New Delhi: After offering USD 500 million credit to Mauritius and inking five pacts, India has successfully bagged “infrastructure development rights” for two islands in the Indian Ocean – Agalega from Mauritius and Assomption from Seychelles.
Through this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered to set up joint working groups with the two blue economies to harness potential for economic cooperation.
The opportunity is being seen as a huge one for India which otherwise lost out to China in having any purposeful engagement with the littoral states of the Ocean despite its own central position.
Now by extending hands towards these littoral states, Modi government has acknowledged the primacy of Indian Ocean for India's security and also for maintaining peace and stability in the region.
As published in Times of India, some official sources have revealed that the two islands were being discussed for months before these were concluded during the PM's visit in a sign that “Indian Ocean was going to be India's Ocean”.
''Our agreement today on the development of infrastructure in the Assomption Island (Seychelles) gives a strong boost to this partnership,'' said Modi in a media statement, adding that the ocean economy was indispensable to meeting India's future challenges. Modi also launched a Coastal Surveillance Radar Project.
In order to upgrade the condition of inhabitants of Mauritius, India has signed a MoU with the remote island for setting up and upgrading infrastructure for improving sea and air connectivity at the outer island of Mauritius.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said these facilities are also expected to enhance the capabilities of the Mauritian defence forces in safeguarding their interests in the island.
Until recently, it was China which had a bigger presence in the Indian Ocean as it undertook many mega infrastructure projects in several littoral countries and in turn the island nations also welcomed its proposals.
China's decision to send submarines in Indian Ocean right up to the Gulf of Aden in the recent past was also another growing concern for India which is all expected to restore with Modi's visit to the three nations including the Friday visit to Sri Lanka.
Although the new government in Sri Lanka is expected to address India's security concerns which were not dealt by the previous Mahinda Rajapakshe regime, the Maldives still does not seem to be in accord with India's expectations as the pro India former President Mohamed Nasheed remains under detention.
India signed another MoU with Mauritius which will provide an extensive framework for cooperation in the field of ocean economy. It provides for mutually beneficial cooperation for exploration and capacity development in the field of marine resources, fisheries, green tourism, research and development of ocean technology, exchange of experts and other related activities.