DEFEXPO 2022 INDIA Ministry of Defence

 

Indian defence minister stresses on free and open Indo-Pacific, India as a net security provider in IOR

"Our long coastline with deep-water ports, a prosperous Exclusive Economic Zone and islands at both ends present a unique position. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) accounts for more than two-thirds of the world's oil shipments," he said. "One-third of bulk cargo and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The safety of these sea routes is not only directly connected to our economic interests, but it also establishes India as a Net Security Provider in IOR," he added.

May 31, 2022
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Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said a free and open Indo-Pacific was an important aspect of India's maritime security while noting that geopolitical tensions and clash of strategic interests have resulted in new security challenges in the region. Singh said India has a clear interest in creating a rule-based, peaceful and stable environment in the region, saying such an atmosphere is essential for both regional and global prosperity.

The defence minister was speaking after inaugurating a three-day conference of the top commanders of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

Singh also said that India has not witnessed any terrorist activities originating from the sea route since the 2008 Mumbai attacks in view of the continuous enhancement of coastal security. He said that incident showed that India's orientation then was focused on the security of land borders and not much attention was paid to coastal security for a long time.

He lauded the ICG for continuously enhancing its capability in the last few years and playing a key role in bolstering coastal security.

"The growing regional and global trade in this region has brought forth new challenges. Geopolitical tensions and clash of strategic interests have led to traditional security challenges," he said. Singh also listed terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy as the non-traditional challenges facing the Indo-Pacific.

"The entire region is being affected by these challenges. Being a responsible maritime power, we have a clear interest to create a rule-based, peaceful and stable environment," the Indian defence minister said. Such a rule-based environment is essential for both regional and global prosperity. In such a situation, the ICG has a big role to play," he said.

"Our long coastline with deep-water ports, a prosperous Exclusive Economic Zone and islands at both ends present a unique position. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) accounts for more than two-thirds of the world's oil shipments," he said. "One-third of bulk cargo and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The safety of these sea routes is not only directly connected to our economic interests, but it also establishes India as a Net Security Provider in IOR," he added.

Singh emphasised that the role of the ICG is not only limited to coastal areas, describing it as the protector of India's national interests and sovereign rights in the territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zone. "There have been no reports of any breach in coastal security in the last 14 years due to the ICG's dynamic strategy and its cooperation with the Indian Navy and local administration," he said.

Singh added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) is based on the spirit of friendship, openness, dialogue, and co-existence with the neighbours.

Pointing out that India has emerged as a strong and reliable investment destination due to the government's efforts, Singh said, the country's true potential can only come to the fore if a safe, secure and rule-based maritime environment is ensured.

Singh also pointed out that as the pressure on mainland resources is increasing, countries around the world are turning to the sea for sustenance. Deep-sea exploration has further increased the competition for marine resources, he said while underlining the increasing role of marine exploration, resource exploitation and conservation.

Recently the Quad Summit provided an opportunity for the leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan to exchange views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and contemporary global issues of mutual interest while it also witnessed the launch of a new initiative for continuous collaboration in the maritime domain, space, climate change, health and cyber security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Joe Biden in Tokyo shortly after holding the Quad Leaders' Summit last Tuesday and said that the India and US partnership was a partnership of trust in the true sense.

(SAM)

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