The Indian Blues

Ties between the two large economically emerging nations dates back to 2,000 years. History stands testament to the fact that these two nations have been in a series of war and peace time and again. Whether it be relations between the Cholas or the Mahabharata having references of the Qin dynasty. These two nations have time and again been on and off of each others back and will continue to do so because of proximity and the want of emerging as world superpowers. The two nations being India and China.

We might not have taken notice of the visit that our PM made to Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Mauritius since put simply there were just bilateral agreements made with the three.  But there is a deeper reason behind this move.
For a long time, China has been in pursuit of strategic maneuvers on a well-thought out route encircling India in the Indian Ocean. The string of pearls policy is that of strategic importance.  Beijing has been reaching out to India’s neighbors on the premise of development and trade, allegedly recreating the Silk Route. From Nepal in north to Myanmar in the East, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka in the south and Pakistan in the west, China plans to choke India diplomatically.
Through the Indian Ocean run some of the busiest sea routes globally, as oil and natural resources go from west to east to feed the needs of the world’s second largest economy, China. By virtue of its size, geographic location, and economic and military potential India is expected to play a leading role in keeping the sea routes of communication through the Indian Ocean safe for international trade and commerce.

The growing might of the Chinese Navy and its outreach to the Indian Ocean Region  mainly with the motive of surrounding India from all sides to prove dominance in and around India is her concern.  As for China and its “string of pearls”, India has effectively countered this strategy of a Chinese dominance around the Indian sub continent.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook a five-day tour of three Indian Ocean countries, displaying an active foreign policy intent after a long time. His visits were made to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, located strategically in the Indian Ocean region.

SEYCHELLES

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The island nation, strategically located when viewed in the context of sea lanes of communications, has long been an Indian ally. The last visit was by Indira Gandhi in 1981. Then Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Seychelles in 2007, which offered docking and berthing facilities for Chinese ships on anti-piracy operations. It was clearly past time to give the relationship a boost.

PM Modi started his visit by gifting a Dornier aircraft and agreements on cooperation in hydrography, renewable energy, infrastructure development, and the sale of navigation and electronic navigational charts were made.

The agreement to develop infrastructure on Assumption Island is of greater significance. The island development project provides an opportunity for India to place strategic assets in the Indian Ocean.  PM Modi also launched a Costal Surveillance Radar Project.

MAURITIUS

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the and Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth at the One to One meeting, in Mauritius on March 11, 2015.

Another country with which India has enjoyed decades of strong ties.

With PM Modi’s visit, the two sides have signed five bilateral agreements. India has also extended a $500 million of credit. The agreements cover the areas of ocean economy, cultural cooperation, the import of fresh mangoes from India, sea air transportation in the Agalega Islands, medicine, and homeopathy. Of greater significance is the proposed Indian assistance in developing the Agalega Islands.

Mauritius is among the largest sources of foreign direct investment in India. The two countries have agreed to fast-track the revision of their tax treaty. Misuse of the agreement has led to Mauritius becoming a favoured destination for hiding wealth. This is a tough issue for both nations to deal with.

SRI LANKA 

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Next on PM Modi’s itinerary was Sri Lanka, a far more difficult prospect.   Relations only worsened with Rajapaksa’s strong tilt towards China. The last time an Indian prime minister visited Sri Lanka was in 1987.

Modi took up the challenge. The balancing act was seen throughout the visit. In his talks and statements at Colombo, the issues of accommodating “the aspirations of all sections of society, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community” were mentioned. He also spoke in favor of implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which guarantees a greater devolution of powers to Tamils, and urged new President Maithripala Sirisena to go beyond it.

Amongst bilateral agreements signed are a customs pact, a credit line for $300 million, visa-on-arrival for Sri Lankan passport holders, and a $1.5 billion currency swap agreement to help the island nation keep its currency stable.

The Indian prime minister also announced his country’s support for the idea of Trincomalee becoming a petroleum hub. Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the local subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation would drive resources to India. These assets are definitely of strategic significance

CONCLUSION

For peace and progress in the region it’s important that the Indian Ocean remains a zone of peace. In fact, the purposes of all shareholders should be intact for shipping.

By giving these nations assurance, not only has PM Modi earned trust but also a strategic hold in the IOR which China was trying to exploit for its selfish gains.

As a repercussion to China’s string of pearls strategy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit has sent a clear message to IOR nations that India is ready to fulfill its responsibilities in the area. There are problems to address, including piracy in the region but these need to be resolved.
Taking into account, China’s move passively against India has led PM Modi to pose a balance for India in that region.  Thus, this visit to the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri lanka has given India a new page in the book of diplomacy.
(Important: The facts based on figures or numbers are taken from the internet network from various sources such as The Diplomat and The Indian Express; Sources of images: http://www.narendramodi.in)
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