India’s SAGAR Policy and nervous China
Recently, a Qatar-based media outlet known for its anti-India propaganda raised the alarm about India allegedly building a naval base on Algalega island of Mauritius. Reports about this initiative by India have been floating in the media for quite some time. However, the clamour this time coincides with the Indian Navy beginning sea trials of its first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, ‘INS Vikrant’. India’s entry into the elite club of nations having built their own aircraft carrier has naturally disturbed all the Indian adversaries. Obviously, China leads the list with its hegemonic ambitions.
In 2015, India and Mauritius had signed an agreement to set up and upgrade infrastructure in the Agalega archipelago. Under it, India is building communication systems and an airstrip for landing aircraft like Boeing 737-900 and Airbus 320. However, with the unnecessary media attention, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has categorically denied that the construction at Agalega is for military purposes. Irrespective of this matter, India and Mauritius enjoy a deep relationship. Mauritius is a part of India’s security grid – the National Command Control Communication Intelligence network (NC3I) – that links 51 naval and coast guard stations. This fact is enough to explain the depth of the ties between the two countries. Apart from Mauritius, New Delhi is steadily developing relations with several countries to counter Beijing’s strategy to surround India and the aggressive and unnatural Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Seychelles is another island nation that has extensive ties with India. Here, India is developing Assumption Island on the lines of Agalega. Besides, the economic and military linkages between the two countries run deep.
Maldives is another Indian Ocean nation very close to India geographically as well as geopolitically. Also, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy enjoy secured access to Oman’s Duqm Port. Moreover, India is building a strategically important port in Indonesia Sabang. In addition, India has logistics treaties in place with France and the United States, which have islands spread across the Indian Ocean Region. India’s substantial initiatives under SAGAR Policy (Security And Growth for All in the Region) for the Indian Ocean Region have upset China. Overall, it is increasingly getting clear that Chinese economic and military bullying is sure to face resistance from nations, organisations and people who believe in freedom.