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Navy's capability significantly enhanced on east coast

The Indian Navy's capability has been significantly enhanced on the east coast, as the sealine is "strategically important" to the nation in addressing security issues and threats from the rivals, a senior naval officer said here on Monday.

"There has been a progressive enhancement of the Indian Navy's capability on the east coast to increase the military assets on this coast as well as in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands," Vice Admiral H.C.S. Bisht, Flag Officer, Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam, said at a programme.

The Vice Admiral said the maritime domain of the Bay of Bengal has achieved renewed significance on several fronts, particularly due to the Look East policy.

"The Bay of Bengal is strategically important for India as it provides considerable leverage against rivals and helps in addressing the security issues that directly threaten Indian interest, including terrorism, piracy, smuggling and insurgency," he explained at a workshop on "India's Maritime Connectivity: Importance of the Bay of Bengal", organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

The navy commander also claimed that the infrastructural development would help "further increase India's maritime connectivity and achieve economic progress".

Talking about China's increasing footsteps in the region through its new policies, Bisht said there was an amount of skepticism about their military initiatives.

"China is slowly and surely increasing its political, economic and military influence in inevitable competitions with the US and India. The Chinese strategy is to develop dependencies among nations like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh through their initiatives like the maritime silk route and the recently introduced 'One Belt, One Road' initiative," Bisht said.

"But, there is an amount of scepticism about their military initiatives in the region," he said.

Asserting that the opportunities and threats necessitate a coordinated approach to achieve success, Bisht said that "cooperation rather than destructive competition is the need of the hour".

"The maritime domain of the Bay of Bengal offers the potential of being a medium of choice for regional cooperation, regional security and share economic progress for the countries that border it. Cooperation rather than destructive competition is needed in the Bay of Bengal," he added.

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