Discussion on ‘India and the North West Indian Ocean Region: Bridging the Gulf
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on 14 Jul 2017 organised a two-part Round Table Discussion with a panel of eminent maritime security and foreign policy experts, including Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra (Retd), former FOC-in-C, Western and Eastern Naval Commands, Dr. Vijay Sakhuja, Director, National Maritime Foundation, Amb Rajiv Sikri, former Secretary (East), MEA, Amb Dinkar Srivastava, India’s former Ambassador to Iran, Cmde Lalit Kumar (Retd), and Mr. Saurabha Chandra, among others. The agenda was to examine the contours of some of the recent geo-strategic and geo-political developments taking place in the North West Indian Ocean Region (NW IOR) and their implications from India’s perspective. Interestingly, the coinage of the term NW IOR reflects the imperative to bring focus on a land-maritime combined construct which includes both the strategic choke points which are located in the maritime domains of the NW IOR and the vast land-mass which stretches from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and also includes the Persian Gulf and the Makran Coast.

The NW IOR, significantly, has also been home to a large number of Indian expatriates sending hard-earned remittances back home, besides being India’s traditional energy basket, its importance only set to grow in tandem with India’s economic growth. However, emergence of new threats in this region, especially the sectarian violence playing out in many parts of the Middle East – Wahhabi vs Wahhabi, the Shia-Sunni divide and so on, re-emergence of sea-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, presence of foreign navies in the Indian Ocean, and China’s port-building at strategic locations in the Indian Ocean, among other developments, compel India to re-calibrate her approach to the region. The discussion, besides looking at some of these developments through the prism of India’s security and national interests, also discussed a way forward to enhance India’s image in contributing to the stability in the region through military diplomatic efforts.

The discussion was conducted over two grueling sessions. The First Session dealt with contemporary dynamics in the North-West Indian Ocean Region. Three issues were critically examined – geo-political developments, maritime developments and energy developments. The Second Session looked at opportunities and imperatives for India in this region. Issues which came up for discussion in this session included: impact of Shia-Sunni divide on India; energy and maritime opportunities and geo-political imperatives for India in the region. Vice Adm Anil Chopra and Dr. Vijay Sakhuja chaired a session each, while General NC Vij, former Chief of the Indian Army and Director, VIF, presided over the proceedings.

Event Date 
July 14, 2017
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