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With India aiming to emerge as a $5 trillion economy, the only way to achieve this, is to move outwards as the oceans provide a vast resource pool, says the Indian Navy Chief.
In his address during a webinar on ‘Securing the Blue Economy’, the Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said that the Blue Economy offers a huge opportunity for India. “The Blue Economy contributes about 4 per cent of India’s GDP, there is tremendous potential to expand its contribution.”
According to him “The oceans provide us with a vast resource pool. It can be tapped to push forward India’s economic growth. With the anticipated addition of the Extended Continental Shelf, our sea area will equal India’s land area.” And, “Combined with India’s location, a 7516 km long coastline, 14,500 km length of navigable inland waterways, and 1382 islands. The seas must become India’s opportunity region in the coming future.”
Ocean-based trade is likely to quadruple by 2050, the oceans have an annual gross value of $ 2.5 trillion which makes it the 8th largest global economy.
He talked about two-thirds of the food production to be farmed from the seas; and clean offshore wind energy will be the leading power generation technology in the next few years.
MoU with Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) & create an eco-system that supports Blue Economy
In his address he also announced that there are plans for the Navy to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the member states of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The focus of the MoU will be information sharing on critical issues. This is part of the regional grouping’s emphasis on the development of a blue economy through a common vision for balanced economic development in the region.
The Indian Navy has the resources, assets and domain expertise which can be used for mapping, characterising, monitoring as well as enforcing good order at sea.
How can the Navy contribute?
While stating that the Navy aims to be, both, an enabler and element of national and regional blue economy efforts, the chief outlined three ways the navy can contribute. These include: Maintaining comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); supporting maritime capability development of littoral nations; and Coordinating with various national and international maritime agencies.
What is IORA?
It is an inter-governmental organisation which is aimed at not only strengthening regional cooperation, but also sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region through its 23 member states and 9 dialogue partners.
The chief also talked about navy lending support to the national deep ocean mission. This mission has plans to send a manned mission to 6000m depth. This mission will carry out surveys of poly-metallic nodules, hydrothermal deposits, and also carry out research on deep-sea biodiversity.
The Navy has experience in operating manned and unmanned submersibles, and it has understanding of the underwater domain.
MDA remains a challenge
In his address he stressed on coordination between various national and international maritime agencies. As this will help in closing gaps in “understanding, policing and jurisdiction.” While referring to the recent drug haul West of Minicoy, the chief mentioned that the operation was possible through close coordination with various national agencies.
On supporting maritime capability development of littoral nations, he said that they support partner nations through construction of patrol vessels, installation of radar chains, training support, information sharing, and Joint EEZ surveillance among others.
What did the Vice Chief of the Navy say?
According to Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, “The Blue Economy needs a stable and secure environment to sustain and grow – this is enabled through effective maritime security. On the other hand, with growing maritime interests, commensurate growth of our navy is inevitable.”
Ministry of External Affairs
“India is in the process of developing its own comprehensive Blue Economy policy framework, which will cover coastal economy, tourism, marine fishery, technology, skill development, shipping, deep sea mining, and capacity building in a holistic manner,” said According to Akhilesh Mishra, OSD (DPA), Ministry of External Affairs.
He also stated that harnessing the significant potential of the ocean is vital to the economic wellbeing of any nation. This is particularly important for a country like India, where land-based resources are stressed. “Blue economy is emerging as an important vital area of cooperation with nations like Australia and Indonesia,” he added.