In India, we keep talking about the security situation in the north – whether on the Pakistani side or the Chinese side. The focus of the press, too, remains largely on threats that the country is combating along its disputed land borders. And in all of this, we miss any mention of maritime security. In fact, when was the last time you heard about it?

Because, if you think about the long history of attacks carried out on Indian soil, a number of them have happened over the seas. For example, in the two attacks that have rocked India's financial capital, Mumbai, over the past decades – the 26/11 attacks and the 1993 bombings – sea became a key part of the attackers' strategy.

So when India’s largest coastal defence exercise kicked off on 22nd January, it felt like a good time to briefly review the state of India’s maritime security.

What measures have we put in place since 26/11? And have they worked for us?

After the 26/11 attack, two areas of concern emerged: lack of coastal surveillance and poor coordination between agencies responsible for it.

For better surveillance, India decided to install radars along the coast, forming a coastal surveillance network.

As part of this strategy, 36 radar stations have already been built on the mainland, six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, and four in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Thirty eight more radar stations are being built to fill the gap that remains.

Moreover, for a better picture of maritime activity in the extended region, India has also installed radars in Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. It is also in talks with Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Thailand for the same.

These radars feed in information to a naval centre in Gurugram, which, in turn, disseminates information to allied agencies.

Soon, we are heading towards a future where no section of the coast will escape the radar detection. And that's a good sign.

However, multiple incidents, such as the one in which a Russian couple drifted close to the Mumbai coast undetected, have shown that gaps remain.

For better coordination between agencies, India has adopted a three-layer security system made up of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, and the State Maritime Force. However, states, which have been traditionally disinterested in national security, remain the weakest link in the system.

A case in point is Odisha, where the CAG has found an acute shortage of manpower, infrastructure, and training of the state maritime police.

Therefore, it can be safely concluded that India has come a long way since the days of virtually zero protection along the coast, but there's still distance to be covered.