Maritime Spice 2013, a seminar jointly organised by Kerala Management Association, the National Maritime Foundation and the Navy Foundation Charter, was held here recently.

Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command, Kochi, deliberated on the perils of ignoring the oceans, drawing reference to Kerala’s rich maritime heritage and India’s own maritime history. He stressed on the need for increased corporate involvement in enhancing India’s maritime security.

Mohan Guruswamy, founder and chairman, Centre for Policy Alternatives, reflected on the geostrategic importance of the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) and recommended that India must leverage its advantageous maritime positioning in Indian Ocean to offset the Indian power asymmetry.

Sureesh Mehta, Chairman, NMF, emphasised the need for the nation’s indigenisation effort in shipbuilding through public-private partnership and called for more greenfield projects to induct high-end technology.

Chief guest Sekhar Dutt, Governor of Chhattisgarh, stressed on the need for India to prepare for assuming the responsibilities of a regional power in the IOR to preserve peace and stability.

During the plenary session on the economic aspects and opportunities, speakers stressed on the need to give a boost to the shipbuilding industry with downstream effects on ancillary industries. They also suggested creation of greenfield projects in ports as steps for the economy to grow.

There was also a detailed deliberation on how sea-based wind energy can be tapped effectively to generate power at substantially reduced cost.

In another plenary session dedicated to maritime security challenges, speakers said that terrorism has now been added in the list of challenges faced in the open seas.

They were of the view that the challenges are changing over time from poaching, smuggling and human trafficking.

The involvement of fishermen in providing intelligence through village vigilance committees is a valuable initiative in coastal policing, they added.

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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