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[pib] Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) – 2018

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS),

Mains level: India’s maritime exercises with various nations and their impact


News:

  • Iran is hosting the 6th edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and Conclave of Chiefs.
  • The IONS was conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008.
  • The forum seeks to enhance maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion on regionally relevant maritime issues that would lead to common understanding on the way ahead.
  • The inaugural edition of IONS was held in February 2008 at New Delhi.
  • The IONS Charter of Business was agreed upon by the Conclave of Chiefs and brought into effect in February 2014.
  • Under the IONS charter of business adopted in 2014, the forum has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and maritime security (anti-piracy).
  • A relatively young forum, barely in its 10th year of existence, it has grown into a formidable organisation with 23 members and 09 observers.
  • As the founder nation, India will also be conducting commemorative activities in November 2018 at Kochi, for celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year.

Members

  • South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
  • West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
  • East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
  • South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Observers

  • China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Spain.

Seychelles says no to India’s proposal

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Assomption island project, PIO Parliamentary Conference

Mains level: India’s efforts for expanding its reach in Indian ocean region and issues related to it


News

Assomption island project rejected

  1. India’s plans to get a foothold in the Indian Ocean islands of Seychelles has received a setback
  2. Assomption island project was rejected by the Indian Ocean country earlier this week and it will not be ratified by its parliament

PIO Parliamentary Conference

  1. India hosted the PIO Parliamentary Conference in January
  2. The aim of the conference was to firm up ties with individuals of Indian origin who are spread across the world and are playing important role in their host societies
  3. Mr. Ramkalawan, Leader of Opposition in Seychelles, who is an ethnic Indian, was earlier in the race to occupy the post of the president of the country
  4. Mr. Ramkalawan remained a staunch opponent of the maritime project of India in the Assomption island

Importance of Assomption island project

  1. The island oversees the main energy route between the major Asian economies and the Gulf region
  2. The project was expected to host a naval facility
  3. The agreement covers within its purview shared efforts in anti-piracy operations and enhanced EEZ surveillance to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders including those indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking

‘China deploys warships in Indian Ocean’

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: East Indian Ocean (Map related)

Mains level: China’s increasing intrusion in IOR


News

Chinese naval contingent deployed near the Maldives

  1. A Chinese naval contingent has been deployed in the East Indian Ocean
  2. This comes at a time when the Maldives is undergoing a political crisis

Indian Ocean region: New tug of war

  1. The Chinese Navy’s ‘Blue 2018A’ fleet has been training in the East Indian Ocean for a week
  2. China had earlier warned against external intervention in the Maldives
  3. This was after the country’s exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed called for New Delhi’s intervention to release political prisoners
  4. China is trying to exercise influence over the Maldives usually within India’s strategic view
  5. Indian defense sources denied any movement of Chinese ships near the Indian Ocean island nation

China develops underwater surveillance networks in Indian Ocean, SCS

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maritime Silk Road, Gulf of Aden, Djibouti, Hambantota port, Gwadar port, Senkaku islands

Mains level: China’s rising military capabilities and its effects on India/world


News

New underwater surveillance network

  1. China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road
  2. This includes the Indian ocean

About the system

  1. The system, which has already been launched, works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity
  2. The Chinese system is based on a network of platforms — buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders — that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian oceans
  3. The Navy can use this data to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning

China’s expansion in Indian ocean

  1. In recent years, China has stepped up naval expeditions to the Indian Ocean to fight the pirates in Gulf of Aden
  2. China is also seeking to establish logistic bases in the Indian Ocean
  3. The first such base was opened by China in Djibouti last year and it acquired the Hambantota port of Sri Lanka on 99 years lease for debt swap
  4. It is currently developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

South China sea dispute

  1. China is involved in maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas
  2. It claims almost all of the South China Sea and has also laid claims on the Senkaku islands under the control of Japan in the East China Sea
  3. These islands are believed to harbor vast natural resources below their seabed
  4. The US has been periodically deploying its naval ships and fighter planes in the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation in the disputed areas

How could this move affect India/world?

  1. The project is part of an unprecedented military expansion fuelled by Beijing’s desire to challenge the US in the world’s oceans
  2. By 2030 China will have 260 warships and submarines compared to the US’ 199
  3. Since the Cold War, the US had closely guarded the Western Pacific via “island chains”
  4. China is now moving in the same direction with ‘String of pearls’ around India and establishing bases in African subcontinent and other areas in Pacific ocean

[op-ed snap] Out at sea: on the Indian Ocean Region

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gulf of Aden, Strait of Malacca, ASEAN, Goa Maritime Conclave

Mains level: Measures being undertaken by India to secure IOR


Context

U.S. National Security Strategy

  1. In its National Security Strategy (NSS), the U.S. has called China a “challenger” and “rival” while welcoming India’s emergence as a “leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner”
  2. The U.S. declared that it seeks to increase ‘Quadrilateral’ cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India
  3. The NSS also states that the U.S. would support India’s growing relationships throughout the region

India should be cautious

  1. India should be wary of any attempts at being pitted as a front in the U.S.’s efforts to check China’s rise
  2. While the notion of the Indo-Pacific sounds grandiose and enticing, India must not forget that its primary area of concern is the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Rules-based order

  1. India has always been wooed by both sides and has been a balancing power on the world stage
  2. For instance, India’s vote in the UN General Assembly over Jerusalem should be seen in line with a “rules-based world order.”

Chinese presence in the IOR

  1. India should hedge against the rapid expansion of Chinese presence in the IOR
  2. This is more important as Chinese army recently acknowledged that it is planning to explore the possibility of more foreign military outposts in Africa, West Asia, and other areas
  3. For India, geographically the area of concern, and so the area of focus, should remain the IOR, stretching from the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Malacca
  4. As more powers make inroads into this strategically crucial space, India must consolidate its position and not expect others to do its job, for it would only mean ceding space in the long run

How to consolidate position in IOR?

  1. By beefing up Indian capacity and securing interests
  2. And then expanding partnerships to fill voids
  3. Over the last couple of months, there have been hectic parleys with various nations in various formats — quadrilateral, trilateral, etc
  4. While being part of various groupings is important, it is imperative that they are in line with our interests

Key initiatives

  1. Last month, India and Singapore concluded an overarching bilateral agreement for naval cooperation
  2. It is India’s second bilateral logistics arrangement and gives it access to the Changi naval base at the mouth of the Strait of Malacca
  3. India is also working out modalities for joint multilateral exercises with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  4. India is also negotiating similar logistics agreements with several other countries
  5. Another initiative is the Goa Maritime Conclave hosted by the Indian navy last month where Navy Chiefs and maritime heads of 10 Indian Ocean littoral states brainstormed on ways to improve cooperation in the region
  6. It is an India-led initiative where the navy has offered to share information of maritime movement in real-time

Way forward

  1. The tags of net security provider and leading global power would mean nothing if New Delhi cannot undertake capacity building in its own backyard, be it South Asia or the IOR
  2. India should engage with like-minded countries in the region without getting entangled in groupings which are seen as being targeted or military in nature

2017 ‘Ekuverin’: 8th India-Maldives joint military exercise to conclude today

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ekuverin, Free Trade Agreement

Mains level: China’s string of pearls strategy and its effect on India


News

Joint military exercise focused on counter-terrorism 

  1. The Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) have been carrying out a joint military exercise in Belgaum
  2. The two-week long exercise which focused on counter-terrorism operations was conducted by small teams in a semi-urban setting
  3. The eighth edition of the exercise is named ‘Ekuverin’, which means ‘friends’ in Maldivian language

India-Maldives ties under strain

  1. Diplomatic ties between India and Maldives are under strain over a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by the archipelago nation and China
  2. Recently, Maldives signed an FTA with China, becoming only the second country after Pakistan in South Asia to do so

India trying to counter China’s presence

  1. One of the key challenges to India’s role in the Indian Ocean Region is China’s activities in the region
  2. India has been conducting joint military exercises in the region to counter China
  3. One such joint exercise with Sri Lanka recently concluded in Pune

[op-ed snap] Narendra Modi’s Indian Ocean opportunity

  • Theme: Indian interests in forging economic links with Indian Ocean rim countries.
  • Opportunities in the region: The Indian Ocean has the potential to become the most important source of new global growth over the next 20 years.
  • According to research, India will be the world’s fastest growing nation in the decade to 2024. Also, four out of the world’s six fastest growing economies over that same period, will also be in east or southern Africa.
  • Other countries in the wider region are likely to grow comparably quickly too.
  • Issues: Lack of connectivity in the region- While these nations are set to grow individually, the links between them are often feeble.
  • Estimates suggest that a third of global bulk cargo and two-thirds of oil shipments cross the Indian Ocean. But most of this heads off elsewhere, rather than being traded between countries in the region.
  • Will creating a regional body help improve the situation? Possibly not, as an expanded Indian Ocean forum would bring together a diffuse grouping with little in common.
  • Also, the response to previous attempts to push alternative regional bodies is also hardly encouraging e.g. BIMSTEC
  • Meanwhile, there is little evidence that regional bodies do much to improve trade flows.
  • The way ahead: Taking cues from the success of China’s grand One Belt, One Road initiative, India should make a bigger, unilateral push to improve regional connectivity, including greater financial support for new infrastructure investment, and a new push to reduce trade barriers, beginning with its own.
  • E.g. pushing projects like the mooted Myanmar-Bangladesh-India gas pipeline, or providing greater development funding assistance to poorer neighbours.

Survey of polymetallic sulphides

  1. Initial estimated resource of polymetallic nodules on the site retained by India on the central Indian Ocean basin is 380 million tonnes
  2. However, the actual estimates will vary depending on the results of a detailed survey and exploration, coupled with results of test mining of nodules upon developing the mining technology
  3. Indian organisations such as the National Institute of Ocean Technology and the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research are involved with these surveys and developing specialised shipping vehicles
  4. Challenge: To develop the specialised drills and extraction-technology required to fish out the metals

What are Deep seabed polymetallic sulphides?

  1. Contain: Iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold and platinum in variable constitutions
  2. Formation: These are the precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from the deep interior of the oceanic crust
  3. Interest: These compounds in the ocean ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long-term commercial and strategic values

India sets sights on gold in ocean

  1. The Union Cabinet approved a proposal by the Earth Sciences Ministry to sign the agreement with the International Seabed authority (ISA)
  2. Aim: To get exclusive rights to mine for so-called polymetallic sulphides over 10,000 sq km around parts of central and southwest Indian ridges in the ocean
  3. Importance: While the long-term mining projects will fructify only over decades, they will be of immense strategic and commercial value
  4. Background: In 2002, India was granted permission only to explore ocean regions and prospect for precious metals
  5. The ISA, under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), governs non-living resources of the seabed of international waters

Colombo port project not a security threat to India: Ranil

  1. News: Sri Lankan PM said that the Colombo Port City project will not have any impact on Indian security
  2. Background: China and Sri Lanka have decided to develop Colombo Port city into a financial hub
  3. Significance: Project will give a chance to Indian firms to invest in a Sri Lankan venture
  4. Sri Lankan PM also rejected the contention that China will manage the operations of Hambantota port

China, Sri Lanka eye new infra road map to anchor ties

  1. Context: Visit by Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to Beijing
  2. What? Defining a new blueprint, based on rapid infrastructure development, to rail their growing ties for the future
  3. Affirmation by both countries supporting the $1.4 billion Colombo Port City project
  4. Opportunity: The end of Sri Lanka’s civil war and China’s adoption of its 13th five-year plan along with its Going Abroad strategy

Protests against China-funded Colombo Port City project continue

  1. Context: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s planned visit to China
  2. News: Sri Lankan government is inching towards an agreement to revive the Colombo Port City Project
  3. Why:  adverse impact would be caused to marine ecology, environment and fishermen’s livelihood due to the project
  4. Govt response:  revival of the project is linked to compliance with all the norms and regulations

Raja-Mandala: Maritime India versus Continental Delhi

The international fleet review is a reminder of India’s capabilities to help build an open, secure and prosperous Indian Ocean

  1. While bringing the Indian navy’s second international fleet review to a close at Visakhapatnam, PM emphasised, once again, the centrality of the oceans for India’s prosperity and security.
  2. On the economic front, India’s interests have become truly global.
  3. More than 40 per cent of its current GDP is linked to international trade. And most of this trade is sea-borne.
  4. On the positive side, Delhi has become increasingly conscious of its larger responsibility to provide public goods in the maritime domain.
  5. The political and naval leaderships have acknowledged the urgent need to cultivate special maritime relationships with key partners
  6. Amid the altering regional balance of power in the Indian Ocean
  7. The announcement that India will host its first-ever global maritime summit in April this year reflects Modi’s eagerness to shake Delhi out of its continental stupor
  8. The real challenge is to plugging the gap between, insufficient financial and institutional resources and the absence of effective bureaucratic mechanisms
  9. To implement declared objectives have meant that the gulf between India’s maritime promise and performance remains wide

Critical note on China’s “One belt One Road” initiative

  1. It undertakes 2 initiatives of Maritime Silk Road (MSR) and Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) on land.
  2. From Indian perspective, we need to have a broader geo strategic vision for Indian Ocean.
  3. Scenario is accentuated by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka pledging support to China on this.
  4. Just like the Chinese, India needs to protect its core areas of interests such as trade, economy and resources driving the outreach of India’s maritime interests.

Maritime Silk Road to reset Beijing-Colombo ties

  1. In his visit last year, Xi won support from Sri Lanka and neighbouring Maldives for a new maritime Silk Road.
  2. China enjoyed close ties with Mahinda Rajapaksa but Sirisena’s administration has ordered all China-funded projects to be reviewed.
  3. But as the news develops now, the two leaders discussed a $1.5bn China-funded port city project Colombo and affirmed longstanding ties.

Project Mausam – India’s answer to China’s Maritime Silk Road

  1. It is a transnational program aimed to restore India’s ancient maritime routes and cultural links with republics in the region.
  2. Emphasizes on the natural wind phenomenon (monsoon winds) used by Indian sailors in ancient times for maritime trade.
  3. India also faces the difficult job of matching China’s stress on building landmark infrastructure in the region, including ports in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

    Discuss: Good time to remind yourself that India agreed to support Iranian Chabahar port project on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Its close to the Pakistan’s Gwadar port (built with Chinese help).

Questions (attempt in the comments section)

1

Discuss why the Indian Ocean is considered as critical to the future of the world and India.

2

The problem in establishing strategic presence in the Indian Ocean region is that India’s ambitions seem to be running ahead of its capacity.” In the light of the slew of projects announced by India in the Indian Ocean region, comment on the statement.

3

Why is securing its interests in Indian Ocean important for India? How can India make use of its strategic advantage in Indian Ocean to counter possible threats by the rise of China? Critically examine.

4

India is facing new maritime challenges in the Indian ocean. Examine these challenges and explain what should be India’s strategy in addressing these challenges.







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