resolution was the understanding that global resources in the oceans should be carefully managed for a sustainable future, as the oceans are key in making the earth habitable for humankind. The main objective of Goal 14 of this agenda, ‘Life Below Water’ is to “conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (UN, 2015).
The spirit of this resolution is clearly applicable to the Indo-Sri Lanka fishery conflict. The UN has set a target year as 2020 to end IUU fishing. The UN resolution also talks about conservation and sustainable use of oceans as per international law as reflected in UNCLOS, and encouraging sustainable artisan fishing. India and Sri Lanka being member states of the UN committed to sustainable development and should abide by this resolution.

Sovereignty of Kachchativu Island

The two governments concluded two IMBL agreements with a view to maintaining cordial relations. They could be termed as landmark agreements, which came into force even before the UNCLOS. Tamil Nadu maintains that the island of Kachchativu was ‘ceded’ to Sri Lanka by the 1974 agreement without the consent of the state, for which it has sought legal remedy. However, the central government maintains that these two agreements are binding. As per Gunasekera (2016), “By virtue of the Agreement entered between the two countries in 1974 regarding the boundary in historic waters between the two countries and related issues, the delimitation process has taken place on grounds of fairness and equity more than the application of the principle of ‘equidistance’ though the final outcome justified the latter.” Hence, sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction of Kachchativu clearly falls under Sri Lanka. Based on historical facts, the Government of Sri Lanka has maintained that the island was administered by then Ceylon and has been under its jurisdiction even during the time of the Portuguese and later the British. There is evidence to suggest that Surveyor of the Government of India treated the island as part of then Ceylon, as far back as 1876 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, 2008).

Tamil Nadu has consistently maintained that the main issue for this conflict is the ceding of this uninhabited island to Sri Lanka. However, the fact of the matter is that Kachchativu was never ‘ceded’ by India. Instead, India recognized that the island belonged to Sri Lanka. The island of Kachchativu is closer to the landmass of Sri Lanka by one nautical mile than that of India. Tamil Nadu politicians also accuse that the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard harass Tamil Nadu fishermen, who accidentally drift across the IMBL closer to Kachchativu. However, the Indian Coast Guard, filing an affidavit in Chennai High Court, stated that the Indian fishermen are crossing IMBL into Sri Lankan waters for better fish catch as fishery resources are depleted on the Indian side of the IMBL. They also used banned methods of fishing and the Sri Lanka Navy does not cross the IMBL to the Indian side (Indian Coast Guard, 2015). No further argument is necessary, as this statement has come from the most authoritative source in India, which is tasked with the responsibility to guard the IMBL and Indian territorial waters. This affidavit also nullifies the claim often made by Indian fishermen that the Sri Lanka Navy is harassing them, when they are fishing in the Indian waters.

Whenever the Sri Lankan side detains fishermen and their boats engaged in poaching, Tamil Nadu political leaders blame New Delhi for ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka, as if that was the core of the dispute. Is Kachchativu Island the real issue in this conflict? Do fishermen from South India accidentally drift across the IMBL in to Sri Lankan side? Do they engage in illegal trawling only around Kachchativu?

The Tamil Nadu fishermen are experts in navigation and know their position well. Besides, most of these trawlers are now fitted with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). However, it has to be highlighted that Indian fishermen are not fishing only around Kachchativu island but come 2-3 nautical miles from the coastal city of Pesali in Mannar island, which is, in fact, 17.5 nautical miles from the IMBL and South West of the Delft island, which is about 11.5 nautical miles from the IMBL (Admiralty Chart, 1987). These two locations are long distances away from the IMBL and Kachchativu and deep inside Sri Lankan territorial waters. Therefore, it can be convincingly concluded that the issue of Kachchativu is only a cover to justify destructive fishing being carried out by Indian trawlers well within Sri Lankan territorial waters to sustain the multimillion-dollar prawn export industry. There are allegations of double standards adopted by the European Union on this clear case of IUU fishing. Although the EU has stated that it is ‘working to close the loopholes that allow illegal operators in the fisheries sector to profit from their activities,’ it has not taken any action to ban export of illegally caught prawns to its member states by India. However, the EU was quick to ban fish exports from Sri Lanka over allegations of IUU fishing though the ban is now removed (Wijedasa, 2015). Of late, northern fishermen have begun to fault the Sri Lanka government for not taking the matter with the EU forcefully.

Fishermen’s Livelihood Issue

Quite often the state of Tamil Nadu argues that their ‘poor fishermen’ are suffering due to enforcement measures undertaken by the Sri Lankan government. However, it is noteworthy that almost all persons, who are engaged in bottom trawling, are contracted employees. It is alleged that the trawlers are actually owned by large-scale businessmen, who are often close to the political elite of the state. Suryanarayan highlights this fact by saying “quick returns from prawns attracted many from non-fishing communities to invest in this profitable venture. As a result, numerous fishermen became daily wage labourers” (2016). A measure of this fact can also be seen from the increased number of trawlers in the three South Indian districts of the Palk Bay (Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Rameshwaram), from 1568 in 1986 to 3339 in 2000 (Suryanarayan, 2016). All these trawlers engage in bottom trawling in Sri Lanka waters. Prawns have become a multimillion-dollar industry; mainly for exporting to the USA, Japan and Western Europe.

However, when the Sri Lankan authorities arrest a minute percentage of these trawlers for poaching in its territorial waters, and subject offenders to judicial processes, there are huge protests in Tamil Nadu and letters are written to the central government demanding intervention. In order to maintain goodwill between the two neighbors, the government of Sri Lanka releases offenders and their boats are handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the IMBL at regular intervals. This procedure has become a routine occurrence and is not an effective deterrent at all as they return to engage in poaching no sooner they are released. Enforcement measures such as burning or blowing up captured fishing vessels as being practiced by Australia and Indonesia, are not implemented so as not to adversely affect bilateral relations with India when they capture vessels engaged in IUU fishing in their territorial waters. However, a step in the right direction is that due to severity of poaching, Sri Lanka has refused the demand made at the November negotiations in New Delhi for the release of hundreds of boats it has seized.

Traditional and Human Security Implications

During its heydays, LTTE employed Indian fishing trawlers either seized or hired, to transport war-fighting materials and their cadres, initially between the two coasts and at latter stages to carry out ship to shore transfers. Such activity posed a serious security threat, as the LTTE was able to engage in near-conventional battles using long range artillery and mortar pieces. The conflict ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE. Although there has not been a resurgence of the organization, there were several attempts by certain segments of the Tamil Diaspora to revive hostilities in Sri Lanka. Against such a backdrop, large number of Indian fishing trawlers coming very close to Sri Lankan coast on a regular basis could lead to serious security implications, should the LTTE decide to revive their violent organization. Further, frequent smuggling of narcotic drugs into Sri Lanka from South India are using Indian trawlers to carry out this illegal trade.

The northern Sri Lankan fishermen engage in most sustainable methods of fishing, employing traditional artisanal methods. They do not operate multi-day fishing vessels, unlike their southern counterparts. They use small boats and venture in to the ocean for short periods, usually not more than 24 hours.

However, large steel hulled Indian trawlers practice bottom trawling, which is considered as one of the most destructive methods of fishing. Bottom trawlers are called “hoovers of the ocean” and “bulldozers mowing down fish and other benthic species” (Suryanarayan, 2016). If this bulldozing of the Sri Lanka Ocean is continued, soon there will be hardly any fish to catch. Bottom trawling scrapes the sea bed, disturbs the marine environment, damages age old corals, affect the growth of planktons and finally affect the reef fish, prawns and other types on benthic marine species, which could result in ‘habitat degradation.’ The majority of the northern coastal population of Sri Lanka depends on fishing or fishery related industry. That is the only livelihood activity they have ever known. If that source of livelihood is destroyed, there will be huge economic, social and political consequences affecting human security.

Progress of High level and Fishermen level Discussions

Traditionally, the Indian side had made it a practice to demand that representatives of fishermen from the two countries should meet and discuss all issues relating to the dispute, to which Sri Lankan authorities seem to agree, despite the fact the issue required negotiation between the two governments and not between offenders and victims. Recently however, representatives of Sri Lankan fishermen have been firm against the systematic exploitation of fisheries resources by their Indian counterparts. During the most recent encounter in New Delhi on November 2, 2016, after a gap of nearly one and half years, Sri Lankan fishermen refused to agree to the demand made by their Tamil Nadu counterparts to fish in Sri Lankan waters for 83 days in a year for three consecutive years as a grace period before they switch into deep sea fishing as an alternative way out of the Indo-Lanka poaching issue (Sunday Times, November 13, 2016).

The Sri Lankan fishermen have been adamant that they would not agree to continuation of illegal poaching and bottom trawling in their waters and had insisted that Tamil Nadu fishermen should stop engaging in such activity forthwith. The Sri Lankan fishermen also demanded compensation for the losses incurred due to poaching and bottom trawling, prior to moving ahead of further talks (The Hindu, 2016). Further, they had pointed out that Tamil Nadu fishermen were engaged in IUU fishing, and threatened to take the matter up in international forums to bring pressure against the illegal activities practiced by them for decades. The stand taken by the Sri Lankan fishermen, who are the victims of IUU fishing, is genuine as it is their livelihood at stake. It is the responsibility of the Indian government to adopt measures to address the livelihood issue of its citizens and, allocate adequate resources help them in their transition from bottom trawling to deep-sea fishing.

Aftermath of the inconclusive fishermen’s talks, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister and Aquatic Resources Development Minister met with Indian External Affairs Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, to discuss possible measures to find solutions to the fishery conflict (Lanka Business Online, 2016). This is the first time the two foreign ministers actively participated in fishery talks, which is a clear indication of the commitment of both governments to find a lasting solution. Whilst the details of the discussions are not published, it is reported that they agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and a meeting between Ministers of Fisheries every six months. The first Ministerial Meeting was held on January 2, 2017 in Colombo.

Among the several issues to be taken up by the JWG are for “expediting the transition towards ending the practice of bottom trawling at the earliest,” which patently lacks a time bound commitment. Other tasks of the JWG would be to work out modalities for Standard Operating Procedures for handing over apprehended fishermen and ascertain possibilities of cooperation on joint patrolling (Lanka Business Online, 2016).

Conclusion and The Way Forward

Diplomatic initiatives, JWGs and fishermen to fishermen talks have not seen the desired results for the last several decades. There is no common understanding between the two sides, one driven by profits and greed, and the other by poverty and desolateness. Whilst the Sri Lanka side maintains that poaching and bottom trawling by Indian trawlers should not be permitted, the Indian side is demanding licensing, limiting the number of trawlers and days, thereby not harming their fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.

The law enforcement authorities on both sides of the IMBL are forced to restrain themselves due to political pressure wielded by Tamil Nadu business interests. The hostile attitude of Tamil Nadu towards Sri Lanka mainly rests around this dispute, which could result in adversely affecting the excellent bi-lateral relations between the two countries. The solution to the problem is not to permit Tamil Nadu business interests to profit from their illegal activities. Unless a firm position is taken by Sri Lanka with regard to violation of its territorial waters, engaging in illegal bottom trawling by way of stepped up arrests and non-return of fishing vessels may continue. It is clear that poaching in the Palk Bay area and the Gulf of Mannar would continue for some time, while the marine environment is systematically destroyed to a point of no return. However, the ongoing dispute should not result in physical harm to the Tamil Nadu fishermen, due to the failure of authorities concerned to address the dispute in a timely manner.

Both sides should accede that this is a livelihood issue affecting thousands of families on both sides of the divide. It has also to be recognized that taking care of livelihood issues of citizens is a responsibility of the respective governments, who should find solutions to issues affecting bilateral relations without resorting to prevarication. As Suriyanarayanan points out, there are some positive measures being undertaken by the state of Tamil Nadu. There is a planned buy-back arrangement of trawlers, provide alternative livelihood for fishermen engaged in trawling and to construct tuna long liners. Through incentives and persuasion, affected fishermen could be encouraged to switch over to deep sea fishing in the Indian EEZ and international waters or engage in other vocations. However, sincerity, effectiveness and timely implementation of these measures are yet to be ascertained (Suryanarayan, 2016).

Sri Lanka’s concern is whether the fragile marine ecosystem in the Palk Bay would survive until these measures are implemented effectively. There is a need for Sri Lanka to embark on scientific research on the subject area to ascertain the real damage caused by bottom trawling and the resultant impact on the fisheries in the Palk Bay in order to gather sufficient data from primary and secondary sources, make an assessment of the cost of annual losses due to poaching, and be ready to present a incontrovertible case to India. A research station in the island of Kachchativu manned by the National Aquatic Resources Research & Development Agency (NARA) personnel could be entrusted with this task. A joint mechanism for investigation of alleged offences and joint patrolling by both countries merits consideration. If all efforts fail in finding an amicable solution, the government of Sri Lanka should be ready to refer the dispute to the appropriate international authorities on the strength of UN resolution 70/1, Goal 14: ‘to conserve and sustainably use oceans and marine resources for sustainable development.’


References 

Admiralty Chart Number 1584- Trincomalee to Point Calimere (2010)
Indian Coast Guard (2015) Indian Fishermen Indulge in illegal acts in Lankan Waters. Available at: [LINK=http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-indian-fishermen-indulge-in-illegal-acts-in-lankan-waters-says-coast-guard-2081178.]http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-indian-fishermen-indulge-in-illegal-acts-in-lankan-waters-says-coast-guard-2081178.[/LINK] \[Accessed: 24th Sep 2016]
Lanka Business Online (2016). Indo-Sri Lanka have held ministerial level talks to find solutions to fishermen’s issues. 07 Nov 2016. Available at: [LINK=http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/india-sri-lanka-hold-ministerial-talks-on-fishermen/]http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/india-sri-lanka-hold-ministerial-talks-on-fishermen/[/LINK] \[Accessed: 9 Nov 2016]
Suryanarayan, V. (2016) The India Sri Lanka Fisheries Dispute: Creating a Win-Win in the Palk Bay. Available at: [LINK=http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/09/09/india-sri-lanka-fisheries-dispute-creating-win-win-in-palk-bay-pub-64538]http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/09/09/india-sri-lanka-fisheries-dispute-creating-win-win-in-palk-bay-pub-64538[/LINK] \[Accessed: 25th Sep 2016]
Sustainable Development Goals: 17 goals to transform our world. UN Available at: [LINK=http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/]http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/[/LINK] \[Accessed: 24th Sep 2016]
The Hindu (2016). Indo-Sri Lanka Fishermen talks end in Stalemate, The Hindu, 02 Nov 2016. Available at: [LINK=http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indosri-lanka-fishermen-talks-end-in-stalemate/article9296510.ece]http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indosri-lanka-fishermen-talks-end-in-stalemate/article9296510.ece[/LINK] \[Accessed: 10th Nov 2016]
The Maritime Border Between Sri Lanka and India Stand Settled, (2008). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka. Available at: [LINK=http://www.mfa.gov.lk/index.php/en/component/content/1396?task=view]http://www.mfa.gov.lk/index.php/en/component/content/1396?task=view[/LINK] \[Accessed:25th Sep 2016]
Saikia, J. and Stepanova, E. (2009) Terrorism: Patterns of Internationalization. SAGE publications, New Delhi
Wijedasa, N. (2015) Politics bedevils solution to Palk bay Poaching, Sunday Times, 20th Dec 2015, Available at: [LINK=http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151220/news/politics-bedevils-solution-to-palk-bay-poaching-176067.html]http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151220/news/politics-bedevils-solution-to-palk-bay-poaching-176067.html[/LINK] Accessed: 25th Sep 2016

Featured Image: Fishermen carry a box filled with fishes at a fishing harbor in the southern Indian city of Chennai. (Babu/Reuters)

Russia’s Maneuvering of Conflicts for Enhancing Military Exports

The Red Queen’s Navy

Written by Vidya Sagar Reddy, The Red Queen’s Navy will discuss the The Red Queeninfluence of emerging naval platforms and technologies in the geostrategic contours of the Indo-Pacific region. It identifies relevant historical precedents, forming the basis for various maritime development and security related projects in the region.

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”– The Red Queen, Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll.

By Vidya Sagar Reddy

Introduction

Contrary to Western assessments that Russia’s military intervention in Syria would only deepen the economic crisis it is already facing, Vladimir Putin is tactfully turning this situation into an advantage. He is betting on the enormous Russian military-industrial complex with the logic that increasing the cash flow into this sector would create jobs and enhance military exports, reviving the economy. He is not alone in this thought. Foreign military sales is one of the principal sectors of the U.S. national economy creating millions of jobs, supporting local industries, and promoting innovation.

Russia provided ideological and military support to Communist forces in Asia, influencing the outcome of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts during the Cold War. The fallout of these conflicts continues to overshadow emerging security dynamics in the Asia-Pacific. In this context, the Asia-Pacific region, which is grappling to respond to the rise of a regional hegemon, appears to be most promising for exporting Russian weapon systems.

Russian Arms Sales in the Asia-Pacific

It is hard to substantiate whether Russia is a direct stakeholder in the stability of the Asia-Pacific. Its principal support to China in the South China Sea dispute is more of a measure to obtain a reciprocal response from China in its own altercations in Europe and West Asia. The conflicts in Ukraine and Syria continue to interrupt Russia’s plans to establish a network of energy pipelines, which is a major source of revenue for the country. The deteriorated political relations with Ukraine also means a setback for Russia’s military exports since it is dependent on Ukraine-made engines and sensors.

Amid these tensions, Russia has swung to Asia-Pacific, concluding a string of strategic partnerships and securing export orders for its defense industry. China is set to buy 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets and 36 S-400 air defense systems. India has also finalized a deal to buy the S-400 which only adds to the dominance of Russian military equipment in its arsenal. India and Russia are also discussing the exportation of jointly developed BrahMos cruise missiles to other countries such as Vietnam.

During the recent BRICS Summit in Goa, India finalized the $2 billion deal to lease a second nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) from Russia. India is currently operating an Akula II class SSN, rechristened the INS Chakra, on lease since 2012 for a period of ten years. India will also be buying four improved Talwar class frigates from Russia for $3 billion. Two of these ships will be built in Russia and the other two in India with the former’s assistance. These four add to the six commissioned warships of the same class, all built in Russia.

The decision to let the initial two warships be built in Russia has come as a surprise since India has already built the next generation Shivalik-class frigates domestically and has approved the construction of seven follow-on Project 17A stealth frigates by Indian shipbuilders. India will also need to buy the required power plants for these new frigates independently from Ukraine as the latter refuses to export military equipment to Russia due to the ongoing conflict. The fact is that Russia has already semi-built these frigates in its shipyard, but is struggling to obtain the engines from Ukraine. The Indian-Russian deal will arrange for these engines to be supplied to Russia through a third party (India) and the finished platforms will be commissioned for the Indian Navy.

The cruise missile salvo launched from the Caspian Sea flotilla against the targets in Syria is not only a show of force for Russia but also a live demonstration for elevating the export potential of its missiles. Several international customers including a few countries in Southeast Asia have expressed interest in the Russian Klub cruise missiles. As Russia’s official arms exporter Rosoboronexport puts it, this interest in cruise missiles leads to more orders for Russian warships and submarines because these cruise missiles require transportation and command and control platforms for deployment. Vietnam is keen to acquire land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles given the ever increasing threats from China to its territorial integrity. It has already purchased six Kilo class submarines from Russia, which will be armed with the Klub.

Russian Navy ships fire cruise missiles into Syria nearly 1000nm away from the Caspian Sea. (Russian Ministry of Defense)

Russia’s military equipment has a steady demand in the Asia-Pacific and other regions, partly due to the absence of issue linkages such as the human rights record the Western democracies would entangle their prospective buyers with. Russia is also generally insensitive to the security interests of its clients as evidenced by large deals with Vietnam, China, and India despite those nations’ concerns about one another.

Building on this demand and increasing its political leverage, Russia is even mulling reopening Soviet-era bases in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. For example, Russia is in discussions with Egypt, which is keen on allowing Russia to operate military bases in the country, thereby increasing the latter’s military footprint in the Mediterranean. There is speculation that Russia is also interested in renewing bases in Cuba and Vietnam. This will allow Russia to closely monitor both U.S. and Chinese naval activities, especially in the South China Sea.

Conclusion

Military might has always been a source of inspiration and pride for Russians, but military power does not automatically translate into economic well-being for the country. This is where Putin’s strategy comes into play, building on Russia’s vast military industrial apparatus for both international stature as well as the economic build up of the country. The Syrian conflict and the emerging security situation in the Asia-Pacific are being exploited for this purpose. The success of this economic strategy can only be awaited.

Vidya Sagar Reddy is a research assistant in the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative of the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi

Featured Image: Russian warships are seen during a naval parade rehearsal in the Crimean port of Sevastopol (Moscow Times) 

The US-India Logistics Agreement and its Implications for Asia’s Strategic Balance

The following article was originally featured by the Pacific Forum-CSIS’s PacNet series and is republished with permission. Read it in its original form here.           

By Abhijit Singh 

Recently, editorial columns in Indian newspapers have become a battleground for strategic commentators to debate the merits of India’s defense logistics pact with the United States. Despite a public declaration by the Indian government regarding the “non-military” nature of the Logistics Exchange Memoranda of Agreement (LEMOA), the pact hasn’t resonated favorably with a section of India’s strategic elite, who reject the idea of providing the US military with operational access to Indian facilities. New Delhi might have much to gain from the LEMOA, which could be critical in establishing a favorable balance of power in Asia.

The critics argue that the arrangement does not benefit India in the same way that it advantages the US military. As a leading Indian defense analyst put it, “the government seems to have been guided more by the fear of being accused of succumbing to pressure from Washington and less by an evaluation of whether this might benefit India’s military.” As a result, Indian defense ministry officials find themselves under pressure to explain why they believe an agreement with the US on military logistics is in India’s best interests.

New Delhi’s stock response has been that the pact is strictly “conditional,” and allows access to supplies and services to the military forces of both countries only when engaged in a specific set of predetermined activities. At a press conference in Washington after the signing of the agreement, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar was at pains to explain that the agreement has nothing to do with the setting up of a military base. “It’s only about logistics support to each other’s fleet” he averred, “like supply of fuel, supply of many other things which are required for joint operations, humanitarian assistance and many other relief operations.”

And yet there is little denying that in today’s maritime environment, every ‘place’ that provides logistics support essentially performs the role of a peacetime military base, albeit in limited ways. This is because operational logistics is the life-blood of contemporary maritime missions. Any ocean-going navy that can secure logistical pit-stops can guarantee itself a wider operational footprint in distant littorals. In fact, leading maritime powers, including the United States, Russia and China, are reluctant to set up permanent bases in distant lands because what they aim to achieve in terms of strategic presence is made possible through low-level repair and replenishment ‘places.’  To be sure, with over 800 foreign military installations, the US still has a globe-girdling presence, but few of its existing overseas facilities are permanent military bases.

To better appreciate why foreign military bases do not enjoy the same appeal as in earlier times, one must study the history of their evolution. The permanent naval base was a product of 19th-century politics when Britain, the leading maritime power, set up a network of military bases around the world to sustain its global supremacy. In the latter half of the 20th century, Britain was replaced by the United States, which soon came to dominate the world’s economic and strategic landscape. The US system of military bases consisted of several thousand installations at hundreds of basing sites in over 100 countries. The logic of the military basing system was intimately related to the dynamics of conflict. A military base was seen as a forward deployment position to enforce a denial regime on the enemy. It was a useful way of keeping the pressure on adversaries, and it allowed the US military to dominate the international system and prevent the rise of another hegemon.

But the logic of overseas bases has eroded. The absence of a real war in the intervening years has seen the law of diminishing returns kick in vis-à-vis foreign military bases, and an attenuation of their animating rationale. After struggling with rising domestic opposition to its military presence in Asia, the United States has been looking for more pragmatic options.

Since prolonged military presence on a foreign land isn’t a practical solution to any of its strategic problems, the US has been prioritizing logistics pacts that involve continuing support of rotational troops but no permanent deployments. These are variants of the “Acquisition and Cross-Service Agreements” (ACSAs) – or logistical arrangements for military support, supplies, and services (food, fuel, transportation, ammunition, and equipment) – that the United States shares with many of its NATO partners. And yet, despite being avowedly in support of peacetime operations and regional humanitarian contingencies, these pacts have not changed the public perception that US military presence overseas advance America’s imperialist ambitions.

A case in point is the recent Extended Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with Manila, which provides the US military access to five military bases in Philippines. Even though the agreement was signed in 2014, strong domestic opposition within Philippines from civil rights groups resulted in a legal stalemate at the country’s Supreme Court. In January this year, when the court finally ruled in the pact’s favor, its decision seemed motivated mainly by the China-factor – the increased threat posed by China in the Philippines’ near-seas.

While the defense pact has a limited objective – enabling US troops to rotate through the Philippines, ensuring a persistent but intermittent presence – the new military facilities in Philippines aren’t expected to be any less potent than the United States’ erstwhile permanent bases in the country. The infrastructure will facilitate a spectrum of peacetime missions in the South China Sea, including training and capacity building, area patrols, aerial surveys, and fleet exercises. It will also enable the Philippines to call upon the US for critical military assistance in the event of a crisis.

The United States isn’t the only country to depend on military logistics pacts to achieve broader strategic objectives. Increasingly, China is resorting to the same means. The PLA’s logistical base at Djibouti doesn’t just provide support for China’s anti-piracy missions, but also enables a round-the-year naval presence in the Indian Ocean. What is more, China’s recent commercial facilities in the Indian Ocean Region seem more in the nature of dual-use bases, which can quickly be upgraded to medium-grade military facilities in a crisis.

New Delhi must come to terms with the fact that LEMOA’s utility lies in facilitating greater US-India operational coordination in Asia. Notwithstanding Parrikar’s assurances to the contrary, closer maritime interaction between India and the US will increasingly involve operational access to each other’s bases for strategic purposes. Even if the necessary cooperation is cleared on a case-by-case basis and driven mainly by regional capacity building and HADR needs, the Indian Navy and the US Navy might find themselves acting increasingly in concert to achieve common strategic objectives in the regional commons.

This does not mean LEMOA promotes US geopolitical interests at India’s expense. If anything, the pact empowers the Indian Navy to expand its own operations in the Indo-Pacific region. It is an aspiration that the Navy professed to recently when it released a map for public viewing that showed Indian naval deployments over the past 12 months, spread across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region.

Given the fraught nature of security in the Asian commons, India has been looking for ways to emphasize a rules-based order in the region. To consolidate its status as a crucial security provider, the Indian Navy will need to act in close coordination with the US Navy, the leading maritime power in Indo-Pacific, to ensure a fair, open, and balanced regional security architecture.

Abhijit Singh (abhijit.singh27@gmail.com), a former Indian naval officer, is Senior Fellow and Head, Maritime Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in New Delhi. You can follow him on Twitter at @abhijit227.

Featured Image: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks with Indian Naval Officers as he tours Indian Naval Station Karwar as part of a visit to the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, April 11, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)