• The Colombo Security Conclave is a regional security group that was first put together in 2011 by India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives as a trilateral Indian Ocean naval security group.It was brought back to life in 2021, and since then, the Conclave has grown in size and scope.
• The CSC is going towards more institutionalisation and growth. The most recent meeting of the group, where Mauritius was accepted as the fourth member, made this clear.
• CSC is expected to grow even more in the future, when Seychelles and Bangladesh will be added.
• India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Mauritius are now members of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC). Bangladesh and the Seychelles are now observers.
• The goal is to set up a place where countries can work together to improve marine security and deal with problems like drug trafficking, human trafficking, piracy, terrorism, and extremism.
• Pillars of Cooperation: At first, the group talked about four ways to work together.
o Security at sea o Fighting terrorism
o Fighting international crime; o Keeping computers safe;
“Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief” was added as the fifth area of cooperation at the most recent meeting in 2022.
• A office was set up in Colombo in March of 2021.
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Colombo Security Conclave: Significance
• Maritime security: the “CSC Focused Operation,” which is run by the conclave, is a key part of keeping the Indian Ocean safe for commercial shipping, foreign trade, and the legal use of the sea.
• Exchange of information: It makes the peace in the area even better by letting people share information at the right time.
• Cooperation between agencies. The gathering will help the security agencies understand each other better and work together better.
• Cybersecurity: The grouping helps deal with big problems like Deep Web, Dark Net, Digital Forensics, Cyber Threat Intelligence, and Defensive Operations in Cyber Domain.
• Dealing with environmental risks. Shipwrecks like those of the MV Xpress Pearl, MT New Diamond, and MV Wakashio have caused pollution in the Indian Ocean on a large scale. The conference also puts a lot of thought into this.
India and the Colombo Security Conclave
• India has a long shoreline and many strategically important islands. Because of this, maritime security is the most important thing for the country.
• India’s attempts to keep the region safe and stable will be helped by its regional partners working together more closely.
• Group members like the Maldives have become more involved with the QUAD, which is another important security group that India is a part of.
• This will help India gain more power in the area.
• India is the main force behind the “minilateral” conclave, and it is seen as India’s way of reaching out to the Indian Ocean to emphasise unity and shared security goals.
• Through CSC, India can stop China from becoming even more powerful in the region and lessen China’s impact on the other countries that are members.
• The grouping is also in line with India’s “SAGAR: Security and Growth for All in the Region” plan.
• India has good relationships with each of the member and guest countries, and the group will help the region work together and be more united.
• Even though the strategic interests of the six countries are similar in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), any attempt to turn the CSC into an organisation to counter China’s influence would end up like the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is generally seen as a failure.
• If India wants to avoid disagreements with its neighbours, it should start to accept that the IOR is becoming a “global commons.”
New Delhi has been critical of other big powers trying to have a position there for a long time.
Countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are more likely to strike a balance between India and China, won’t risk turning the CSC into a group of countries that support India against China.
• India should try to increase its soft power in the Indian Ocean region by taking steps that help the overall growth of countries in the area.
• India has helped countries like Mauritius and Seychelles in the past.
• Since the grouping has a lot of potential and reach, India should try to grow it by asking other countries in the area, especially those in Africa, to join the conclave.
• India must also work to increase the capacity of the conclave by sharing technology, expanding training facilities, providing equipment, and upgrading coastal security installations with the other member countries.
• There is a huge need for unity in the IOR because there are more and more security problems and unknowns.
• The CSC is more likely to work if it sticks to a common strategic vision and doesn’t get bogged down by China’s growing influence in the region.
• India should start to accept that the IOR is becoming a global common to avoid disagreements with its neighbours.