Jaishankar also reiterated India’s commitment to the well-being of Indian Ocean countries…reports Asian Lite News
EAM Jaishankar termed the problem of unsustainable debt resulting from unprofitable projects as a big area of common concern for the Indian Ocean region.
“A significant shared concern through the Indian Ocean is that of unsustainable debt generated by unviable projects. There are lessons from the last two decades that we ignore at our peril,” Jaishankar.
“If we encourage opaque lending practices, exorbitant ventures and price points that are unrelated to the market, these are bound to bite us back, sooner rather than later. Especially so when sovereign guarantees have been proffered, not always with due diligence. Many of us in the region are today confronting the consequences of our past choices. This is time to reflect and reform, not one to repeat and reiterate,” the EAM added.
Jaishankar also reiterated India’s commitment to the well-being of Indian Ocean countries.
“By reiterating India’s commitment to the well-being and progress of all nations of the Indian Ocean. We have dedicated bodies like the Indian Ocean Rim Association or the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, with their specific mandates,” Jaishankar said.
“We expand on that belief through the Neighbourhood First policy, the SAGAR outlook and our approach to the extended neighbourhood. Beyond that, we believe that a seamless transition into an Indo-Pacific is to our collective advantage,” he added.
Jaishankar took a subtle dig at the continuous breach of long-standing agreements and legal obligations by various nations in the Indian Ocean.
“When nations disregard their legal obligations or violate long-standing agreements, as we have seen, the damage to trust and confidence is immense. It is therefore essential that all of us take the long view of our cooperation, rather than a tactical one of our interests,” he said.
The conference, organized by India Foundation in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, aimed to foster discussions on the Indo-Pacific region and the challenges faced by Indian Ocean nations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, along with the President of Mauritius and the Vice-President of Maldives, dignitaries, ministers, scholars, and experts, were present at the event, adding depth to the conversations.
EAM Jaishankar underscored the necessity of simultaneously addressing the needs of the Indo-Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and their constituent regions. While acknowledging specific regional aspects, he called for the convergence of broad principles such as adherence to international law, observance of norms, and respect for rules.
Furthermore, he urged participants to adopt a long-term view of cooperation, recognizing that disregarding legal obligations or violating longstanding agreements undermines trust and confidence.
In his speech, he also commended Bangladesh for releasing its Indo-Pacific Outlook, emphasizing that the Indo-Pacific is a rapidly emerging reality, marking a departure from the post-World War II framework.
About the Indo-Pacific region, Jaishankar highlighted the significance of addressing the issues and challenges specific to the Indian Ocean, alongside the broader framework of the Indo-Pacific.
While acknowledging the coherence of the Indo-Pacific concept, he urged participants to focus on the distinctive regional identities, colonial legacies, and geopolitical relationships that shape the Indian Ocean nations’ experiences and challenges.
Recognizing the diversity within the Indian Ocean, the EAM pointed to the Bay of Bengal as an example, where countries have distinct aspirations and development pathways.
He highlighted the importance of cooperation and shared efforts within organizations like BIMSTEC to address governance, modernization, and security challenges, ultimately strengthening the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific as a whole.
Speaking about the shared responsibility of securing maritime spaces, he called for information exchange on white shipping, cooperation on coastal surveillance, and collaboration on maritime domain awareness.
EAM Jaishankar recognized climate action and counter-terrorism as global challenges that require regional consideration. He also underlined the need to encourage common positions on these issues and address the threats posed by extremism and fundamentalism taking advantage of democratic openness.
Jaishankar also highlighted the responsibility of Indian Ocean nations in shaping the narrative of Asia’s rise and Africa’s re-emergence, presenting their rich culture, history, and traditions to the world.