The vision of the Indian Ocean Research Group is to fulfill the important need to provide an over-arching social science policy-focused research umbrella for the region. Its vision builds upon two significant earlier attempts to construct a research umbrella for social science-oriented research in the Indian Ocean Region - the Indian Ocean Centre for Peace Studies (IOCPS) and the Indian Ocean Centre (IOC). Both of these initiatives were headquartered in Western Australia and both were ably led by Kenneth McPherson, who sadly died in 2010. Despite various setbacks, the spirit and hard work that have gone into making such initiatives and the worthwhile research produced by them over several years will continue to inspire us.
We felt that one of the principal shortcomings of earlier attempts to sustain a regional academic group was that they tended to be focused on one "pillar" (India or Australia) and that there was a need to develop a new network build initially on two "pillars" (India and Australia). With "Complementarity, Cooperation, and Collaboration" as its key guiding principles, the IORG thus aimed to develop a revamped Indian Ocean Regional academic network built on at least two pillars -Panjab University in Chandigarrh and the University of Western Australia. With these two places as the initial nodes, subsequent meetings of the group took place at different centres and institutes at locations around the Indian Ocean Region, which have since been added to the network.
The main challenge facing the IORG, of course, was to turn this visioin into a reality. In order to achieve this requires a significant degree of regional support. We are especially grateful for the support already provided by the Ministry of External Affairs, India; and by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). We are also grateful for the support provided by Panjab University and by the University of Western Australia. We are especially grateful to Panjab University for allowing us to host the Inaugural Conference in Chandigarrh in November 2002. We are equally grateful to various Indian Ocean Regional Governments, Institutes, NGOs and businesses that have helped sponsor meetings since that time, especially BHP-Billiton; the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) in Iran; the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA); the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Oman; and Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. Above all, we are indebted to all of the fine active participants at our meetings and within the group organisation, since, without a committed functioning regional community of scholars, the IORG vision can never become a reality.
Since those early days, we have been delighted to see network grow considerably. IORG is now auspiced by the Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute at Curtin University, Australia; and the University of Adelaide, Australia. We thank them all for their support.
Professor Dennis Rumley