Amid growing aggressive posturing by China on maritime issues, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today asserted that a rules-based and open Indo-Pacific was essential for regional and global prosperity.
He shared his views on the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific while inaugurating the three-day 39th Commanders’ Conference of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in New Delhi.
Terming the region as an important aspect of India’s maritime security, Rajnath said: “The growing regional and global trade in this region has brought forth new challenges. Geopolitical tensions and a clash of strategic interests have led to traditional security challenges. Terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy are some non-traditional challenges in front of us today. The entire region is being affected by these challenges.”
India, being a responsible maritime power, has a clear interest to create a rules-based, peaceful and stable environment. Such a rule-based environment was essential for both regional and global prosperity. In such a situation, the ICG has a big role to play, he said.
The minister stressed the need to maintain maritime preparedness in the constantly-changing global scenario, terming it as a crucial aspect which safeguards the economic and strategic interests of a nation. He pointed out that there has been a shift in India’s maritime security needs due to the ever-evolving global situation.
Recalling the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Rajnath said the incident showed that for a long time the country’s orientation was focused on the security of land borders and not much attention was paid to coastal security.
He lauded the ICG for continuously enhancing its capability in the last few years in line with the government’s vision and playing a key role in bolstering coastal security. Due to these efforts, the country has not witnessed any terror activity from the sea route since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he said.
On the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Rajnath said India’s geographical location was crucial from the strategic and economic point of view.
“Our long coastline with deep-water ports, a prosperous Exclusive Economic Zone and islands at both ends present a unique position. The IOR accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments. One-third of bulk cargo and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The safety of these sea routes is not only directly connected to our economic interests, but it also establishes India as a Net Security Provider in IOR,” he stated.
Observing that India has emerged as a strong and reliable investment destination due to the government’s efforts, Rajnath said the country’s true potential could only come to the fore if a safe, secure and rule-based maritime environment was provided to the country’s economy, especially the Blue economy.