Indian Ocean waters must remain safe and secure: MoS Rajkumar Ranjan Singh
India will always work towards keeping seas, space and airways free and open and nations secure from terrorism and piracy
Noting that it is of utmost importance that the waters of the Indian Ocean that wash our shores remain safe and secure, Minister of State for External Affairs, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh on Tuesday said, India will always work towards keeping the seas, space and airways free and open and nations secure from terrorism and piracy.
Delivering the keynote address at the 8th Indian Ocean Dialogue, MoS for External Affairs Ranjan Singh said, “ India’s vision of the Indian Ocean region is premised on SAGAR doctrine i.e. ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’, as outlined by our Prime Minister, encompassing political, security, economic, and socio-cultural spheres.”
Indian Ocean Rim region is among the world’s most vital in terms of global commerce, energy, environmental and geopolitical stability, and with its rich natural resources and bio-diversity, it is an engine for growth and prosperity, he stated.
India, being strategically located in the Indian Ocean Region with an extensive coastline and presence of several islands has a long maritime tradition, the Minister said.
This has helped India to forge deep rooted commercial, cultural and religious ties with countries in the region over centuries and evolve a vision that encompasses the interests of all, he added.
The MoS External Affairs noted that India’s vision of the region is premised on SAGAR doctrine i.e. ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’, as outlined by our Prime Minister, encompassing political, security, economic, and socio-cultural spheres.
He said the SAGAR doctrine envisions the Indian Ocean region and the greater Indo-Pacific as “a region of peace & prosperity, based on a climate of trust and transparency, respect for international maritime rules, equal access as a right under international law, sensitivity to each other’s interests, peaceful resolution of disputes and enhanced maritime cooperation.”
The MoS External Affairs said it is important not to lose sight of the interconnectedness of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean regions, which presents opportunities for communities in IORA Member States.
He further said that the Indo-Pacific concept recognizes the incontrovertible geographic logic of these two oceans.
The Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI), announced by India in 2019, as a practical implementation of its Indo-Pacific vision and in line with SAGAR doctrine, envisages a free, open, inclusive and rules based Indo-Pacific, the Minister stated.
The IPOI is a collaborative endeavour for countries to work together towards cooperative solutions to common challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, of which the Indian Ocean is an intrinsic part
The Minister said, India will always work towards keeping the seas, space and airways free and open; nations secure from terrorism and piracy; ensuring access to and responsible use of global commons, a global cyber-space free from disruption and fair, transparent and balanced trading systems; and enhancing connectivity, for inclusive and sustainable national, regional and global economic growth.
Speaking of the current context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it can be said that a crisis can often be the basis of creativity and our endeavour should be to come out of the pandemic stronger, he reckoned.
The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a new urgency to re-imagine international cooperation and expand its ambition further, Singh argued.
The pandemic has clearly accelerated the significant socio-economic changes that the Indian Ocean Region has been witnessing, he mentioned.
India, on its part, is trying to foster meaningful multi-stakeholder partnerships, sharing of advanced and frugal technologies, collaboration in vaccine and pharmaceutical production and transparency in health information among others, the MoS for External Affairs said.
Noting that India's contribution to the world despite our own domestic challenges in the time of the pandemic is well known and acknowledged, he said, in the Indian Ocean region, we have extended our full support and assistance in the form of medical supplies including vaccines, as well as financial assistance.
India has a reputation for being the first responder in the region with humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) which we strived to live up to during the COVID pandemic, Singh argued.
He said that India’s outreach to the Indo-Pacific region during the Covid19 pandemic included supply of essential food items, protective wear and healthcare equipment; deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) as well as Medical Assistance Teams (MAT); and supply of critical medicines and vaccines, liquid oxygen and concentrators among other things.
India also organized COVID-19 related online training through eITEC programmes for 802 healthcare professionals, administrators, nursing officers, counsellors, drug regulatory authorities and other stakeholders of Indo-Pacific region, he informed.
Explaining that the Indian Ocean Dialogue seeks to explore areas where IORA can contribute towards shaping a peaceful and prosperous future for the Indian Ocean, Singh, the canvas of IORA cooperation is vast and largely unexplored.
“The principles of the IORA Charter and the vision of our leaders as enunciated in the Jakarta Accord remain our main guiding documents. In its 25th anniversary year IORA needs to not only look back at the achievements made and lessons learned but also surge ahead with greater purpose and ambition,” he reasoned.
He reposed faith that the IORA, as the pre-eminent regional organization has a critical role to play in this regard. On its part, India remains committed to share her experience and resources in the spirit of solidarity.