HEADLINES:
India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements including one on Air Service Agreement । Agreements signed during Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to India April 28 । Cyprus President called on President Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi । The visiting President and PM Modi agreed on urgent need for all countries to decisively act against the states supporting factories of terrorism । PM Modi also thanked the Cyprus President for his support to India’s claim of Permanent Membership in UNSC । North Korea test fires a ballistic missile which landed in the Sea of Japan । India, Sri Lanka ink pacts on economic cooperation and road infrastructure development । The agreements signed during Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India । Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him । Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accompanied Sushma Swaraj when the latter called on the visiting Sri Lankan PM । India-Russia defence engagement will continue to grow, says Defence Minister Arun Jaitley । He was speaking at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow । India, Russia are celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship । China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier । The new carrier will accommodate 36 aircraft and will be commissioned in 2020 after sea trials । It’s a 50000 ton platform with a ski jump deck modeled on Soviet carriers but has many design innovations । India, South Korea Sign Inter-Governmental MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding । The MoU signed by Secretary (Defence Production), India, Ashok Kumar Gupta and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea, Chang Myoung-Jin । The Inter-Governmental MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both countries । The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for signing the MoU । The CCS also gave a go ahead for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam for collaboration । Indian Navy successfully test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile । Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari calls on President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister in New Delhi Apr 18 । Nepalese President is on a State visit to India April 17-21 । This is her first ever visit to India since taking over in 2015 । She was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan । Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday । He was presented a Tri-Services Guard of Honour on his arrival at South Block । 12 killed in Saudi military helicopter in Yemen । Unconfined reports say the Blackhawk was accidentally shot down by a Saudi Patriot missile। US NSA Gen HR McMaster meets Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi । Gen McMaster also exchanged views on Indo-US relations with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar । Happy Easter । US drops its biggest 21,000 pound bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan April 13 । Designated GBU 43, the Mother of All Bombs is designed to hit deep caves and tunnels in hardy mountains । GBU 43 is the biggest non-nuclear bomb, carried by the US Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) । White House Press Secretyary Sean Spricer confirmed the night bombing but there was no immediate word from Taliban । Spicer said the ISIS terroists were targeted as they used the caves and tunnels to hit the US forces । GBU 43 is a concussion bomb carrying an explosive charge of 8,500 kg, equal to 11 tons of TNT । India, Australia sign 6 MoUs including on Combating Terrorism and Civil Aviation Security । Agreements signed during Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s Visit to India April 10 । He calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । This is the first ever visit of Turnbull after taking over as Australian PM in 2015 । The Australian PM along with his Indian counterpart took a Delhi metro ride to visit city-based Akshardham Temple । India, Bangladesh signed 22 agreements April 8 including key pacts on defence cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation । India announced an additional $4.5-billion concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, and another $500 million for Dhaka to procure defence equipment from New Delhi । A joint India-Bangladesh event saw both PMs honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence । Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrives in New Delhi for 4-day State visit to India । Prime Minister Modi himself goes to the airport to greet the Bangladesh PM on her arrival । External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on Sheikh Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhawan । She is the special guest of President Pranab Mukherjee during her State visit to India । The Bangladesh PM has a full day of bilateral discussions with her Indian counterpart on Saturday (April 8) । 20 agreements are expected to be signed between India and Bangladesh । India, Malaysia sign 7 agreements । The agreements signed during Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s visit to India from March 30 to April 4 । Malaysian PM calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । India and Malaysia joint statement, issued after Modi, Razak meeting, calls for a deeper ties between the two nations । Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is free from jail after six year । Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who holds additional charge of Defence, elected President of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) । He succeeds Mr Manohar Parikkar who resigned to take over as Chief Minister of Goa recently। Hardeep Singh Puri appointed Chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries । Mr Puri is former Indian Envoy to the UN in New York and Geneva । FBI investigating possible Russian interference in 2016 US presidential election, Director Comey confirms । He told House Intelligence Committee there is no evidence of President Obama ordering wiretap of Trump during the election campaign । President Trump has made several allegations against his predecessor, which the powerful heads of FBI and NSA have denied । Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assumes additional charge as Defence Minster । Jaitley replaces Manohar Parrikar who has moved to Goa to head the State’s Government as Chief Minster । BRAHMOS Extended Range (ER) missile successfully test-fired । Prime Minister greets CISF on its 48th Raising Day । INS Tillanchang Commissioned into Indian Navy । INS Tillanchang was commissioned by FOC-in-C Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Girish Luthra at Karwar । India Strategic salutes the humanity on this International Women’s Day । Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju dedicates first integrated heliport to the nation । Ms. DR Doley Barman appointed Director of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad । 1992 batch IFS officer Gopal Baglay appointed MEA Spokesperson । He replaces Vikas Swarup, who has been appointed Indian High Commissioner to Canada । Raytheon, Tata Advanced Systems to Co-produce Stinger Missile Components । Indian Navy Concludes First Contract under Buy and Make (Indian) Category । Contract signed between Nova Integrated Systems Ltd (NISL), a TASL subsidiary, and Indian Navy for procurement of Surface Surveillance Radars (SSRs) । NISL to indigenously manufacture these state-of-the-art radars in collaboration with Terma, Denmark । ISRO creates history; launches 104 satellites in one go । President, Vice President and Prime Minister congratulated ISRO and its scientists for the historic mission । Indian Navy to decommission aircraft carrier INS Viraat on March 6 । India to spend Rs 2,74,114 crore on Defence । Rs 85,737.31 crore will be spent on equipment acquisition । Russia formally enters IAF’s second round of MMRCA competition । Moscow offers a new MiG-35 variant under Make in India । Alexander M Kadakin, who served as the Russian Ambassador to India for over a dozen years, passed away after a brief illness in New Delhi on Thursday, January 26, 2017. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Kadakin’s death calling him a “great friend of India.” । India Strategic wishes everyone Happy Republic Day । President Pranab Mukherjee takes salute at the beautiful Republic Day Parade in New Delhi । UAE Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed is the Chief Guest at India’s R-Day celebrations । A highlight of the Parade is also the participation of a UAE armed forces contingent । Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay tributes to martyrs । The impressive Parade began with a 21-gun salute to the President, the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces । India’s anti-terror force, National Security Guard (NSG) made its debut in the Parade । Dressed in their patent black, NSG commandos jogged passed the saluting base with their faces covered । US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on January 24 । The telephone call is indicative of the vital nature of the India-US strategic partnership between the two countries । Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrives in New Delhi । Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was received by PM Modi । Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed is the Chief Guest of Republic Day 2017 । Government extends Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar’s tenure by one year । The extension to be effective between Jan 29, 2017 and Jan 28, 2018 । Pravind Kumar Jugnauth takes over as Mauritius Prime Minister । Prime Minister Modi congratulated the newly-appointed Mauritian PM । Donald Trump takes over as US President । Promises transfer of power to people । Turkish Boeing 747 cargo plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan with 37 onboard; all killed । Astronaut Gene Cernan, 82, the last man to walk on moon, passes away । India marks Army Day । President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister greet the Army । Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat takes salute at the impressive Army Day Parade । Gen Rawat says India wants peace but if attempts are made to disrupt it, then “we will display our power” । He says emphasis is on newer technology weapons and systems for the Army । Space connectivity is also high on Army’s agenda । This is the 69th Army Day, marking the time when an Indian Chief, Gen KM Cariappa took over the command after Independence । Indian Navy launches its second Kalvari class submarine INS Khanderi in Mumbai । India Strategic wishes all its readers and viewers a very Happy New Year । India successfully test fires Agni 5 long range missile | IAF gets Government approval for one more C 17 strategic Lift aircraft | IAF has got 10 C 17s, but had initially planned for more than 20 | Lack of timely approval made IAF slash figure to three but by then Boeing closed factory | IAF will get the last one in production | Syrian government of President Assad takes full control of Aleppo | Lt Gen Bipin Rawat appointed the next Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa the Air Chief | The appointments are effective December 31 afternoon | Both are Vice Chiefs of Staff at present in their respective Services | 48 killed in a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crash in Pakistan | The twin-engine propellor aircraft was on way from Chitral to Islamabad | India marks Navy Day | Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets all Navy personnel, and salutes their bravery on Indian Navy annual day | PM Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurate Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference at Amritsar (India) Dec 4 | Need of the hour is to identify terrorism and bring stability in the region, says PM Modi | India’s commitment to Afghan is absolute, Mr Modi said addressing 6th HoA Ministerial Conf | Afgan Prez accused Pakistan of sheltering terror, and thanked India of financial aid | HoA Conf began at Amritsar Dec 3 | INS Vikrant likely to be operational in 2018 | Vikrant to operate both Russian MiG-29K and Western origin Aircraft | Indian Navy to mark 2017 as the year of submarine: Adm Lanba class=”gap”>| Gujarat-cadre officer Rakesh Asthana to take over as CBI Director after Anil Sinha, who retires Dec 2 | Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is Pakistan’s new army chief | Gen Bajwa took over from Gen Raheel Sharif Nov 29 | The outgoing chief stressed all should work together “against external and internathreats” | Plane carrying Brazilian football team crashes in Colombia | Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies. He was 90. | Castro had challenged the US might and invited Soviet presence next door to the US | US-Cuban relations have normalized now after half a century | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Commissions INS Chennai into Indian Navy Nov 21 | INS Chennai is a Project 15A Guided Missile Destroyer | This is the 3rd and last ‘Kolkata’ class destroyer indigenously designed by DND and constructed by MDL, Mumbai |
April 30, 2017
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IORA moves to secure the Indian Ocean: Ansari shares India’s vision

By Nilova Roy Chaudhury March 2017
 

New Delhi. Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Jakarta for the first ever summit meeting on March 7 of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), a 21-nation group of coastal countries flanking the Indian Ocean.

Crucial state assembly elections and domestic politics kept Prime Minister Narendra Modi away from the two-day summit, marked by the attendance of 16 heads of state or government of the 21 countries. Among those who attended were South African President Jacob Zuma, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Malaysian PM Najib Razak and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

The organisation, founded in 1997 as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius, morphed into the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) before becoming the IORA, floundered until quite recently before arriving at a set of goals with which all members can identify.

India has embraced the idea of a stronger, more focused IORA as one which could move the member countries away from China’s proposed ‘Maritime Silk Route’ initiative, senior officials told India Strategic. A ministerial meeting held in New Delhi in 2011 set out some key markers, including security of maritime lanes, joint anti-piracy operations, disaster management, counter-terrorism cooperation and enhanced and unhindered trade flows.

Speaking of the 2011 meeting, Vice-President Ansari said six concrete areas of focused cooperation were decided; maritime safety and security, trade and investment, management of fisheries, disaster management, science and technology and tourism.

The 21 IORA member states are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.

Explaining what brought the IORA countries together, Vice President Ansari said, “Ours is a region marked by great diversity of cultures and levels of economic development. Yet for centuries the people on the shores of this ocean have been linked by the winds that blow across it. These facilitated exchanges of ideas through trade, religion and culture. As IORA member States, we recognize that the sea does not separate; rather it is a bridge that connects.”

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo co-chaired the summit Tuesday with the prior chair, the Australian Prime Minister, and President Zuma of South Africa, which is set to assume the chair later this year.

The formal structure of the Association so far has been the holding of official and ministerial meetings. This first summit of leaders, held largely at the initiative of President Widodo, was preceded by meetings of senior officials and ministers.

The Indian Ocean has been largely peaceful so far and India is keen to ensure that China, with its rapidly expanding Navy, does not disrupt the tranquillity of the Ocean’s channels of navigation. Adherence to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a major binding factor among the member states.

Vice President Ansari said maritime safety and security would be the IORA’s main thrust area and the most important thing for RIM countries to be able to cooperate with each other was safety and security. He spoke of the serious problems of piracy and terrorism which had plagued the western part of the Indian Ocean littoral.

Maritime safety and security will be IORA’s main thrust area. Joint action has seen improved security in the region around Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, which was earlier infested with pirates. The western part of the Indian Ocean littoral also faces a severe threat from terrorists. The sea routes are now increasingly being used by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS to move out of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and spread their tentacles eastwards.

“We have an imperative need for open trade and open sea lanes that carry it. I call upon the IORA member states to ensure that the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the Indian Ocean is respected by all, as an expression of our commitment to UNCLOS,” Mr Ansari said in his statement at the Summit.

China, one of seven dialogue partners of the IORA, (along with Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States and Egypt) has displayed considerable aggression in the South China Sea and refused to accept a tribunal verdict, creating considerable disquiet among IORA and other countries.

The Blue Economy is increasingly a global focus area. The Indian Ocean is at the crossroads of global trade. The Ocean and its littoral are rich in natural resources and home to more than 2.3 billion people. The Ocean is critical to India’s energy security, with over 80 per cent of its energy imports coming via this maritime route, making its security of paramount importance.

Maritime safety and security can be reinforced by institutionalising cooperative mechanisms like White Shipping Agreements and by setting up an Information Fusion Centre to strengthen Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), Vice-President Ansari said. India, he said, is ready to host such a Centre.

The first ever IORA summit saw three critical documents signed; the IORA Concord, which Mr Ansari called “a milestone document that underscores the criticality of maritime safety and security.”

“India believes that our ocean must be protected from traditional and non-traditional threats, particularly piracy. All using these international waters must act with responsibility and restraint,” he said.

IORA ministers adopted a time bound ministerial Plan of Action for the next four years, while leaders signed a Declaration on countering violent extremism.

“Today, terrorism has become the major impediment to development and threatens all pluralist and open societies,” the Indian Vice President said. “No cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. IORA must show zero tolerance for State sponsored terrorism. The perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism must be isolated and face strong sanctions.”

“IORA members have to help each other by sharing intelligence, securing our cyber space, and minimizing the use of internet and social media for terrorist activities. There is a pressing requirement to work out the modalities for institutionalizing an IORA cooperation mechanism,” he said, while proposing a collaboration of Think tanks to counter security challenges.

Around 500 people, including a group of leading business people from India, under the aegis of FICCI, participated in a Business Forum held on the sidelines of the Summit.

India plans to set up the “IORA Centre of Excellence (ICE)” in one of its coastal cities, to provide academics and researchers access to a collective source of data and resource material.

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