"Pressing challenges" in the western Indian Ocean are highlighted by Rajnath

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, addressing attendees at the inauguration of the multinational Milan naval exercise, highlighted the gravity of recent events unfolding in the western Indian Ocean. Singh underscored the significance of these occurrences, characterizing them as "extremely pressing challenges" confronting the maritime realm.

In his remarks delivered in Visakhapatnam, Singh emphasized the paramount importance of peace while remaining vigilant against threats that jeopardize collective security. He acknowledged the escalating risks in the maritime domain, encompassing a spectrum of issues from assaults on merchant vessels to piracy attempts.

Singh's remarks were part of the opening ceremony of the Milan naval exercise, now in its 12th iteration, scheduled from February 19 to 27. The exercise serves as a platform for approximately 50 international navies to convene and exchange insights aimed at bolstering maritime security.

Highlighting the unprecedented nature of such collective military exercises, Singh remarked on the remarkable evolution of international cooperation, particularly in the maritime arena. He emphasized the transformation from an era of conflict to one of collaborative engagement, symbolized by the participation of diverse naval forces in joint exercises.

Amidst the exercise's activities, which include advanced drills in air defense, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare, Singh advocated for the pursuit of "positive peace" grounded in democratic principles and a rules-based global order. He articulated the vision of peace extending beyond the absence of conflict, encompassing broader notions of security, justice, and cooperation.

Singh reiterated India's unwavering commitment to maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean region, emphasizing its role as a proactive responder and preferred security partner. He denounced the concept of "negative peace," highlighting its tendency towards dominance and hegemony, which undermines the principles of equality and cooperation.

The Defence Minister's remarks underscored the strategic importance of the Milan naval exercise in fostering collaboration among maritime nations to address contemporary challenges. He emphasized the exercise's role in promoting shared expertise and strength, thereby contributing to a safer and more cooperative maritime future.

In conclusion, Singh reaffirmed India's resolve to confront emerging threats in distant seas, including China's assertive actions, the defense of the rules-based international order, and the resurgence of piracy in the Arabian Sea. He reiterated India's commitment to ensuring justice for perpetrators of attacks on merchant vessels, emphasizing the nation's readiness to take decisive action to uphold maritime security and stability.

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