ANTANANARIVO: India hosted the 8th Edition of the Indian Ocean Dialogue under the theme ‘Post Pandemic Indian Ocean: Leveraging Digital Technologies for Health, Education, Development and Trade in IORA Member States’ virtually on 15 December 2021 with the assistance of the Indian Council for World Affairs and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretariat. Senior level experts from various Ministries/Agencies of the Government, think tanks, national lead organizations of IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners working on related subjects inter alia participated in the Dialogue.
The aim of the 8th IOD was to understand how IORA Member States embraced and used various digital technologies and platforms to overcome COVID-19 disruptions in the Health, Education, Development and Trade sectors, as also the opportunities that were accrued by using these technologies. The Dialogue comprised four Plenary Sessions with focus on the Health, Education, Development and Trade sectors. During the Panel discussions, the IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners shared their successes and best practices with regard to digital technologies to fight the pandemic and also highlighted new digital needs and innovative approaches for harnessing these technologies for achieving the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals among others. The Dialogue aimed at triggering cooperation among IORA Member States in the field of digital technologies while ensuring digital inclusion and bridging the digital device.
Hon’ble Minister of State Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh delivered the key note address and underlined the need for greater collaboration among IORA Member States in the true spirit of solidarity to combat the pandemic. He noted the critical role of new and emerging technologies and re-affirmed India’s readiness to extend all possible support and cooperation in this regard. The Valedictory address was delivered by Secretary (East) Ms. Riva Ganguly Das wherein she expressed her satisfaction at the successful organizing of the Dialogue despite the challenges posed by the pandemic by means of use of digital platform in line with the theme of the Dialogue. She reiterated that IORA Member States have immense scope for potential engagement in the various key areas highlighted during the Dialogue such as Health, Education, Trade & Development and underlined the importance of sharing of experience and best practices as well as developing innovative and frugal approaches to solving shared problems in the region.
The Indian Ocean Dialogue is a premier track 1.5 forum for open and free flowing dialogue among various stakeholders – scholars, experts, analysts, and policy makers from governments, think tanks and civil societies on strategic issues of interest and concern facing the region and beyond. India has hosted the 1st and the 6th Edition of the Indian Ocean Dialogue in Kerala and New Delhi in September 2014 and December 2019 respectively. The 1st edition was organised around six broad themes- the geopolitical contours of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), maritime security challenges, strengthening regional institutions, information sharing, cooperation in disaster relief and management and economic cooperation and the 6th edition under the theme ‘Indo-Pacific: Re-imagining the Indian Ocean through an expanded geography’ with the sub themes: ‘Indo-Pacific: Seamless and Collective’’ ‘Maritime Connectivity and Infrastructure’, and ‘Delivering Public Goods at Sea’. The last (7th) Indian Ocean Dialogue was hosted by United Arab Emirates and held virtually on 2-3 February 2021 around the theme ‘Fostering a New Era of Cooperation in the Indian Ocean’ from 2-3 February 2021.