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  • Exploring Risks and Vulnerabilities: An Alternate Approach to Maritime Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region

    Maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has become a central consideration. Shared risks and common vulnerabilities for state and non-state actors, generated by traditional and non-traditional security challenges, converge to a significant extent at sea. Risk-based approaches offer the potential for regional and extra-regional actors to engage in a constructive and non-confrontational dialogue that can assist collective security cooperation.

    April 2014

    Ramesh Reddy asked: What does it exactly mean when it is said ‘India is a net security provider in the Indian Ocean,’ and what are the factors responsible for the same?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The broad meaning that one can discern from various statements made about India being a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean is about India ensuring a stable, secure and peaceful environment in the region. The main aspects that are viewed as responsible for this can be construed as follows:

    • India’s predominant central geographic position in the region, especially overlooking the SLOCs that pass through the region.
    • India’s military capacity and capability that has a distinct reach in the region due to its geographic position.
    • India’s friendly relations and defence cooperation with most of the IOR nations.
    • India’s relatively strong economy and market capacity.
    • India’s non-hegemonic stance and its will and ability to provide assistance when requested.

    Posted on April 07, 2014

    New Perspective for Oceanographic Studies in the Indian Ocean Region

    India’s location in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) compels it to play a larger strategic role in the region. The growing energy needs of China—with the Gulf continuing to be its most preferred source—further causes the Chinese merchant fleet to transit the IOR. To ensure uninterrupted supply of energy resource, the Chinese have started to increase their presence in the region and this has, in turn, encouraged the Americans to also deploy their marine assets in the region.

    January 2014

    Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: An Indian Perspective

    For a maritime nation like India, its conception of maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and, specifically, its approach to maritime security has a long historical legacy. The modern Indian Navy has its origins in the colonial period. But it is the post-colonial period spanning independence and then the imperatives of the Cold War, and later to the interim phase in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union to the present day strategic partnerships—all of which have contributed to moulding the Indian perspective of maritime security.

    January 2014

    Rounak Singh Asked: Is Deep Sea Mining by China a reason for its assertiveness in South China Sea and Indian Ocean?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: China has been allotted contracts for exploration only in two areas by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for a period of 15 years, and therefore, it cannot form the basis of Chinese assertiveness:

    • In the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (Pacific Ocean) till May 21, 2016, for exploration for polymetallic nodules.
    • In the South West Indian Ocean Ridge till November 17, 2026, for exploration for polymetallic sulphides.

    The assertiveness shown by China in the South China Sea is due to its sovereignty claims on the islands of the Paracel and Spratly group. In the Indian Ocean, China could be viewed as expanding its maritime footprint and presence rather than being assertive.

    India’s ‘deep-sea mining’ capability gets a fillip

    India’s acquisition of a deep-sea exploration ship ‘SamudraRatnakar’ is a noteworthy development. ‘Deep-sea mining’ has now been officially recognised as a future frontier of scientific research, a notion first outlined by a National Security Council paper in 2012.

    November 01, 2013

    Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: A Changing Kaleidoscope

    The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), though considered an important maritime region, has not yet been accorded the due importance of a geo-strategic entity. One attributable reason is the ‘sandwiching’ of the IOR between two ‘hotspots’—the South China sea and the Persian Gulf that divert the attention of nations from this area. While there are commonalities like ‘Freedom of Navigation’, the divergences—caused by varying strategic interests even while addressing common security issues such as piracy—have resulted in a sectoral view of the maritime security paradigm in the IOR.

    October 2013

    Effective Underwater Weapon Systems and the Indian Ocean Region

    The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has profound strategic relevance not only for the nations in the region but also for other countries.1 The bulk of the world’s merchant fleets transit through one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, via the Malacca Straits. Also, the presence of major petroleum exports originating from the Gulf, encourage the major powers of the world to have a strategic presence in the IOR.

    July 2013

    Vipin asked: What could be the implications of Gwadar Port being handed over to a Chinese company?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: China is seeking to enhance its maritime presence in the Indian Ocean with the ostensible aim of securing the transportation of energy resources from the Gulf region. Its interest in ports in the South Asian region - Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan - is part of this strategy. However, analysts the world over argue that its strategic interests go beyond this. Its strategic nexus with Pakistan over the last more than five decades gives a special connotation to its interests in Gwadar. China is aiming at connecting Gwadar with its restive province of Xinjiang through the Karakoram Highway. It intends to convert the highway into a strategic corridor (with railway lines and oil and gas pipelines) and use it for transporting energy from the Gulf region as well as resources from Pakistan.

    However, the Sino-Pak plan to use Gwadar for strategic purposes has not taken off primarily because of the prevailing instability and uncertainty in Balochistan. Therefore, as long as Pakistan does not address the concerns of the Baloch people, it is highly unlikely that Gawadar can ever realise its full potential. Due to this reason, the Singaporean company which had won the tender to manage the Gwadar Port decided to leave, forcing Pakistan to invite China to manage it. Because of its strategic interests alone— since it does not make business sense at all at the moment— China decided to accept the offer. Chinese behaviour, thus, needs to be monitored closely to understand its intentions in the coming days.

    Naval Operations Analysis in the Indian Ocean Region A Review

    The end of the Cold War resulted in a fundamental swing from a navy designed to engage a blue water battle fleet to one focused on forward operations in littoral waters. The Cold War era had fuelled massive research and development (R&D) in design of sonars that was able to substantially minimize the uncertainties of the underwater environment. The shift of the naval theatre to the littoral waters led to a paradigm change in terms of technology requirements to retain the effectiveness of these sonars.

    January 2013