New Delhi: Observing that cases of piracy were increasing at an "alarming rate", Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday said the "real problem" was located on land where "powerful people" were backing the sea brigands.
Addressing a seminar on Indian Ocean Region (IOR), he said the area was a "complex domain" as it was "unfortunately" host to many of the global concerns.
"Piracy cases are continuing at an alarming rate. The challenge of piracy is yet to be effectively quarantined. There is a consensus that while the pirates can be neutralized at sea, the real solution lies in addressing the root causes which are complex and are actually located on land.
"That is the real problem in addressing the issue of piracy at the moment. Pirates are only the front as there are powerful people behind them," he said.
The Indian Navy has deployed its warships in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 to escort merchant vessels safely through piracy-prone areas there.
The minister said India has put forward certain proposals before the United Nations to tackle piracy, for which a "consensual and cooperative" effort was required.
Commenting on the IOR against the backdrop of increasing presence and interest of countries such as China, Antony said, "The region unfortunately hosts many of the global concerns, which makes Indian Ocean a complex domain.”
"Unlike the Atlantic and the Pacific, few of the major powers are geographically contiguous to its waters and yet they have maintained a certain military presence and abiding politico-diplomatic interest in these waters," he said.
Antony said the region has seen "new partnerships being forged" and old anxieties being revived. Observing that it was "inescapable" to accommodate the strategic interests of the interlocutors in the region, Antony said, "The principal need is to manage the oceanic domain in keeping with the normative principles of international law.”
"In the IOR, the net outcome is a constant turbulence of intense diplomatic activity and substantial military investments by major powers," he said.
Antony said the IOR was also facing problems such as food shortages, environmental degradation, shrinking fish reserves and climate-induced migration and there was a need for cooperative endeavour to address these issues.