7 January 2020
By Amb Rakesh Sood
Ambassador Rakesh Sood was Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues and former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Nepal and France.
Lecture by Ambassador Rakesh Sood
The speaker discussed a range of issues from maritime to geopolitical to geospatial developmental activities. Presently, Maritime cooperation between countries have larger geographical significance. The blue economy aspect of the Indian ocean region surrounding Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius holds importance in both military and non-military ways. To engage more with these countries, he emphasized to investigate the similarities of our coastal areas. We need to identify the extent of our efforts in exploring marine resources, developing a blue economy. A similar resource base would help us extrapolate in terms of population, demographics, lifestyle of coastal communities.
Pakistan which was marginally keen on investing in the oceans has joined hands with China in pursuing the CPEC project through port building activity across the Makran coast that is a concern to India. He suggests sensitizing the Ambassadors to help understand problems and issues on both sides and identify resourceful people on both sides.
Chinese foray into our waters and its advanced technology has enabled their submarines in stealth operations. This has risked the capabilities of our support and tender ships. Submarine tracking has been identified as one of the challenging areas for India and more research needs to be done in this regard. The speaker suggests checking maritime domain awareness with expertise. Naval exercises like 'MALABAR' with the US and 'VARUNA' with the French have helped India with its diplomatic engagement over the years. Defence pacts like COMCASA have given the Indian side more access to cutting edge weapons and communication systems. Identifying people who have been contributing to the National Maritime Foundation regarding such naval exercises can guide our research pool to improve underwater tracking.
The speaker shed some light on the application of aerial vehicles beyond surveillance especially in case of drones. There must be a body formulating guidelines for the deployment of drones in national air space. He gave us the broader perspective of the autonomous systems, how technologies like AI can be used in lethal systems making it vulnerable leading to ethical issues.
He provided an interesting analysis of the stalled US Taliban peace talks in his discussion. Under South Asia, he discussed in depth the Nepal's constitutional instability.