New Delhi: The annual apex-level international conference of the Indian Navy – the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) – will be held in New Delhi from November 15-17, 2023.
The event will include a Keynote Address by Jagdeep Dhankhar, the Vice President of India on November 15, 2023, and a series of Special Addresses by Union Ministers and senior officers of the Government of India, designed to provide overarching guidance to the deliberations of this mega conference.
The IPRD follows hard on the heels of the Goa Maritime Conclave 2023, which had been conducted by the Indian Navy from October 29-31, 2023 in Goa.
In terms of conceptual positioning, the Goa Maritime Conclave seeks to project the Indian Navy’s cooperative engagement at the strategic-operational level, by providing a forum for the Chiefs-of-Navy and Heads of Maritime Agencies in the Indian Ocean Region. The IPRD, on the other hand, is the principal manifestation of the Navy’s international engagement at the strategic-level, addressing ‘holistic’ maritime security issues across the Indo-Pacific.
The first two editions of IPRD were held in 2018 and 2019 respectively at New Delhi. IPRD 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The third edition of IPRD was held in 2021 in online mode and the fourth edition was conducted, reverting to a physical format, at New Delhi in 2022.
The National Maritime Foundation (NMF) is the Indian Navy’s knowledge partner and chief organiser of each edition of the IPRD, which aims to review various maritime trends within the Indo-Pacific region, the regional opportunities and challenges that arise therefrom, and foster the exchange of solution-oriented dialogue amongst key stakeholders.
Theme of IPRD-2023
The overarching theme of IPRD-2023 is “Geopolitical Impacts upon Indo-Pacific Maritime Trade and Connectivity”. This year’s edition of the IPRD builds upon the previous one, which focussed upon ‘Operationalising the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)’, by specifically addressing the ‘Trade, Connectivity and Maritime Transport’ pillar of the IPOI. Both ‘Trade’ and ‘Maritime Transport’ are, of course, segments of maritime connectivity.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, had espoused the principle of “responsible maritime connectivity” in his remarks at the UNSC high-level open debate on “Enhancing Maritime Security: A Case for International Cooperation” on August 9, 2021, in which he specifically emphasised three key aspects in marine infrastructure creation, namely, the physical sustainability of such projects, the absorption capacity of the countries where such infrastructure is proposed to be developed, and appropriate global norms and standards for the creation of marine infrastructure. However, geopolitical disturbances, wherever they might occur, pose significant maritime challenges, including adverse impacts upon trade and maritime connectivity. These challenges have been evident in the events that have occurred in recent years — from the COVID-19 pandemic to the maritime manifestations of the rash of escalating tensions, as also armed conflicts, that are breaking-out across a world increasingly embroiled in geopolitical contestations.
Therefore, IPRD-2023 will, through the agency of a series of globally renowned subject-matter experts and eminent speakers, explore geopolitical impacts upon Indo-Pacific maritime trade and connectivity through six professional sessions spread over a three-day period. The sessions are:
- Nodes of Maritime Connectivity;
- China’s Impact vis-à-vis Maritime Connectivity across the Indo-Pacific;
- Maritime Connectivity through Shipping and Trade;
- Maritime Connectivity through Shipping and Trade (Part 2);
- Private Industry in the Safety and Security of Indo-Pacific Maritime Trade and Shipping; and
- Maintaining a Rules-based, Safe, and Secure Indo-Pacific.
Practitioners and domain-experts from within the Government of India, Indian defence industry, and Indian academia will also enrich the conference by their presence and contributions.
International participation in IPRD 2023 will be through eminent speakers from 16 countries, who are expected to offer diverse regional perspectives on the subject, as also through the presence of representatives of the various embassies and high commissions in New Delhi.
As with previous editions of the IPRD, participation of the vibrant student community and scholars, eminent citizens, military practitioners, members of the diplomatic corps, and think-tanks from India and abroad will add effervescence to this event.