India-Pacific Regional Dialogue

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    14th Mar, 2019

Issue

Context:

In continuation of the process of engaging the global strategic community in an annual review of India’s opportunities and challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, the second edition of Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) - 2019 was held on 05 and 06 March 2019 at the Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi.

About:

The idea of an Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) was first conceptualized and conducted in 2018, as the apex level conference of the Indian Navy, organized by the National Maritime Foundation as the Navy’s Knowledge Partner.

Through this annual dialogue, the Indian Navy and the National Maritime Foundation, aim to provide a platform for substantive and insightful discussions pertaining to the geopolitical developments affecting the maritime domain of the Indo-Pacific, and provide policy-relevant inputs to the policy-makers and the public at large.

The permanent theme of this annual dialogue is a review of India’s opportunities and challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

Highlights From the dialogue:

  • India’s SAGAR doctrine is an enabler for free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
  • India's opposition to OBOR because of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor which goes through Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Assistance has been offered for projects with suspect financial viability, limited local participation, and unequal benefit for the recipients.
  • Projects have also, arguably, been undertaken solely to support political and strategic designs with almost no benefit to locals. Such projects have been further enabled by the lack of any credible alternatives.

Background:

The 2018 edition of the IPRD sought to highlight the opportunities that lay before India’s maritime policy-shapers, policy-makers, and, the practitioners of the country’s maritime policies.

The aim of Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) is to focus attention on the Indo-Pacific, as a maritime geographical-entity, while deliberating aspects of great relevance to regional geopolitics.

Analysis

IPRD - 2019 examine five themes:

  1. Practical solutions for achieving cohesion in the region through maritime connectivity
  2. Measures to attain and maintain a free-and-open Indo-Pacific
  3. A regional approach to the region’s transition from a ‘Brown’ to a ‘Blue’ economy
  4. Opportunities and challenges arising from the maritime impact of ‘Industry 4.0’
  5. How the twin conceptualizations of ‘SAGAR’ and ‘SAGARMALA’ might best be made mutually-reinforcing on a regional level

Relevance of free-and-open Indo-Pacific

  • The core tenets of the concept include freedom of navigation, the rule of law, freedom from coercion, respect for sovereignty, private enterprise, and open markets, and the freedom and independence of all nations.

Transition from a ‘Brown’ (Carbon intensive) to a ‘Blue’ (carbon neutral and sustainable) economy:

  • As the single largest natural asset on the planet which represents some 99% of the earth’s living volume, the ocean delivers numerous benefits to humanity.
  • It helps to slow climate change by absorbing 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases.
  • It serves as the highway for some 90 percent of internationally traded goods, via the shipping sector.
  • Millions of the world’s poorest people depend heavily on the ocean and coastal resources for their sustenance and livelihoods.
  • If the ocean were a country, at several trillion dollars per year of economic activity, the ocean would rank 7th on the list of largest nations by GDP.

Blue Economy paradigm is a conceptualization and realization of sustainable human development. It mirrors the long-accepted definition of sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Simply put, it is the utilization of ocean resources for human benefit in a manner that sustains the overall ocean resource base into perpetuity.

This is in tune with the SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Industry 4.0’ and the linkage with the Ocean:

  • New digital technologies will have a deep impact on four types of development: the first concerns the use of data, computing power and connectivity, including for instance Big Data, Internet of Things and m2m (machine-to-machine) communication.
  • The second concerns analysis systems which allow to obtain value that is information, from the data collected.
  • The third development category concerns the interaction between man and machine, which requires increasingly intuitive interfaces, and augmented reality.
  • Finally there is this passage from digital to “real” which includes additive manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, communication and new technologies to collect and use energy better.

Now, it is pertinent to link jobs that will be in demand by 2020 in maritime industry and greatly facilitated by application of Industry 4.0:

  • Ship Automation Specialist: Totally Integrated Automation and Totally Integrated Power concepts not only reduce component life-cycle costs and increase levels of system reliability and safety.
  • Cyber Security Specialist: The cyber security crisis is more rampant than ever, especially when it comes to maritime. Maersk and Clarksons cyber incidents during 2017 serve as examples. Shipping companies hire persons responsible for designing, testing, implementing and monitoring security measures for their systems in order to prevent potential cyber-attacks.
  • Energy Efficiency Optimization Specialist
  • Demand and supply linkages using Artificial Intelligence and faster transportation route when ships "talk to each other" ( fuel and time savings)

SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region:

Vision for the Indian Ocean Region to preserve its organic unity while advancing cooperation.

  • Using capabilities for the collective well-being, and the mutual benefit of maritime neighbors and island states in building their capabilities.
  • India envisages the Indian Ocean as an engine for growth and prosperity in the region and beyond, it is of utmost importance that these waters remain safe and secure.

SAGARMALA

The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Kind of development projects that could be undertaken in Sagarmala initiative are:

  • Port-led industrialization
  • Port based urbanization
  • Port based and coastal tourism and recreational activities
  • Short-sea shipping coastal shipping and Inland Waterways Transportation
  • Ship building, ship repair and ship recycling
  • Logistics parks, warehousing, maritime zones/services
  • Integration with hinterland hubs
  • Offshore storage, drilling platforms
  • Modernizing the existing ports and development of new ports
  • Specialization of ports in certain economic activities such as energy, containers, chemicals, coal, agro products, Offshore Renewable Energy Projects with base ports for installations

This strategy incorporates both aspects of port-led development viz. port-led direct development and port-led indirect development.

Given the importance of Industry 4.0, SAGAR, SAGARMALA and Blue economy and the assertive rise of China, the imperatives behind Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue gains wider attention.

The Indo-Pacific Region holds great promise but its future is mired in the shifting plates of global politics and the fault lines of history.

Way forward:

All countries must work to create an environment in the Indo-Pacific where multiple options are available to countries seeking financial assistance so that they are not entrapped by those with unscrupulous designs.

In this context, India has aptly pitched for its clear and explicit SAGAR led SAGARMALA approach. Though the intention is concise, what India has to work on is to ensure effective implementation of the ideology - something on which China has earned a greater credibility (the implementation factor).

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

The Indo-Pacific Region holds great promise but its future is mired in the shifting plates of global politics and the fault lines of history. Discuss and evaluate effectiveness of Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) in bringing a culture of cooperation and shared growth.

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