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.
- 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:
- The geopolitics and the geostrategic perspective.
- The traditional knowledge and opportunities for scaling.
- The governance mechanisms and required intervention.
- The capacity & capability building.
- 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:
- The Digital Ocean Framework.
- The Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Data Science Framework.
- The infrastructure gaps.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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