New Delhi, Feb 27 (ANI): Stating that India has always been at the forefront of cooperative and collective endeavours in addressing regional and global challenges, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Monday called for global efforts to uproot the threat of piracy.
Antony, who inaugurated the Annual National Maritime Foundation Conference here today, said: "If ever there was a need for consensual and cooperative effort, it is in relation to piracy and India has put forward certain proposals at the United Nations."
"I would like the distinguished delegates to take into account that challenges posed by extremist ideologies, terrorism support and the scourge of the non-state entity, require assessments to be objective and candid for their solutions to be effective," he added.
Pointing out that the Indian Navy has made a significant contribution to the global anti-piracy efforts in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) since 2008, Antony said: "It is a matter of great satisfaction for India that the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard have been contributing to the 'common good' as it were - and to the collective security effort."
"Ever since the Indian Navy joined the anti-piracy effort in the IOR in the late 2008, the total number of merchant ships escorted has increased steadily. What is significant is that more than 85 per cent of the ships escorted by the Indian Navy are of foreign flag," he added.
Emphasizing that piracy cases are continuing at an alarming rate, Antony said the challenge of piracy is yet to be effectively quarantined.
"There is a consensus that while the pirates can be neutralised at sea, the real solution lies in addressing the root causes, which are complex and are actually located on land," he said.
The Defence Minister also voiced concern at the military presence of world's major powers in the IOR despite the waters being far from their shores. .
"Unlike the Atlantic and Pacific, few of the major powers are geographically contiguous to its waters and yet they have maintained a certain military presence and abiding politico-diplomatic interest in these waters. The principal need is to manage the oceanic domain, in keeping with the normative principles of international law and the evolving norms for the 'global commons," said Antony.
"In the Indian Ocean Region, the net outcome is a constant turbulence of intense diplomatic activity and substantial military investments by the major powers," he added.
Antony informed that India has over the years taken up two security-related cooperative initiatives, the first is the MILAN series that brings together regional navies in Port Blair and the second, is the more recent IONS that provides a forum for the Chiefs of the Navy of the IOR littorals to constructively engage one another.
"The former has got well established since inception in 1995 and I am very happy to learn that its tenth edition held earlier this month was a resounding success. The latter has progressed from its inaugural edition here in New Delhi to 2008 to Abu Dhabi in 2010 and is now headed to Cape Town six weeks from now. This open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues seeks to enhance cooperation among the IOR navies," he added.
Stating that climate change and the adverse impact of rise in sea level will have on the smaller islands in the IOR is truly a matter of serious concern, Antony said: " This issue needs a comprehensive scientific study and is linked to the larger global effort on how best to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. The possible melting of the polar ice caps will have tectonic consequences for our understanding of what maritime domains constitute 'navigable' oceans of the world. Specific to Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, there may be a need to reassess concepts like choke-points and critical sea lines of communication (SLOCs)."
"Global warming, climate change and the rhythm of monsoons are linked with the health of the entire maritime domain. This is a subtle, complex, non-linear linkage, which merits serious attention. Any imbalance in this matrix can have irreversible and unanticipated adverse consequences for human security in the entire Indian Ocean Region. I urge the climate change and oceanography scientists in this gathering to review this matter," he added. (ANI)
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