Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
India’s vision for maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region is encapsulated in the acronym SAGAR, which stands for Security and Growth for All in the Region. Coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SAGAR represents India’s commitment to fostering trust, transparency, and cooperation among nations in the region.
Origins and Evolution of SAGAR
In 2015, during an address in Mauritius, Prime Minister Modi first introduced the concept of SAGAR. It aimed to promote a climate of trust and respect for international maritime rules while emphasizing peaceful resolution of maritime issues. Over time, SAGAR expanded to include linkages with the Indo-Pacific region, reflecting India’s broader geopolitical ambitions.
Key Elements and Implementation of SAGAR
SAGAR encompasses several key elements that guide India’s maritime cooperation efforts:
- Climate of Trust and Transparency: India seeks to foster trust among nations by upholding international maritime rules and norms, showing sensitivity to each other’s interests, and promoting peaceful resolution of maritime disputes.
- Maritime Domain Awareness: India has implemented the Integrated Coastal Surveillance System to enhance maritime domain awareness. This includes sponsorship of coastal radar systems in countries across the Indian Ocean region.
- Bilateral and Trilateral Projects: India has engaged in collaborative initiatives with countries like Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, and Seychelles to promote maritime cooperation. These partnerships aim to strengthen regional security and facilitate joint development projects.
- Assistance and Cooperation: India assumes the role of a “net security provider” by providing assistance to countries in the region. This includes exclusive economic zone surveillance, search and rescue operations, and initiatives as first responders in times of crises.
- Humanitarian Aid and Relief: As part of SAGAR, India has actively engaged in humanitarian efforts. Examples include dispatching relief missions during the COVID-19 pandemic and providing assistance in response to natural disasters such as oil spills.
SAGAR in Practice: Case Studies and Examples
The implementation of SAGAR has yielded tangible results in various instances:
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, India dispatched the INS Kesari to provide relief aid to countries in the southern Indian Ocean, including Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar, Comoros, and Seychelles.
- In response to the MV Wakashio oil spill off the coast of Mauritius, India extended support by sending equipment and materials for containment and salvage operations.
- The Indian Coast Guard played a crucial role in firefighting and assistance during incidents such as the MT New Diamond tanker fire off the coast of Sri Lanka.
SAGAR as a Conceptual Framework
While SAGAR lacks an official document outlining its complete vision and doctrine, it represents India’s continued focus on the Indian Ocean region. It has been described as a “conceptual framework” and a “declaration of national intent.” SAGAR is closely linked with the Sagarmala project, which aims to enhance domestic maritime infrastructure and logistics.