Indian Ocean Community
Indian Ocean as an Economic Community: S. Kalyanaraman (April 2006)
By Our Special Correspondent
CHENNAI DEC. 27. Experts and academicians at a conference here have stressed the need for greater interaction between India and other Indian Ocean states. India must put into practice a look East policy early. This will benefit both India and the other States in the region.
The former Chief Election Commissioner, T.N. Seshan, who inaugurated a conference, organised here yesterday by the Indian Ocean Studies and Research Group (IOSRG), said that the meet should delineate specific areas that could benefit from interaction among countries in the region. Pointing out that seamless travel was now possible in 23 countries in Europe for its citizens, he asked why it was not possible to have a visa-free travel regime in this region. u
He deplored the lack of interest in Asian languages in Indian universities and said while it was possible to learn a European language in most universities, the case of Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese was not the same.
The Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, Sumit Nakandala, said there was need to work on mechanisms to ensure that fishermen, who find themselves on the wrong side of the maritime boundaries, were sent back early.
Also, India should take the initiative to build a bridge to Sri Lanka since tangibles on ground were the cornerstone of any cooperation.
The former Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), R.S.Vasan, welcoming this suggestion, said the structure should be built with an eye on future and allow super-tankers to pass underneath.
Gopalji Malaviya, professor, Madras University Department of Strategic Studies, said India should take the lead in managing the collective maritime security in the region.
The presence of extra-regional powers diminished the strategic autonomy of the region, he said.
There were many common problems that necessitated greater cooperation among countries there.
He listed piracy, smuggling of small arms, inter-State conflicts, and terrorist movements among the common threats.
The IOSRG convener, Ambadi Venugopalan, said the group wanted to build a consensus among the strategic community of South and South-East Asia.
``There is a need, latent rather than explicit, for a Track 2 forum where the perceptions, interests and resources in the geo-political field in the Indian Ocean area can be studied and assessed so as to arrive at optimal values acceptable to all the peoples and states of the region,'' he said.
Indian Ocean Commission (COI: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion Island, Seychelles, 1984)
Major chokepoints include Bab el Mandeb (links Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden), Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait See Sea Lines of Communication Security and Access. Trade via the Southeast Asian (SEA) Straits was 950 billion US Dollars in 1994. Southeast Asia sea lanes as the life-line for exports of some states of the Indian Ocean Community: Percentages of trade via SEA sea lanes: Brunei 95%; Indonesia 94%; Malaysia 95%; Philippines 35%; Thailand 95%; Singapore 95%; Vietnam 93%; Japan 39%; PRC 27%
History of the Straits of Malacca At least 50,000 ships sail through the straits every year: International Maritime Organization.
Malacca Straits Research and Development Centre About 30% of the world's trade and 80% of Japan's imports of petroleum transits through the Strait of Malacca. About 30% of the world’s trade and 80% of Japan’s, South Korea’s and Taiwan’s imports of petroleum transits through the strait, about 10.3 Mb/d in 2002. It is the main passage between the Pacific and the Indian oceans with the strait of Sunda (Indonesia) being the closest alternative.
Location of Diego Garcia Joint facility for UK and USA navy. A British Indian Ocean Territory. Indian Ocean has a coastline of 66, 526 kms. Straits of Malacca: Security implications
Maritime security challenges in south Asia and the Indian Ocean: Response strategies Creation of Marine Police Wings in the Maritime States of India
Tropical Storms worldwide (Univ. of Hawaii)