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As part of regional focus, RIS has instituted a programme on Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) before its inception in 1997. Its thinking and studies on regional economic integration in IORA have contributed immensely to the formation of IORA in the subsequent phases. From time to time, RIS experts on IORA have provided inputs to the Govt. of India on various facets of regional economic cooperation in the region and the challenges of India’s engagement in the Association. In the recent past, RIS represented India as the nodal point in IORA Academic Group (IORAG) and played a key role in steering IORAG activities during India’s stint as Chair during 2011-12. Over the past few years, RIS has undertaken a number of studies on trade, investment and sectoral cooperation in the IORA region. Further, it aims to consolidate its activities and develop a dedicated in-house unit for research on IORA in the coming years.

Currently, RIS is working on two major studies on IORA focusing on economic aspects of fisheries and institutional framework for infrastructure investments in the region. Fishery is a key economic sector for most of the IORA countries that provides food, nutrition and livelihood to the people of the region and earns foreign exchange for the countries. Given its importance to the economies of the region, RIS study examines four core issues concerning fisheries including production of fish, other aquatic animals and plants, trade in fish and aquatic plant products, food and livelihood security, and regional institutional framework for fisheries governance and management. The study findings show encouraging trends in region’s fish production and global trade in fish and plant products. Likewise, RIS aims to fill the gap in understanding the need and importance of investments for infrastructure development in the region. Besides identifying the key areas of policy reforms, the study on infrastructure investments emphasizes upon the prospects of pooling regional resources for investment in regional infrastructure projects in sectors such as highways, power, ports, airports, telecommunications, information technology, etc. In addition, RIS is going to launch a study on the potential of blue economy in the region which will delve into the issues relating to economic contribution of blue economy to GDP, industrial growth and livelihood promotion. As blue economy is viewed as a holistic resource-centric development strategy in contemporary development policy literature, this study is expected to yield policy directions for sustainable exploitation of regional blue economy resources.

During March 20-22, 2015, RIS is going to host an international conference on India & The Indian Ocean: Renewing the Maritime Trade and Civilisational Linkages” which would serve as a platform for scholars from different parts of the IORA region to share their views on economic, maritime security and historical and cultural linkages in the region in the past and in the future.