Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharama launched the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) yesterday in Gurugram, Haryana. Apart from representation by officials from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs , Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Shipping and the NSCS, Ambassadors and Resident Defence Attaches of partner countries also participated in the event held at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).
The Indian Ocean Region is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations as more than 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passes through the IOR. However, maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching pose myriad challenges to maritime safety and security in the region. Response to these challenges requires enhanced situational awareness of the maritime activities in the region so as to enable security agencies function effectively.
However, the scale, scope and the multi-national nature of maritime activities, make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually. Hence, collaborative efforts between maritime nations in the IOR, is essential. Towards this, the IFC-IOR aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest. The intention of this collaborative endeavour shall be to secure the global commons for a peaceful, stable and prosperous region towards the well-being of all.
In his address to the gathering, Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff said that the IFC – IOR shall be a collaborative construct that will work with partners, countries as well as international agencies; to enhance maritime security and safety. It would also aim to work closely with the multi-national constructs and other information fusion centres said the Admiral. He further added that the IFC-IOR would work towards capability building in the region, coordination of incident response and disaster relief, and in time, also share submarine safety information.
During her address Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharam said that the objective of having an IFC-IOR is more for partners, equals to work towards keeping the global commons safe and democratically available for all of us. She further added that, in addition to utilising our collective wisdom and resources towards addressing the myriad challenges in our region, the IFC-IOR will help us interface and integrate, wherein, we would benefit from each other’s best practices and expertise. More significantly, the IFC-IOR will help foster bonds of trust, camaraderie and partnership; ingredients that are vital for relationships between nations to transcend from being merely transactional to ones that are transformational”.
The information exchange at the IFC-IOR would be initially undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, faxes, emails and video conferencing over internet. Subsequently, to enable better interaction, quicker analysis of information and provide timely inputs, the IFC-IOR would host Liaison Officers from partner countries. Additionally, towards enhancing capability building, the IFC-IOR would undertake conduct of exercises and training capsules in maritime information collation and sharing.