Information Fusion Centre - Indian Ocean Region

  • The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), launched in December, 2018, started working in India linking all the coastal radar chains of the countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

Aim

  • It aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
  • It has been established to address the twin requirements of situational awareness and law enforcement in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Need for IFC

  • The IOR is a fragile environment, with threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, unregulated migration, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching being prevalent in the region.
  • Hence, it is necessary to facilitate a conducive environment to undertake legitimate maritime activities and counter various threats in the region.

About the IFC

  • The IFC has been established at Gurugram, Haryana and is collocated with Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC), which is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
  • The IFC will be the single point linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-kilometer coastline.
  • Information on white shipping or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness will be provided through the centre.
  • India has offered member states of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to use the facility to track the movement of vessels on the high seas.
  • IFC-IOR would work towards capability building in the region, coordination of incident response and disaster relief, and in time, also share submarine safety information.

Significance

  • Hub for Maritime Information: IFC will help in building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region. Further, it ensures that the entire region is benefitted by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns prevalent in the region.
  • Providing Maritime Security: IFC stems from the importance of the Indian Ocean to world trade and security, and the need for the various maritime nations and organisations to collaborate towards enhancing maritime safety and security on the seas of this region.
  • Providing a Common Platform: In addition to utilising the collective wisdom and resources towards addressing myriad challenges in the region, it will help interface and integrate, wherein, all partners and stakeholders would benefit from each other’s best practices and expertise.
  • Boost to Bilateral Relationships: It will help foster bonds of trust, mutual trust and partnership; ingredients that are vital for relationships between nations to transcend from being merely transactional to ones that are transformational.
  • Boost to SAGAR Initiative: The setting up of IFC-IOR underscores the governmental approach and effort in line with the India’s vision towards Security and Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR).

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

Headquarter:  Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius

  • The IORA, formerly known as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an inter-governmental organisation consisting of coastal states bordering Indian Ocean which was established on 7 March 1997.
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.

Objective

  • It was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region.

Members:

  • It comprises 22 member states and 9 dialogue partners.
  • Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation and Indian Ocean Research Group have observer status.

 

Security and Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR)

  • SAGAR is a term coined by Indian Prime Minister in 2015 with a focus on blue economy. It is in line with the principles of Indian Ocean Rim Association.
  • It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.

Aim

  • To seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries.
  • Peaceful resolution of maritime issues and increase in maritime cooperation.

Significance

  • The initiative works to ensure peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region, including the safety and security of Indian shipping, fishing, seaborne trade, energy supply, assets and resources in the maritime domain
  • As per SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities

Importance of Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Geo-Strategic Importance

  • The Indian Ocean provides major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa and East Asia with Europe and the Americas.
  • Various islands in the IOR, for ex. great Indian ridge, the Madagascar ridge and St Paul’s ridge holds strategic implications in the region due to their location, proximity to trade routes and well developed harbours.

Economic Importance

  • The Indian Ocean Region, in view of its strategic location as also being home to a vast majority of world’s population, can be considered as the economic highway that drives global commerce.
  • With over 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of daily global oil consumption passing through the region; IOR is vital to world trade and the economic prosperity of many nations.
  • Indian Ocean is also rich in natural resources. 40% of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin. Fishing in the Indian Ocean now accounts for almost 15% of the world’s total.
  • It is a storehouse for various mineral resources like nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and iron, and massive sulphide deposits of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold.
  • Indian Ocean coastal sediments are also important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin and zinc.

Way Forward

  • India’s approach to cooperative maritime security must be expanded in the current view of prevailing challenges in the IOR. Further, it should take on increased responsibility for governance of ocean areas within the Indian Ocean in cooperation with extra-regional great powers, including both China and the United States. It must ensure confidence and capacity building amongst partner nations, thereby ensuring swift and accurate exchange of information pertaining to maritime security.
  • In the long run, India should aim to become a net security provider in the region. This will require India to enhance own strengths first, and then expand partnerships to fill the voids. India’s primary interest remains in a peaceful and stable Indian Ocean which will enable it to achieve its primary goal of the economic transformation of the country.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, October, 2019