A closer look at the Blue Economic Policy

26 Mar, 2021

8 min read

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What is the Blue Economic Policy?- Smart Money
You might have heard about the Blue Economic Policy in the news. Have you been wondering what it is all about, and what the implications will be for India’s GDP, and how exactly, the Blue Economic Policy will affect India’s critical GDP contributors in the years to come?

And more importantly, what is this blue economy all about? This is exactly what we are looking at in this article. So let’s dive in, right away. 

Let’s explore the second answer first. What is the concept of the blue economy about? Basically, The Commonwealth identifies the blue economy as a concept that encourages some of the biggest stakeholders to think about economic activities in the oceans in a responsible manner. And why do we want to do that? First of all, oceans do not have strict boundaries, despite nations claiming water bodies and making distinctions of territories through satellite imaging. Now, if India starts dumping nuclear waste in the Bay of Bengal, the pollution is likely to affect the nearby regions - and if this happens on a large scale, we are talking about implications for the entirety or underwater ecosystems across the globe. In fact, the concept of the blue economy directly speaks to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 14, which focuses on life below water. 

Moreover, some of the biggest global sustainability issues are linked to water bodies - like coral reefs going extinct, water pollution, rising sea levels, and disappearing aquatic life.  This is how the concept of blue economy tokenizes the responsibility of sustainable development around economic activities that take place in and near the oceans. You might already know how human life is inevitably connected to the oceans - in the form of populations residing around coastal regions and the economic activities that take place on coasts, like fishery, natural resource extraction, logistics (at seaports), tourism, etc. 

In India’s case, the Blue Economic Policy has special implications. Do you know why? First of all, let’s consider the scale of impact that’s possible by curating policies that will promote sustainable economic activity around oceans in India. A crucial thing to note here is that India is a peninsula with over 7500 kms of coasts, and nine of India’s states run along a coast. Moreover, India is home to 199 ports, of which 12 main ones shoulder 1400 million tonnes of cargo annually. In addition, over 40 lakh people rely on activities like fishing - and aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world. 

If resources are mobilised in the right manner, India can benefit immensely from a strengthened economy around its oceans. This is where the Blue Economic Policy comes in - the first draft of the policy begins by extending the blue chakra of the Indian flag as a symbol of how central the blue economy will be to india. However, the policy focuses on how the blue economy can become a critical multiplier of India’s GDP output, and doesn’t leave some pressing issues out of the equation - like maritime security, international commitments and inclusive growth, beyond sustainability. 

The policy lays emphasis on creating an agenda that is forward looking, and one that deploys the latest advancements in science and technology to create a multi-sectoral and interdimensional impact on the national economy, through an accountable governance structure. The policy also considers existing regulations, and benchmarks actionable recommendations by taking the current global scenario of the blue economy as a reference point. 

Moreover, it recommends commissioning of studies that will perform an in-depth impact assessment of investing in various sectors, and how these weights will affect the blue economy, and the larger national economy as whole. At the same time, it recommends such studies to also take the environmental impact into these projections - this is especially true of infrastructure and manufacturing intensive activities that will ultimately fuel the blue economy, more so because these activities come with a costly carbon footprint, and sustainability becomes a question of adopting new practices that offset environmental impact at higher input costs.

 The policy draft doesn’t leave out tourism and spatial planning either. For those of us who have been to beaches, we have definitely complained about or noticed the pollution and how it kills the joy of natural beauty. Spatial planning will be tied to the benefits resulting from greater tourism, which will also stimulate regional economies. Eliminating plastic litter on beaches and in the ocean through a focused maritime litter policy will be another area in the spotlight. 

In terms of mariculture, the policy recommends collaborations with international bodies to adopt practices with a lower carbon footprint, with the end goal of increasing output from these activities. Moreover, the draft also highlights the need to adopt advanced imaging and sensing technologies, that can monitor ocean health, and how these technologies will be critical to preserving sensitive aquatic ecosystems like coral reefs and other aquatic life that is suffering as a result of human/economic activities in the sea. 

Lastly, these goals must be achieved in line with the international regulations around maritime cooperation, and maritime security will play a big role in how India’s blue economy will shape up, in the context of global practices around the same. How the blue economic policy will set the direction for the Indian economy in the coming future is difficult to evaluate, mostly because these recommendations are yet to materialize through an agenda that will set things into motion. However, India’s Blue Economic Policy is a crucial step in the direction of sustainable growth, and might strongly stimulate activity in the coastal regions, given the prime minister’s resolve to turn these recommendations into action. 

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