Chandigarh, April 23, 2019: A Special Lecture on the theme “Indian Ocean and India’s Maritime History” by Dr.Vijay Sakhuja, Senior Visiting Fellow, S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore and Former Director of the National Maritime Foundation, former Research Director, Indian Council for World Affairs and a retired Indian Navy Officer, at the Department Defence and National Security Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, here today.
Dr. Sakhuja dwelled upon the maritime history of the Indian Ocean, starting from the 7th century to the near present. He explained how the comparison of the ancient Arab, Indian and Chinese sea routes of the 7th century with the Sea Lines of Communication (S.L.O.C.’s) of the present times, a continuity is visible. Speaking about the naval expeditions of the Chola Dynasty in the 10th Century, he explained how this was the only Indian Kingdom which went to the South East Asia. He also spoke about the voyages of Zhang during the Ming Dynasty era, which were aimed at enhancing trade, diplomacy and establishment of suzerainty, were recalled when the Chinese deployed their naval ships for counter piracy operations the first time.
He also discussed the evolution of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (B.R.I.) Plan and the implications of the introduction of 5G communications in Tibet.
He also explained India’s approach towards the Geo-Politics of the Indian Ocean based on Prime Minister Modi’s “Security and Growth for All in the Region (S.A.G.A.R.)” Initiative which was first discussed during the Indian Premier’s visit to Mauritius in 2016. Stating various examples, Dr Sakhuja explained how every water body, big or small, if used appropriately can become a mode for generation of revenue. He also touched upon the aspect of River based Economy.
Highlighting the uncertainties prevalent in the Indian Ocean Strategic environment, he explained how the Balance of Power in the Asia Pacific is under pressure; Shifting dramatically and redistributed.
Talking about the issue of piracy problems near Somalia, and the world response in the form of a joint task force comprising ships from various international navies operating together have been able to reduce the incidents of piracy and thus has been a successful collective security effort.
He discussed the various areas in which cooperation has been achieved by the Indian Ocean Rim Association such as training, joint exercises, joint or coordinated patrols, port calls, high-level visits, military sales and services, capacity building, counter weapons of mass destruction, counter terrorism, counter piracy, fisheries protection etc.
Dr. Jaskaran Singh Waraich, Chairperson introduced the theme as well as the speaker to the audience. He also highlighted the fact that the theme of the seminar is a formal part of the curriculum of the master’s programme in the department.
The lecture was attended by members of various faculty members, serving and retired armed forces officers pursuing various courses in the department, research scholars and students. The lecture was followed by a questions and answers session with the audience.