[Answered] Examine the evolution of piracy off the coast of Somalia and evaluate the strategic measures taken by the Indian Navy in combating these threats. Discuss the implications of these measures on India’s maritime security and international relations.

Introduction: Give a brief context to the question

Body: Elaborate on the evolution of piracy, measures by the Navy to deal with it, and implications on security.

Conclusion: Way forward

The piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a significant maritime security challenge for several years. The evolution of piracy in the region can be traced back to the early 2000s when political instability, economic hardship, and the absence of a functioning central government in Somalia created a conducive environment for criminal activities, including piracy.

Evolution of Piracy

  • Root Causes: Piracy in Somalia results from poverty, governance issues, and the depletion of local fish stocks due to illegal foreign fishing.
  • Modus Operandi: Somali pirates began by hijacking commercial vessels for ransom, using small skiffs and “mother ships.” They later adapted sophisticated weaponry to counter international naval patrols.
  • International Response: The global community reacted with naval patrols, like Combined Task Force 150 and EU’s Operation Atalanta, aimed at securing waters and protecting shipping lanes.

Indian Navy’s Strategic Measures

  • Anti-piracy patrol: The Indian Navy has been among the most proactive forces deployed in the troubled area off the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. Its anti-piracy patrol that started in 2008 continues to this day and the Navy has never shied away from intervening in any developing situation and has foiled several attempts by pirates at hijacking merchant ships.
  • Coordination with Other Navies: India collaborated with other navies, including those from the United States, European Union, Sri Lankan, and Seychelles, to share intelligence and coordinate efforts in the fight against piracy. The rescue of Iranian and Pakistani crew by the Offshore Patrol Vessel INS Sumitra is testimony to the continuing professionalism and effectiveness of the Indian Navy in these waters.

Implications on India’s Maritime Security and International Relations

  • Strengthened Maritime Security: India’s active participation in international anti-piracy operations demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding global maritime trade and securing its maritime interests, contributing to an overall enhancement of maritime security.
  • Soft Power Projection: India’s involvement in counter-piracy operations serves as a demonstration of its naval capabilities and commitment to global security. This contributes to India’s soft power projection and helps build a positive image on the international stage.
  • Diplomatic Engagement: India’s involvement in diplomatic efforts to tackle piracy underscores a comprehensive approach to maritime security. By addressing piracy’s root causes, India seeks to foster regional stability, thereby advancing its security interests.

Conclusion

A long-term solution to the problem of piracy lies in rooting out misgovernance and unemployment in nations ashore, which feed maritime criminal activities. The ongoing commitment to addressing the root causes of piracy reflects a long-term strategy aimed at creating a stable and secure maritime environment in the region.

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