Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative
TOPIC: General studies 2
- International Relations
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday proposed a new initiative to create a safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific, indicating India’s readiness to play a bigger role in the region where China has been expanding its military assertiveness.
- PM Modi floated the idea of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative during his address at the 14th East Asia Summit, a premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region dealing with issues relating security and defence.
- The ASEAN’s current chair Thailand and Australia welcomed the Prime Minister’s proposal.
- Reflecting growing congruence of interests in the region, senior officials of the Quad’ countries also held consultations on the situation in the Indo-Pacific.
The Focus areas include creating partnerships among interested states in
- Enhancing maritime security
- Sustainably using marine resources
- Disaster prevention & management
- Cooperation in trade and maritime transport
India’s Act East policy remains the bedrock of the national Indo-Pacific vision and the centrality of ASEAN is embedded in the Indian narrative.
India views the Indo-Pacific as a geographic and strategic expanse, with the 10 ASEAN countries connecting the two great oceans. Inclusiveness, openness, and ASEAN centrality and unity, therefore, lie at the heart of the Indian notion of Indo-Pacific.
- India has consistently been indicating that it was keen on playing a larger role in the Indo-Pacific region. The US has also been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific in an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.
- In November last year, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending Quad Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
- PM Modi has also proposed an EAS seminar on maritime security in Chennai next year.
- India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), in ASEAN-led frameworks like the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, the ASEAN Regional Forum as well as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation and the Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor.
- India has also been convening the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, in which the navies of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) participate.
- India has boosted its engagements with Australia and New Zealand and has deepened its cooperation with the Republic of Korea. Australia has already indicated its interest in working with India to develop the initiative. Through the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation, India is stepping up its interactions with the Pacific Island countries. India’s growing partnership with Africa can be seen through the convening of mechanisms like the India-Africa Forum Summits.
- India’s multi-layered engagement with China as well as strategic partnership with Russia underlines its commitment to ensuring a stable, open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Geo-strategic significance of Indian Ocean:
- Huge resources: The Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the greatest maritime-littoral space that has the largest concentration of population, resources, developing economies, congested sea lanes, and contested territorial spaces.
- Choke points: The Indian Ocean is home to many choke points, such as the Straits of Hormuz, Straits of Malacca, Lombok and the Sunda Straits. Any disruption in traffic flow through these points can have disastrous consequences.
- Muslim population: The region is home to most of the world’s Muslim population as well as India, one of the world’s likely “rising powers.”
- Nuclear weapon states: The Indian Ocean also is home to the world’s two newest nuclear weapons states, India and Pakistan, as well as Iran, which most observers believe has a robust program to acquire nuclear weapon.
- Communication: The Indian Ocean is home to important SLOCs and maritime choke points. A large volume of international long haul maritime cargo from the Persian Gulf, Africa and Europe transits through this ocean.
Economic significance of Indian Ocean:
- Fisheries: The people of Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Maldives, and Sri Lanka get more than half of the animal protein in their diets from fish.
- Mineral resources: Indian Ocean is rising and strengthening because its littoral states possess more than 2/3 of world’s oil reserves and roughly 35% of world’s gas reserves, 60% of Uranium, 40% of gold and 80% of all diamond deposits. Indian Ocean is also important because of the industrial raw materials it possesses including lithium, nickel, cobalt, tin, manganese, phosphate etc
- Offshore oil: Forty per cent of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin
About East Asia Summit: It is a leaders-led platform, where discussions are held on various developments in the region.
- The agenda for this edition of the summit was to review the future direction of East Asia Summit co-operation and exchange views on regional and international issues.
- Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.
Connecting the Dots:
- Analyse new initiative to secure the maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific.
- The quadrilateral posturing by India, the US, Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific is critical to counter the aggression of China in the region. Comment.
- The increasing geo-strategic and economic significance of the Indian Ocean realm has necessitated the development of a robust coastal security ecosystem. Do you agree? Substantiate your response.
- What is the significance of the Pacific region for India? Why is India increasing its engagement with the Island nations of the Pacific?