In this opinion piece, we take a look at the measures taken to strengthen the Indian Maritime Awareness & how these will benefit India’s Ocean Diplomacy. According to ancient Chinese military theorist SUN TZU, foreknowledge was a critical element in battle. It didn’t come from spirits or gods or past events. On the contrary, only men who knew their enemy well, could gather those specialized tools that constituted foreknowledge.
India is working very well in honing this craft and that is what we are here to prove.
INDIAN SURVEILLANCE MEASURES
India has set Radar Surveillance Stations in Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. Additionally, the Indian Navy is set to expand this system to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Mauritius. The aim is to protect the east coast, especially after the Galwan Valley Clash.
After said clash in June 2020, Indian surveillance has increased in the east coast, especially in areas around the Chinese border. For this purpose, India is using the P-8I Aircrafts (which India procured from Boeing of USA).
This is a strategically sound move. Many nations in the Indian Ocean Region are frustrated with China’s hegemonic attempts and many are even in disputes with them. India is the only power here that can act as a counterbalance to China. Thus, measures like these make a statement that India is here to lend a helping hand, to put an end to Chinese aggression.
INFORMATION FUSION CENTRES
Information Fusion Centers (IFCs) simply put, is an information sharing hub of maritime data. It gives real time maritime related information and cues a suitable approach/fight plan when necessary.
Considering the importance of such IFCs, India has established such centres in Gurugram (Haryana) called IFC-IOR. Many nations are said to station their permanent officers here. France has already placed its officer. The other countries that will do so include: –
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
- QUAD Nations i.e United States, Japan and Australia
Additionally, India has also established another I.F.C at Madagascar called REGIONAL MARITIME I.F.C and has placed a regional officer there. Said center is set up under the Indian Ocean Commission. Last year India gained the “observer status” at the IOC. Indeed this is a follow-up of that step, to strengthen India’s position in the region.
India has also posted an officer in the EUROPEAN MARITIME AWARENESS I.F.C. that’s located in Abu Dhabi (U.A.E). This will help us monitor maritime activities in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz
India has always claimed that its maritime policy seeks to ensure “Peace & Security For All”. A step like this, will ensure that concerned nations in the Indian Ocean Region also know this and collaborate with India to achieve the same. The goodwill and trust India will earn through this is an added advantage.
INDIA-led PROJECTS IN INDIAN OCEAN
The Trump-Modi era saw increased attention on the QUAD Grouping. Apart from stationing their officers in Gurgaon additionally, these nations are also partnering with India on EXERCISE MALABAR. This is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, United States, Japan and Australia. It’s held alternatively in the INDIAN and Pacific Oceans.
Another mission by India is PROJECT MAUSAM by Ministry of Culture & IGNCA launched this mission to re-connect and re-establish communications between Indian Ocean Countries. The goals include: –
- Reviving lost linkages with nations: This includes rekindling the links these nations have shared since time immemorial. India seeks to share the common cultural values and economic ties with them, that transcend present-day national and ethnic boundaries.
- Connecting World Heritage sites: Establishing inks via connecting through Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. Also ensuring to fill all gaps that prevent realizing this goal.
- Achieving transnational nomination under World Heritage: Advocating for ‘Indian Ocean Maritime Routes’ to attain transnational nomination under World Heritage, increasing scope for visibility, research, sustainable tourism, heritage development and promoting other Cultural Conventions across the Indian Ocean region.
INDIAN S.A.G.A.R DOCTRINE
In 1 way, all the steps mentioned above are ways to further India’s S.A.G.A.R Doctrine. Unveiled in 2015, this is India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean. This doctrine emphasizes on the importance of maritime security and cooperation, so as to ensure Security And Growth for All in the Region.
Through S.A.G.A.R, India seeks to cooperate with Indian Ocean nations over information exchange, infrastructure and coastal surveillance. If India needs to be a regional leader here, the capacity building and enhancement has to be top notch.
- Maritime issues are the center point of India’s diplomacy and thus, the S.A.G.A.R Doctrine ties up various maritime policies of India like the ACT EAST, SAGARMALA, MAUSAM etc. It also ensures that India is in line with India focus on being a “net security provider” in the region as well.
- Oceans provide transportation for 80% of global trade. The seabed also provides 32% of the global supply of hydrocarbons, with exploration expanding.This is addition to the growing potential of mining Poly-Metallic nodules from the sea-bed. The sea also offers vast potential for renewable blue energy production from wind, wave, tidal, thermal and biomass sources. The S.A.G.A.R Doctrine thus, will enable India to exploit these opportunities as well as strengthen connections with littoral states in this process.
- China through its Belt Road Initiative investments, has been increasing its influence in Indian ocean region (I.O.R). Moreover, Chinese investments in India’s neighboring countries are of dual nature i.e commercial with military underpinnings. The string of pearls has caused strategic concerns for India. In such a case, connections with other Indian Ocean Nations is important to counter rising Chinese aggression.
As the legendary general SUN TZU rightly said, foreknowledge allows us to have a prior reading and understanding of the adversary. He said it gives the master tactician, an opportunity to decisively shift the balance of fortune in the theater of battle.
The Maritime Doctrine of India that we analyzed above, is set to give us this foreknowledge itself. It will allow us to create a security apparatus in and around the Indian Ocean Region, which will help in combating hegemonic enemies. It will also open doors for transnational cultural and economic partnerships in the region, which shall ensure livelihood opportuities, energy security and all in all, Peace and Security for all in the region.
On this occasion of the 72nd Republic Day, we say that we are proud what our nation has achieved in global diplomacy. The Indian Maritime Doctrine has also put India in line to achieve diplomatic successes in the arena in the coming future.