Related Topics: Defence & Security, Geopolitics and International Relations
- The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which was launched in December 2018, has started functioning as an information sharing hub of maritime data and “cuing incident responses” to maritime security situations through a collaborative approach.
- The centre is actively interacting with the maritime community and has already built linkages with 18 countries and 15 multinational/maritime security centres.
What is IFC-IOR?
- The IFC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 within the premises of the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
- The IMAC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
- It is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
- It is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
- Establishment of IFC- IOR would ensure that the entire region is benefitted by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and help in understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.
- It aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
- Several Indian Ocean littoral states including Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Seychelles have joined the coastal radar chain network.
- Bangladesh is set to join the network and talks are on with Thailand as well.
- All countries which have signed white shipping information exchange agreements with India are IFC partners.
- The centre will host liaison officers from partner countries.
- Presently, the exchange of information is being undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, faxes, emails and video conferencing over Internet.
The major centres with which regular exchange of maritime security information is being undertaken include,
- Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre (VRMTC),
- Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA),
- Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP),
- Information Fusion Centre-Singapore (IFC-SG), and
- International Maritime Bureau – Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC)
Need for IFC-IOR
- The Indian Ocean region is extremely important for the surrounding countries, not just for the commercial and economic reasons, but also for national security purposes.
- Because of its very nature of being porous and expansive, the maritime domain is hard to monitor and regulate.
- Indian Ocean is susceptible to threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching.
- Response to these challenges requires enhanced situational awareness of the maritime activities in the region so as to enable security agencies function effectively.
- The scale, scope and the multi-national nature of maritime activities, make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually.
- Hence, collaborative efforts between maritime nations in the IOR, is essential.
- Towards this, the IFC-IOR aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
- The setting up of IFC-IOR underscores India’s vision towards Security and Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR).
Significance of Indian Ocean
- The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), in view of its strategic location as also being home to a vast majority of world’s population, can be considered as the economic highway that drives global commerce.
- The Indian Ocean Region is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations as more than 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passes through the IOR.
- The geo-political significance of the Indian Ocean stems from the fact that it is a centre piece in the wider Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
- The combination of economic growth and slowdown, military expansion, increasing demand for natural resources, demographics combined with the geo-political situation, increased presence of nuclear capable actors and variances in regional structures of governance, highlights the geo-political significance of this area.