Prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the two Indian ocean island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius may not have got the media buzzing . But strategically speaking , they are by far the most important ones he have undertaken . As our aspirations are expected to grow over the years , a better relation with our Indian ocean neighbors could prove a game changer in the long run . We are the only country in the world to have an ocean named after us , though the nomenclature may be accidental , geography has it that there is not a single landmass of notable size south of kanyakumari , making us the prime care taker and possibly the potential benefactor of its resources . With the rising east , the trade through this route is only set to increase , making us not just a global power but a significant player in the future multipolar world.
The primary objective of any nation is self preservation , with hostile neighbors to the north and west , India cannot have its coastline left undefended . unlike the pacific or the atlantic oceans , the level of militarization of the Indian ocean is still low , Though this could facilitate uninterrupted free trade but in the longer run it could have fatal as seen with the rising piracy over the horn of Africa .T The united states and Britain do have a military base at Diego garcia in the Indian ocean , but the assertion of power over the entire region was limited, china was the first to initiate a long term military cum trade agenda for the region through the “string of pearls ” initiative . India had never shied away from showing its unease at the opening of a potential hostile front in the south , with the conflict over the control of the south china sea now heating up , India is compelled to assert itself in the region through its own security initiative. The SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative , aimed at greater engagement with the Indian ocean region was initiated by The Prime Minister , under which the Indian government have signed MoUs for the development of assumption island( Seychelles) and agalela island (Mauritius) as trade and defense outposts . The Prime Minister’s visit also coincided with Seychelles and India launching a Coastal Surveillance Radar Project and commissioning of Barracuda into the service of the Coast Guard of Mauritius , our first steps to ensure maritime security in the region.
Indian ocean could indeed be India’s ocean if we could use its abundant resources to fulfill our growing demands , The blue economy project aimed at harnessing these resources was extended to these countries , so that our interests are met without harming the nations over the ocean’s rim nor the ocean’s ecology. our passive demeanor over the race for arctic resources has already put us in the back foot . A similar situation in the Indian ocean will be unacceptable , hence pioneering the blue economy initiative to explore the bounties of the ocean is the right step towards India’s resource self sufficiency.
The prime minister’s previous foreign visits were more hyped than the one discussed above , yet his subtle initiatives this time are going to reap huge dividends in the future for India as a nation.