A UNION OF INDIAN OCEAN NATIONS

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A UNION OF INDIAN OCEAN NATIONS

 

The thought occurred when a discussion was under way with Dr S. Kalyanaraman who had held leadership positions in the Asian Development Bank.

South Asia, minus India, has two kinds of powers. Pakistan is one major power that can limit Indian hegemonic aspirations.

Geo-political Need of the Hour :

Caught in the stranglehold of concepts and models emanating from the West, the opinion leaders, strategic thinkers and policymakers of Asian countries have long shied away from examining boldly and with a fresh mind the new and exciting vistas of social, cultural and economic partnership that exist right at their doorstep.
For instance, the thing which is most evident sometimes gets lost in the rubrics of debates and discussion. Gee-political impera­tives of the hour are collaboration in the regions that are naturally inter-twined with geographical features so that a unison force is created. In this context, hardly any discussion or even awareness among scholars of the Asian region of the invincible dynamics of one such compelling vision, namely, the Indian Ocean Community (I00).
The thought occurred when a discussion was under way with Dr S. Kalyanaraman who had held leadership positions in the Asian Development Bank, and been engaging himself in giving a new thrust, suited to the genius of Asian region, to new paradigms of col­laboration and synergy which would put these countries on the fast track, if not ahead of so-called advanced countries. He is convinced that the combined strengths of 59 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim, which together constitute a six trillion dollar powerhouse, are capable of setting in motion hitherto undreamt of enterprises for making the most of their abundant human and natural resources .
The idea has great appeal as well as relevance and the same rationale as the supra-national European Community (EU) was initially conceived as a mechanism for joint policy making with reference to production and marketing of coal and steel but got ex­panded to full-fledged and integrated economic organisation with Euro as a common currency and a European Central Bank as a provider of banking services based on homogenous norms and criteria to all the members.
Do-able Proposition : Similarly, the 10C too can transform itself into a Free Trade Zone, to start with, to provide for free move­ment of goods and services which, at some later stage, can even work towards adopting a common currency. It is true that it stretch from South Africa to Tasmania along the 63,000 km of the Indian Ocean Rim, but this need not in itself be regarded as an argument against it.
Thorn are actually three predisposing factors that make the IOC a do-able proposition: The two proposed projects for the construction of a Trans-Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway-from Bangkok to Vladivostok and the extension of the territorial waters of the Indian Ocean Rim states to 200 nautical miles under the amended Law of the Sea opens up unlimited economic opportun’lie,s for mutual cooperation and harnessing the riches of the ocean.
Cultural lies and traditional common social milieu can prove to be another potent adhesive for this proposition to take shape.The IOC will be the first example of weaving the cultural bonds into *socio-economic spheres of cooperation. It can be further buttressed by exchanges in the fields of higher technical education, use of satellite and IT technologies, oceanography and so on.
A beginning has been made by the setting up of Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation as a forum for the dip­lomats of the states of the region to meet annually to exchange views in the common interest of the 10C. Talks are also under way on the best means of giving economic content through Free Trade agreements and MOUs for bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation in infrastructure projects such as the development of the deltas of the Mekong and lrrawady Rivers.
This need not be seen as a competition or one-upmanship in realpolitik between India and China.

SOUTH INDIA’S ROLE

Since most of the social and cultural influences have had their origins in South India, it should not be surprising if the policymak­ers at the Centre in New Delhi take only minimal interest in the initiative advocated here. It will be well worthwhile for the academe community and persons prominent in public and political life in Southern States to go in depth into the significance of the proposition.
For instance, if the Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, can persuade herself about its feasibility and bring herself to draw the Centre’s attention, she would have set India on a course that would bring about a revolutionary change in the complexion of world affairs making this new child in the arena of geopolitics that has all the potential to grow into a fortified “man” very quickly so to speak.
Indian Ocean is the only ocean to be named after a nation; as has been said umpteen numbers of times by international strategic thinkers that Indian Ocean is rather an idea always in a state of evolution.
Within this regional swathe of blue sea Indian peninsular stretch is like a massive continental mass of land jut­ting into the Ocean thus dividing the whole into two parts-the Western por­tion commonly called the Arabian Sea and the eastern part called with various names depending upon the littoral nation.With the geopolitical tectonic vibra­tions shifting from the Atlantic to the
Indian Ocean region over the dying days of the last century, all the major powers have been concentrating on this part of the earth. If one says that the 21st century would belong to the Indian Ocean it will not be an exaggeration of any kind.
As with the other oceans, Indian Ocean also has islands speckled through­out its boundary. Being the proverbial “queen” of the Ocean; India has been sharing entrenched historical relations with these nations also commonly un­derstood as small island nations. In the 17th to better part of the 20th century when colonialism was rife in this region; owing to slave trade a lot of these small island nations have progeny that can directly be linked to India.
Apart from providing with natural berths in the middle of sea, these na­tions are also important geo-politically.! Analyzing the same can bring out so , many facts that has become the testing ground of the viability of this concept whether India can maintain her position-. as the real queen of the Indian Ocean as a so-called dragon (read China) has been increasingly spewing a lot of fire with a new found geopolitical strength owing to steep economical growth in the, recent days (as has been discussed within nesses.
Naturally their dependence on larger developed or fast developing countries is high. At the same time they are located at strategic sea routes offering large economic opportunity for larger countries. In this context the key island nations in the Indian Ocean primarily Mauritius, Seychelles and Fiji share a symbiotic relation­ship with India. While there are some common parameters of diplomacy with these nations, at the same time there are some variations on account of difference in geographic location, economic and historical development of these countries.Now, we discuss some of the multilateral group nations at the back door (only in the literal sense and not demeaningly) of Indian territorial boundaries prominent among them (Which we will take up for discussion) are SAARC (except those that we have discussed), South East Asian Nations (under ASEAN-3) and Middle Eastern nations (particularly under the context of Arab Uprising and oil security for India).

 India & SAARC Nations- Geopo­litically Identicals

As close neighbours, India and Nepal share a unique relationship of fri. endship and cooperation character­Ized by open borders and deep-rooted People-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. There has been a long tradition of free movement of people across the
(ii)    Historically, both countries have shared a common security percep­tion;
(iii)  There exists a great deal of cultural affinity between the two countries; Nepal is not only the birth place of Gautama Buddha but is also the only Hindu kingdom in the world.
Here we take only ‘pragmatic’ as­pects vis-a-vis these nations.
We also discuss Indo-African and other facets of India’s FP.

South Asia- SAARC

The basic characteristics of the South Asian regional state system’s important dimensions dealing with India’s FP that fundamentally controls India’s FP with the following nations are given below :
i)       India, by virtue of its geographic size and location, economic and in­dustrial base and military strength oc­cupies a pivotal position in the region. The Indian aspirations for leadership, dominance or hegemony are a product of these geopolitical conditions of the region.
ii)     South Asia, minus India, has two kinds of powers. Pakistan is one major power that can limit Indian hegemonic aspirations. Pakistan’s own limitations come from its geographic location and economic and military potentials. Un­like the pre 1971 Pakistan, the present .

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