Time and again India has proved itself to be “first responder” in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday while stating that the pandemic has reaffirmed the “centrality of multilateralism” in our interconnected world not only for matters of international security but also disaster management.
“India’s unique position in the IOR, complemented by a capability of our armed forces, enables us to contribute significantly in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) situations,” said Mr. Singh while virtually inaugurating the 5th World Congress on Disaster Management between November 24-27. “India has been regularly conducting exercises to deepen the HADR co-operation and co-ordination among our neighbours and friendly countries with a focus on sharing expertise and building capabilities.”
In this context, he referred to some of the HADR missions in the IOR undertaken by India in recent years, including Operation Rahat in Yemen in 2015, cyclone in Sri Lanka in 2016; quake in Indonesia in 2019; Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and flooding and landslips in Madagascar in January 2020.
Challenging geo-political landscape
Stating that we live in a challenging geo-political landscape where countries have to face, traditional and non-traditional threats including natural calamities which include pandemics like COVID-19, which has wreaked havoc in the last two years, Mr. Singh said, “We must therefore look at cooperating more closely to strengthen international architecture for building structures to prevent and manage future disasters.”
On the pandemic, Mr. Singh said its impact on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda must be assessed comprehensively and the lessons learnt should be incorporated in global and national strategies for the implementation of the SDGs.
Mr. Singh said benefits of cutting-edge technologies emerging in the fields of space, communication, bio-engineering, bio-medics and Artificial Intelligence should be shared with all, along with funding initiatives for capacity development for better application and use of these technologies in the local contexts.