[Answered] “Ocean resources in Indian Ocean can boost India’s economic and social progress.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How oceanic resources can help India’s socio-economic growth.
Conclusion. Way forward.

India has an exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 million sq.km and a long coastline of 8,118 km with rich and diverse marine living resources. Government of India is promoting ‘Blue Growth Initiative’ which focus on utilisation of wealth from the marine and other aquatic resources of the country for improving the lives and livelihoods of fishermen and their families.

Unexploited Important Oceanic resources in Indian Ocean:

  1. Fishery: Marine fisheries wealth around Indian coastline is estimated to have an annual harvestable potential of 4.4 million metric tonnes.
  2. Minerals: Indian Ocean contain vast amount of minerals, including the cobalt, zinc, manganese and rare earth materials. These minerals are needed for electronic industry to make smart phones, laptops and car components etc. This can help Make in India initiative.
  3. Energy resources: The main energy resources present in Indian Ocean are petroleum and gas hydrates. Petroleum products mainly includes the oil produced from offshore regions. Gas hydrates  are unusually compact chemical structures made of water and natural gas.
  4. Salts: Seawater contain economically useful salts such as gypsum and common salt. Gypsum is useful in various industries.
  5. Manganese Nodules and Crusts: Manganese nodules contain significant concentrations of manganese, iron and copper, nickel, and cobalt all of which have a numerous economic uses.

Importance of these resources in Indian socio-economic progress:

  1. Sustainable development: Marine resources from Indian Ocean can serve as the backbone of India’s economic growth and can help India to become a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2022. Blue economy, through sustainable use of oceans, has great potential for boosting the economic growth.
  2. Employment generation: It will provide jobs, improved livelihoods to many. This will help in inclusive growth. E.g improving fishery resources exploitation can provide livelihood to many.
  3. Food security: It will lead to food security through fishery sector and other sea food resources. It would also help in reducing malnutrition issue in India as fishes are good source of nutrition.
  4. Energy security: It will help in diversification of energy resources and will provide new resources for energy e.g. gas hydrates.
  5. Efficient transportation and logistics: Indian Ocean is a major gateway of trade with 80% of global oil trade happening through it. Better connectivity in the region will significantly cut the transport cost and will reduce logistics inefficiencies.
  6. Women empowerment: It will help in women empowerment especially fishery sector by providing them jobs. As these jobs do not require high skills, women will find it easy to earn a livelihood.
  7. Climate Change: Oceans provide an alternate and more cleaner source of energy. It also act as an important carbon sink. This will help in mitigating climate change.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14), calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. India should expedite its efforts to exploit oceanic resources in Indian Ocean. What is required is use of technology to exploit oceanic resources in Indian Ocean. India has rightly launched O-SMART scheme aiming at regulated use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development in this direction.

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