Fu­ture Geopol­i­tics of the Indo-Pa­cific Re­gion

The de­lib­er­a­tions at the two-day an­nual Mar­itime Power Sem­i­nar 2013 was to im­bibe a sense of the Indo-Pacifics geopo­lit­i­cal posit on the world stage, its strate­gic com­pul­sions and op­por­tu­ni­ties, and un­der­take dis­pas­sion­ate and rig­or­ous analy­ses of is­sues

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Sushil Ram­say

The de­lib­er­a­tions at the two-day “An­nual Mar­itime Power Sem­i­nar 2013” was to im­bibe a sense of the Indo-Pa­cific’s geopo­lit­i­cal po­si­tion on the world stage.

The aN­NUaL MaR­ITIMe PoWeR Sem­i­nar 2013 was kick-started on Fe­bru­ary 21, 2013, at the In­sti­tute for de­fence Stud­ies and analy­ses (IdSa), un­der the aegis of the National Mar­itime Foun­da­tion. The two-day sem­i­nar was Òto im­bibe a sense of WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF’V JhRSRoLWLFdo SRVLW RQ WKh world stage, its strate­gic com­pul­sions and op­por­tu­ni­ties, and un­der­take dis­pas­sion­ate and rig­or­ous analy­ses of is­sues rel­e­vant WR WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF LQ WKh QhdU IXWXUh.

Chair­man’s Ad­dress

In his wel­come ad­dress, ad­mi­ral ( Retd) Sureesh Me­hta, Chair­man, National Mar­itime Foun­da­tion, said, ÒFor many long years, In­dia has tended to view the In­dian ocean as a co­he­sive en­tity which drove diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween coun­tries on its pe­riph­ery, while a fairly dom­i­nant asi­a3dFL­fiF ZdV VhhQ PRUh WKURXJK WKh hyhV RI re­gion­al­ism. The in­te­grated arena of the ,QGLdQ 2FhdQ dQG WKh WhVWhUQ 3dFL­fiF, ZKLFK has more re­cently come to be re­ferred to dV WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF, KdV ehFRPh d Nhy VWUdte­gic arena in the 21st cen­tury. and it is only of late that the world has be­gun to see WKh LQWhJUdWhG ,QGR-3dFL­fiF dV RQh VLQJXodU mar­itime theatre. The shift in the strate­gic cen­tre of grav­ity to the east makes it nec­es­sary that we ex­plore the emerg­ing se­cuULWy LPShUdWLYhV LQ WKh eURdGhU ,QGR-3dFL­fiF re­gion, what with the new con­stel­la­tion of eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal stars such as China, In­done­sia, Ja­pan, aus­tralia and In­dia, ap­pear­ing on the geostrate­gic hori­zon.Ó

While long-stand­ing mar­itime bound­ary dis­putes in the South China Sea at­tract much me­dia at­ten­tion, dis­agree­ments over ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters and eeZ in the Bay of Ben­gal are also on the rise. In­dia, Bangladesh dQG 9LhWQdP WRGdy fiQG WKhPVhoYhV LQ WKh mid­dle of such a dis­pute.

he fo­cused on the China fac­tor by say­ing, for some time now, there has been con­cern that the In­dian ocean re­gion could wit­ness a ma­jor mil­i­tary surge by China, turn­ing it into an arena for great power com­pe­ti­tion in asia to ex­ploit the ÔÔstring of pearl­sÕÕÑ a col­lo­quial term for Chi­nese-funded ports and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture along the In­dian ocean lit­toralsÑ to keep delhi off-bal­ance. as China strength­ens its ties with the In­dian ocean Rim coun­tries, In­dia has sought to im­prove its naval and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with coun­tries of east asia, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, Viet­nam, the Philip­pines and Ja­pan.

Key­note Ad­dress by CNS

In his key­note ad­dress, Chief of the Naval Staff, ad­mi­ral d.K. Joshi stated, ÒTo­day, there is a grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion of the cen­tral­ity of the oceans in our so­cio-eco­nomic pros­per­ity and recog­ni­tion of In­dia as an emerg­ing power.Ó

he pointed out the fact that the term ‘,QGR-3dFL­fiF’ fiQGV LQFUhdVLQJ PhQWLRQ LQ the strate­gic dis­course to­day is ev­i­dence of the grow­ing promi­nence of the re­gion dV d JhRVWUdWhJLF hQWLWy. ,W VLJQL­fihV WKh fu­sion of two geopo­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive and eco­nom­i­cally vi­brant re­gions, the shores of which are washed by the In­dian and the 3dFL­fiF 2FhdQV. GLYhQ WKh UhJLRQ’V YLW­doLWy, LWV GyQdPLFV FRXoG Zhoo Gh­fiQh WKh IXWXUh tra­jec­tory of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ac­tions of the world in the 21st cen­tury.

he cited three un­re­lated events which were in­stru­men­tal in shap­ing global poliWLFV RI WRGdy. 7Kh fiUVW ZdV WKh eUhdN XS RI the Soviet Union in 1991. It brought the cur­tains down on the Cold War, thus caus­ing a tec­tonic shift in the global strate­gic land­scape. he at­trib­uted some of the suc­cess of glob­al­i­sa­tion, and the un­prece­dented eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion among na­tions, to the new post-Cold War en­vi­ron­ment. The sec­ond event was the Gulf War of 1991, which fol­lowed the Iraqi in­va­sion of Kuwait. The war marked a par­a­digm shift in the in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture from su­per­power ri­valry to a new unipo­lar world or­der. The war also catal­ysed a rev­o­lu­tion in mil­i­tary af­fairs, and more im­por­tantly, re­fo­cused global at­ten­tion on the strate­gic rel­e­vance of In­dian ocean. The third event was In­di­aÕs eco­nomic woes in 1991, when In­dia had to re­sort to ex­treme con­tin­gency mea­sures to avert a bal­ance of pay­ment cri­sis. This be­came in­stru­men­tal in pro­pel­ling In­dia to­wards eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion, which, two decades down the line, is widely read as the script of In­di­aÕs growth story. There have been many more, such as 9/11, which have shaped the geopol­i­tics in pro­found ways.

he ad­dressed the core is­sue of geoSRoLWLFV RI WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF UhJLRQ, ZKLFK spans three ma­jor con­ti­nents and is home to nearly half the worldÕs pop­u­la­tion. From the east Coast of africa on the Western reaches of the In­dian ocean across Mid­dle east, the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent and South­east asia to the Far-east and aus­tralia; the ,QGR-3dFL­fiF UhJLRQ LV dQ dPRUSKRXV PLx RI nu­mer­ous sub-sys­tems. Geopol­i­tics of the ,QGR-3dFL­fiF LV WKhUhIRUh dQ dJJUhJdWh RI the dy­nam­ics of its con­stituents, em­a­nat­ing from the in­ter­play within and be­tween th­ese sub-sys­tems. Vi­brant eco­nomic and civil­i­sa­tional ex­changes over thou­sands of years, char­ac­terises po­lit­i­cal deal­ings be­tween th­ese dis­parate sub-sys­tems. of VLJQL­fiFdQFh LV WKh IdFW WKdW WKh RFhdQV re­mained a com­mon thread in their in­ter­ac­tion due to their de­pen­dence on mar­itime trade.

Hh UhLWhUdWhG WKdW WKh , QGR-3dFL­fiF LV also prone to asym­met­ric threats such as piracy and mar­itime ter­ror­ism. Piracy in and around the Strait of Malacca cur­rently is low key, only on ac­count of on­go­ing strin­gent mea­sures by the con­cerned lit­torals. Piracy off So­ma­lia is an­other ex­am­ple of the mar­itime con­se­quences of in­sta­bil­ity and law­less­ness on land. With volatile re­gions dGMRLQLQJ dQG ZLWKLQ WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF, WKhUh is need to guard against such threats while man­ag­ing own mar­itime af­fairs.

,Q FRQFoXVLRQ, Kh UdLVhG WKh TXhVWLRQ: are we pre­pared to tackle the emerg­ing chal­lenges, ei­ther as a na­tion or as part of the larger re­gional or global com­mu­nity? The cur­rent national and in­ter­na­tional laws and con­ven­tions may be in­ad­e­quate to meet evolv­ing chal­lenges such as piracy and high­jack­ing of mer­chant­men, threat of sui­cide at­tacks, mis­use of ship­ping con­tain­ers, pro­lif­er­a­tion of WMd-re­lated ma­te­rial, etc. Nu­clear weapons are per­ceived to be game-chang­ers in geopol­i­tics. With new states pur­su­ing clan­des­tine nu­clear weapon pro­grammes, global power equa­tions could shift in fu­ture. When such changes hap­pen across volatile and re­source-rich re­gions, how do we man­age their ad­verse con­se­quences in the mar­itime do­main? Given the vast ex­panse of the oceans, no state alone can en­sure se­cu­rity of the global com­mons. ev­ery state, there­fore, has an obli­ga­tion to con­trib­ute to mar­itime se­cu­rity, com­men­su­rate to its abil­i­ties, prefer­ably in a co­op­er­a­tive frame­work.

The De­lib­er­a­tions

“,QGR-3dFL­fiF—7Kh /dUJhU 3LF­tureÓ was presided over by ambassador Leela K. Pon­appa and in­cluded pa­pers pre­sented by Rear ad­mi­ral (Retd) K. Raja Menon on ÒMar­itime Geopol­i­tics in the ,QGR-3dFL­fiF”; dQG DU HRQJ 1RQJ IURP WKh National In­sti­tute South China Sea Stud­ies, deputy di­rec­tor, Re­search Cen­tre for ocean Law and Pol­icy. The next two pa­pers on ÒUS 3LYRW WR WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF” ZhUh SUhVhQWhG ey Cap­tain Justin Jones, Royal aus­tralian Navy and ambassador h.K. Singh, In­dia.

The ses­sion on ÒIs­sues and &KdoohQJhV LQ WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF 5hJLRQ” ZdV chaired by Com­modore (Retd) C. Uday Bhaskar. While dr Vi­jay Sakhuja ar­tic­u­lated views on Òasym­met­ric Mar­itime ThreatsÓ, Lt Colonel Ibrahim hilmy of Mal­dives talked on ÒMar­itime Piracy and the emer­gence of Pri­vate Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Com­pa­nies in In­dian ocean Re­gionÓ. ÒThe three GeosÑ Geopo­lit­i­cal, Geo-eco­nomic and Geo­phys­i­cal ChangesÑ and the In­do3dFL­fiF” ZdV dGGUhVVhG ey &ohR 3dVNdo, &dQada. Rear ad­mi­ral (JG) W.h.o. Teuteberg of South africa, talked about ÒCol­lab­o­ra­tive mech­a­nisms to deal with piracy and such­like mar­itime chal­lenges in the re­gionÓ.

day two of the sem­i­nar be­gan with ses­sion on the most top­i­cal sub­ject of re­cent time, The South China Sea Fo­cus, which was chaired by Vice ad­mi­ral Pradip K. Chat­ter­jee, deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. a very co­gent pre­sen­ta­tion was made by To­mako Kiy­ota, Ja­pan, on the ÒSouth China Sea Co­nun­drumÓ. ambassador Yo­gen­dra Kumar of In­dia spoke on ÒLit­toral States role in the South China SeaÓ. This was fol­lowed by a very in­volved pre­sen­ta­tion by dr Mo­han Gu­ruswamy of In­dia on ÒNon-res­i­dent Stake­hold­ers in the South China SeaÓ. Com­modore Cae­sar C. Tac­cad from the Philip­pines, spoke about ÒSouth China Sea bound­ary vex­a­tionÓ. Priyanka deSouza of In­dia made a force­ful pre­sen­ta­tion on Òhy­dro­car­bon ProspectsÓ. The last pre­sen­ta­tion of the ses­sion was by vet­eran strate­gic thinker of em­i­nence, Pro­fes­sor hasjim djalal, In­done­sia on ÒaSeaN per­cepWLRQV dQG WKh Zdy dKhdG”, ZKLFK UhflhFWhG the most prag­matic views on cop­ing with the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion within the re­gion.

The ses­sion on ÒRealign­ments and Re­bal­anc­ingÓwas presided over by Vice ad­mi­ral (Retd) d.K. de­wan. dur­ing the ses­sion, dr Vikash Ran­jan ar­tic­u­lated views on ÒIoR aRC and Re­gional dy­nam­icsÓ. This was fol­lowed by dr arvind Vir­mani of In­dia mak­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on “$3(& dQG WKh ,QGR-3dFL­fiF: $Q (FRQRPLF Real­i­tyÓto em­pha­sise on the re-emer­gence of asia in the world eco­nomic or­der. Cap­tain Yuki Sekiguchi from Ja­pan spoke on the strate­gic im­por­tance of ÒMul­ti­lat­eral Co­op­er­a­tionÓ within the re­gion for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence. The last pre­sen­ta­tion of the ses­sion was made by Rear ad­mi­ral P.a.d.R. Per­era, Sri Lanka, on ÒIn­ter­na­tional aid and hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts.Ó

The con­clud­ing ses­sion of the sem­i­nar com­prised the clos­ing re­marks by ad­mi­ral (Retd) Sureesh Me­hta, and the vale­dic­tory ad­dress by ambassador K.S. Ba­j­pai of In­dia. Fi­nally, the vote of thanks was given by Com­modore J.S. Shergill, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, National Mar­itime Foun­da­tion.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Sureesh Me­hta, Chair­man, NMF; Ad­mi­ral D.K. Joshi, Chief of the Naval Staff and Vice Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Pradeep Kaushiva, Di­rec­tor, NMF, launch­ing a book dur­ing the sem­i­nar

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