Addressing the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Plus Defence Ministers’ Conclave, Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh said that India is ready to supply missiles and weapon systems to friendly countries in the region. He said that India seeks collaboration of the IOR countries to tackle terrorism, narcotics and unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean.
- Recently, Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh addressed the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Plus Defence Ministers’ Conclave at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- He said that India seeks collaboration of IOR countries to tackle terrorism, narcotics and unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean.
- He said India was ready to supply weapons to friendly countries in IOR to help counter the challenges.
- He also drew parallels with the Russia-Ukrainian conflict to impress upon the need for stability in the IOR.
- He also called for “broader and deeper” disaster management collaboration among the IOR countries.
About the IOR+ Conclave –
- The first Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave was held in Bengaluru in February 2021.
- At the Conclave, Defence Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh had emphasised that as the largest nation in the IOR with a vast coastline of 7500 Kms, India has an active role to play for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all countries.
- Building on the success of the first conclave, the Defence Minister hosted an IOR+ Defence Ministers’ Conclave in Gandhinagar, Gujarat recently for the year 2022.
- The broad theme was ‘Challenges Opportunities and Collaborations in the Indian Ocean’.
- The conclave was attended by 40 countries located in the Indian Ocean region.
- It facilitated dialogue towards fostering a stable and peaceful Indian Ocean, with strategic and commercial partnerships within the IOR.
The IOR countries face shared challenges such as —
- Spread of terrorism through sea routes,
- Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing,
- Piracy and
- Regional and Global food security.
Significance of IOR+ Conclave –
- The conclave is an initiative to promote dialogue in an institutional and cooperative environment that can foster peace, stability & prosperity in the IOR.
- The forum has been named IOR+ as the idea of this conclave is shared responsibility and prosperity.
- At the IOR+ conclave, Shri Rajnath Singh said that India was ready to supply weapons to friendly countries in IOR to help counter the challenges.
- Through IOR+ Conclave, India showcased three significant aspects of its commitment to foster peace and prosperity in the region —
- The first is readiness to convert its exhibition of its indigenously produced military hardware into a willingness to provide it to strategic partners in the Indian Ocean region.
- Secondly, there is a determined push by the government to enhance exports of defence production institutions in India.
- Thirdly, the defence production facilities of India now have a clear political backing for exports.
What is ‘Indian Ocean Rim Association’?
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region.
- It was formed in 1997 by an initiative of India and South Africa.
- The IORA has flourished for over 25 years and it now has 23 members and nine dialogue partners. France was the last country to be accepted on the basis of its territory of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
What is the need for an IOR Conclave when there is already an IORA?
- Government of India has neatly created a conclave of Defence Ministers of the Indian Ocean region without making it an event of IORA.
- Through IOR Conclave, India seeks to promote the objectives of SAGAR.
- SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region is the theme of Indian Ocean Policy as outlined by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2015.
- Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities.
- India’s approach and vision to tackle global challenges was highlighted by the dynamic five ‘S’ vision —
- Samman (Respect); Samvaad (Dialogue); Sahyog (Cooperation); Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).
- India’s willingness to export defence equipment is not to strengthen any capability against third countries but mainly to contain and counter non-traditional threats and deal with coastal security, disasters, terrorism, piracy, pollution and illegal actions.
- This gives maritime security cooperation a better construct and is wisely pursued by initiatives like the IOR Conclave.