Underlining that the Indian Ocean Region is at the top of India’s policy priorities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the time had come for a “strong grouping around the Indian Ocean” and that India will “pursue with this new vigour in the years ahead”.
Modi said his government’s vision for the Indian Ocean was rooted in “advancing cooperation in our region” and to use “our capabilities for the benefit of all in our common maritime home”.
“It means many things. One, we will do everything to safeguard our mainland and islands and defend our interests. Equally we will work to ensure a safe, secure and stable Indian Ocean Region that delivers us all to the shores of prosperity,” Modi said, commissioning the India-built coast ship Barracuda in Mauritius on the second leg of his three-nation visit.
Stating that Indian Ocean Rim Association can be an important instrument for pursuing the vision for a sustainable and prosperous future in the region, Modi said, “We often define regional groupings around landmass. The time has come for a strong grouping around the Indian Ocean. We will pursue this with new vigour in the years ahead.” He added that “there can be no better place to host the Secretariat for IORA than Mauritius”.
Pointing out that “collective action and cooperation will best advance peace and security in our maritime region”, Modi said that it will also “prepare us better to respond to emergencies”.
The PM said that India, in 2008, had promoted the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and that “it brings together 35 navies of the region” today. “Our goal is to deepen our mutual understanding on maritime challenges; and, strengthen our collective ability to address them,” Modi said.
He added that India supports efforts to strengthen regional mechanisms for maritime cooperation- from dealing with piracy terrorism and other crimes to marine safety and natural disasters. “India has also started maritime security cooperation with Maldives and Sri Lanka and we hope that Mauritius, Seychelles and other nations in the region will also join this initiative,” the PM further said.
“To me the blue chakra or wheel in India’s national flag represents the potential of Blue Revolution or the Ocean Economy. That is how central the Ocean Economy is to us,” Modi said.