Defence Minister Virtually Inaugurates Fifth World Congress on Disaster Management

Indian Army

New Delhi: Virtually inaugurating the Fifth World Congress on Disaster Management here November 24, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India’s “Armed Forces have time and again demonstrated that they care for and stand by the country’s partners in times of need without distinguishing between natural or man-made disasters.”

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He reiterated India’s vision for the Indian Ocean encapsulated by the concept of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) as articulated by Prime Minister  Narendra Modi.

Singh  underlined that SAGAR has both distinct and inter-related elements such as deepening economic and security cooperation among the littoral states; enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories; working towards sustainable regional development; Blue Economy and promoting collective action to deal with non-traditional threats like natural disasters, piracy and terrorism.

Singh maintained that while each of these elements requires equal attention, developing an effective response mechanism to address humanitarian crises and natural disasters is one of the most important pillars of SAGAR. India’s engagement with the world and especially the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has been robustly strong, he said, lauding the Armed Forces for being the first responders in the region for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

He said, India’s unique position in the IOR, complemented by a capability of the Armed Forces, enables it to contribute significantly in HADR situations.

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The Minister made special mention of some notable HADR missions in the IOR undertaken by India in recent years, including Operation Rahat in Yemen in 2015 when India rescued and evacuated over 6,700 persons, including over 1,940 citizens of more than 40 other countries; cyclone in Sri Lanka in 2016; earthquake in Indonesia in 2019; Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and flooding and landslides in Madagascar in January 2020 where Indian assistance was promptly provided.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has not dented India’s commitment, which was demonstrated by India’s response during the Oil Spill in Mauritius in August 2020 and Oil tanker fire in Sri Lanka in September 2020. India taking lead and offering expertise of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (DRI) to its friendly countries was also highlighted by Singh.

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“Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) was first proposed by India during the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in New Delhi. It is today an international coalition of countries, United Nations (UN) agencies, multilateral development banks, the private sector and academic institutions, that aim to promote disaster-resilient infrastructure,” he said.

The Minister said India has been regularly conducting exercises to deepen the HADR co-operation and co-ordination with its neighbours and friendly countries with a focus on sharing expertise and building capabilities.

Singh shared his views on the challenging geo-political landscape and the traditional and non-traditional threats including natural calamities like COVID-19 faced by the world.

He said, to deal with the pandemic, India has developed a large capacity for production of COVID-19 vaccines and is extending help to many countries. He emphasised on the need for a collective solution to deal with global challenges in the post-pandemic world. He said, the pandemic has reaffirmed the centrality of multilateralism in the interconnected world for matters not only related to international security but also disaster management.

Singh also spoke about the emerging cutting-edge technologies in the fields of space, communication, bio-engineering, bio-medics and artificial intelligence. The Minister stressed on sharing the benefits of these technologies with all along with funding initiatives for capacity development for better application a