The Indian Ocean Great Game Unfolding: Interests, Determinants and Perspectives

Venue: University of Madras

For millennia, never has the vast expanse of Indian Ocean been a historical backwater and never has it faced a power- or a political vacuum. Throughout human history a multitude of different players have made sustained attempts at projecting soft- and/or hard power in order to secure their influence over the littorals well as to safeguard the vital sea lines of communication which run through this ocean.

Respective historiography cannot but take cognizance of these phenomena and players such as Harappan sea trade that existed with the Middle East, the across-the-seas-territorial advancements of the Chola empire under Rajendra I, the sea expeditions undertaken by the Chinese eunuch Admiral Zheng He with his large armed fleets till the arrival of the European powers, who eventually dominated large sections of the IOR. These are just a few historical highlights, which are supposed to foster awareness of the fact that the Indian Ocean was the grand theatre which witnessed the rise and downfall of important historical players throughout history.

Today the importance of this expanse of waters, where political cards and power plays are dealt anew, is increasing once again. New players have entered the scene and have commenced to increase their respective footprints in the region. Against the background of the so called “globalization” the concept of a new “Great Game” in the IOR has thus begun to unfold and is about to be and become even more highly visible.

Undoubtedly, the trajectory and results of this evolving “Great Game” will shape history to a great deal in the decades to come.

This conference will explore some of the contours and nuances of the evolving dynamics of this power struggle in the IOR and thus help us identify the forthcoming challenges in the region as well as enable us to possibly formulate appropriate response strategies in the process.

Programme Schedule

Venue: University of Madras, Hall F-7

Date: 28th-29th October 2017

Day 1

09:00 – 11:00 Inaugural Session

09:00 – 09:30 Registration

09:30 – 09:40 Welcome Address by Additional Director General of Coast Guard

09:40 – 10:00 Welcome Address by Dr. Klara Knapp Lange of ITS

10:00 – 10:20 Inaugural Address by Air Marshal Dr. Matheswaran (to be confirmed)

10:20 – 10:40 Keynote Address by IG Rajan Bargotra, Regional Commander of Indian Coast Guard Region (East))

10:40 – 11:00 Tea/ Coffee

11:00 – 12:35 Panel 1

Indian Ocean Region Between Integration and Disintegration

1.1: Some Historical Megatrends: From Power Vacuum to Sub-Regionalism

11:00 – 11:20

Professor Suryanarayan, Founding Director and Senior Professor (Retd.), Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras, President, Chennai Centre for China Studies: “Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace"

11:20 – 11:40

Dr. A. Subramanyam Raju, Coordinator, UGC Centre for Maritime Studies, Pondicherry University: "India and China in Indian Ocean: Convergence and Divergence of Interest"

1.2: Current Trends of Integration: Potential and Fallacy of IORA

11:40 – 12:00

Dr. Dattesh Parulekar, Assistant Professor of International Studies and Area Studies, Goa University: "Understanding India's 'S-A-G-A-R' Initiative: Forging Security Construct, Fostering Growth Compact and Consummating Diplomatic Commune for Strategic-Depth in the Indian Ocean Region." 

12:00 – 12:20 Question & Answer Session for Panel 1

12:20 – 12:35 Break

12:35 – 14:15 Panel 2

Conventional and Non-Conventional Challenges to Security in the IOR

2.1: Militarization in the IOR: Driving Factors and Potential for Conflict

12:35 – 12:55

Brig. Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow, Research Coordinator, Vivekananda International Foundation: "India's Strategy in South Asia and Indian Ocean Region"

2.2: Types and Dimensions of Transnational Organized Crime in the IOR and the Concurrent Scope of Maritime Terrorism

12:55 – 13:15

Dr. P.K. Ghosh, Former Co-Chair, India Representative to CSCAP, International Study Group: “Trends in Maritime Transnational Crime in IOR: Some Response Strategies“

13:15 – 14:15 Lunch Break

14:15 – 15:15 Panel 2 Continued

2.3: Dimensions and Trends

14:15 – 14:35

Dr. Ramu Manivannan, Professor and Head, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras: "India, China and the Indian Ocean: Emerging Realities, Issues and Challenges"

14:35 – 14:55

Dr. Lawrence Prabhakar, Professor, Department of Political Science, Madras Christian College, Chennai: "The PLA-Navy's Maritime Silk Road Focus in the Indian-Pacific Oceans Access Patterns and Operational Praxis: Some Perspectives" 

14:55 – 15:15 Question & Answer Session for Panel 2

15:15 – 15:35 Break

15:35 – 16:15 Panel 3

Specific Interests in the IOR: Unfolding Dualism between India and China?

3.1: Indian National Interest in the IOR

15:35 – 15:55

Dr. P.V. Rao, Former Director, Indian Ocean Centre, Osmania University, Hyderabad, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Osmania University: "Indian Navy: Naval Diplomacy as Instrument of Security."

3.2: Chinese/Indian Interest in the IOR

15:55 – 16:15

Commodore Vasan, Former Regional Commander Coast Guard Region East, Director C3S, Regional Director National Maritime Foundation Chennai, Director Asian Bureau of Worldborderpol: "Comparative Study of India's and China's National interests in IOR" 

16:15 End of Day 1

Day 2

09:00 – 10:30

09:00 – 09:30 Coffee/Tea

09:30 – 10:30

Panel 3 Continued

09:30 – 09:50

Dr. Bali Deepak, Professor, Centre of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi : “21st Century Maritime Silk Road“

09:50 – 10:10

Dr. Jagannath Panda, Research Fellow and Head, East Asia Centre, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi: “19th Congress of the CPC and China's Execution Plan of OBOR in Neighborhood: How Should India Read This?"

10:10 – 10:30 Break

10:30 – 11:50 Panel 3 Continued

3.3: Indian and Chinese Military – Strategic Perceptions in the IOR/Military Balance

10:30 – 10:50

Col. Hariharan, Former Military Intelligence Specialist, Strategic Analyst: "India and China: Strategic Military Perspectives"

10:50 – 11:10 Question & Answer Session for Panel 3

Panel 4

Economic Significance and Potential of the IOR

11:10 – 11:30

Captain Sankaran, Sr. Vice President M/s Steamship Agencies Pvt. Ltd, "IOR as Global Transport Hub: Development in Short/Middle and Long Term" 

11:30 – 11:50 Question & Answer Session for Panel 4

11:50 – 12:50 Panel 5

Interests of Extra-Regional Players in the IOR

5.1: The Evolving US Policy in IOR: Enhancement or Diminishment of Strategic Leveraging

11:50 – 12:10

Mr. K Subramanian, Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies: “Cost of Energy security in the Indo-Pacific Region”

5.2: European interests: Its Maritime Capacity and Ability for Regional Power Projection  

12:10 – 12:30

Dr. Klaus Lange, Director ITS, Institute for Transnational Studies: “European interests in the IOR: What kind of Historical Subject are we talking about?

12:30 – 12:50 Question & Answer Session for Panel 5

12:50 – 13:30 Concluding Session

12:50 – 13:20 Concluding Remarks

13:20 – 13:30 Vote of thanks

13:30 End of Day 2