The Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) framework gained substantial global relevance post 9/11. In India, its emergence in the strategic discourse gained significance post the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai. As a result, MDA has been reduced to a security-driven formulation, significantly limiting its growth and sustenance.
Within the MDA framework, the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) framework challenges the conventional understanding of just being its underwater appendage. However, UDA as a concept is much more critical as it integrates all the four stakeholders (the security apparatus, blue economic entities, environmental regulators and disaster management authorities, and science and technology providers) and facilitates pooling of resources and synergises efforts for ensuring safe, secure, sustainable growth for all in the region.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) holds significant strategic promise in the 21st century, where India needs to scale up its efforts to be seen as a global strategic player. The tropical littoral waters of the IOR, present very unique physical, economic as well as political challenges that need to be overcome for sustainable growth. The Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) declaration by the Government of India is an ambitious vision statement; however, it does require substantial capacity and capability building to overcome the legacy issues. The continental mindset needs to be infused with maritime intent with a focus on policy, technology and innovation, and human resource development.
The talk will present the challenges and opportunities in the UDA framework for the IOR and provide an alternate perspective to the ongoing MDA discourse.
Dr. (Cdr) Arnab Das is a researcher, maritime strategist and an entrepreneur. He is the Founder & Director of the Maritime Research Centre (MRC) under the Foundation for Underwater Domain Awareness (FUDA), Pune, working on a unique concept of Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) as its main focus. He is a visiting Professor at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), Pune. He also runs his start-up, M/S NirDhwani Technology Pvt Ltd providing consultancies and services for high-end maritime security solutions and marine conservation support. He has over 70 publications and a book to his credit.
Arnab was commissioned in the Indian Navy as an electrical officer in 1994. He was deputed to IIT Delhi in 2001 for his Masters in Underwater Electronics and was later appointed as Project Officer at IIT Delhi to manage the Underwater R&D for the Navy. He delivered multiple technology transfers including for the strategic submarine project related to underwater systems and algorithms. He also completed his PhD from IIT Delhi in 2007 in underwater signal processing.
He was invited to Tokyo University in 2014 as a visiting researcher to participate in design and development of passive acoustic monitoring systems for fresh water dolphins. Post his retirement from the Navy in 2015, he spent one year at the Acoustic Research Laboratory of the Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, understand underwater technology development from a global perspective.