India’s dominant position at the geographical centre of the Indian Ocean as well as its robust economy and global standing as an upholder of law and democratic values placed it in a firm position to play a vital role in the quest for peace and stability in the region, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen SK Saini said on Friday.
In an address at a military think-tank, he said India believes that adherence to rule of law, transparency, respect for all nations and peaceful resolution of disputes are non-negotiable aspects to harness the vast potential of Indian Ocean.
His comments came amid growing global concerns over China’s increasing military muscle-flexing in the Indian Ocean, a region that is critical for India’s strategic interests.
The Vice Chief of Army staff cautioned that the increasing interest of “extra regional forces” and the existing challenges of piracy, human trafficking, illegal fishing have all made the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) volatile and a potential “global battlefield”.
India has significantly expanded its deployment of warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region in the last few months following its border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, ostensibly to send across a message to Beijing.
Lt Gen Saini identified preserving and facilitating the freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as among key challenges, adding inadequate arrangements for equitable and peaceful harnessing of natural resources were also important aspect of the overall scenario.