• Recently, the Defence Minister of India addressed the 5th World Congress on Disaster Management (WCDM) held in New Delhi.
  • At the congress the Defence Minister asserted that, time and again India has proved itself to be “first responder” in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • The emerging concept of India as a “first responder” reflects the country’s growing capability and increasing willingness to assume the role of a leading power.

Important points:

  • Deepening economic and security cooperation among the littoral states.
  • Enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories.
  • Working towards sustainable regional development.
  • Blue Economy and promoting collective action to deal with non-traditional threats like natural disasters, piracy and terrorism.
  • India’s unique position in the Indian Ocean Region, complemented by a capability of the Armed Forces, enables it to contribute significantly in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) situations.
  • By contributing its resources to prevent or mitigate regional and international crises, India is demonstrating its commitment as a responsible actor in the international order.
  • Challenging geo-political landscape and the traditional and non-traditional threats including natural calamities like Covid-19 faced by the world.
  • Whether it is a natural catastrophe, or a sudden financial shock, the repercussions are often massive, with regional and global implications.
  • By taking the lead, India tries providing a public good to the international order, supporting smaller or less capable states in dire need of assistance.
  • India has been regularly conducting exercises to deepen the HADR co-operation and coordination with its neighbours and friendly countries with a focus on sharing expertise and building capabilities.
  • The Indian government and military forces have played a critical role in supporting neighbouring countries in relief operations like the 2004 tsunami, 2015 Nepal Earthquake, etc.
  • India taking lead and offering expertise of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (DRI) to its friendly countries .
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) was first proposed by India during the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in New Delhi.
  • Operation Rahat in Yemen in 2015 when India rescued and evacuated over 6,700 persons, including over 1,940 citizens of more than 40 other countries.
  • The Indian Navy has emerged as the Indian Ocean’s default first responder to non-traditional security challenges.
  • To combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden since 2008, it deployed almost thirty warships that have escorted more than 1500 ships and thwarted around thirty piracy attempts.
  • India has often taken the lead in supporting countries going through post-conflict processes which require expert resources and significant funding.
  • For Example, India provided help to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka for post conflict recovery.

Way Forward

Leveraging Cutting-Edge Technologies: Emerging cutting-edge technologies in the fields of space, communication, bio-engineering, bio-medics and artificial intelligence can revolutionise the way the risks of disasters are assessed and communicated through early warning.


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