In the profusion of dedicated “days” that punctuate the global calendar, World Maritime Day will be observed on September 24. This has a special resonance for a country like India which despite its vast natural oceanic potential, has often been described as tenaciously sea-blind by way of its policy priorities.
However, to the credit of the Modi government, the maritime sector received rare policy notice literally from day one. In the President’s address to Parliament in June 2014, the government committed itself to setting up a National Maritime Authority (NMA). This body was envisioned to ensure cohesive policy-making and effective coordination among the state agencies dealing with coastal security and maritime matters.
At one time, more than 19 ministries and departments of the government had a locus in the management of the maritime domain. Given the prickly turf sensitivities in India, the need for a single body that could pull all the threads into a harmonious collective effort needs little reiteration.
Various proposals were mooted to create a professional maritime authority with an apex adviser/coordinator, but this remains a work in progress six years since NMA was first proposed.