India’s role as the “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean region will receive a major boost when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits three India Ocean nations of Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka from March 10-14.
Mr. Modi in his departure statement on Tuesday said: “My visit to the three Indian Ocean Island countries reflects our foreign policy priorities in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood…” and added, “I am confident that my visits to all three countries will reinvigorate our relations with them in this all-important region we call home — the Indian Ocean.”
This highlights the renewed focus by India to take lead role in the region. China has in recent times made significant investment in infrastructure projects in these nations causing concern in New Delhi.
In his first stop in Seychelles, Mr. Modi will inaugurate the first of the eight Coastal Surveillance Radar System (CSRS) being set up by India. These will be manned by the Seychelles Coast Guard.
“This is part of the capability enhancement project for Seychelles in which India is helping,” Defence Ministry officials said on Monday.
On the focus on Indian Ocean region one Ministry official commented that, “If you don’t do it, someone would be there to do it. We are just making up for the lost time.”
Mr. Modi is also scheduled to commission MCGS Barracuda — an offshore patrol vessel — in Mauritius on March 12, 2015 built by Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE). India has already set up eight CSRS in Mauritius in 2012.
In addition to Seychelles, an agreement for setting up similar systems in Maldives is pending and six Automatic Identification System (AIS) stations have been set up in Sri Lanka. India is also assisting Mauritius in the hydrographic survey of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
India is helping Indian Ocean littorals as part of capacity and capability enhancement in strengthening their maritime domain awareness capabilities.
These stations will be eventually integrated with India’s coastal monitoring network to give wide coverage of the Indian Ocean region.