Analyzing India’s Role as Net Security Provider

By: Shazia Habib

By: Shazia Habib
The term Net Security Provider was first used by US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in 2009 at Shangri-La Dialogue where he asserted that “we look to India to be a partner and net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.” The term was again repeated in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2010, as “as its military capabilities grow, India will contribute to Asia as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.”
The US considers India as pivot in the Indian Ocean where the US can export its military equipments and seek joint patrols in the Indian Ocean. These articulations were warmly welcomed by Indian decision makers who were precisely speaking of their interests in the region before. And thus, India subsequently started to use this term. India is continuously stressing on its role as net security provider. Reflecting a meeting of minds, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that “notwithstanding the multiple challenges country was well positioned to become a net provider of security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond”. Moreover, Trump became very specific about India’s role as a net security provider that will ultimately uphold the rules based system set-forth by the US. Trump during his visit in India in 2017, stressed on the term ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ and the role of India in the region. India’s perception as net security provider increased when Indo-Pacific was mentioned eleven times in the United States National Security Strategy (NSS), and US Pacific Command was renamed as Indo-Pacific Command.
In order to analyze India’s role as net security provider first the concept of net security provider needed to be delineated. Many of the analysts view the term net security provider in context of India’s role in the Indian Ocean Region as a net security provider for the rule –based activity. And for ensuring the security in the region, India has to undertake four important activities which includes Capacity-Building, Military-Diplomacy, Military Assistance and Direct Deployment of Forces. In the last few years, Indian Navy projected itself as the potent force capable of providing security in the Indian Ocean Region. Indian Navy desires for a blue water navy that is driven by the fact to be recognized as a dominant force in the Indian Ocean. Indian Navy has several times asserted that, “the Indian Navy is “committed to enhancing cooperation and engagement with like-minded navies in the Indian Ocean region”.
Indias claims for the capacity building in the region and aspires to be the hegemon of the IOR. It further boasts of as one of the largest navies of the world, possessing one aircraft carrier, one upcoming aircraft carrier and one amphibious transport dock. Keeping all these achievements in view, India delusively claims for the leadership of the Indian Ocean region. It claimed itself as the net security provider in the region; contrarily claims of the Indian Ocean remain flawed and are questionable. India faces serious impediments to its naval modernization and joint operations capabilities due to lacking in professional skills and operational capabilities. India has limited capability to conduct joint operations in the Indian Ocean region and it has ultimately impacted India’s claim as ‘net security provider’. It does not adhere to the principles of cooperation, flexibility and security. Resultantly it has affected and reduced the India naval effectiveness.
Furthermore, it claims to provide the military diplomacy and military assistance but in contrary it lacks institutional framework to deal with the safety. The Indian Navy has met a number of accidents. Sixty two accidents were recorded between 2007 and 2017 in which 177 officers were found guilty. This figure shows that accidents and mishaps are continuous feature in Indian Navy either because of the poor maintenance or the inadequate training. In April 2019, INS Vikramaditya met an accident that took the life of one Indian sailor. While on one side India is busy in building its military strength and disturbing the security of the entire region, and on the other side its lax military culture and loose rules and regulations are unable to train the soldiers to operate the advance military equipments.
Although navies around the world face such mishaps yet keeping the Indian aspirations of being regional police and the net security provider, it is important for it to overcome these shortcomings and acknowledge its deficiencies. Furthermore, Indian Navy should also need to review its operational and institutional structures and upgrade itself as per the standards of other international navies.