Ans. A large percentage of India’s trade, including oil and fertilisers, passes through the Gulf of Aden. The Ministry of Shipping has estimated that, Indian imports through the Gulf of Aden route were valued in the order of USD 50 Billion and exports at USD 60 Billion. The safety and unhindered continuity of maritime trade, through ships that use this route, is a primary national concern as it directly impacts our economy. Although this task accounts for only 13% of our trade (the remainder is carried in foreign ‘bottoms’), the crew of most foreign flagged vessels comprise Indian nationals, as India’s large seafaring community (approximately 100,000 in number) accounts for 6-7% of the world’s seafarers.
Piracy in Gulf of Aden, Somalian Coast, Omani Coast and seas between the African coastline and Maldives is a global menace, being fought not only by IN, but also by numerous Navies of the World. India on its part is actively engaged in anti piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Eastern Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy commenced anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden from October 2008 and since then a ship has been deployed continuously. Besides escorting Indian flagged vessels, ships of other countries have also been provided protection. No ship under Indian escort has thus far been hijacked by pirates.