India is seriously concerned about the maritime challenges posed by piracy, terrorism and trafficking of narcotics, arms and human beings in the Indian Ocean region, where it has the vital stakes in the security and stability of the region, a senior official has said.
"We are seriously concerned about the maritime challenges posed by the increase in piracy, terrorism, trafficking of narcotics, arms, and also human beings," Indian Ambassador to the United States Ronen Sen said while addressing a workshop on The Indian Ocean Region Today at the National Defence University, organised jointly by the NDU, Johns Hopkins University and Lockheed Martin.
India has unfortunately faced these threats much before their global nature was fully recognised. "The bomb blasts, which claimed hundreds of lives in Mumbai in 1993, were caused by explosives smuggled by sea," he said.
Stressing that India has vital stakes in stability and security in the Indian Ocean, Sen said, "Our country is located at the natural junction of important sea-lanes. The maritime area around India is among the busiest in the world, with over 1,00,000 ships crossing it every year".
"As a responsible maritime power, India is a major force for stability in the Indian Ocean. We have regular joint exercises with almost all major Navies, including the US Navy. These exercises will continue, with increasing frequency, with the objective of achieving inter-operability and enhancing maritime security," the top Indian envoy to the US said.
Apart from it, India is the Association of South East Asia Nations' Dialogue Partner and Summit Partner, and has actively been engaged in the ASEAN Regional Forum, which is the only political and security dialogue forum in the region, he added, elaborating on India's initiatives towards the security and safety of the region.
Ninety per cent of India's trade, by volume, and about 75 per cent, by value, move by ship. By 2025, India is poised to become the third largest global importer of oil. Much of this will be by sea, he added.
"Also, India is a founding member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, with 18 littoral States as members and dialogue partners outside the region, including China, France and the United Kingdom," he added.