Bangladesh has been putting intuitional focus on harnessing blue economy which has led to significant growth in the maritime sector. 90% of trade by Bangladesh is by sea and approximately 17 million people are employed in fisheries and agricultural sectors. Government's emphasis on realizing the full potential of a Blue Economy could have a very positive impact on development in future.
Estimates suggest that by 2041, 5% of GDP of Bangladesh could be from resources of the sea. The world today increasingly recognized the growing importance of Blue Economy and its intrinsic linkages to resource requirements for global industries. Under these circumstances, the emphasis by Bangladesh on Blue Economy is very significant.
However, one must recognize that for countries to take full advantage of the potential of Blue Economy, there has to be peace in the oceans and seas so that trade, commerce, fisheries and all such associated activities which lead to growth can take place without any hindrance. Our region suffers from certain region specific non-traditional security challenges, which can have direct impact on realization of the potential of the Blue Economy.
One of the major non-traditional challenges is maritime piracy, terrorism and human and drug trafficking which need to be dealt effectively. These security concerns have a hybrid, transnational and non-state character, further compounding the security calculus. The counter to these ever-present threats is in establishing effective Maritime Domain Awareness System. Bangladesh would benefit immensely in securing its maritime interests from this kind of information sharing.
The purpose of a coastal surveillance system is to enable government to develop round-the-clock monitoring of surface targets along the coastline. This will assist in countering various non-traditional security threats including prevention of narcotics smuggling through sea and also to counter the use of open coasts by terrorists and other such elements.
In peace time, continuous surveillance of shipping, fishing and other traffic helps to establish traffic patterns in the coastal waters thereby increasing the ability of coastal authorities to avoid choke point and make optimum utilization of their port facilities. Actionable information is analyzed thoroughly on real time basis in order to protect the coast from any threats- terrorists or otherwise.
It is reiterated that the future of the Indian Ocean Region hinges on cooperative efforts of littoral nations. Bangladesh and India have a pivotal role to play in this endeavor. India and Bangladesh must come together in making the waters around us safe, secure and conductive for sustained growth and development of the region. We must uphold common rules based orders that are predicated on the consent of all, not the power of a few and where all nations big or small, thrive as equals. Our Blue Economy can then benefit from a shared vision and shared resources, while also creating stable maritime environment.
Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is a government enterprise of India established under Ministry of Defense in Bangalore in 1954. Over a period of time, BEL has developed significant expertise and indigenous technologies in order to develop self-reliance in the area of design and manufacture of equipment essential for defense communication, radars and sonar's, tank electronics, meteorology, space electronics, Medicare, solar photo-voltaic systems and electronic components.
BLE has huge experience in engineering, production, integration and communication management, quality assurance and product support activities, which has helped them to indigenously develop and manufacture coastal surveillance systems. BEL's coastal surveillance system which has been conceived and configured by them indigenously is already operational in Mauritius and Seychelles.
It is mentionable that radar system is already in implementation stage in Maldives, negotiation between India and Sri Lanka is also going on to set up the costal radar system. India and Nepal are cooperating in highest form regarding security. Bhutan is directly dependent on India in security affairs. We know 70% of the total trade is being done through waterways. 66% of total trade of water ways are moving trough Indo- Pacific waterways. Sessions are being held of 'USA, India, Japan, Australia' QUAD consultation. It will help to maintain peace and security in Indo-Pacific area. This way our region will be linked up with this global network.
We are aware about the infamous Chittagong Arms Haul Case of 2004 when 10 trucks load of ammunition landed at Chittagong port. Landing was helped by ISI of Pakistan in connivance with BNP-Jamaat government ministers and officers. Had the consignment not been caught, it could have played havoc inside Bangladesh. This was due to security lapse. If we had secured our coastal areas and sea surface, this could have been prevented. The Coastal Radar surveillance system will secure the coastal areas and help providing Bangladesh a security shield.
We also know of Mumbai attacks in our neighboring India that resulted in loss of precious lives. The attack happened from the sea front. It is therefore important that we secure our borders including sea fronts. It is a fact that after the Holey Artisan attack in Dhaka and Mumbai attacks in India, militants have not been successful in any major attacks inside both the countries.
This is the result of security cooperation, and coastal radar system will go a long way in securing regional peace and harmony. We know Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned that Bangladesh and India's relation is a role model in the world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told in the last meeting that relation between two neighbors is a great example in the world. We hope cooperation's and connectivity in all sectors will ensure peace, security and progress.
The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter
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