External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on October 10 said that India will continue its approach of contributing to build capacity, secure safety and security in the Indian Ocean Region, including as first responder and a net security provider.
In his address at the opening session of the 23rd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers as India assumes the role of Vice Chair, S Jaishankar stated, “Where India is concerned, we will continue our approach of contributing to build capacity and secure safety and security in the Indian Ocean Region, including as first responder and a net security provider.”
“India’s commitment to the well-being and progress of nations of the Indian Ocean is based on our Neighbourhood First policy, the SAGAR outlook, our approach to the extended neighbourhood and to the Indo-Pacific. A multilateral rules-based international order along with sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity remains the foundation for reviving the Indian Ocean as a strong community,” he added.
Emphasising that India’s priorities as the Vice Chair and a member of the troika are clear, Dr S Jaishankar stated that New Delhi will continue to make efforts to develop an Indian Ocean community that is stable, prosperous, strong and resilient.
“As the Vice Chair and a member of the Troika, India’s priorities are clear. It is our effort to develop an Indian Ocean community that is stable and prosperous, strong and resilient, and which is able to cooperate closely within and to respond to happenings beyond the ocean. It is thus important to maintain the Indian Ocean as a free, open and inclusive space based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), as the Constitution of the Seas,” he said.
Speaking about India’s efforts as the Vice Chair for the next two years, he said that New Delhi will continue to work with IORA member states to strengthen the institutional, financial and legal framework of IORA.
“As the Vice-Chair for the next two years, India, the “Vishwa mitra” or the world’s friend, a voice of the Global South, will work with IORA Member States to strengthen the institutional, financial and legal framework of IORA, towards realising the true potential of this dynamic grouping,” Dr S Jaishankar said.
External Affairs Minister stated that India’s specific focus will remain in the areas of maritime safety and security and blue economy as a coordinating country. Furthermore, he said that India will contribute to other priority and cross-cutting areas of IORA, as and when required. He noted that India looks forward to the support and cooperation of all member states, dialogue partners, academic and business groups.
Highlighting the Indian Ocean’s role in the resurgence of Asia and global rebalancing, Dr S Jaishankar said, “In the resurgence of Asia, and global rebalancing, the Indian Ocean holds a central position, playing a crucial role in the development and prosperity of the littoral nations, by supporting trade and sustaining livelihoods, offering immense possibilities of connectivity and resource utilisation. It is the message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘the world is one family’ which can be a binding force to bring the IORA Member States together.”
He stated that IORA has the responsibility to play a key role in making the Indian Ocean a “more seamless and cooperative space.” He added, “Developmental issues, lack of robust connectivity, the burden of opaque and unsustainable debt generated by unviable projects, threats to social fabric posed by extremism and fundamentalism, dangers emanating from terrorism, natural disasters and climate change, all these are the challenges that we face.”
Dr S Jaishankar called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) “relevant” to encourage the world to live a life that is in tune with the well-being of the planet.
He said, “Many of us here are members of the Global South and the focus that India has been able to bring through the G20 would surely be welcome to all of you. It would also help IORA to harness the power of women or as we say, Nari Shakti, by shifting the focus to women-led development.”
He noted that the significance of the democratisation of technology in bridging the data divide and promoting Data for Development cannot be over-exaggerated in IORA’s quest for prosperity.
Dr S Jaishankar on October 10 landed in Colombo on a three-day visit. This is Jaishankar’s second visit to Sri Lanka this year. During the visit, Jaishankar will have bilateral meetings in Sri Lanka.
(with inputs from ANI)