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“Blow The Boat Off”: Pakistani ‘Terror Boat’ And The State Of Indian Coastal Security

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By Chaitanya Mallapur:

“Blow the boat off…we don’t want to serve them biryani.”

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

That controversial order from a Coast Guard Deputy Inspector General to sink a Pakistani trawler in December 2014, revealed in an Indian Express video on February 17, may have contradicted the official stand of the government–that the boat blew itself up–but the furore masks a larger problem: India’s 7,500-km-long coastline is as vulnerable as it has ever been.

Lax coastal security led to the smuggling of explosives to the coast of Raigad in Maharashtra, leading to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The landing of 10 terrorists in Mumbai via this porous coastline resulted in the 26/11 attacks in 2008. How India gathers most of its intelligence along the eastern seaboard–from fishermen–tells you why coastal security falters, said defence analyst C. Uday Bhaskar.

At least 22 ministries and departments are involved in securing India’s coastlines, writes Pushpita Das, associate fellow at the Institute For Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), in her report, “Coastal Security – The Indian Experience”. Obviously, coordination is a problem. Admittedly, India’s coastline is not short, sprawling more than 7,500 km, involving nine states and four union territories:

Source: Ministry Of Home Affairs
Source: Ministry Of Home Affairs

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar held a high-level meeting last week to identify isolated spots, which could be used by others to land arms, explosives or terrorists. The government is now planning to set up a dedicated marine police force – another cog in an already complex wheel.

Piracy. Armed robbery. Smuggling. A rising tide

An examination of maritime infiltration and smuggling cases reveals that India’s coasts are a hub of criminal activity.

Source: Lok Sabha
Source: Lok Sabha
Source: Lok Sabha (Figure Is Approximate)
Source: Lok Sabha (Figure Is Approximate)

In 2013, major infiltration cases were reported around Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Tamil Nadu. A total of 857 people were reported for infiltration attempts, most of them from Myanmar and Sri Lanka. These arrests were carried out by the Indian coast guard and local police. Tamil Nadu reported 16 of all smuggling cases reported in 2013. Nearly Rs 117 crore worth of goods were seized and 18 people arrested. There were no cases of smuggling of arms or men reported in the year 2014 due to improved security measures, according to the government.

Maritime piracy and armed robbery: 49 actual and attempted incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported off the Indian coasts between 2009 and June 2014. IndiaSpend had previously reported 189 piracy cases in the Indian Ocean region in 2013.

Maritime Trade and Strategic Locations: India’s coastline is marked by 13 major and 187 non-major ports, through which 90% of maritime trade connects to international sea lanes. These ports are important because of its economic activity and strategic establishments, such as naval bases, nuclear plants, satellite launch pads, LNG terminals and off-shore and on-shore exploration.

A web of security–and more on the way

India’s waters are protected by a three-layered defence. The territorial waters, up to 12 nautical miles (22 km), are guarded by marine/coastal police. The jurisdiction of the Indian Coast Guard extends from 0 to 200 nautical miles (0-370 km) – the extent of India’s exclusive economic zone. The area beyond 200 nautical miles comes under the jurisdiction of the Indian Navy.

Rajya Sabha/ Lok Sabha
Rajya Sabha/ Lok Sabha

In 2005-06, the government, under the Coastal Security Scheme (Phase I), provided 73 coastal police stations, 97 check posts, 58 outposts, 30 barracks, 204 interceptor boats, 153 jeeps and 312 motor cycles. This cost Rs 646 crore. However, the 26/11 terror attacks pointed to major loopholes in India’s coastal security. So, Phase II has been under implementation since 2011. It will cost Rs 1,580 crore, of which Rs 122.58 crore has been released till November 2014.

In the second phase, the government is planning to provide 131 marine police stations, 60 jetties, 10 marine police operation centres, 150 boats (12 tonne), 10 boats (5 tonne), 20 boats (19 metre), 35 rigid inflatable boats and 10 large vessels for Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Of these, 82 police stations are up and running, but only 10 sites have been acquired for jetties. Only 42 coast guard stations have been commissioned.

Source: Lok Sabha
Source: Lok Sabha

A total of 46 radar stations were approved by the government, of which work on 44 stations are ready, with an additional 38 radar stations due to go up in Phase II of the coastal security scheme. Apart from these measures, the government has started the national population registry for coastal populations and registration of all fishing vessels.

And since 2009, the coast guard has been conducting community interaction programmes with fishermen to act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of enforcement agencies. The role of the fisherman isn’t likely to end any time soon.

This article was originally published by IndiaSpend.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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