“International Political Happenings in last ten years and its effect“
Geographically, India has diverse landforms which makes this tropical country stand out in the global map. The Indian territory is bounded by snow-capped mountains on the north, arid and semi-arid regions in the west, dense forests in the north-east and coastal areas in the south. To secure the land front and use the resources effectively, India follows a policy of safeguarding its territorial frontiers from physical attacks or land intrusions by neighbouring countries. Similarly, to tap on the advantage of a large Indian coastline which is specifically 7516 km, India is continuously evolving its strategy for the peninsular region. The rising influence of China in the Indian Ocean region with an aggressive approach has made Indian policy experts to suggest for a reinvigoration of the ocean-based strategy.
Why the Indian Ocean Region is important for India?
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) holds significance due to being a major route for global trade and energy. For a conducive growth, cooperation of all the nations that share their borders with the Indian Ocean needs to be taken into consideration. In this scenario, the small island states are of supreme importance. In conformity with this view, the Prime Minister of India on March 2015, launched the SAGAR Policy exclusively for the Indian Ocean Region.
The term ‘SAGAR’ means Security and Growth for All in the Region. This means that the Indian State would involve itself militarily and economically with the countries in the Indian Ocean Region so that the region is safeguarded from any attacks and the resources that move through this region reach the destination in a timely manner.
To pursue the objectives laid down in the SAGAR Policy, the Indian State is diversifying its relations with the Indian Ocean bound countries and deepen military and economic partnership with countries. The recent engagement in this regard is with Vanilla States.
Vanilla States are a group of island states that lies in the western Indian Ocean Region. These include Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mayotte and Reunion. These island states are jointly called as Vanilla States due to the cultivation of vanilla in these countries.
India has established relations with some of these above-mentioned countries. For instance, India-Mauritius relations has a historical background with Indian indentured labourers working for the sugar plantations in the Mauritian soil during the colonial times.
In March 2020, India along with France conducted joint patrols from the Reunion Island, which is a French overseas territory. Here, it is the naval engagement which has helped India in cementing relations with this island territory. Apart from this, there are development projects undertaken by the Indian government on the Seychelles island state which creates a feeling of goodwill among the people in general for the Indian nation.
In March 2020, a consignment of 1,000 metric tonnes of rice along with 1 lakh Hydroxychloroquine tablets was sent to Madagascar from India. Thus, India came to Madagascar’s assistance when the island nation faced drought.
In line with its SAGAR Policy, the Indian government provided timely help to many of the small island nations when the world was facing COVID-19 pandemic.
To go further in this engaging direction, the President of India officially visited Madagascar and in 2019 the Indian Vice-President undertook a visit to Comoros. This was the first time that an Indian official of such a high stature visited Comoros. This sent a message to the island states that Indian approach is that of a shared development.
Apart from deepening ties, the one thing that impacts all these island countries is the threat of rising sea levels. The Paris Agreement of 2015 set the limit of containing the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degree Celsius. The small island states are more prone to face this brunt of climatic risk. The effects of rising global temperature mean melting polar caps which would in turn raise the sea levels submerging parts of the islands within it. Thus, a cooperative approach to tackle this environmental threat is the need of the hour. As a solution to this, the Indian State brought an initiative to the global platform during the Paris Climate conference. This initiative was none other than, the International Solar Alliance.
International Solar Alliance
The International Solar Alliance is an action towards promoting solar energy over coal-based energy. The promotion of solar energy has two benefits. On one hand, the solar energy is a renewable source while on the other hand, the usage of this energy resource won’t lead to a polluting environment. The island states do conform to this view and showed support to this initiative. Comoros is a founding member of the International Solar Alliance which was established in 2018.
China which is a neighbouring country of India is aggressively making its mark in the Indian Ocean Region. It is using the debt trap policy for achieving its objective of being a supreme power in this region. China uses the tactic of giving out loans to the smaller nations on unsustainable rates of interest and with the failure of returning back the money, China takes away a part of the territory of the debt country and makes it as military base of China. To contain such conquests, India needs to be more pro-active in its approach towards the Indian Ocean Region.
In the last few years, India has started to seriously focus on the Indian Ocean Region because of the reasons mentioned above and also due to the multi-fold benefits this region could provide. This is the reason why India is exploring and establishing foreign relations with different littoral states as India knows this fact that only cooperation is the way forward for the development and prosperity of this region as a whole. Hence, India’s outlook towards the Vanilla States must be further strengthened for positive outcomes.
By: Ritika Sagar