Opening Remarks By CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba At IONS 10th Anniversary Celebration Seminar At Kochi
It gives me immense pleasure to welcome all of our esteemed guests…. at this special IONS Seminar. Ladies and Gentlemen , a decade ago…., the Indian Navy conceived of an initiative that would provide an equal…, inclusive and open platform for all maritime nations of the Indian Ocean Region, to share their views on issues concerning maritime security. Today, as I address this gathering , I am extremely grateful for the unstinted support that IONS has received…. from every member nation over the last ten years. I am also very proud to see how much IONS has achieved in this short span…., and this pride is shared by the entire Indian Navy…., which considers the Symposium as an extension of our naval family.
The Indian Ocean Region has a diverse set of littorals and island nations…., each with their own unique needs…, aspirations…., interests ….and values. However, in some way or the other…., each one of us looks to the waters of the Indian Ocean for our growth and prosperity. Throughout history…., these waters have connected civilisations across our region…, bringing riches…, culture…, science ….and the future holds so much more. It is, therefore, important for these waters to be kept secure from the innumerable challenges and threats which could affect the maritime domain. Through IONS…., we have made significant headway in identifying common maritime issues ….and evolving mechanisms to address them collectively.
The Seminar today is another effort in this direction ….and I am confident that deliberations today ….will throw up a number of new possibilities and options. The Theme for the Seminar…., ‘IONS as a catalyst for SAGAR’ symbolises the close alignment of India’s national vision with that of IONS itself. SAGAR…, or Security And Growth for All in the Region, is our Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for the region. SAGAR is also the Hindi word for Ocean… which symbolises that the maritime domain…. is indeed central to our nation’s vision for prosperity and development across the region. 6. This august gathering is well aware of the close inter-connect between prosperity and maritime security. The world economy is deeply interconnected…., and the sea anes of our region are a critical component of this structure. Off the coast of Somalia , we have already seen how governance issues on land can spill over to the sea and threaten vital maritime activity. The rise in maritime piracy in this region had its impact world-wide… an evidence of how important these waters are to nations and economies world over.
ensure the security of their national interests beyond these waters. Faced with common challenges , members of IONS have accrued enormous benefits by sharing of experiences…., best practices, and formulating standardised procedures to improve coordination and interoperability.
Last year, the Symposium broke new ground with the successful conduct of the first sea exercise
IMMSAREX-171…., off the coast of Bangladesh. This year, the IONS guidelines for HADR were provisionally approved by the Conclave of Chiefs, ….and subsequently a table-top exercise has also been conducted to validate these guidelines.2 As such interactions continue and grow…., IONS will enable member navies to take efficient and effective coordinated action… against common threats in the region. Furthermore, as members establish information sharing arrangements to enhance maritime security…., IONS will enable early identification of possible threats and prompt corrective actions.
In the same spirit…., the Indian Navy will soon be operationalising the Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region. The IFC-IOR will be staffed by personnel from many countries. It will analyse all inputs pertaining to maritime security in the 10R…., and pass on relevant information to the participating countries within an actionable time-frame. I am sanguine that this Centre will significantly enhance maritime security in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it has long been said that `where borders divide , oceans unite’. IONS itself exemplifies this mantra…., and our deliberations at this
Seminar would highlight this as well. The discussions today will encompass three important and deeply interrelated aspects of the IONS charter… emerging maritime threats in the region , leveraging IONS for coordinating and sharing resources for maritime operation , and ….enhancing shared maritime domain awareness.
I would like to thank the Chair and all members of IONS for supporting the Indian Navy’s proposal to commemorate the 10th anniversary of IONS. We decided to host these events at Kochi…., which has been a focal point for maritime activity in the Indian Ocean since times immemorial. The city has immense maritime history…., which ranges from ancient Greek and Roman influence’, to European architecture from recent centuries. Even in their modern avatar…., the city and the port, continue to grow in importance to the region. I do hope that all our guests get some time to soak in the incredible history of the City… hopefully without getting soaked in the city’s surprise showers.5
I look forward to new ideas and fresh perspectives from all participants on these vital subjects…., which will enable us to enhance regional maritime security…., individually and collectively. I wish you …the best for an enriching and rewarding day of discussions.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.