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The port at Karachi currently handles 90 percent of Pakistan’s sea-borne trade, but because of its proximity to India, it is extremely vulnerable to blockade.This happened during the India-Pakistan War of 1971 and was threatened again during the Kargil conflict of 1999.

Pointing out that the oceanic influence on India’s foreign policy would grow in the next decade, he said that to meet the future challenges, the functioning of all maritime organs had to be coordinated by a single policy-making apex body. Narayanaswami Memorial Lecture on “Oceanic influence on India’s development in the next decade,” jointly organised by the India Cements Educational Society and the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras, he said planning strategies, human resource development and technologies should focus on leveraging the maximum advantage from the oceans.

The board would synergise the functioning of more than 14 government departments and agencies responsible for various elements of maritime affairs, besides several security agencies with jurisdictions along the coast. In the next decade, oceanic influence would significantly shape the country’s strategic development as a great power.

“While our responses must be measured so that competition for resources resulted in cooperation rather than conflict, we must retain a military capability that will make the cost of extra-regional intervention on our sovereign interests unbearably high for any outsider.”M.

Jitendran, Chairman and Managing Director of Cochin Shipyard Limited, Inspector-General Rajendra Singh, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), and M.

The challenge for India was to balance relations with China in such a manner that competition for strategic significance of space in the Indian Ocean leads to cooperation rather than conflict, he said he said speaking on "Oceanic Influence on India's Development in the next Decade."Talking about "Chinese designs on the Indian Ocean," Mehta said China had a strategy called `String of Pearls,' click as per which it seeks to set up bases and outposts across the globe, strategically located along its energy lines, to monitor and safeguard energy flows.