Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered keynote address at the prestigious geo-strategic event of the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore at the 17th Asia Security Summit. In his address PM Modi unveiled India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region. He said that India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region is that of a free, open and inclusive region that embraces all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. Referring to regional maritime issues, he asserted that the geographic region is not a ‘club’ directed to oppose any other countries or group; but it is a positive construct that holds promise of peace and prosperity for all.

Praising the host nation – Singapore, the Indian Prime Minister said that it is our springboard to the ASEAN.  Singapore, for centuries has been a gateway for India to the broader east. “I am pleased to return to a region, known to India since ancient times as Swarnabhoomi, (the land of gold)…..For thousands of years Indians have turned to the east not just to see the sunrise but also to pray for its light to spread over the world”, said the Indian PM heaping praises to the host nation.

In his keynote address PM Modi put forward India’s perspective for the Indo-Pacific region and vibrancy of India’s Act east policy. Here are the key takeaways from the prime minister’s address:

India and China must work together – “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China will work together with trust and confidence”, said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Adding that with trade between both the countries growing, Indo-China cooperation is expanding. “We have displayed maturity and wisdom in managing issues and ensuring a peaceful border. There is growing intersection in our international presence”, asserted the Indian PM. The Indian PM also said that “An Asia of “rivalries” will hold the region back while an Asia of cooperation will shape the century”.

Globalisation key to development – PM stressed that for the goals of development and prosperity to be achieved it is important that nations do not start competing with each other adding that rivalry will hold Asia back while that of cooperation will shape the century. Calling for an end to protectionism in this age of globalization, he said that “Solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection, but in embracing change”, adding, “This is a world of inter-dependent fortunes and failures. No nation can shape and secure it on its own. It is a world that summons us to rise above divisions and competition to work together. Is that possible? Yes it is possible”. Indian PM also said that India’s diplomatic relations with powerful nations are dynamic, cordial and friendly.

Equal access as a right under international law – The Indian PM made it clear that the Indo-Pacific region is an interlinked region and the destinies of all the nations are interlinked. He called all to rise above the divisions to live together. He gave a new mantra for lasting peace in the Indo-Pacific region. The Prime Minister also called for equal access as a right under international law to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law. “I see ASEAN as an example and inspiration. Solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection, but in embracing change. What we seek is a level playing field for all. India stands for open and stable international trade regime”, said the Indian PM in his key note speech. Stressing on connectivity, Modi said that apart from enhancing trade and prosperity, it also unites a region. “All of this is possible, if we do not return to the age of great power rivalries,” he said. “I have said this before: Asia of rivalry will hold us all back. Asia of cooperation will shape this century.”  

The Indian PM also asserted that the global transit routes must be peaceful.  “The Indian Ocean has shaped much of India’s history. It now holds the key to our future….. South East Asia is India’s neighbour by land and sea …90 percent of India’s trade goes through the area and it remains a vital source of energy security for the nation….India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region is a positive one and it has many elements. India stands for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it”, stressed the Indian PM Modi.   

“This world is at a crossroad…there are temptations of the worst lessons of history. But, there is also a path of wisdom. It summons us to a higher purpose: to rise above a narrow view of our interests and recognise that each of us can serve our interests better when we work together as equals in the larger good of all nations. I am here to urge all to take that path”, said the Indian PM concluding his key note address.

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is Asia’s premier defense summit. This year the summit happened from 1st-3rd June in Singapore. Started in 2002; the defense summit includes a regular gathering of defense professionals in the Asia-Pacific region. Since its launch, the Dialogue has been able to built confidence and fostered practical security cooperation, by facilitating easy communication and fruitful contact among the region’s most important defense and security policymakers.

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