Daily Answer Writing
23 February 2021

Q) Critically analyze the importance and successes of 'Security and Growth for All in the Region' or ‘SAGAR’ initiative. (250  Words)

Source <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-extends-100-mn-line-of-credit-to-mauritius-for-defence-equipment-7200154/>

GS 2: International relations

Approach Answer:

Introduction: India’s policy on maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is based on the approach of SAGAR – Security And Growth for All in the Region. The term was coined by PM Modi in 2015 during his Mauritius.


Importance of SAGAR initiative:

               • Strategic Importance: Enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories and interests. It becomes particularly important in the context of Chinese advances in the region.

               • Enhances India's reach in Littorals of Indian Ocean Region: Deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral.

               • Enhances Cooperation in the region: Promoting collective action to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism and emergent non-state actors.

               • Sustainable development: Working towards sustainable regional development through enhanced collaboration.

               • Building Trust: Engaging with countries beyond our shores with the aim of building greater trust and promoting respect for maritime rules, norms and peaceful resolution of disputes.

               • Boosting regional connectivity: Projects to promote hinterland linkages and strengthen regional connectivity. Including, Linking South Asia to South East Asia (Act East) and to the Gulf (Think West).

               • Giving a Pro-active role for India in the Geopolitics: Playing an active and constructive role in strengthening regional maritime security.

               • Counter Terrorism: Cooperation in the region can prepare India to handle sea-based 26/11 like terrorist attacks.


Progress in SAGAR Initiative:

               • Security:

                              ? Maritime Security: Including non-traditional threats such as maritime terrorism, smuggling, transnational crimes, drug-trafficking, illegal migration, Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, piracy, unregulated private maritime security companies and proliferation of sensitive items.

                              ? Human assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) form an important part of our outreach efforts. For example Operation Rahat in 2015 saved thousands of Indians residing in Yemen.

               • Capacity building.

                              ? Training for smaller nations: India conducts technical training under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

                              ? Providing equipment to nations: For example recently India provided Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv on lease to Mauritius on gratis basis for two years to enhance their patrolling capacity.

                              ? Augmentation of material capacity of smaller nations in the region. Coastal Surveillance Networks are being set up for Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives and Sri Lanka, and are planned for Bangladesh.

               • Collective action: boosting partnerships in the region. India has launched three region specific parterships for the purpose:

                              ? Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) which works in eight areas: Maritime safety and security, Trade and investment facilitation, Fisheries management, Disaster risk management. Tourism and cultural exchange, Academic, science and technology,  Blue economy, and Women Participation.

                              ? Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS): a platform that brings together navies of the IOR with the aim of increasing maritime cooperation and enhancing regional security.

                              ? Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectorial Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC): It most importantly bypasses Pakistan to promote cooperation in the region. MILEX-18 on counter-terrorism, was conducted in September 2018 at Pune is one such example of cooperation.

               • Sustainable development:

                              ? India’s development cooperation partnership based on concessional Lines of Credit (LOCs).

                              ? India has taken care to demonstrate its commitment on two issues that are critical for island and coastal nations –

                                             § Controlling climate change and the consequent rising sea levels and

                                             § Protection from natural disasters.

                              ? India is committed to achieve the goals set for 2030 in COP 21 (2015 Paris Climate Conference) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

                              ? For disaster management Inia has taken various initiatives such as launching of weather satellites, ITEWS(Indian Tsunami Early Warning System) etc.

               • Maritime engagement:

                              ? India has concluded mutual military logistics arrangements with USA, France, Singapore and Republic of Korea.

                              ? Exercise Milan (1st edition in 1995) is conducted by the IN every two years at Port Blair

               • Regional connectivity:

                              ? The Sagarmala project caters to port modernisation, port connectivity, industrial clusters and coastal community development.

                              ? India’s approach to its neighbourhood is governed by the “Neighbourhood First” policy that seeks to respond to the requirements of neighbouring nations without any conditions for reciprocation.

Challenges in front of SAGAR initiative

               1. There is no single officially released document that lays down the approach of SAGAR although numerous maritime events and initiatives are attributed as part of it. This make it difficult to be recognized as one of the largest engagement program at a global scale which can counter Chinese BRI initiative. Challenges:

               2. India’s weakness can be summed up in two words – capacity and execution. India has great capability to offer and share but limited capacity to execute it.

               3. IOR seems to be too uneven, unwieldy and large for a single organisation for providing stability – economic and political. For example Iran and Pakistan cannot be treated similarly.

               4. The threat is of these initiatives getting overshadowed due to competition. The increasing presence of China and the PLA Navy is more a threat of receding influence rather than a military threat.                  

Conclusion: Thus SAGAR initiative has formed the core of India's past recent efforts to boost engagement in the region. This gives great strategic advantages to India. However formulation of it as an official policy could boost its future potential successes as a serious challenge to Chinese BRI initiative.


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