The minister said the pandemic has clearly accelerated the significant socio-economic changes that the Indian Ocean Region has been witnessing. The Pandemic has disrupted supply chains, impacted manufacturing and affected trade in goods and services, altering not just the various dimensions of our day to day business but our very way of life
Minister of State (External Affairs) Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh on Wednesday said the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a new urgency to re-imagine international cooperation and expand its ambition further.
He was addressing 8th Indian Ocean Dialogue virtually on post-pandemic Indian Ocean, leveraging digital technologies for health, education, development and trade in IORA member states.
The minister said the pandemic has clearly accelerated the significant socio-economic changes that the Indian Ocean Region has been witnessing. The Pandemic has disrupted supply chains, impacted manufacturing and affected trade in goods and services, altering not just the various dimensions of our day to day business but our very way of life.
“It has provided the backdrop for rethinking our approach on economic policies as well as global outlook. The pandemic has brought out the many inadequacies in the global health system and health has emerged as a more serious priority for all societies. The silver lining is that the COVID-19 global pandemic is not only a story of global disruptions but also our resilience and solidarity,” he added.
Giving the keynote address, RK Ranjan underscored the importance of the Indian Ocean Rim region. The region is among the world’s most vital in terms of global commerce, energy, environmental and geopolitical stability, he said. With its rich natural resources and bio-diversity, it is an engine for growth and prosperity. Half of the world’s container ships and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments pass through the Indian Ocean Rim region, which is home to more than 2.7 billion, he added.
The minister said India’s vision of the region is premised on SAGAR doctrine i.e. “Security and Growth for All in the Region”, as outlined by our Prime Minister, encompassing political, security, economic, and socio-cultural spheres. It envisions the Indian Ocean region and the greater Indo-Pacific as a region of peace & prosperity, based on a climate of trust and transparency, respect for international maritime rules, equal access as a right under international law, sensitivity to each other’s interests, peaceful resolution of disputes and enhanced maritime cooperation, he added.
Urging the members not to lose sight of the interconnectedness of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean regions, which presents opportunities for communities in IORA Member States, the minister said the Indo-Pacific concept recognizes the incontrovertible geographic logic of these two oceans.
He also asserted that India will always work towards keeping the seas, space and airways free and open; nations secure from terrorism and piracy; ensuring access to and responsible use of global commons, a global cyber-space free from disruption and fair, transparent and balanced trading systems; and enhancing connectivity, for inclusive and sustainable national, regional and global economic growth.
India, on its part, is trying to foster meaningful multi-stakeholder partnerships, sharing of advanced and frugal technologies, collaboration in vaccine and pharmaceutical production and transparency in health information among others, he said.
Stating that India has a reputation for being the first responder in the region with humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) which we strived to live up to during the COVID pandemic, the minister said, “Our outreach to the Indo-Pacific region during the Covid19 pandemic included supply of essential food items, protective wear and healthcare equipment; deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) as well as Medical Assistance Teams (MAT); and supply of critical medicines and vaccines, liquid oxygen and concentrators among other things.”
“We also organized COVID-19 related online training through eITEC programmes for 802 healthcare professionals, administrators, nursing officers, counsellors, drug regulatory authorities and other stakeholders of the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
Nationally, India has been following a pre-emptive, proactive, and graded response characterised by a “Whole of Society, Whole of Government” approach to manage the challenges posed by the global pandemic, he said.
“Recently we crossed a major milestone of more than a billion vaccinations. We have been progressively expanding the scope of the vaccination services to reach the last mile from health care workers to children aged two and above by fully leveraging our robust health care system and new and digital technologies,” said the minister.
He highlighted the need to expeditiously normalise travel through certification recognition so that livelihoods are restored as soon as possible. India has worked out a solution with about 100 nations in this regard and look forward to expanding the same in the Indian Ocean Region.
IORA, as the pre-eminent regional organization, has a critical role to play in this regard. On its part, India remains committed to share her experience and resources in the spirit of solidarity, he said.
He exuded confidence that over the course of the day, this congregation of the various stakeholders will help generate new ideas and strategies for concrete action based on enhanced interest, greater clarity and collaborative partnerships to further our common pursuit of progress and prosperity in the region and beyond.