Visakhapatnam, February 7, 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that, given the scale and complexity of modern day challenges, international maritime stability could not be the preserve of a single nation but the shared goal and responsibility of all seafaring countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the fly-past at the International Fleet Review-2016, at Visakhapatnam on February 7, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that, given the scale and complexity of modern day challenges, international maritime stability could not be the preserve of a single nation but the shared goal and responsibility of all seafaring countries.
"To this end, the Navies and maritime agencies of the world need to work together, and engineer virtuous cycles of cooperation," he said in his address at the International Fleet Review (IFR) - 2016, the largest international event hosted by the Indian Navy on the eastern seaboard here.
Mr. Modi said oceans were lifelines of global prosperity, presenting the world with great economic opportunities to build nations.
"Over 90% of global merchandise trade is carried on the oceans.
Over the last 15 years, its value has grown from about 6 trillion dollars to about 20 trillion dollars. Oceans are critical for the global energy security as over 60% of world’s oil production moves through sea routes," he said.
He said the world's ability to reap economic benefits from the oceans rested on the capacity to respond to the challenges in the maritime domain.
"The threat of sea borne terror, of which India has been a direct victim, continues to endanger the regional and global peace and stability. Piracy too remains a strong challenge. The threat of natural disasters like tsunamis and cyclones is ever present. Manmade problems such as oil spills, climate change continue to risk the stability of the maritime domain.
"A peaceful and stable maritime environment is, therefore, critical for the regional and global security. It is also a must to harvest the riches of the oceanic ecosystems," he said.
Mr. Modi said navies must, where necessary, act to secure the international sea lanes of communication.
"I believe that if oceans were to propel our economies, then we must use seas to build peace, friendship and trust, and curb conflict; respect and ensure freedom of navigation; and cooperate, not compete in responding to the challenges in the seas," he said.
He said the large presence of foreign navies at this fleet review was a confirmation of their shared urge to walk the pathways of peace and cooperation to keep the maritime domain safe and secure.
"India is, and has always been, a maritime nation...Surrounded by sea from three sides, India has a long coastline of over 7500 kilometres," he said.
Mr. Modi said India’s central location in the Indian Ocean had connected it with other cultures, shaped its maritime trade routes, influenced India’s strategic thought, and defined its maritime character.
"Since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization, India has maintained an extensive network of maritime links, including with Africa, Western Asia, the Mediterranean region, the West, South East Asia and the Far East. We are delighted that the Navies from all these regions have joined in this Fleet Review," he said.
"In modern times too, the oceans, especially the Indian Ocean, occupy a vital place in India’s national security and economic prosperity.The waters of the Indian Ocean touch the shores of over 40 countries.
"About half of world's container traffic; and close to one-third of world's cargo traffic passes through this region. Ninety percent of our trade by volume and 90% of our oil imports are carried on the seas.
"India’s 1200 island territories, and our huge Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.4 million square kilometers makes clear the economic significance of the Indian Ocean. For us, it also serves as a strategic bridge with the nations in our immediate and extended maritime neighbourhood," he said.
The Prime Minister said the Indian Ocean Region was one of his foremost policy priorities. He said India would continue to actively pursue and promote its geo-political, strategic and economic interests on the seas, in particular the Indian Ocean.
"To this end, India's modern and multi-dimensional Navy leads from the front. It is a force for peace and good. A network of growing political and economic maritime partnerships, and strengthening of regional framework salso helps us pursue our goals," he said.
Mr. Modi said India's quest for economic prosperity through oceans is a part of our larger efforts to transform India.
"We are not just a bright spot in the global economy. Regionally and internationally, we are a pillar of stability and an important growth centre. India's rise is in harmony with the goal of maintaining the regional and global peace and security," he said.
He said that, within the country, there was great optimism, enthusiasm and a "can do" mindset.
"This optimism comes from the energy and enterprise of our confident youth. It also comes from our bold and sustained measures to transform our country, improve our laws, processes and institutions. We are launching new initiatives and creating opportunities to empower people, and give them a sense of ownership in nation's progress.
"'Make in India', which has re-ignited our manufacturing sector is one such initiative. Defence manufacturing and ship building are among its focus areas.
"In a week from now, on 13 February, we would hold seven days of global engagement under 'Make in India' in Mumbai. During this time, the best in the global industry would link up with the innovation, design and manufacturing opportunities of India- the world's fastest growing economy. We want to invite the world to Make in India, Make for India, and Make for the World," he said.
Mr. Modi said India was proud of the fact that, of the Indian naval ships participating in the fleet review, at least 37 are Mde in India.
"Our Skill India program is building institutions that train, support, encourage and guide our 800 million youth on the path of entrepreneurship. Our skilled youth are ready to respond to the national and global manpower demands of the 21st century," he said.
Mr. Modi said an important part of India’s transformation was his vision of “Blue Economy” in its widest sense.
"An essential part of this pursuit is the development of India's coastal and island territories: but, not just for tourism. We want to build new pillars of economic activity in the coastal areas and in linked hinterlands through sustainable tapping of oceanic resources. Strengthening our marine research, development of eco-friendly, marine industrial and technology base, and fisheries are other elements of our goal.
"In this endeavour, I see youth in the coastal areas as our true assets. They have a natural and deep understanding of the Oceans. They could lead the way in the development of blue economy in India. In partnership with all the coastal states of India, I want to shape a special program of skilling India's youth in the coastal areas of the country," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, to build on the gains from today's gathering, India would host the first ever Global Maritime Summit in April this year.
"Its priority would be to scale up and strengthen the vibrant trade, investment, technology and commercial linkages between India and other maritime nations," he added.