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"India to protect its interest in Indian Ocean Rim"

NEW DELHI (PTI): Amid increasing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Rim, the government has asserted that the strategic region was "critical" for India's economic growth and it will ensure that "our littorals" are not used in a manner which is detrimental to national interests.

Noting that India's location and the strategic importance of IOR in the 21st Century cannot be over-emphasised, Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, said the sea lines passing through the Indian Ocean Rim are critical for the country's economic growth.

"Numerous nations depend on the waters of the Indian Ocean for trade and energy supplies. It is therefore our duty to ensure that our littorals are not used in a manner prejudicial to our interests," he said in his address at a naval seminar here on Thursday.

Assuring full support to Indian Navy's modernisation plan, he said the national interest was to ensure a secure and stable environment to enable continued economic development and social upliftment.

China has been increasing its activities in the Indian Ocean region, a move which has raised eyebrows in the Indian security and defence apparatus.

In a written reply to Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said the government is aware of Chinese participation in development projects in the strategically-important Indian Ocean region.

He had added that the government keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning India's national security.

The Chinese Navy had late last year docked its two submarines in a Sri Lanka port, an issue that was immediately taken by the government with Lankan authorities.

The India Ocean and the Pacific waters are strategically very important. The US too has decided to "rebalance" to this region.

The US plans to have six aircraft carrier and about 200 ships by 2020 in these two oceans.

Meanwhile, Singh highlighted the role of the Indian Navy along with the Coast Guard in ensuring the safety and security of the seas in the maritime areas of interest.

"We are committed to strengthening the preparedness of the defence forces and will provide full support to navy for its modernisation and development plans," Rao Inderjit Singh added.

He said over the years the navy's responsibilities have diversified into a variety of conventional and non-conventional threats that are emanating in the maritime domain.

"The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our 7,516-kilometre-long coastline. Since then we have come a long way to strengthen our coastal security infrastructure and improve our offshore surveillance mechanisms. Proactive actions by our navy has facilitated safe waters and maintained good order at sea," Singh said.

The Minister said the importance of the 'winged component' or the air arm of the navy was well understood by the government and the intention was to equip it with a diverse array of aircraft to meet a wide range of tasks.

Singh also expressed confidence that the seminar will provide a boost to the 'Make in India' initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and added that the ability to design and build aircraft is a strategic core capability for a nation.

"Though the navy has given significant impetus to indigenisation, there is a need to sustain these pioneering projects and futuristic initiatives harnessing the available capability, infrastructure and resources, including intellectual capability to guarantee a vibrant defence industry in the future," he added.

The navy also released a vision document for its air arm on the occasion. It focuses on strengthening operational capability, indigenisation, training, flight safety, maritime domain awareness, as well as, seamless integration with surface, sub-surface and shore elements including interoperability with other services.


India  IOR  China  Navy  Defence  

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