Ten years of IONS has brought into focus maritime issues in the IOR
On November 13-14 this year, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) celebrated 10 years of its existence. With a focus on current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative — the theme for the 10th anniversary seminar was ‘IONS as a Catalyst for SAGAR’. ‘SAGAR’ is an extension of India’s ‘Act East’ policy focussing on the nation’s diplomatic, economic and military outreach in the region.
The Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lanba accompanied by Mrs Reena Lanba, President Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA) arrived in Kochi on November 12 to be a part of the celebrations.
The CNS was the chief guest for the inaugural event — the IONS seminar, which was held on November 13 at the Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Centre in Kochi. The seminar was attended by chiefs and senior representatives from the navies of the majority of member nations.
Twenty-six of the 32 countries, which constitute the total membership of IONS participated in the seminar, saw discussion of maritime issues pertaining to cooperative capacity-building to deal with common security concerns in the region. The current navies of the IONS are geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:
South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and the UK
West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.
East African Littorals: France, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste.
Observer countries include China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia, and Spain.
The 10th anniversary celebrations also saw the CNS flagging of the ‘Tall Ships Sail Together’ event on November 14. The Royal Omani Vessel ‘Zinat-al-Bihaaralong’ along with two Indian Naval Sailing ships ‘Sudharshini’ and ‘Tarangini’ took part. One ‘Sea Rider’ each from Sri Lanka, China, United Kingdom, Australia, Bangladesh and Maldives are part of this ‘Sail Together’ which has been planned to cover a distance of 1,200 nautical miles to Muscat and back.
The event seeks to retrace the maritime trade route of yesteryears between the Malabar Coast and the Persian Gulf. A smaller Indian sailing vessel ‘Mhadei’ accompanied them and will ultimately head towards Seychelles while the others are to continue towards Muscat. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is approximately 73.6 million square kilometres in size, ranging from countries on the eastern coast of Africa in the east till Australia in the west.
Named after India, the third largest of the world’s great oceans contains approximately 20 per cent of the water on the Earth’s surface. it is also the warmest of all oceans. And it is critical to the world’s trade and industry. The major sea routes that connect the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Americas pass through it.
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