‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy Current Affairs - 2019

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 Indian Navy deploys P81 to increase Anti-Piracy Patrol

The Indian Navy recently deployed its P8I surveillance planes for carrying out anti-piracy patrol sorties from Salalah (in Oman) to patrol the Gulf of Aden and other piracy prone areas.

Key Highlights

  • Objective: The deployment is an expansion of Navy’s Mission Based Deployments (MBD) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), to keep the region safe.
  • Background: Since 2008, India has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the commercially and strategically crucial Gulf of Aden. This is the second time in 2019 that the P-8I was operated from Salalah for anti-piracy. First time it was operated in January 2019.
  • Services: Indian Navy provides escorting services to Indian flagged vessels as well as provides protection to ships of other countries. Till date Indian Navy has deployed 73 ships on anti-piracy patrols and has escorted over 3,440 ships, out of which 3,027 were of foreign flag and 413 were of Indian flag. Also, no ship under Indian escort has so far been hijacked by pirates.

About P-8I

  • Background: In 2012, India placed orders from United States for 12 ‘P-8’ India maritime surveillance and anti-submarine under a $2.2 Billion deal. The deal was later followed up with four more order of these planes.
  • Function: It is used for carrying out extensive surveillance of the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
  • Features
  • It is long-range anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.
  • It is capable of providing a long-range Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
  • It has also helped in detection of Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines operating in IOR and other regions close to India.

About Mission Based Deployments

With the increasing geo-strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Indian Navy regularly deploys ships for Presence and Surveillance Missions (PSM), off critical choke points or sea lanes in IOR. Under MBD concept, since August 2017 Indian Navy deployments in IOR have been further structured such as that Navy maintains a ship at every choke point in IOR at any point of time.

Way Forward

  • India has stepped up its cooperation with Indian Ocean littoral states and maritime neighbours, as part of expanding its maritime engagement. Also, ‘search and rescue’ operations and capability-enhancement activities have also emerged as key areas.
  • Under India’s Neighbourhood First policy, Navy undertakes various maritime exercises such as Joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance exercise with Mauritius, Seychelles and Maldives Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) exercise with Indonesia, Myanmar Thailand and Bangladesh.

BIMSTEC leaders invited to PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony

India has invited the leaders of The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Member States for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This invitation is in line with the Government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

Key Facts

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take oath for the 17th Lok Sabha on 30 May 2019. The oath of Office and Secrecy of PM’s and other members of Union Council of Ministers will be administered by President Ram Nath Kovind at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Apart from BIMSTEC members invitations for PM’s swearing-in ceremony have also been sent to Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of Kyrgyzstan who is the current Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Pravind Jugnauth, Mauritius Prime Minister who is also the Chief Guest at Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2019.

About BIMSTEC

  • Background: In 1997, prior to joining of Myanmar as a full member in grouping of ‘BIMST-EC’ it was named as the ‘BIST-EC’. The BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation) was initiated in 1997 itself and was encouraged by India’s Look East Policy (LEP) and Thailand’s Look West Policy it was Initiated. In 2004 Nepal and Bhutan became its members and the grouping was again renamed, now as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
  • BIMSTEC is an international organization which involves a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia (SEA).
  • Members (7): It comprises of primarily seven countries, those lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal which includes India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Objective: to improve connectivity between the member countries through multi-modal transport corridors.
  • In general, there are ‘14 priority sectors’ which cover almost all areas of cooperation such as energy, handling of refugees, anti-narcotic measures.