India re-establishes position in the Indian Ocean region

(VOVworld)- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a 5-day tour of Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka- the three island countries in the Indian Ocean. The tour reflects the Indian Prime Minister’s determination to raise India’s prestige in the region.

Before this tour, Indian and international media shared the view that the major goal of Prime Minister Modi’s tour is to bring India closer to its neighbors through economic and military aid packages. As China is trying to increase its presence in the region by building highways, power plants and sea ports, India finds it important to re-establish its own position in the region.

India re-establishes position in the Indian Ocean region - ảnh 1
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tours of Indian Ocean countries

Fostering neighborliness

Seychelles was the first leg of Modi’s tour. Though it has a population of only 90,000, Seychelles has an important location in the strategic security triangle in the Indian Ocean. Modi and Seychelles President James Michel signed a treaty by which India will continue to be Seychelles’ major supplier of national defense equipment including patrol ships, monitoring radar, and navigation charts. The treaty shows Modi’s success in strengthening military ties to Seychelles in the face of Chinese and Russian efforts to establish a military base there.  

After Seychelles, Modi visited Mauritius, an island with a population of 1.2 million. The Indian Foreign Ministry said the visit was aimed at expanding India’s military cooperation with Mauritius through commitments of providing Indian coast guard ships to help Mauritius strengthen maritime defense and safeguard its exclusive economic zone. Mauritius plans to commission the Indian-built coast guard ship “Barracuda”. New Delhi has promised to provide Mauritius with 13 warships. Modi was also guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Mauritius.

Modi’s tour ended in Sri Lanka. This was the first time in 28 years an Indian Prime Minister has visited Sri Lanka. India always considered Sri Lanka its “back yard” until the election of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa, when ties between the two countries declined and China became the largest foreign investor Sri Lanka and signed several major agreements on infrastructure development. China’s warships continue to dock at Sri Lanka. So, when a new Sri Lankan President was elected early this year, India took the opportunity to expand military and economic cooperation with Sri Lanka. Modi’s visit came at a moment when the China-Sri Lanka relationship was strained because Sri Lanka had suspended a Chinese real estate project worth 1.5 billion USD due to allegations of a lack of transparency and environmental standards.

India’s position strengthened

Since taking office, Prime Minister Modi has put in place several measures to address weaknesses and failures in India’s external relations and security policies of his predecessor. Modi is determined to re-establish India’s position and strategic geopolitical power in the region.

India controls most of the Indian Ocean and the East-West maritime route, the bloodline of the global economy. India plays a crucial role in establishing balance between world powers. It’s now time for India to make a serious effort to strengthen its position in the region. Prime Minister Modi is dancing between building an alliance with Russia and China and cooperating with the US. Modi is proving ambitious in the race to gain influence in South Asia and East Asia. Japan was his first overseas trip after taking office. Modi’s tour of Indian Ocean countries is more evidence of his external relations strategy.