Ports play an important role in the overall economic development of a country. India is one of the fastest-growing and large economies in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 6.1% as of 2018-19. Approximately 95% of India’s merchandise trade is done through sea ports. India is one of the biggest peninsulas in the world with a coastline of ~7,516.6 kms and 200 major and non-major ports. Indian ports are categorised into two parts: Major ports (under central Government administration) and Non-Major ports (under state Government administration). The ports in India serve as a backbone for EXIM, international trade, coastal shipping and cruise shipping.
As India opened its economy towards liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation in the year 1991, government policies were formed to develop export potential and improve trade and commerce. Development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and allowing foreign enterprise participation has helped India in achieving high trade growth over the period.
India’s top export destinations are the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, China, Germany and Republic of Korea. Key commodities handled at the Indian ports are petroleum products, coal, automobile, iron ore, engineering goods, chemicals and electronics.
The Government of India has planned to modernise the country’s ports through a project called Sagarmala. It is the flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping and Waterways to promote and develop ports in the country by harnessing India’s 7500 km-long coastline and potentially navigable waterways. Sagarmala can be a gamechanger for the maritime sector due to its focus on port-led development.