[Answered] “Maritime security and connectivity in Indo-Pacific region are the priority areas that need to be focused for India’s economic growth and sustainable development.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss the significance of maritime security and connectivity in Indo-Pacific region for Indian growth.
Conclusion. Way forward.

The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is gaining currency as a new construct in recent times. The Indo-Pacific provides a geographic and strategic expanse, with the two oceans being linked together by the ten ASEAN countries. Security in the region must be maintained through dialogue, a common rules-based order, freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and settlement of disputes in accordance with international law. India supports a rules-based, balanced, and stable trade environment in the Indo- Pacific region. Sustainable connectivity initiatives promoting mutual benefit should be continually fostered.

Significance of maritime security and connectivity in Indo-Pacific region for Indian growth:

  1. Strategic significance: Indio-Pacific is a multipolar region, contributing more than half of the world’s GDP and population. A stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region is an important pillar of India’s strategic partnership with the other countries especially USA.
  2. Mineral Resources: Maritime territories have also emerged as depositories of vital resources ranging from fish stocks to minerals and offshore oil and gas.48 The South China Sea, for instance, is estimated to hold some 10 per cent of the global catch of fish as well as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas.
  3. Economic Growth: According to a report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), countries in the Indo-Pacific produce over 60% of global GDP, making the region the largest single contributor to global growth.
  4. Commerce: The region consists of many of the world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca which is very critical for the growth of world economy.  The Indo-Pacific region also stands at the intersection of international trade, with around 32.2 million barrels of crude oil pass through annually and 40% of global exports come from the region.
  5. Maritime Trade: Pacific islands are strategically significant from New Delhi’s point of view as they sit astride important sea lines of communication through which important maritime trade is conducted.
  6. Connectivity: India is planning to put greater energy to the IORA because the heart of its Indo-Pacific policy is rooted in the Indian Ocean. This integrates the blue economy part of the Indian policy with the security part. It is important for India to engage with Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia as a key partners in the region for India. This will involve the Quad and taking this new grouping to the region.
  7. Chinese threat: China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military Demand rule based order to secure India’s interests and free trade. In the present time, the control of sea lanes and ports would be the game.
  8. Rule based order: It is important to adhere to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment. Also for free sea and air lanes, connectivity and upholding international rules and norms.

The region is highly heterogeneous in terms of economic size and level of development, with significant differences in security establishments and resources. India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the East Asia Summit, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. All  these  engagements  portray  India’s  increasing  involvement  in  the Indo-Pacific. Maintaining the delicate balance between the interests of all stakeholders will be a key challenge. Thus, India needs to carefully design its Indo-Pacific policy while keeping its long-term strategic and economic interests in mind.

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