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Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework: A New Perspective for Young India

By Aarohi Kapadia, Dr. (Cdr) Arnab Das


India is striving to be at the forefront of global affairs and at the heart of this mission are the commonly overlooked contemporary challenges which have the potential to open up opportunities for the youth. The underwater domain of the Indian Ocean Region is a largely unexplored sector that poses significant geopolitical challenges and could offer appreciable prospects for India’s youth to shape their future.

Historically, India was a global power with substantial maritime capabilities with its seafarers and traders, traveling far and wide for economic, cultural and civilizational expansion. This prosperity attracted the Mughals and the Europeans to invade India, plunder its resources and capabilities, and leave the country in a state of strategic disarray. Decades have gone by post-independence however, until the beginning of the 21st Century, India continued to ignore its 7,500 km coastline and the vast undersea resources.

The underwater domain of the Indian Ocean Region is a largely unexplored sector that poses significant geopolitical challenges and could offer appreciable prospects for India’s youth to shape their future.

The international community has shifted its focus towards the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for multiple strategic reasons since the IOR has become a major shipping route and this has led to a massive military build-up from extra-regional powers in the region, making IOR a conflict zone. These extra-regional powers are meddling with the nations in the region and the fragmented regional dynamics are encouraging political volatility, causing non-state actors to actively indulge in activities that destabilize peace and harmony in the region. It is becoming a vicious cycle which is detrimental to the prosperity of the region. The aspirational India needs to develop a tactical focus towards the maritime resources that are getting undermined due to the geo-political disorder and negligence towards strategic capacity building.

The gap in recognition of India’s maritime potential can be bridged by overcoming sea blindness in academia. Over the years, academia has developed a holistic ecosystem that proves to be a safe space for innovation and collaboration of enthusiasts from different fields. Our undersea domain is largely unexplored and encouraging academia to spearhead initiatives that maximize our maritime capabilities will be instrumental to capacity building. This will also give academia an insight into the industry requirements and enable development of specialized courses that identify the unique skills required to tackle various maritime hurdles. Additionally, this will boost research opportunities for young scientists.

Figure-1 Career Prospects in the Maritime Sector

Another source of inspiration for academia to prioritize maritime focused curriculums is the announcement of the “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) vision by the Prime Minister in 2015, along with several mega projects initiated by the government, which could translate to numerous job opportunities in the logistics sector, cyber (to support logistics), high end data science & robotics, civil engineering for building infrastructure, ship design, shipbuilding & ship repair, maritime security & safety, operational research and management and many more domains.

While the SAGAR vision has fostered career prospects in the maritime sector, the industry remains unsatisfied with the employability of the younger generation. Academia needs to recognize the future needs of the nation and upskilling has to be complemented with knowledge-based learning. The young India needs to be appropriately skilled in terms of policy, technology & innovation, and human resource development to be able to channelize their energy towards the growth of India’s maritime dominance.

The young India needs to be appropriately skilled in terms of policy, technology & innovation, and human resource development to be able to channelize their energy towards the growth of India’s maritime dominance.

Figure 2 The UDA Framework

The Underwater Domain Awareness Framework, which encourages pooling of resources and synergizing of efforts across stakeholders to ensure safe, secure and sustainable growth for all, in concurrence with appropriate support from academia and judicious policy formulation can uplift the youth of India in realizing their role towards the multidisciplinary scope of India’s maritime capacity building.

About Author

Aarohi Kapadia

Ms. Aarohi is a medical technology enthusiast and a student of Biomedical Engineering. With a passion for writing & research, she thrives on innovation. Currently, she is an intern at Maritime Research Center, Pune and is working on the effects of the changing underwater ecosystem on the health of human divers.

Dr. (Cdr.) Arnab Das

Director, Maritime Research Center, Pune