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Tuesday January 28, 2020

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Conflicts in Ocean Space

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As the world has progressed into prosperity and development, the environment on earth, the sky and the seas have become contaminated by various means and the world’s natural resources are dwindling. We all know that for human survival water and air are the most critical elements. The main source of water and increasingly, new discoveries of hydrocarbons and other exotic minerals and metals, are the oceans. Coupled with the rapid depletion of fish stocks around the globe, the deteriorating state of oceans and the frenetic desire to control the seas has nation-states bordering water bodies to become hyper-possessive of their territorial waters and the adjoining Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). These zones were created by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) several decades ago and have acknowledged legitimacy in geopolitics and exclusive exploitation. The depletion of resources on land has contributed to the exacerbation of conflicts in ocean space. The oceans are not just the main source of water for mankind but they have minerals, oil, gas and many other costly herbs and spices which are sold at high prices in the world market. It is not that the conflict is only for the water but it is also for the other precious things available in the oceans. Almost all the countries close to the oceans have their naval forces guarding their sea boundaries.

None has churned the waters of the oceans as much as China and its bullying tactics in the Pacific Ocean rim. It has riled Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and India in what has come to be known as the Indo-Pacific salient. Its aggressive search for naval bases in the Indian Ocean littoral is threatening to widen the scope of conflict and tension whenever Chinese exclusivist claims come up hard against the concepts of freedom of the high seas and peaceful mutual use of ocean commons. Peninsular India is surrounded by seas on three sides and the most important factor is that we have the Himalayas which is the primary source of water on the fourth side and all our rivers flow down to the Indian Ocean. We have, thus, the first right to a vast EEZ in the Indian Ocean. We have seen how the seas were used in the Mumbai attack. Although, our Navy and the Indian Coast Guard Organisation are quite active on the sea boundaries but still Mumbai could happen because the borders are too long and manning every inch is quite impossible. But after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, we have inducted various technologies to counter any such further attempts to disturb our security.

The Indian Navy is always alert to counter any attempt from the neighbours and so is the Coast Guard committed to maritime security. On the occasion of the Navy Day, this edition is dedicated to the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. We salute our sailing warriors manning our coastal region and the seas to safeguard us from any impending threat.

We are sure that readers would love to read this edition about the fast-growing pillars of defence of the nation.


Jai Hind!!


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