The Indian Navy unveiled
its naval doctrine on 26 April 2004 at Vishakapatnam envisaging the need for a
sea-based nuclear deterrent to inflict unacceptable damage on the adversary. The
naval doctrine, made public on 23 June 2004, advocates the induction of nuclear
submarines into the Indian Navy capable of launching nuclear-powered missiles
from undersea. The new naval doctrine is not a policy declaration but is
conceptual in nature. It is an exposition of power projection beyond the Indian
shores as an instrument of state policy in times of peace and conflict. The
objective is to help India pursue an independent foreign policy and exude the
confidence of a nation aware of is role in the global strategic hierarchy.
After the May 1998
tests, India resolved to develop a minimum nuclear deterrent based on weapons
delivered by aircraft, land-based missiles and sea-based platforms.
Subsequently, India's draft Nuclear Doctrine of August 1999 emphasized the need
for a nuclear triad. The Indian Maritime Doctrine revises the earlier defensive
doctrine and accentuates the need for situating the most powerful component of
the nuclear triad in the Navy. It marks a definite shift from coastal defence to
three vital issues: strategic concerns in the East, power projection, and
littoral warfare to aid the land forces in a conflict.
The Indian Maritime
Doctrine is therefore an aggressive strategy aimed at developing a credible
minimum nuclear deterrent. This is of relevance in the light of the Indian
Navy's diverse and complex missions in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Since the
1990s, there has been a quantum increase of warships in the IOR. Singapore has
already acquired a submarine. Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar are also
negotiating to induct them. The IOR, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the
Malacca Straits, constitutes a legitimate area of interest for India. The Navy
must play a more proactive role to control the strategically located IOR and
protecting the sea lanes of communication from emerging threats.
Looking further East,
the Naval Doctrine views with concern the strategic threat from China. The
Chinese naval doctrine flows out of its military doctrine, based on the
principle of active defence. The Chinese Navy is the only Asian navy with a SLBM
capability that can travel underwater without being detected. Rapidly moving
from being a coastal navy to an intimidating ocean-going force, it seeks to
operate much beyond its coastal areas and establish itself as a hegemonic power
in Asia. What is of immediate concern to India is the PLA Navy's plans to
configure its force into two carrier groups. China's formidable naval capability
is also growing with its acquisition of decommissioned carriers from Australia
and Russia to study their construction details and operate its own carrier by
2015. It also seeks to induct SSBNs, nuclear-powered Type 093 attack submarines,
apart from amphibious and logistic ships.
Equally disconcerting is
China's naval cooperation with
Myanmar by modernizing its naval bases at Hainggyi and
Beijing is also reported to have built a Signals Intelligence facility in the
Coco Islands. This is of security concern to India as China could monitor
India's maritime activities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and its missile
tests off the Orissa coast.
The Indian Maritime
Doctrine also expresses concern over the flow of military technology and
hardware into Islamabad. Pakistan has contracted a billion dollar deal with
France for three Agosta-90B submarines equipped with Air Independent Propulsion
technology and undersea-launched missile firing capability. This would enable
Pakistan to carry out attacks on warships while remaining underwater. A Chinese
built deep-sea port at Gawdar in Pakistan also raises security concerns.
Moreover, with Washington conferring Major Non-NATO Ally Status on Islamabad, a
quantum increase in Pakistan's naval forces seems likely.
India must develop a
submarine-based nuclear deterrence capability to protect its security interests
and remain a dominant regional power in Asia. The Naval Doctrine envisages
nuclear deterrence against regional states and deters extra regional powers from
jeopardizing our security interests by raising the cost of intervention. It also
aims to provide second-strike nuclear capability. India's adherence to a
no-first-use policy is linked to the survivability of its nuclear deterrent.
century will witness the emergence of USA, European Union, Russia, China, Japan
and India as major players in global politics. All these states either have an
independent nuclear/missile capability or come under the nuclear umbrella of a
strategic alliance. India is the only country that is devoid of credible nuclear
The Indian Maritime
Doctrine recognizes the fact that the Indian Navy is developing into a
professional force, and to safeguard its maritime security, India must develop a
submarine-based nuclear deterrent to support the Navy and achieve its strategic