New Delhi: – India has joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct/Jedda Amendment (DCOC/JA), a group for maritime matters of the Asian and African countries adjoining the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Island countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This decision was taken in the meeting of the DCOC/JA, which was held a few days ago. The group DCOC/JA is active in countering piracy and terrorism in the region. The Indian influence in the IOR has increased with this development.
Since the last one and a half decades, the freight ships passing through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western part of the IOR are faced with a threat of piracy. Big and small armed gangs from Somalia and Yemen have been on a rampage in the region, indulging in hijack and looting of freight ships. The ships from the United States and Europe have taken a major hit of the menace. Therefore, in 2007, leading countries of the world deployed warships, destroyers and Coast Guard vessels in this region to counter this piracy menace. Whereas, in 2009, the countries of the region joined hands to form the DCOC/JA. An important meeting of this DCOC/JA group was held a few days ago, and the decision to appoint India as an observer country was taken during the session. This decision was taken by the 20 member countries, including Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Somalia, Mauritius and Maldives. This decision has been taken against the background of the actions taken by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard against piracy in the last few years in this marine region. Other than India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Norway also are observers in the DCOC/JA.
It is claimed that the Indian influence in the IOR and the surrounding marine regions will increase because of this. It is also predicted that the Indian ‘Blue Economy’ will also benefit from this appointment. Blue Economy, meaning the exploitation of marine mineral wealth for economic development, is vital to India under the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Therefore, this DCOC/JA decision could complement the Indian Blue Economy. Whereas, inclusion as an observer in the DCOC/JA decision will also benefit the Indian policies for the Indo-Pacific.
The military importance of India is bound to increase in the western as well as eastern IOR. The media are claiming that this Indian inclusion in the DCOC/JA is strategically critical to counter the increasing influence of China, who is trying to corner India with its String of Pearls, Belt Road Initiative schemes and through a military base in Djibouti.