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This article is written by Himanshu Mahamuni, a student of Government Law College, Mumbai. This article analyzes the role of India in the BE by its relevance to the country, the draft framework and developments in the Indian ocean region.

Introduction 

The concept of Blue Economy was introduced by Professor Gunter Pauli at the United Nations University (UNU) in 1994. It is a sustainable development concept based on the “no waste, no emission” engineering process. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14 states, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. The goal serves as a guiding principle for global governance and the use of ocean resources. It implies a method to use the available ocean as a resource to address the problem of resource scarcity while employing renewable resources to enable sustainable development. There is no permanent framework to regulate the BE in India. The ministry has suggested a draft which has invited suggestions for improvement. The development of the BE will be a crucial step if India wants to achieve its ambitious goals.

This article discusses the relevance of the BE from the Indian perspective, the proposed draft framework and the possible development of the BE in the Indian ocean region.

Relevance of blue economy for India 

New India by 2030, envisioned by the Indian Government, lists the ten core dimensions of growth. The BE occupies the sixth core dimension for growth for India. A need was stressed for a coherent policy to improve the lives of coastal communities and accelerate development and employment. 

This relevance of BE for India can be figured by India’s geographical location and strategic importance in Southeast Asia. India has a unique maritime position comprising a long 7517 km coastal line to nine states. The importance of the sea to India can be understood by the 12 major and 187 non-major ports that handle around 1400 million tons of cargo every year, which makes up 95% of India’s trade by volume. The coastal economy supports the lives of over 4 million fishermen. Huge amounts of non-renewable resources, crude oil and natural gas, are spread over India’s 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The coastal states have observed a fast-growing sector of marine tourism. This has contributed to the state economies and improved livelihood. 

The huge dependence of the country’s economy on maritime business makes it essential to invest and develop the BE. The increase in the capabilities, capacities and skills of the BE creates employment and gross value addition. The policy framework of India to develop a BE will enhance the GDP in a sustainable way. The inclusive growth of India aligns in harmony with the sustainable development goals mapped out by the United Nations. 

India’s blue economy draft framework

The Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) has drafted a policy framework on the BE and invited suggestions and input from various stakeholders. It is aimed to vision and strategy the oceanic resources available in the country. The draft is in line with the vision of New India by 2030. It emphasizes the various key sectors for holistic growth of the economy with the help of the BE. A legislative framework will be formulated later on for the BE based on an assessment of the suggestions and the draft. In the meantime, the framework suggests the proposed objectives, governance capabilities such as Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) and National Blue Economy Council (NBEC) and the enhanced capacities.

Objective of the policy

Framework for a robust mechanism

A robust mechanism for the generation and collection of reliable data is to be set up for periodical study. Setting up an expert group of scientific collaboration for the development of scientific tools and technologies relevant to the BE for its measurement and management.

Framework for sustainable national coastal marine

The BE in India’s EEZ on the wide database based on the CMSP to plan eco-tourism and increase blue flag beaches. Increasing pollution will be addressed in the coordination of various related ministries.

Framework to develop marine fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing

The BE would promote aquaculture, cage culture, seaweed and algae harvesting and sustainable marine capture in fisheries management, communication connectivity, financial inclusion, upgraded post-harvest management and marketing.

Interventions of fishermen will be considered. National level “Institute for Marine Biotechnology” shall be expedited.

Framework to domestic manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, tourism, technology, services and skill development connected with the BE 

Emerging sectors of marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining and ocean energy will be promoted. scientific institutions and industry would be created in the coastal states for R&D and innovation purposes.

Framework to develop logistics, infrastructure and shipping

The logistics and connectivity will be improved to improve ease of doing business and efficiency including the harmonization of tax regimes. A Multi-Modal Network and Digital Grid will be launched to reduce logistics costs. 

Framework for coastal and deep-sea mining, new and renewable offshore energy and research & development

A National Placer Mission is to be established to explore workable deposits and evolve a roadmap for their extraction.  Sea Mount FerroManganese Crust (SFMC) in the Indian Ocean shall be explored for its cobalt-rich composition. A National Marine Resources Database is to be created for an inventory of our marine resources of living and non-living.

Framework for ocean governance

Ocean governance must be established for coordination, communication and clarity between multiple stakeholders and multiple levels of administrative authorities and coastal communities. The National BE Council shall be set up to oversight expertise and scheme for holistic planning and implementation.

Blue economy governance

For the systematic integrated approach for the interconnected issues and optimal use of resources, the National Blue Economy Council (NBEC) shall be formed for all stakeholders. The NBEC shall be dealing with the following tasks:

  • evaluation and monitoring of the BE schemes, projects and targets;
  • guidelines/directives to promote objectives;
  • guidelines/directives to the Ministries/Departments in development of international cooperation, capacity building;
  • guidance/directives towards tariff setting, fisheries subsidy negotiations, and regulatory issues.

A governance mechanism is not available for the activities of granting of permissions, leasing, evaluation and monitoring of offshore activities such as exploration, transport, storage, etc. the governing body shall overlook coordination across ministries and state governments and take into consideration international experiences. The body should include all the stakeholders from central, state and local authorities and experts from industry, research organizations and policy advocacy groups. 

An Executive Committee shall be set up that would be responsible for undertaking planning, coordination and oversight of projects being executed by Ministries and State governments. The committee may have the following terms of references of the BE:

  • Facilitate and support Ministries/Departments;
  • Planning, coordination and oversight of projects;
  • Support Ministries/Departments in development of international cooperation, capacity building;
  • Facilitate tariff setting, fisheries subsidy negotiations, and regulatory issues.

Growth and employment capacity

The BE shall generate a talent pool to cater for the important sectors of development. The pool can be developed by higher education courses towards the BE. Universities and research and development institutes like the National Institute of Ocean Technology and the National Institute of Oceanography will be the source of the pool. curriculum on BE in accordance with the New Education Policy shall be revised considering the changes in the field. The Ministries of Education, Skill Development and Earth Sciences can undertake the mission for such a curriculum. 

Blue economy in Indian ocean region

A country has been highly dependent on its ports for transportation and trades for ages. The oceanic route needs to be developed and regulated for the smooth working of this. The maritime region holds huge economic opportunities such as oil and gas, undersea cables, tourism, biotechnology, aquaculture, etc. India sees this opportunity in the region of the Indian ocean to focus on the naval operations and anti-piracy efforts to that of environmental protection, national security, infrastructure creation, industrial capacity building and marine development. The development of the BE in the Indian Ocean region will be beneficial to achieve the vision of the country. India has been doing its efforts to increase its bounds in trade and defence in the Indian ocean.  

Trade and economic developments

Fisheries and minerals are the most dependent communities among the various sectors that provide tremendous economic opportunities. These industries develop maritime tourism and shipping activities. Fish production has increased drastically from 861,000 tons in 1950 to 11.5 million tons in 2010 in the Indian Ocean. The Polymetallic nodules and polymetallic massive sulphides are the metals that are of commercial interest in the Indian Ocean region. India has explored a region of four million square miles and established two mine sites in the EEZ for the exploration of polymetallic nodules. 

A strong emphasis on research and Development, and Innovation in the areas of Ocean Energy, Marine Biology and Biotechnology may yield a significant market share to the country. The vision of a USD 10 trillion economy by 2032 can be pushed by the development of the BE and aim at a higher growth trajectory. The rise in dependence on the country’s oil and gas exported through the sea is expected to rise in 2025. Thus the economic growth of the Indian Ocean region is crucial to accelerate the trade potential. The participating country in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has increased its trade from US$ 302 billion in 2003 to US$ 1.2 trillion in 2012 and is expected to increase more. India is expected to develop the BE in the Indian Ocean region to exploit trade and economic opportunities.

Sagarmala project

The Ministry of Shipping has launched its strategic initiative of modernisation of ports by extensive use of IT-enabled services, called the Sagarmala project. It aims to modernize the ports to fix the issues of underutilization, efficient evacuation, and coastal economic development. An estimate of Rs. 3 lakh crore is allocated by the government to develop 199 ports in three years under the Sagarmala programme. The Indian government increased the funding for the project from Rs. 406 crore in 2016 to Rs. 600 crore in 2017 in the Union Budget of 2017-18. 

The shipbuilding industry has the ability to accelerate industrial growth on investment along with the associated industries.  The number of fleets in 2014 was 1200 which is expected to increase up to 1600 by 2025. The push-in India’s commercial shipbuilding and ship repair sectors, complementing the Sagarmala project in addition to sustainable development under the BE, have huge potential to drive the economy in a drastic way.

International strategy

The presence of major world leaders in the Indian Ocean region has been affected by the reemergence of piracy issues and the growing inclination towards securing the oceanic ecosystem. India’s efforts towards it have been proactive in cooperative management, the UN ad-hoc committee to support zones of peace during world war in the Indian Ocean region is an example of it. The trilateral Cooperative in Maritime Security between India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives is one of such modern attempts. 

The Indian Navy’s policy in the Indian Ocean region of ‘Maritime Security Strategy declares the commitment of the country towards the region. It includes the objective of stability, security cooperation, combat terrorism and piracy, cultural linkage and showcasing the region as a role model of sustainable economic development. The objectives adhere to the BE while cooperating in the region. This need for a strong trans-oceanic partnership and developing synchronization is a need for inclusive development of the region.

Conclusion

The global cooperation and acceptance of the SDG 14 are evident of the need to develop the BE. The vision of India can be achieved if a well-drafted framework is implemented immediately. The impact of the BE on the GDP can be visible by improvement in lives of coastal communities, preserving our marine biodiversity and maintaining the security of our marine areas and resources. This will increase the growth and employment in the country. The BE is the way to the overall sustainability and socio-economic welfare of the people of the country. The framework must be brought to unlock the huge potential that lies ahead. The possible area where the BE can be practised by India is in the Indian Ocean. The development of the BE in the Indian ocean will lead to trade and economic development. The international strategy and security can be enhanced by improving the status of the BE in the region.

References


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