10th Anniversary of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium to be Hosted on 13-14 November 2018
The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) is an inclusive and voluntary initiative that brings together navies of littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region with the aim of increasing maritime cooperation and enhancing regional security. It is a forum for discussion, policy formulation as well as numerous aspects of naval operations, all of which are crucial elements of a cooperative mechanism.
The inaugural IONS was held on 14 February 2008 in New Delhi with the then Chief of the Naval Staff as the Chairman of the forum for the period from 2008 to 2010. Since then, the chairmanship of IONS has been tenanted by the navies of the UAE, South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh and Iran. This unprecedented initiative has grown in significance and has been whole-heartedly accepted across the Indian Ocean Region, establishing itself as an effective platform for discussion and deliberation on issues related to maritime security. Today, IONS has 24 member and 08 observer nations that are geographically grouped into four sub-regions, namely South-Asian, West Asian, East African, South East Asian & Australian Littorals.
Over the past few years, the three IONS Working Groups (IWGs) have done exemplary work on Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) as well as Information Sharing and Interoperability. IWG on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, which is ‘Chaired’ by India, have evolved the Draft IONS HADR Guidelines and conducted a multi-lateral table-top exercise in September 2018. In November 2017 International Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise by Bangladesh marked the first operational exercise under IONS Charter and is likely to be followed up by ‘Anti-Piracy’ exercise in Mid 2019 by Iran. These regional initiatives underscore the overwhelming success of the forum in delivering its envisaged aims.
Year 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the IONS. This anniversary is planned to be commemorated on 13th and 14th November 2018 at Kochi in a manner befitting the status of India as a nation rising rapidly in geopolitical significance, and the Indian Navy as a leading maritime force of the region. Invitations were extended to all IONS nations and it is expected that almost all nations will be represented at the commemorative event. The encouraging response is acknowledgement of the truist imposed in India as a reliable partner for growth by nations of the region and the Indian Navy as an enabler of peace and stability.
The commemoration programme includes a seminar hosted by the Indian Navy on the theme ‘SAGAR’ or Security and Growth for all in the Region and a Tall Ship regatta from Kochi to Muscat and back, covering a distance of over 3000 nautical miles. A cultural evening is also planned showcasing the rich cultural heritage of India. The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has kindly consented to be the Chief Guest for IONS 10th anniversary commemorative events.