Defense Minister hails professionalism and dedication of Indian Coast Guard
New Delhi: Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated the 39th Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Commanders Conference in New Delhi.
In his remarks, Minister Singh praised the professionalism and dedication of the ICG and said its unparalleled performance has made it one of the best and most important coast guards in the world.
The Raksha Mantri emphasized the need to maintain maritime preparedness in an ever-changing global scenario, calling it a crucial aspect that safeguards a nation’s economic and strategic interests. He pointed out that there had been a change in India’s maritime security needs due to the ever-changing global situation.
Reminiscent of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Shri Rajnath Singh said, the incident showed that for a long time the country’s focus has been on land border security and little attention has been given to security coastal.
He commended the ICG for continuously improving its capabilities over the past years in line with the government’s vision and playing a key role in enhancing coastal security. Thanks to these efforts, the country has not witnessed any terrorist activity from the sea route since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, he said.
The Raksha Mantri shared his view on the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, calling the region an important aspect of India’s maritime security. “The growth of regional and global trade in this region has created new challenges. Geopolitical tensions and conflicting strategic interests have led to traditional security issues. Terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy are non-traditional challenges we face today. The whole region is affected by these challenges. As a responsible maritime power, we have a clear interest in creating a rules-based, peaceful and stable environment. Such a rules-based environment is essential for regional and global prosperity. In such a situation, the ICG has a big role to play,” he said.
Regarding the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Shri Rajnath Singh said, India’s geographical location is strategically and economically crucial. “Our long coastline with deep-sea ports, a thriving exclusive economic zone and islands at both ends presents a unique position. The IOR accounts for more than two-thirds of global oil shipments. A third of bulk goods and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The security of these sea routes is not only directly related to our economic interests but also makes India an internet security provider in the IOR,” he said.
The Raksha Mantri emphasized that the role of the ICG is not limited to coastal areas only, describing them as the protectors of national interests and sovereign rights of India in territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. “No coastal security breaches have been reported for the past 14 years due to ICG’s aggressive strategy and cooperation with Indian Navy and local government,” he said. Shri Rajnath Singh added that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) is based on the spirit of friendship, openness, dialogue and co-existence with neighbours. It is our main responsibility which is successfully fulfilled by the ICG, he said.
Emphasizing that India has become a strong and reliable investment destination through the efforts of the government, Shri Rajnath Singh said the true potential of the country can only be brought to light if a safe, secure and resource-based maritime environment rules is provided to the country. the economy, in particular the blue economy. He urged the ICG to strive to maintain order along the country’s vast coastline and exclusive economic zone to achieve this goal.
The Raksha Mantri also pointed out that as pressure on continental resources increases, countries around the world are turning to the sea for food. Deep-sea exploration has further increased competition for marine resources, he said while stressing the growing role of marine exploration, exploitation and resource conservation.
Shri Rajnath Singh commended ICG for playing an incomparable role in assisting civil administration during natural calamities; efforts that also extend to coastal neighbours. More than 3,000 fishing boats, along with 24,000 fishermen, were brought to safety during last year’s devastating cyclones thanks to the preventive and measured response position of ICG operations, he said. The Raksha Mantri commended the ICG for achieving success in business safety, pollution control and environmental protection.
The Raksha Mantri added that considering all aspects such as security, trade, environment and humanitarian aid, the Ministry of Defense has sanctioned a large number of projects including the acquisition of ships of pollution control and the medium-term modernization of the Dornier fleet, to modernize the ICG. He appreciated the efforts of ICG towards the realization of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”. “Today, the manufacturing and maintenance/repair of ICG’s ships and aircraft is done locally. The ICG devotes almost 90% of its capital budget to the development of local assets,” he added.
Shri Rajnath Singh asserted that the government has tried to introduce an integrated approach and that the ICG is a full stakeholder. The establishment and operation of the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) is another milestone that has given a boost to the protection of the country’s vast coastline. He hopes that the ICG, with its mighty ships, planes and manpower, will continue to make an invaluable contribution to the safety, security and growth of the nation.
The ICG Commanders Conference is held annually, where all regional commanders present the roadmap for the future and discuss various political and strategic issues. The conference aims to develop a futuristic vision of the service and to determine the modalities to effectively overcome the challenges.