Operation Samudra Maitri: The Humanitarian assistance and Disaster Relief

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    10th Oct, 2018


In view of recent earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, India has launched 'Operation Samudra Maitri' to assist victims of earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi Province of the Republic of Indonesia.

  • Two IAF Aircrafts, C-130J and C-17, departed carrying on board medical personnel with tents, equipments and other relief material including medicines, food, water and materials of daily assistance . 
  • Three Indian Naval Ships – INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul – have also been mobilized for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.


Sulawesi Earthquake

  • A shallow earthquake of magnitude 5 (Richter scale) had struck in neck of Minahasa Peninsula, Indonesia on 28 September 2018 with its epicentre located in mountainous Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi followed by a localised tsunami and soil liquefaction in and around the areas near Palu.
  • The event was preceded by a sequence of foreshocks, the largest of which was a magnitude 6.1 tremor.
  • The quake was located 77 km (48 mi) away from the provincial capital Palu and was felt as far away as Samarinda on East Kalimantan and also in Tawau, Malaysia. 
  • The quake was likely caused by movement of the Palu-Koro fault which runs almost north to south down Sulawesi on a line through Palu’s narrow bay.
  • It is one of the deadliest earthquake to strike Indonesia since 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake.


  • Neighbourhood First: India’s quick response towards humanitarian and disaster relief needs of Indonesia show its long commitment toward neighbouring countries in times of need.
  • Soft Power diplomacy: It is yet another milestone in India’s soft power diplomacy, as an instrument of international diplomacy, that can be harnessed to structure a favourable balance of power in the region by generating goodwill and cultivate stronger relations in area of economical, geographical, historical, cultural and defence prowess.

These efforts will also help in:

  • India’s access to the strategic island of Sabang at the northern tip of Sumatra and close to the Malacca Strait, where India is likely to invest in the port and an economic zone.
  • Ease in the resolution of the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone shared by the two nations in the Andaman Sea.
  • Need to combat and eliminate “illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing” and recognized transnational organized fisheries crime as one of the emerging crimes which needs to be tackled on an urgent basis.
  • Strengthening defence and security ties in order to jointly combat terrorism and organized crime.
  • People to People ties: Appeasement of the Muslims in both India (third largest muslim population)and Indonesia (largest muslim population) and Indian diaspora in Indonesia (around 129000)
  • Countering China: India together with Indonesia can aim at China’s aggressive stance on the South China Sea. This is significant as both India and Indonesia do not have a direct stake in this dispute. But both are concerned about China’s territorial expansionism and its reluctance to abide by global norms. Where India is worried about the security of the sea lanes of communication in the larger Indo-Pacific area, Indonesia has been concerned about Chinese maritime intrusions near the Natuna islands, which it claims as part of its exclusive economic zone, as well as Chinese attempts in the past to include the island chain in its territorial maps. This will also allow nations to emerge as major maritime powers to ensure a stable maritime order in the region, one that is under stress because of China’s rapid rise and America’s growing reluctance to be the sole guarantor of regional security.
  • Another step in India’s “Act East” policy of encouraging greater engagement with, and integration between, India and South-East Asia and further India’s entry into  bodies like ASEAN which India has already been trying from long against China’s diplomacy to cement s position as a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean. .

A closer logistical yet organic partnership with countries such as Vietnam, Australia and Indonesia that are geopolitically positioned can thus be the starting point of an extensive strategic linkage that will help establish India as a regional provider of maritime security and south-south cooperation.


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