Monday, November 21, 2011

Piracy Seminar at OBP-India Inaugural

Human society sans crime is a wishful thinking. However, in civil societies the crime is intolerable when it gets on people's nerves.

Today, the Somalia piracy is not only getting on the nerve but it has almost crippled the shipping on the busiest east-west silk-route at it's focal point. The situation is alarming and robbing human society of money, morality, justice and sanity.

Falling in the no man's land, the definition of piracy & pirates is a matter of dispute till date. Meantime, taking advantage of the situation are the vested interests like terrorist groups, the underworld, P&I clubs, security agencies and other related services companies. On the other hand, the losers are common people, who are bearing the burnt of rising inflation due to huge additional cost building into the price of goods on account of piracy, besides the direct victims viz. shipping and the seafarers world-over, who sail in constant fear of being hijacked.

The need of the hour is to concentrate on Somalia piracy on priority basis without diluting the definition and scope of piracy, which would mean losing the focus from the seat of the fire i.e. Somalia.

Poor people of Somalia may not be the kingpins of piracy but they are certainly the hands and tools of the perpetrators of piracy in Indian Ocean. It is rather difficult to pin down highly influential kingpins in this corrupt world. However, it is relatively easier to cut their hands off or render their implements ineffective, i.e. the Pirates.
Barren land and lawless state of Somalia offers the most fertile ground for breeding pirates. Somalia piracy is inherently a law n order problem in a stateless country. Restoration of a lawful government and providing education and alternate employment to her subjects can alone bring a decisive termination to Somalia Piracy. But Easier said than done. This is no short term solution. Who's gonna tame the cat in the wild? Going by human history and psychology, there is always a severe lack of political will to address these multi-lateral issues. U.N.'s past record is not much re-assuring in such cases either.

Meantime, the current methodology used to counter Somalia piracy is vastly inappropriate. You don't need a B1 to kill a fly. A hand swatter is just the right choice. Similarly, induction of Navy as anti-piracy measures is an expensive and useless option when the little brother Coastguard is just suited for the job. Let coastguards of various regional countries co-ordinate and take charge. There is need to strengthen the piracy reporting network and intelligence sharing.

Deployment of armed guards onboard commercial vessels is scaling up the magnitude of this menace. It is like pouring honey onto pirate's pizza and attracting more bees from around who will be more willing to re-invest into the vicious circle. Yes, I am referring to Security agencies - Pirates nexus. Moreover, in circular causality, escalated use of weapons and force in defence has resulted in higher number of attacks and violance by pirates.

The other dark vistas which Somalia piracy presents are a possible blockade to east-west Freetrade, a proxy reason (an excuse) for the presence of western navies in the happening place called Indian ocean & thirdly but not the least the emergence of Piracy industry whose proceeds are flowing westward. I would not like to exercise the bellows on these corners but remain focused on our efforts to bring in law and order to the sorry state of Somalia.

Time is of essence as there are families of seafarers, who with bated breath wait for the safe return of their kin sailing in turbulent seas. The time is running out, so is our patience...