Vision SAGAR and India’s Developmental Participation in Indian Ocean Region – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • August 13, 2020
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Vision SAGAR and India’s Developmental Participation in Indian Ocean Region

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General studies 3:

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  • India and its neighbourhood- relations
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements including India/ or affecting India’s interest

In March 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three small but significant Indian Ocean island states — Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. During this tour, he unveiled India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean: Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

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

It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.

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
  • Increase in maritime cooperation

It is in line with the principles of Indian Ocean Rim Association.

India’s Objectives with Vision SAGAR

  • SAGAR seeks to differentiate India’s leadership from the modus operandi of other regionally active major powers and to reassure littoral states as India’s maritime influence grows. 
  • India’s SAGAR vision is intended to be “consultative, democratic and equitable”. 
  • India’s recent admission as observer to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) will put this vision to the test. 
  • With its observer status, India will be called upon to extend its expertise to the region, put its satellite imagery to the service of the RMIFC, and establish links with its own Information Fusion Centre.

As a major stakeholder in the Indian Ocean with maritime security high on the agenda, India should continue to pursue its interests and tackle maritime security challenges at the macro level in the region. 

  • Under the Make in India program of the Government, shipbuilding industry can benefit from a major thrust. This industry has a high multiplier effect on investment and can accelerate industrial growth along with its large number of associated industries.
  • The Indian Ocean region needs a sustainable and inclusive framework for international partnerships. Countries in the region need to not only coordinate and manage the growing security challenges in the region but also realize the substantial economic potential the Indian Ocean area presents.
  • Maritime security issues need to receive attention not only on traditional elements of passage, patrolling and others but also issues related to resource management.

Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)

  • Founded in 1982, the IOC is an intergovernmental organisation comprising five small-island states in the Western Indian Ocean: the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (a French department), and Seychelles. 
  • Though Réunion brings a major power, France, into this small-state equation, decisions in the IOC are consensus-based, and while France’s foreign policy interests are represented, the specifics of Réunion’s regional decision-making emerge from its local governance structures. 
  • Over the years, the IOC has emerged as an active and trusted regional actor, working in and for the Western Indian Ocean and implementing a range of projects.
  • The IOC has its own regional agenda, and has made impressive headway in the design and implementation of a regional maritime security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean.

IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association)

  • Established in 1997 in Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The IORA with 20 member States and six observer States is one of the most important regional platforms to carry forward the interests of member states to cooperate on development in the region.
  • Historically, IORA focused on issues of maritime security, trade, cultural promotion, tourism and fisheries. However, in recent years, new and emerging issues for the better management and governance of Indian Ocean resources have begun taking shape. Such issues include blue economy development and sectoral integration.

‘Bhubaneshwar Declaration’ 

  • Adopted by India and IORA, which identifies a series of priority actions –
  • Establishment of a sub-committee to deal with non-tariff barriers (NTBs) for trade and investment
  • Supporting green investment
  • Establishing an IORA Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Prioritising work on blue economy
  • Establishing a joint committee on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)
  • Enhancing marine resource management including benefit sharing, etc.

India along with IORA could transform the region, and instead of focusing just on Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), India should focus instead on Sustainability and Growth for All in the Region.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Blue revolution is acting as a new found platform to increase maritime cooperation?. Comment.
  2. The Ocean-based Blue Economy is the next sunrise issue for development experts. Discuss. 

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