Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
The First IORA summit was held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them. It has got 21 member states, including Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE, and Yemen. It is thus a very diverse group consisting of members from Africa to South East Asia. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation as well as Social Development of the region.
It was in 2011 that it got lot of momentum when the name was changed to IORA.
Objectives of IORA:
To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states
To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits
To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.
Areas of Cooperation
Six Priority Areas—
1) Maritime safety and security:
Freedom of navigation in Indian Ocean by maintaining safety and security of sea lanes in Indian Ocean
2) Disaster Reduction & Management:
Coordination in the Search and Rescue Operation, conducting workshops to share experiences on disasters frequenting the areas
Management of cyclones, monsoon floods and Oil spills through joint training and solutions
3) Trade and Investment:
Striving for Blue-Economy through closer interaction with other regional organizations. It is an area that directly impacts upon job creation, poverty alleviation and economic development, and contributes to the objective of promoting sustainable and balanced economic growth in the region.
4) Fisheries Management:
Regulation of fishing activates in coastal waters as the total stock of fishes in the ocean has been declining because of too much exploitation.
Harvesting fish stocks in sustainable manner (No fishing during breeding season)
Combating illegal fishing and damaging fishing techniques (e.g. Use of very fine nets, Trawling issues)
5) S&T-Academic Cooperation:
Through exchange of ideas between the Academic and Business Forums. This becomes important as the issue of climate change, environmental issues is becoming more and more prominent.
Tourism-cultural exchanges: People to people as well as business contact.
The theme of the summit was “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean.”
Importance of the summit:
2017 is the 20th year of formation of this group which is very important landmark. Till now the emphasis was more on economic integration and economic collaboration. Since the whole global scenario is changing the emphasis could shift more to security areas. The IORA needs momentum and the summit provided that momentum.
One of the main outcomes is issuing of strategic vision document, known as the Jakarta Concord, that “sets out a vision for a revitalized and sustainable regional architecture” and defines a broad framework to promote peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean.
Adoption of “the Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism”. Sharing of intelligence between agencies safeguarding the countries between members is very important.
80% of India’s energy imports happen through Indian Ocean, 40% of the world’s global trade traverse through Indian Ocean. Therefore security is paramount. As of now Indian Ocean Region is very peaceful and there is no rivalry unlike different parts of the world like South China Sea which has become the area of conflict because of China’s aggressiveness and the Pacific Ocean.
The IORA members must focus more on security issues in the IOR. The members must ensure that there is no entry of foreign navy in a manner which can disturb the peace and tranquility of the region, otherwise they will be opening the region for competition which will eventually harm all the countries.
Issue of piracy:
International cooperation for anti piracy has been one of the fine success stories. Earlier in Somalia and Gulf of Aden etc there was the issue of piracy which have now been contained. The 2008 Mumbai attack where terrorists from Pakistan came through maritime route highlights the importance of maintaining seurity of the maritime sea routes. The task is difficult but doable if all the IORA countries cooperate.
Pakistan is not the member of IORA but indirectly influences the security in IOR because of Arabian Sea and the Gwadar Port. It should be watched closely by the member countries. It is also expected that more of Chinese presence will increase in Gwadar port. Thus for combating terrorism it is required that IORA member countries maintain pressure on Pakistan.
China’s presence in Indian Ocean
Aggression in SCS is a cause of issue
China is developing a Blue Water Navy, they have an Aircraft carrier, and they have their presence in Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The members of IORA want the peaceful rise of China, it is not about containment of China but about working with China and this would require cooperation among member countries. China should not be allowed to become assertive and aggressive in the IOR and hinder the security aspects of the region.
China’s Maritime Silk route project somewhat overlaps with the IORA. India is not a party to MSR project. MSR is the project through which china wants to dominate the sea route and trade route. How to prevent the overlap.
The way some of the coastal countries have embraced MSR is dangerous as In Sri Lanka for Hambantota port China gave $1billion as loan but there was no revenue generated, so Sri Lankan government has given the port to china on lease. It could be Chinese way of colonising small countries by first investing in them and then trying to get control over the port and inland facilities when those countries are unable to pay back.
It is important that the countries who have embraced maritime silk route must understand what is likely to happen. They must be made aware of the fact that it is China who will be benefitted. We cannot expect that countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka will be exporting anything to China, it will only be Chinese goods and using these ports to connect to Europe and Africa.
Further it must be kept in mind that China does not adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
A collective effort and more coordination among the member countries is required to address security concerns in Indian Ocean region. At present there are no security issues in Indian Ocean region, however given rise in China’ assertiveness, Pakistan’s belligerence and the importance of Indian Ocean in terms of resource, it is important that a set of rules and regulations or code of conduct should be made so that it becomes difficult for any other outside power to violate those rules.
IORA provides confidence to small countries like Mauritius and Angola and other places where India is dependent on oil imports. Thus India’s role as net security provider in the region must be enforced further.
The time has come to raise the bar on this particular organisation.
Blue Economy: The blue economy encompasses in it- the “green economy” with focus on the environment and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”— with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development It can be defined as “Marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities
Connecting the dots:
Outline the importance of IORA organization and discuss how challenges in the Indian Ocean Region can be tackled through cooperation. Also highlight the importance of India as key security provider in the region.
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