VISHAKHAPATANAM: Making an indirect reference to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the threat of sea-borne terror and piracy are two key challenges to maritime security.
"The threat of sea borne terror, of which India has been a direct victim, continues to endanger the regional and global peace and stability. Piracy too remains a strong challenge," he remarked.
Addressing the valedictory function of International Fleet Review, the concluded in port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Prdesh on Sunday, the Prime Minister also made an indirect reference to the South China Sea dispute, saying, "countries must respect and ensure freedom of navigation and cooperate not compete."
On the concluding day of the mega event, even as RK Beach in Viskahapatnam echoed with the march past by naval troops from various countries, which attended the global event, a cheerful Modi said, "Oceans are critical for the global energy security as over 60 per cent of world's oil production moves through sea routes. Our ability to reap economic benefits from the oceans rests on our capacity to respond to the challenges in the maritime domain."
Stating that for him personally, witnessing the harmony among the best of International Navies here had been a rewarding experience, Modi said, "Just over three months earlier in October, we welcomed in Delhi, for the first time ever, all the 54 African nations, including over 40 Heads of State for the 3rd India-Africa Summit. A few weeks earlier in August 2015, India had hosted in Jaipur 14 Heads of the State for the Second Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation."
"Just day before yesterday, we welcomed all the SAARC countries for the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati. And today it is our pleasure to welcome 50 foreign Navies from every corner of the globe at India's second International Fleet review- the first one on India's East Coast," the Prime Minister remarked on a day when India's naval might was on full display.
To build on the gains from Sunday's gathering, India would host the first ever Global Maritime Summit in April this year, he added.
According to him, the Summit's priority would be to scale up and strengthen the vibrant trade / investment / technology and commercial linkages between India and other maritime nations.
Modi recalled that the last time India hosted the International Fleet Review was in the year 2001, in the city of Mumbai.
He then suggested that we must use seas to build peace, friendship and trust, and curb conflict.
"India is, and has always been, a maritime nation. India's ancient Sanskrit texts also refer to the oceans as the storehouse of Chaturdashanam Ratnanam, the 14 gems.
Surrounded by sea from three sides, India has a long coastline of over 7500 kilometres. We have been blessed with a rich maritime heritage ever since," he recalled.
"India's central location in the Indian Ocean has connected us with other cultures, shaped our maritime trade routes, influenced India's strategic thought, and defined our maritime character," he said.
According to Modi, since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization, India has maintained an extensive network of maritime links, including with Africa, Western Asia, the Mediterranean region, the West, South East Asia and the Far East.
In modern times too, Indian Ocean occupies a vital place in India's national security and economic prosperity. The waters of the Indian Ocean touch the shores of over 40 countries. About half of world's container traffic; and close to one-third of world's cargo traffic passes through this region.