Updated: January 17, 2021 9:41:57 pm
Experts believe that the maritime sector occupies a significant place in India’s national security and economic prosperity and the country should actively pursue and promote its geopolitical, strategic and economic interests on the seas.
A webinar on ‘A Missing Dimension in Maritime Co-operation in Indian Ocean Region: Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA)’, organised by The Maritime Research Centre (MRC), Pune, M/S NirDhwani Technology Pvt Ltd and the Centre for Advanced Strategic (CASS), Pune, was held in the city on Saturday. The purpose was to bring together members of the diplomatic community, maritime strategists, policymakers and other stakeholders to discuss the imperative for a comprehensive, policy-anchored perspective on UDA capacity building to meet India’s internal and external interests.
The UDA framework proposed by the Maritime Research Centre is “a unique concept to ensure safe, secure, sustainable growth for all in the Indian Ocean”, according to experts.
Amb. Sudhir Devare (Retd), chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies who participated in the webinar, said, “As a maritime nation, India has been cautious about the exploration of resources and non-resources in the region. The ocean is the new economic and ecological frontier that should not be breached. The Bay of Bengal has emerged as a new energy frontier and island countries are looking towards India to get involved in regional cooperation and expansion of the Blue Economy. Also, marine Bio-technology is an important area to explore for drugs, food and research work.”
Dr Vijay Kelkar, former chairman of the Finance Commission, said, “India needs to develop a comprehensive UDA strategy and if it wants to maintain its energy security, the safest way would be underwater. India also has large reservoirs of gas hydrates to last 200 years but it is important to acquire key technologies and involve the oil and gas industry for its sustenance for a longer term.”
Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (Retd), India Foundation, said, “The attention of the Indian government has shifted to the ocean and seas and this has been accentuated by the geo-political changes in the world’s oceans. We need to bolster our maritime security especially while dealing with Chinese infringement, which is mapping underwater hydrology and acoustics. The UDA can put us in a stronger line and we can develop more sonar systems, equipment and weapons. For that, maritime organisations should get involved with the navy to work on multiple dimensions.”
Yogendra Kumar, former Indian Ambassador, said, “Maritime domain for India has become a holy grail as it has more resource and economic power. It is a new frontier for creating new technologies and economic prosperity. Our national goal, economic and technological progress and start-up culture are not possible without the UDA framework. Our ability to reap economic benefits from the oceans rests on our capacity to respond to the challenges in the maritime domain. Digital Oceans is the key.”
Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale (Retd), director CASS, said, “We have to look at the underwater domain seriously as the Blue Economy and national security are connected with it.”
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