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PANAJI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh in a veiled reference to China’s expansionist policy said that India will not tolerate hegemony or coercion in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Rajnath, who was in Goa to inaugurate the new naval war college building, said that India will stand with its allies when their sovereignty is threatened.
“India is ensuring that all the neighboring countries and maritime stakeholders of the Indian Ocean are helped in protecting their autonomy and sovereignty.We have ensured that no one exercises hegemony in the region,” said Rajnath Singh.
Rajnath said that the Indian Navy is operationally ready to fulfill its responsibility in the IOR by providing full assistance to the littoral countries. The defence minister went one step further and spoke about the Indian Navy playing a role in safeguarding the country’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region too.
“Our Navy ensures in the Indo-Pacific region that no country, with its overwhelming economic and military power, can suppress our friendly countries or crush their sovereignty. The readiness with which the Indian Navy stands with our allies provides substantive strength to India’s global values,” said Rajnath.
He said that if India becomes stronger, it will not only allow neighbouring nations to economically grow but it will also strengthen democracy and rule of law in the region.
Highlighting the importance of focusing on maritime threats, Singh said that due to past conflicts with Pakistan and China in the north, efforts were made to strengthen the land borders because of which the maritime domain did not get priority.
“In view of the increased movement of our adversaries in the Indian Ocean Region and the commercial importance of the region, it is necessary to re-assess our threat perception and accordingly re-balance our military resources and strategic attention,” said Rajnath.
The defence minister’s remarks came in the backdrop of evolving geopolitical dynamics, regional challenges and the current volatile maritime security situation in the Red Sea.
In view of the ongoing conflicts around the region, Rajnath said that most of the global trade passes through the sea route, with the Indo-Pacific region emerging as its hub. He said that due to the increasing goods trade, threats such as piracy, trafficking and terrorism need to be neutralized so that India’s trade and interests are not compromised.
He cited the damage to four undersea fiber optic cables, which carry approximately 97% of all Internet traffic, as yet another reason for the need to remain ever vigilant about maritime threats.


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