Speaking at the Asian Security Conference on “Asian Security: Comprehending the Indian Approach” organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here, he said the economic centre of gravity was shifting to Asia.
“With the global and economic centre of gravity shifting to Asia, this may well be the century of Asia as well,” he said.
He said the region has evident maritime linkages and the interest of the Asian nations was linked to unhindered free flow of oil and trade to the region.
He said Asian nations have vast maritime interests and the responsibility of protecting these assets falls on the maritime agencies, as well as the navies of the region.
Admiral Dhowan said a security umbrella by the regional navies and maritime agencies was required to ensure smooth global commerce through sea and that global maritime cooperation and networking of navies was emerging as the new order of the 21st century.
Terming the seas around the Asian region as the “energy heartland” of the world, the navy chief said security and stability of the seas around Asia were the key to peace and prosperity of all nations in the region.
He said the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has emerged as the “global economic highway” with 66 percent of the world’s oil, 50 percent of container traffic and 33 percent of cargo traffic passing through its waters every year.
The IOR was unique as it was virtually landlocked from three sides and 80 percent of oil and trade which emanates in the region was extra-regional, implying that any obstruction in this movement will not only hamper the Asian economy, but will also be detrimental to the global economy, the navy chief said.
Terming piracy, asymmetric warfare and maritime terrorism as major maritime threats, Admiral Dhowan lauded the role played by the Indian Navy in anti-piracy operations in the region since 2008.
He identified drugs, arms and human trafficking and natural disasters as other security threats to the seas of the region.
Inter-regional and intra-regional tensions also have the potential to spill into the maritime domain, affecting the oil flow and trade and eventually the regional economy, the navy chief said.
The three-day conference began Wednesday.