The United Service Institution of India (USI) conducted an international security seminar on 1 and 2 November in New Delhi with participation of senior level scholars, subject matter experts and a host of Indian military officers. There were participants from Canada, China, Japan, Myanmar, Russia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan and Vietnam, who presented their country as well as regional perspectives.
The seminar was the 10th such event conducted by USI on the Indo-Pacific region which was aimed at bringing together varying perspectives on strategic challenges and prospects for cooperation in the security and economic domains. Chief of Army Staff of India General Bipan Rawat delivered the keynote address and Australian High Commissioner for India, Harindre Sidhu delivered a special address at the inauguration of the seminar.
Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage representing Pathfinder Foundation participated at this year’s seminar and presented a paper titled ‘Harnessing Blue Economy for Regional Prosperity’. He explained that unexploited potential of the oceans is huge. The Indian Ocean region, unfortunately is not yet a high-income region although some economies such as India and Bangladesh are doing well. Even though these economies are growing, a certain segment of the population still lives below the poverty line.
The population of the Indian Ocean countries are growing and the resources on land are depleting faster. Urbanisation is taking place rapidly and the countries have no choice but to look at the economic benefits from the ocean. The Indian Ocean is rich in resources but technology is not yet available to harness these resources. The IOR must capitalise on the current awareness of the Blue Economy within the United Nations, international Institutions and national policy planning institutions. Blue economy could be considered as a way of integrating economies of Indian Ocean littorals and building up of collaborative security architecture for common prosperity, stated Admiral Prof. Colombage.
The ‘Indo-Pacific’ has emerged as a strategic pivot in the evolving balance of power. Taken to its fullest, it extends from West Asia and the East Coast of Africa in the East, through the waters of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia, to the Western Pacific Ocean that includes North-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The maritime region is punctured by vital choke points of Bab Al Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz, Malacca, Sunda and Lombok.
About 40% of the world’s sea borne trade, 50% of its containers traffic and 70% of the traffic in hydrocarbon products transit through the region. Almost 68% of India’s and 80% of China’s oil is shipped through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The Indo-Pacific region encompasses about 60% of world’s population. It is home to an enormously populous and diverse mix of ethnicities, cultures, political systems, religion, and economic models. Global trade and energy linkages bind the oceans in such a manner that events across the region are strongly interrelated and mutually dependent.
United Service Institution of India (USI) is a national security and defence services think-tank based in New Delhi, India. It describes its aim as “furtherance of interest and knowledge in the art, science and literature of the defence services”. USI operates centres for research in various areas of national security. The USI Journal, published quarterly since 1872, is the oldest defence journal in Asia. It also publishes a number of monographs based on research and study by its members.