Institutionalized skilling ecosystem of the SAGAR Vision based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework

Background of the event

India stands at the brink of a remarkable transformation today, with both global and domestic cues are highly favourable and we as a nation seem to be in a sweet spot. The country appears to be perfectly poised to embark on a new phase of growth, owing to favourable political, economic, demographic, socio-cultural, and other circumstances. Over the past 75 years since independence, India has laid a solid foundation, and now is the time to take bold strides into the future. There has been a significant shift towards the maritime domain in the areas of strategic security and sustainable growth, and the government is placing a high priority on the blue economy and maritime security. The Honourable Prime Minister’s vision of “The Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)” envisages India as a leader in the entire Indian Ocean region (IOR) and beyond. To realize this vision, it will be crucial to invest in building the necessary capacity and capabilities building at multiple levels.

The tropical littoral waters of the Indian Ocean region (IOR) present a unique set of challenges and opportunities that demand a tailored, local indigenous driven approach. Previous attempts at importing technology and knowledge from the West have fallen miserably. It is noteworthy that there is a significant potential for resources and opportunities in both marine and freshwater underwater ecosystems waiting to be utilized, but these areas require specialized expertise and cannot be viewed as a mere extension of the maritime surface. Science and technology (S&T) will play a crucial role in driving new initiatives, and it is imperative to cultivate indigenous, site-specific Research and development Development (R&D) efforts focused on addressing realworld problems through field experimentation and validation.

The Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) framework has received widespread recognition for promoting safe, secure, and sustainable growth in the tropical littoral waters of the Indo-Pacific region. The Digital Ocean construct supported by the UDA framework, will significantly enhance good maritime governance. It encourages pooling of resources and synergizing of efforts across the stakeholders and has devised technology tools to support livelihood for the coastal communities. The IndoSwiss Center of Excellence has partnered with the MRC to establish a skills training initiative to further encourage the UDA framework across various line sectors. 

This decade has been declared as the “Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development” by the United Nations. It is crucial for local communities to be actively involved in the development process in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in a true sense. This initiative is supported by the HT Parekh Foundation to build an institutionalized model.


It is proposed to launch a quartet series of outreach and engagement programs  for sensitization and institutionalization of robust skilling ecosystem to drive the UDA framework. The objective of this effort will be to construct a holistic livelihood enhancement ecosystem, fostering a well-structured environment that will empower communities to harness the water ecosystem sustainably and create sustainable livelihood prospects. The workshops,  each of the three, five day sessions, will concentrate on one particular aspect of the ecosystem building initiative, culminating with a two-day workshop to synthesize the entire endeavour.

Workshop Program Schedule
  • Policy Intervention: This will be hosted to build on the entire spectrum of policy formulation. Both regional and national aspects will be deliberated and a roadmap for the future will be devised. A clear emphasis on skilling for livelihood enhancement will be emphasized. Participants from diverse backgrounds viz. humanities and liberal arts will gather to deliberate on the larger social engineering aspects and community level interventions from an institutionalization stand point. Key decision makers will also be present to identify gaps for policy interventions. The fiveday workshop will be divided into the following facets:
    1. The geopolitics and the geostrategic perspective.
    2. The traditional knowledge and opportunities for scaling.
    3. The governance mechanisms and required intervention.
    4. The capacity & capability building. 
    5. The structured institutionalized framework.
  • Technology Intervention This will be hosted, with a focus on exploring the role of science and technology as a catalyst for livelihood enhancement. The emphasis will be to build sustainable development interventions to augment traditional knowledge, rather than replacing the traditional practices with modern tools. The key objective will be to leverage technology tools to improve governance and increase efficiency. The five-day workshop will be divided into the following aspects:
    1. The Digital Ocean Framework.
    2. The Sustainable Development Goals.
    3. The Data Science Framework.
    4. The infrastructure gaps.
    5. The multi-disciplinary and multi-functional structure.
  • Grassroots Community Engagement This initiative will be hosted at the Konkan coast and involve collaboration with multiple partners from both the government and private sectors to engage with the coastal communities. Representatives from various grassroots communities, such as aquaculture, pisciculture, diving, shipbuilding and more, will convene in their respective community establishments for hands-on exposure. The two-day classroom interaction will encompass aspects of policy and technology interventions along with acoustic capacity, and capacity and capability building. Feedback from participants will be solicited during this phase. The three-day field visit will encompass the following sectors:
    1. Aquaculture
    2. Pisci-culture.
    3. Underwater diving.

The last day will consist of a debrief and a feedback session for the entire four-day workshop, including interaction with authentic community representatives.

To culminate the series of three five-day workshops, a two-day workshop will be conducted at the Indo-Swiss Center of Excellence to articulate the key outcomes and build a structured institutional framework. Approximately fifty representatives from the entire ecosystem will be in attendance to facilitate the next steps.


The UDA framework is relevant to a multitude of stakeholders, but often lacks cohesive collaboration across governance mechanisms. To overcome this issue, pooling of resources and harmonization of efforts across stakeholders and policy makers will be crucial. The entire ecosystem needs to be managed in a comprehensive manner. The livelihood enhancement initiative must be managed holistically, not just through skilling, but through management of the entire ecosystem at various levels. This proposal aims to address all levels and stakeholders in a comprehensive manner as follows:

  1. The policy interventions will bring together a diverse group of decision makers from various ministries, regulators, policy advocacy groups, environmentalists, disaster management authorities and more. By providing actionable inputs, the ecosystem will mature and thrive. Sensitization of governance mechanisms is critical and will add value to the overall policy making process.
  2. The science and technology will always drive growth and governance, but local solutions for the ecosystem are challenging. Digital transformation will play a significant role in governance mechanisms to bring value to skilling initiatives in mutliple ways. Improving infrastructure, building capacity and capabilities, conducting Research and Development (R&D), and more will require a nuanced approach, and can also generate significant livelihood opportunities.
  3. To ensure the validity of the framework, it must be tested and refined through engagement with the communities on the ground. This requires a cyclical iterative process of communication and collaboration between the planners and all relevant parties, in order to finalize a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs and concerns of the communities. Concerns of the communities and assurance to the communities that the governance mechanism cares, is extremely critical. 
  4. The effective ecosystem management will require a multi-disciplinary and multi-functional framework. Institutional approach will require a massive pool of skilled and knowledgeable human resource to manage the ecosystem at multiple levels. This initiative will kick start this process. This initiative will serve as a catalyst for this process and provide a foundation for a nuanced structure.
  5. Women will be ambassadors in promoting and advancing this initiative in the future. Through interaction with the communities and a two-way feedback will provide a significant role in strengthening the initiative and driving its success. By positioning women as leaders and drivers of the ecosystem, true women empowerment will be achieved.

Keynotes by Esteemed guests

Dr. Pooran Pandey

Resident Representative of Climate Scorecard

Dr.(Cdr) Arnab Das

Founder & Director, MRC, Pune

Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla

PVSM, AVSM, NM, VSM (RETD.) Former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, Indian Navy

Capt. Sudhir Subhedar

Former President, ICCSA

Ms. Venus Upadhayaya

Senior Reporter South Asia At Epoch Times

Mr. Deepak Arora

President Public Affairs, Navara Energy

Dr. Danijel Mlinaric

President, Centre for Economics Diplomacy, Zagreb, Croatia, EU

Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke

Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation, Sri Lanka


1. Internship award for exceptional write-ups.
2. Featuring extraordinary articles on the MRC Website
3. Representation on social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


At the conclusion of the program, each participant will receive a certificate of successful completion. As part of the program requirements, every participant must submit a comprehensive evaluation of their experience. The five most noteworthy write-ups will be recognized and rewarded at the grand closing ceremony. Student participants will have the opportunity to earn a fellowship at MRC based on their performance during the program.

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    The conventional approach of each of the stakeholders pursuing their own UDA* efforts has serious limitations given the highly resource intensive field experimental research initiative required for a long period. Click here for more


    Dr. Pooran Pandey
    Resident Representative of Climate Scorecard

    The diversity of the underwater domain, where everyone has something to do, is the beauty of this specific domain of underwater awareness”

    In his opening remarks, Dr Pooran Pandey noted that Underwater Domain Awareness is integrally linked to a number of other topics.

    For instance, a student of economics or of international affairs would focus his analysis of the entire region from a geostrategic and geo-economic perspective. By putting a price to it, economists will certainly try to view it from his perspective. On the other hand Climate scientists will attempt to understand it from the perspective of sustainable development goals.

    He was of the opinion that The diversity of the underwater domain, where everyone has something to do, is the beauty of this specific domain of underwater awareness.

    He shed light on the ability of domain awareness to recognise underwater assets and effectively secure our ability to cooperate with neighbouring countries.

    He briefly discussed the alliance that Australia, the United States, and Japan have been attempting to form in order to compete for the title of maritime powers.

    He also spoke about the Involvement of Companies in exploration for underwater mining and about the powerful submarines possessed by some countries.

    He postulated that in order to establish a coalition, we must seriously mobilise various non-state entities as well as some regional entities, such as the business sector, academic institutions, media and Corporations

    While concluding he mentioned the Nord Stream Gas Leak and felt that it had dangerous geopolitical ramifications. Such dangers underlined the need for effective International coalitions to bring nonstate and sub-national entities together, to ensure that we truly respect the sea, while utilising undersea resources.

    Dr (Cdr) Arnab Das
    Founder and Director , MRC, Pune


    • Dr Arnab Das began his address by calling upon the young generation to consider the Underwater Domain as a promising career opportunity. He then gave a presentation on the significance of the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework in achieving sustainable blue oceans. His key insights were:
      • Tropical Regions have unique challenges and opportunities pertaining to political, economic, military and physical facets.
      • Indo Pacific Strategic Space needs local site-specific field experimental R&D efforts.
      • While highlighting History of Underwater Domain: Dr Das took the audience through a brief tour of global efforts in the realm of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA). He touched upon the key points of the USS Connecticut accident, the underwater great wall project, strategic submarine deployment, snapping shrimp and other historic dimensions of UDA.
      • How the proposed UDA framework will provide safe, secure, and long-term growth in the entire Indo-Pacific region.
      • He shed light on some important components of environmental acoustic habitat degradation, freshwater systems, water resource management, and water quality management.

      In his concluding remarks Dr Das invited all the stakeholders to work hand in hand for the pooling of resources and synergizing efforts. He spoke on how the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework can also offer the youth of India some significant employment opportunities. He ended his presentation by highlighting the need for an outreach to engage and sustain a programme to sensitise various stakeholders with the formation of a Centre of Excellence under the aegis of MRC.



    Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, PVSM, AVSM,NM, VSM (RETD.)
    Former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, Indian Navy

    In an insightful address, Admiral Chawla spoke about the security aspects surrounding the underwater sector:

    • The Indian Ocean is enclosed on three sides and connected to other oceans by a variety of waterways, all of which are crucial for global shipping
    • He pointed out that 80% of all global oil movements either originate in the Indian Ocean region or pass through it. This has increased since the conflict in Ukraine. In the case of India, 90% of India’s trade is transoceanic.
    • He made mention of China acquiring mining rights in two parts of the Indian Ocean and discussed why China poses a threat in the maritime domain and our need to develop smart underwater domain awareness.
    • He spoke about the increase in construction of SSNs (nuclear assault submarines) which pose a security challenge to countries of this region.

    While concluding he felt that that the starting point for Maritime Security is the collection of Oceanic Data. Hence, organisations, centres, and institutes must unite on a single platform to collect,  collate, process, analyse  and share data for Maritime Security.


    Capt. Sudhir Subhedar
    Former President, ICCSA

    Capt. Subhedar spoke about the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 77 and the IMO’s initiatives to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions. H suggested that the MRC information documents be upgraded with an Indian context. He also spoke about India’s participation in the International Water Ballast Convention.

    He spoke about the agenda for IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 77 in the context of underwater noise (Blue Noise) and UDA.

    Capt Subhedar highlighted two important points:

    • UDA awareness and expertise can be utlised for safety of navigation, surveys and escorting of inland waterway vessels.
    • The IMO will be looking at UDA from the perspective of the usefulness of its technology perspective and its domain awareness and the pollution angle of the noise.

    He concluded by expressing his commitment to work with Maritime Research Centre for Safety of Navigation and Exploration of the seas.


    Ms. Venus Upadhayaya
    Senior Reporter South Asia At Epoch Times

    Ms. Upadhayaya began asking the interesting question: “How much of the planet have we uncovered? “

    She pointed out that the Gilgit region had been discovered by Europeans only in 1870 and stated that so much more of the world is yet to be discovered,

    She then presented the following interesting statistics:

    • 80% of the timber produced in Solomon Islands is exported to China. If this trend is allowed to continue, the island will run out of the tropical forest that makes up around 77% of its land area. There is civil unrest in the Islands’ and opposition to the unchecked exploitation of the country’s forestry resources.
    • She revealed that environmental crime sentences have been passed in Fiji against Chinese resort developers.

    She concluded by putting forth her vision for UDA as a ‘Coalition of Institutions and global citizens’ with a common goal.


    Mr. Deepak Arora
    President Public Affairs, Navara Energy

    Mr. Arora stated that we are living in times where energy is at the heart of global politics and the oceans are the next frontier for energy security The seas are central to our own national security.

    • He spoke about India’s commitment to attain carbon neutrality by 2070, and highlighted the adaptations and changes we will need to make on the way to achieve this nett zero goal.
    • He pointed out that only half a million square kilometres of ocean area has been explored for its natural resources.
    • In his views the United States will progressively switch to non-biomass hydrogen. When it happens it will be an important gamechanger as we move forward in the future.”
    • He pointed out that there has been insufficient study on using wind energy in India. in contrast Nordic nations are rapidly moving ahead in wind energy sectors.

    He was of the opinion that national & marine security is greatly dependent on energy security and proposed the development of a more effective plan utilising the UDA framework.


    Dr. Danijel Mlinaric
    President, Centre for Economics Diplomacy, Zagreb, Croatia, EU

    Dr Mlinaric introduced ocean governance at the outset of his presentation. He continued by stating that the integration of geo-economics and economic viewpoints is crucial.

    “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals announced in 2015 and the 2030 Agenda for the United Nations cannot be ignored” he   emphasised.

    He highlighted the contributions of the European Union to the Indo-Pacific region in the areas like free trade agreements, development cooperation, humanitarian assistance partnerships, combating climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution control, lowering the risk of disasters, upholding international law, incorporating human rights and freedom of navigation.

    He discussed the Indo-Pacific strategy with the release of the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which has been signed by France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

    He then spoke about the need to execute sustainable fishing partnership agreements in order to fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

    The key issues highlighted by him included:

    • Enhancing ocean governance
    • Defending internal trade against unfiltered activities
    • Collaboration with like-minded regional partners
    • Digital connectivity for research and innovation
    • Assisting health systems and pandemic preparedness

    Dr Mlinaric concluded by saying that cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region is crucial for implementation of global policies, including achieving the UN sustainable development goals.

    The people of Europe and the Indo-Pacific region must work together to promote a green and sustainable socio-economic recovery for the well-being of our own people” he concluded.


    Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke
    Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation, Sri Lanka

    Ambassador Goonetilleke concentrated on the Indo-Pacific’s  regional component, which is tied to global challenges and the raisson d’etre for the nomenclature of the Indo-Pacific.

    While speaking about the idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific, he stated: “Japan bears the responsibility of fostering the Confluence of the Pacific and Indian oceans as well as Asia and Africa into a place that values freedom, the rule of law, a market economy, free from force or coercion, and makes it prosperous.”

    Amb. Goonetilleke gave a brief explanation of how the United States came to control the Indo-Pacific strategic framework and discussed how this was a calculated strategy to counter increasing China’s military and economic aggression.

    He discussed Yang Huairen’s nine-dash line and the Indo-Pacific plan unveiled by the White House in February 2022. He listed a few South China Sea incidents and warned that similar occurrences could grow out of hand, resulting in armed confrontation, threatening peace and security for all in the region.

    He spoke about the challenges due to lack of financial resources needed for infrastructure development which forces countries in the region to rely on China for funding their economic development. He also expressed concern over the increasing dependence of a large majority of the region’s nations on Chinese military equipment.

    He concluded by speaking about the regional comprehensive economic partnership formed by 15 nations in the region alongwith China, including economically powerful nations and emerging economies like Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.