Indian Ocean Region

You are here

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Sandya asked: What is India’s perception regarding maritime security in the Indian Ocean?

    S. S. Parmar replies: India’s perception of maritime security stems from the “Freedom to use the Seas”. This is an important aspect that is the focus of any maritime nation’s outlook. There are some issues that require to be viewed and assessed when correlating maritime security to the Indian Ocean Region as they form the basis of India’s perception.

    • The IOR is a region of diverse economies and systems of governance. One third of the world’s populace resides here in a quarter of the world’s land mass. It consists of 56 littoral and landbound nations.
    • It accounts for 65% of strategic raw material reserves, 31% gas and more than half of the world's oil exports.
    • The region is the largest producer of rubber, tea, spices, and jute. Some other important minerals found are manganese, cobalt, tungsten, coal and iron ore.
    • This region has seen the maximum number of conflicts post the cold war and is considered the hub of global terrorism.
    • Piracy, gun running, human and drug trafficking are issues that are also affecting the maritime security environment.
    • Around 70% of the worlds natural disasters occur in the IOR.
    • The region has the presence of extra regional powers.

    Therefore the perception of India vis-à-vis the IOR is based on ensuring a safe and stable maritime environment that will firstly ensure security of India’s national integrity and sovereignty; secondly, protection of our national interests; thirdly, ensure safe passage of maritime trade both national and international; fourthly, ensure cooperation amongst nations to combat and reduce the impact of non-traditional threats like terrorism, piracy and natural disasters.

    These aspects require certain mechanisms that exist in the form of engagement with India’s maritime neighbours. India also engages the extra regional maritime players who have a stake in the IOR. This has led to bilateral and multilateral understandings at the diplomatic, economic and military levels that cover the issues highlighted above.

    M.Vivek asked: Is China's aggressive buildup at borders / Indian ocean a tact to provoke India into doing the same, thereby bankrupting itself?

    R. N. Das replies: China’s buildup at the border and in the Indian Ocean region is certainly a matter of concern for India, which has been articulated at the highest level. In recent past there has been a perceptible infrastructural development across the border in China and also China’s engagement in the Indian Ocean, particularly in Sri Lanka where China is building a port at Hambantota, ostensibly for civilian purposes which however can have strategic implications on India’s security. It is only appropriate, on part of India to take measures to beef up its defence preparedness so as to meet eventualities, if any. There are, however, a slew of confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries to defuse tension, and maintain and tranquility in the border, but going by India’s past experience of 1962 war, it would be imprudent to neglect defence preparedness . There can not be any room for complacency in matters of national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty. No doubt India spends a better part of its budgetary allocation for defence of the country, which is to increase further, but it would be presumptuous to say that it can lead to sort of bankruptcy. Ours is a resilient economy which has withstood many a crises in the past including the oil crisis and more recently the word financial crisis.

    Faud asked: Can you explain the growing numbers of foreign forces in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean?

    Ruchita Beri replies: The escalation in the number of piracy attacks in recent years has increased the presence of foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean Region. In 2008, recognising the growing danger posed to international shipping by pirates, the UN Security Council passed several resolutions to allow countries to send warships to the region. Several countries, including the United States, members of the European Union, Japan, China, Russia, Iran, United Kingdom and India have deployed warships in the region to secure the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). Collective efforts include deployments by the European Union and the multinational coalition task force, Combined Task Force (CTF 151) and the CTF -150. CTF 151 was established in January 2009 with a special mandate to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia. While the CTF 150, established in 2001 at the beginning of US launched War on Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), has a wider mandate and conducts maritime security operations not just in the Gulf of Aden but also the in Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy, deployed in the Gulf of Aden since 2008, has recently crossed the milestone of escorting 1000 ships through piracy infested waters.

    Ankur asked: How are we going to deal with a rising PLAN in the Indian ocean?

    Pankaj Kumar Jha replies: If we analyse the modernisation trends of PLAN in the last five years, it is clear that the stress is more on smart frigates, anti-ship missiles, nuclear submarines and nuclear submarines with ballistic missile launch capability. These acquisitions are meant for sea denial and creating deterrence.

    The Indian plan of action is two pronged. Firstly, India is trying to strengthen multilateral forums like Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) to create common consensus on maritime issues, thereby creating a cooperative security framework. At the same time it is also engaging important players through biennial liaison meetings like MILAN, in which more than 16 navies participated last year. Secondly, India is trying to enhance its maritime capabilities through induction of stealth frigates, a new aircraft carrier and the naval version of Brahmos. Lately, India successfully test-fired Brahmos on a moving vessel.

    India’s Maritime Strategy Doctrine of 2009 has listed the nine sea lanes of communication as vital maritime interests and areas of influence. Also, naval cooperation with countries like Oman, South Africa, Maldives and Indonesia, as well as exercises in South China Sea show that India has a strategic plan of action in place.

    Kovid Kumar asked: How much Japan’s national interest affects the Indian Ocean?

    Rajaram Panda replies: Peace and tranquillity at sea is of utmost importance for Japan as it is a maritime nation. Maritime security, therefore, is intrinsically connected with Japan’s economic lifeline. Any disruption in the maritime traffic will drastically affect Japan’s economy. Being a resource deficient country, no other country in the East Asian region is more dependent than Japan on maritime transport for sourcing critical raw materials and exporting manufactured goods. In particular, the Strait of Malacca is the main passage between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and therefore a vital lifeline for Japan’s international trade. As much as 33 per cent of international trade and 50 per cent of the world’s oil pass through the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Hormuz. Also 90 per cent of Japan’s oil requirements come from the Persian Gulf. Because of Constitutional limitations, Japan’s naval role to tackle issues of piracy and maritime terrorism and securing the SLOC is limited. Japan, therefore, sees India as a strategic asset for naval cooperation. Multilateral naval exercises are also important for Japan. Seen from this perspective, Indian Ocean in Japan’s national interests is hugely important.