Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 4 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that the futures of countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) are interlinked and dependent on how effectively and efficiently the region tackles present and emerging challenges and leverages opportunities.
"There is a political, strategic and economic logic for IOR to be the region of the future. Futures of countries in the IOR are interlinked and dependent on how effectively and efficiently we tackle present and emerging challenges and leverage opportunities in the Indian Ocean," said Singh.
He made the statement at the IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave on Thursday on the margins of Aero India 2021, Asia largest Aero show being held at Bengaluru from February 3 to 5.
Speaking at the conclave, Singh said: "India being the largest country and having a vast coastline of 7,500 km in the IOR region, has to play an active role for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all IOR countries."
"In order to synergize efforts of all IOR countries to ensure safety and security in this region, it is high time that we take our economy, trade, naval cooperation and collaboration to the higher level," he further said.
Talking about Indian initiatives in the region, he said that the government has taken various policy initiatives to promote trade and tourism among the IOR countries through the sea like Sagarmala, Project Mausam, and Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had articulated Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) and this is Indian Ocean policy and the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building its maritime security capabilities. For this, India would cooperate on the exchange of information, coastal surveillance, the building of infrastructure and strengthening their capabilities.
Stressing upon the importance of IOR, Singh said, "We all have a shared asset, that is, the Indian Ocean. It is an important lifeline to international trade and transport as it commands control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world's container ships, one-third of the world's bulk cargo traffic."
Regarding the challenges of piracy, smuggling, security and fight against terrorism in the region, the Defence Minister laid stress upon security, commerce, connectivity, and intercultural exchanges among the participating countries.
"The present maritime security scenario in IOR is posing a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs/ people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief & SAR, maritime collaboration and co-operation among IOR countries can help meet these challenges effectively," said Singh.
"We, therefore, have to join hands in looking at these threats in unison, because one's threat today may be another's tomorrow. Maritime resources, will be key to sustained growth and development of nations across the Indian Ocean Region in the ongoing century", added Singh.
"We have already seen the negative impact of conflicting claims in some maritime areas of the world. We must, therefore, ensure that the maritime expanse of the Indian Ocean is peaceful and is optimally harnessed for the benefit of all nations in the region," he further said.
"Together, we have demonstrated our mutual respect for a rules-based order, setting an example of how abiding with international law will enable harnessing the global commons for the good of all," he concluded.
This IOR Conclave is an initiative to promote dialogue in an institutional and cooperative environment that can foster the development of peace, stability and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region. (ANI)