Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) refers to a series of meetings held every two years. These meetings are held between the various coastal states located in the Indian Ocean region. A forum is organised as a part of the meetings to increase cooperation in relation to maritime security.

Other objectives include discussing various regional maritime problems and promoting friendly relationships among the various member states. The 24 member states of the IONS are classified under four sub-regions, namely the South Asian sub-region, the West Asian sub-region, the South-East Asian and Australian sub-region, and the East African sub-region.

As a part of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium UPSC syllabus, several details will be of importance for the students. These details are provided below. You are required to study them thoroughly.

Role of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium works as a security construct in the entire Indian Ocean region, similar to the functioning of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. The maritime security agencies and the navies of the member states have taken up this voluntary initiative to maintain harmony among them in relation to the activities over the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium acts as an organisation that also facilitates the organising of lectures, essay competitions and various workshops with the original objective in consideration.

The role of the IONS will be important for the upcoming UPSC Prelims demanding a critical analysis of the same from the students. This shall include the various facets of the organisation as stated above.

6th Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

The 6th edition of the IONS was held in Tehran, the capital of Iran, between April 22 and April 25 of 2018. The various member states took part in this meeting. There was, however, addition of states in this meeting. The littoral states from the Caspian Sea also took part in this edition of the IONS.

The event marked the taking over of the IONS presidency by the Iranian Navy. There are 32 international navies that are a part of the IONS. Out of these, 24 of them are members and, 8 of them are observers. As of 2021, 7 editions of the IONS have taken place. The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium 2022, which happens to be the 8th edition of the meetings, will be held in Thailand.

The importance of the 6th edition of the IONS in the UPSC Exam will be primarily because of the addition of the Caspian Sea littoral states. You are required to pay much attention to this particular aspect.

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Importance of the IONS in the Indian Context

IONS have been found to be a much-required initiative with consideration of the three-fold ambitions of India in the Indian Ocean region. These ambitions are stated below and are of immense significance in the UPSC 2022:

  • To strengthen and better India’s relations with the coastal states in the Indian Ocean region
  • To establish the leadership potential of the Indian Navy in this context while aiming to become a net security provider
  • To fulfil the Indian ambition of a maritime border in the Indian Ocean region that is rules-based and stable in nature

Furthermore, the IONS can well help the Indian ambition to strengthen its influence right from the Straits of Malacca till Hormuz. India certainly aims to use the IONS as a counterbalance against China’s increasing pressure in the Indian Ocean region. This section will be of immense significance for the IAS Preparation given India’s interest in the entire initiative.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

When was the IONS first held?

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium was first held in the year 2008. India acted as the first host for the symposium.

Which are the member states of the IONS?

The member states of the IONS are stated below according to the regional classifications:

  • South Asian Region: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles.
  • South-East Asian and Australian Region: Indonesia, Australia, Timor Leste, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
  • West Asian Region: Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, and Iran.
  • East African Region: South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, France, Eritrea, and Kenya.

What are the eight observing countries in the IONS?

The eight observing countries in the IONS are Germany, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and Madagascar.

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