Indian Ocean Power Competition

Jun, 20, 2019

[pib] Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP)


  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be co-hosting an international workshop that aims to deepen knowledge on issues related with piracy and armed robbery, the maritime agency said.
  • The two-day workshop has been organised in cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC).


  • The ReCAAP stands for Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.
  • It is the first regional Government-to-Government agreement to deal with piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia.
  • The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) was established under the Agreement and was officially launched on 29 November 2006 in Singapore.
  • Presently, 20 countries are members of the ReCAAP including Australia, US, Japan, China and Bangladesh (Pakistan is not a member).
  • India had played an active role in setting up and functioning of the ReCAAP ISC along with Japan and Singapore.
  • The Centre has designated the ICG as the focal point within India for the ReCAAP.
May, 24, 2019

UNGA resolution demanding UK withdraw from Chagos Archipelago


  • India was among 116 nations to vote in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution demanding the UK to withdraw its “colonial administration” from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within six months.
  • This aimed at supporting Mauritius in its quest for the restoration of sovereignty over the island chain in the Indian Ocean.

Colonization of Chagos

  • The UK retained sovereignty over the islands after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968.
  • It has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814.
  • The islands have since been used for defence purposes by the UK and the US, which established a military base on the island of Diego Garcia.
  • The entire Chagossian population was forcibly removed from the territory between 1967 and 1973, and prevented from returning.

An ICJ obligation for UK

  • The ICJ had said in its opinion that the UK Government is “under an obligation” to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.
  • It demanded that the UK withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within six months, enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory as rapidly as possible.

Why India voted in favor of Mauritius?

  • As a part of India’s longstanding support to all peoples striving for decolonization, India has consistently supported Mauritius in its quest for the restoration of sovereignty.
  • India has age-old people-to-people bonds with Mauritius.

Assist this newscard with:

ICJ rejects UK’s claim of sovereignty over Chagos Archipelago

May, 23, 2019

Doctrine of Hot Pursuit



  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has apprehended a Pakistani fishing vessel off Gujarat and seized huge cache of narcotic drugs worth ₹600 crore in the international market.
  • During the hot pursuit, the crew threw bags containing suspicious material into the sea.
  • The Coast Guard team, upon boarding the vessel, took the crew into custody and retrieved the material.

Doctrine of Hot Pursuit

  • The doctrine of hot pursuit in international law recognizes the right of a State to pursue a vessel belonging to a foreign State which has violated any law within its territorial boundaries and jurisdiction.
  • The doctrine vests a right to pursue the delinquent vessel outside the territorial limits into the open sea and then can be taken into custody.
  • The fundamental rule of the maritime law states that all vessels have the right to navigate freely on the high seas.
  • Yet, the traditional notion has recognized the doctrine of hot pursuit as an exception to the principles of freedom on the high seas.
  • At a time when smuggling and piracy were rampant, this customary doctrine emerged to empower a coastal state to pursue on to the high seas a vessel that had violated its laws within its waters.
  • This denied the intruding vessel the opportunity to escape punishment by claiming protection under the right of free navigation on the high seas, which had been designed to protect innocent vessels.
  • Importantly, this customary doctrine did not extend to the territorial waters of a foreign state.
  • Decades later, this customary doctrine was codified in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of High Seas.

Hot Pursuit as per UNCLOS

  • The doctrine of maritime hot pursuit is codified in art 111 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It recognizes that a vessel, if has committed a violation of the laws of a foreign state while in that state’s sovereign or territorial waters, may be pursued onto the high seas and seized.
Mar, 05, 2019

[pib] Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue – 2019


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IPRD

Mains level: Geo-political importance of Indo-pacific region


  • The second edition of Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) – 2019 was recently held in New Delhi.

 Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD)

  1. The idea of an IPRD was first conceptualized and conducted in 2018, as the apex level conference of the Indian Navy, organised by the National Maritime Foundation as the Navy’s Knowledge Partner.
  2. The annual dialogue aim to provide:
  • a platform for substantive and insightful discussions pertaining to the geopolitical developments affecting the maritime domain of the Indo-Pacific
  • policy-relevant inputs to the policy-makers and the public at large

Focus areas

  • Practical solutions for achieving cohesion in the region through maritime connectivity
  • Measures to attain and maintain a free-and-open Indo-Pacific
  • A regional approach to the region’s transition from a ‘Brown’ to a ‘Blue’ economy
  • Opportunities and challenges arising from the maritime impact of ‘Industry 4.0’ and
  • How the twin conceptualizations of ‘SAGAR’ and ‘SAGARMALA’ might best be made mutually-reinforcing on a regional level
Feb, 27, 2019

ICJ rejects UK’s claim of sovereignty over Chagos Archipelago


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: Chagos Archipelago (map based)

Mains level: Decolonization of IOR


  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has said in an advisory opinion that Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago.
  • The Chagos Islands are home to the U.S. military base of Diego Garcia, under lease from the United Kingdom since the 1960s.

Ending Decolonization

  • The ICJ concluded that the decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed, as a result of Britain’s continued administration of the Chagos Islands.
  • The continued administration of the territory by the U.K. amounted to a “wrongful act”, which was not consistent with the right to the people of self determination.
  • The judges concluded that any detachment of part of a colony had to be based on the freely expressed and genuine will of the people.

Why UK needs Chagos?

  • The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy.
  • Britain says that the islands will be returned to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for defence purposes.

Why ICJ intervened?

  • In his statement, the judge also noted that the original agreement had not allowed for third party involvement in the territory.
  • The base’s construction led to the displacement of some 1,500 people, who have been unable to return to the islands.

1965 pact

  • Under an agreement struck in 1965, in return for compensation to Mauritius and fishing rights, Britain has maintained control of the islands.
  • It has continued to do so despite efforts by Mauritius to regain control, and UN resolutions requiring it to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.
  • The ICJ held public hearings in September 2018 in the case after Britain was defeated in its attempt to halt a UNGA resolution calling for the UN’s highest court to delivery an advisory opinion on the issue.
  • In June 2017, the UNGGA adopted a resolution calling on the ICJ to delivery an advisory opinion on whether the continued administration by UK was lawful.
  • The UNGA win by Mauritius against the U.K., and the U.S.  was seen as a major blow to Britain.

Questioning its legitimacy

  • The legacy of colonialism and whether the kind of agreements struck between colonial powers and their colonies in the final stages cannot be legitimate.
  • While Britain contended that Mauritius freely consented to the detachment of the archipelago, Mauritius maintained that the choice faced was no choice at all.
  • The leadership of its independence movement had been forced into agreeing to the 1965 separation of the islands, fearful that if they did not do so, independence would not be granted.

Indian Stance

  • India too supported Mauritius in its case, with India’s Ambassador to the Hague telling the court last year that a historical survey of facts placed the archipelago as part of Mauritian territory.
  • Regarding the process of decolonization of Mauritius, it remains incomplete both technically and in substance as long as the Chagos Archipelago continues to be under the colonial control.

Conclusion: On Advisory Opinions

  • The ICJ which last week heard from India and Pakistan on the contentious case of Kulbushan Jadhav, can also deliver advisory opinions.
  • Unlike the Jadhav case, which is binding and non-appealable, advisory opinions are not binding, though they do carry substantial legal weight and are mostly adhered to.
  • However, there have been several occasions in which they have not been: such as the 2003 advisory opinion which obligated Israel to stop building the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Jan, 02, 2019

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Integrating the island


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing much

Mains level: Rising importance of the Andaman Sea and the need to step up efforts in the region’s development


  • Recently PM modi visited Andaman Islands.

What did he do in Andaman ?

  1. PM Modi has recently renamed three islands in Andaman & Nicobar. The three islands — Ross Island, Neil Island and Havelock Island — will now be called Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep.
  2. He also hoisted a 150-feet-high national flag at Port Blair to mark the 75th anniversary of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose’s declaration of the formation of the Azad Hind government in 1943.

Andaman has always been a neglected Island

  1. Prime Ministers of India rarely travel to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  2. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi visited in 1984 and 1986 respectively and Manmohan Singh went there in early 2005 to review the tsunami relief operations.
  3. For political Delhi, the island chain was at best a remote outpost acquired by default from the departing British Raj.
  4. That attitude filtered down the entire system of governance in Delhi. For India’s continentalist security establishment, weighed down by difficult land borders to the north and the west, the Indian Ocean is a distant domain.
  5. The nation’s island territories — the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east and the Lakshadweep to the west — barely figure on Delhi’s mental map.

How will PM modi’s visit change the scenario?

  • Historical

Modi’s decision to time his visit with the 75th anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose flying the tricolour in Port Blair has helped highlight the role of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India’s freedom struggle.

  • Geopolitical
  1. The story of Bose, Japan and the Azad Hind government underlines the enduring geopolitical significance of the Andaman Island chain and its waters.
  2. In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were the site of contestation between European colonial powers — Portugal, the Netherlands, France and Britain.
  3. Britain, which occupied the islands at the end of the 18th century in search of a permanent military base, put them on the back burner in the 19th.
  4. From a potential platform for power projection, the islands became a penal colony for the Raj. The challenge for Britain came this time from the first Asian great power in the modern age — Japan.
  5. The imperial Japanese forces raced through Malaya, ousted Britain from Singapore, Burma and the Andaman Islands.
  6. It took the combined efforts of the British Empire , the US and nationalist China to reverse Japanese aggression.
  7. After the Second World War, the partition of India and the Cold War between America and Russia, the Andamans became marginal to the new geopolitics.
  8. Today as a rising China projects its economic and military power into the Indian Ocean, any strategy for regional balance would necessarily involve the economic and military development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  9. As in the Second World War, so in the current juncture, it would involve considerable cooperation between India and its major strategic partners.
  • Economic
  1. That in turn leads us to the third imperative — of ending the deliberate isolation of the island chain and promoting economic development, tighter integration with the mainland, strengthening military infrastructure, regional connectivity and international collaboration.
  2. The Modi government has initiated some important steps in that direction, including on internet connectivity, visa liberalisation, tourism, building new ports, agreements for cooperation with neighbouring countries in South East Asia.


Way Forward

  1. Any large-scale development would inevitably raise questions about preserving the pristine environment of the Andamans and protecting its vulnerable indigenous populations.
  2. As the NDA government seeks to accelerate economic development and enhance the military potential of the Andamans, there will be many challenges ahead. But none of them are unique to India.
  3. As it tries to turn the outpost in the Andamans into a strategic hub, Delhi can draw much from the wealth of international experience on the sustainable transformation of fragile island territories.
Dec, 24, 2018

[pib] Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)


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: IFC-IOR

Mains level: Enhancing maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region


  • Raksha Mantri has launched the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) Gurugram.

Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

  1. The IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
  2. The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
  3. IMAC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  4. All countries that have already signed white shipping information exchange agreements with us, about 21 of them, are IFC partners.

Challenges in IOR

  1. The Indian Ocean Region is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations.
  2. More than 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passes through the IOR.
  3. However, maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching pose myriad challenges to maritime safety and security in the region.
  4. Response to these challenges requires enhanced situational awareness of the maritime activities in the region so as to enable security agencies function effectively.

Why such move?

  1. The scale, scope and the multi-national nature of maritime activities, make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually.
  2. Hence, collaborative efforts between maritime nations in the IOR, was essential.
  3. IFC-IOR aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
  4. The IFC – IOR shall be a collaborative construct that will work with partners, countries as well as international agencies; to enhance maritime security and safety.
  5. It would also aim to work closely with the multi-national constructs and other information fusion centres.
Sep, 03, 2018

UN begins talks on treaty to protect imperilled High Seas


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: UNCLOS

Mains level: Measures undertaken by UN to protect High Seas.


Now Focus on Unprotected High Seas

  1. UN kicked-off talks on a 2020 treaty that would regulate the high seas, which cover half the planet yet lack adequate environmental protection.
  2. Sessions are planned to take place over two years, with the goal of protecting marine biodiversity and avoiding further pillaging of the oceans.
  3. The negotiations will relate to spaces beyond national jurisdictions, or areas that belong to no country in particular.
  4. Talk will focus on the high seas and the international zone of marine waters, or about 46% of the planet’s surface.

High Seas with no restrictions

  1. In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
  2. All States enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, overflight, scientific research and fishing on the high seas.
  3. The convention took effect in 1994, without the participation of the U.S.
  4. Since then, shipping routes have expanded considerably, and the resources of the ocean deep have aroused significant interest, whether by fishing or mineral extraction.

Protecting Marine Life

  1. Marine life is reeling from the impact of industrial fishing, climate change and other extractive industries.
  2. UN seeks to share responsibility to protect our global oceans before it is too late.
  3. Talks will focus on creating protected areas on the high seas, more sharing of maritime resources and technology, and research on environmental impacts.

Fishing restrictions

  1. Some whale-hunting nations, like Japan, Iceland and Norway, are expected to be more cautious than others because they fear overly strict fishing restrictions.
  2. The US is also resilient because they are opposed to all regulation of marine genetic resources as they did not ratify UNCLOS.
Jun, 26, 2018

India, Seychelles talk of ‘mutual welfare’ on Assumption Island project

Image result for assumption island map


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: Location of Assumption Island and other archipelagos in IOR

Mains level: India-Seychelles defense cooperation


U-turn on Assumption Islands

  1. National Assembly of Seychelles last week refused to ratify the naval base that India has been planning to build on the island of Assumption.
  2. The island has been at the centre of high profile maritime diplomacy between India and Seychelles, which was boosted with Prime Minister Modi’s 2015 visit.
  3. It is not clear how both sides would take the project forward in the absence of a parliamentary ratification.

Enhancing cooperation through security and infrastructure

  1. PM Modi announced several initiatives for the strategically located country that included the grant of a major Line of Credit (LoC) for the purchase of defense hardware of $100 million.
  2. He also declared that both sides would intensify cooperation to carry out hydrographical studies of the maritime region and have declared exchange of necessary oceanic maps between two sides.
  3. India also gifted a Dornier aircraft to Seychelles.
  4. India is ready to finance three civilian infrastructure projects in Seychelles under Special Grant. Government House, New Police Headquarters and the Office of the Attorney General is included in this.

Other details

  1. Seychelles will soon be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian origin people to the archipelago.
  2. Visiting Seychelles President gifted two large Aldabra turtles that are unique and are known to live for centuries.
  3. Both sides sealed six agreements including one that will twin Panjim in Goa with Victoria of Seychelles.
Jun, 18, 2018

India’s proposed Assumption Island deal stands cancelled


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: Assumption Island, SAGAR Programme, a Map-based study of Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements in IOR against rising Chinese presence


India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles now stands CANCELLED

  1. The deal was to include a 20-year access to the base, as well as permission to station some military personnel on the ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides.
  2. The deal to build a military base at Assumption Islands was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Another Security setback after the Maldives

  1. The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) programme.
  2. It also comes amid India’s troubles with another IOR country, the Maldives, where the government has demanded that India withdraw two helicopters, pilots and personnel from its atolls that had been sent there to help with maritime patrols.

Attempts futile

  1. In an attempt to engage with the Opposition in the Seychelles that had led protests against the agreement, India had raised the issue with Leader of the Opposition of Seychelles.
  2. Naval officials pointed out that India’s defense maritime cooperation with Seychelles is long-standing and some of the upgrade work on Assumption Island was already underway.
  3. India has resurfaced the old airstrip on the island as part of the infrastructure development project worth over $500 million.
  4. The cancellation of the agreement in a strategically important island could have far-reaching implications.


SAGAR Programme (Security and Growth for All in the Region)

  1. SAGAR is a term coined by PM Modi in 2015 during his Mauritius visit with a focus on blue economy.
  2. It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.
  3. The goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other`s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation.
  4. It is in line with the principles of Indian Ocean Rim Association.

IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association)

  1. Established in 1997 in Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius
  2. First established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.
  3. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
Apr, 22, 2018

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


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Spain.
Mar, 30, 2018

Seychelles says no to India’s proposal

Image source


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


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
Feb, 21, 2018

‘China deploys warships in Indian Ocean’


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


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
Jan, 02, 2018

China develops underwater surveillance networks in Indian Ocean, SCS

Image source


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


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
Dec, 28, 2017

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

Image source


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


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
Dec, 28, 2017

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


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


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
Oct, 14, 2016

[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.
Jun, 16, 2016

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
Jun, 16, 2016

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
Jun, 16, 2016

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
Apr, 11, 2016

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
Apr, 09, 2016

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
Apr, 07, 2016

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
Feb, 09, 2016

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
Apr, 01, 2015

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.
Mar, 27, 2015

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.
Mar, 22, 2015

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).

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