Prime Minister’s visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka has infused fresh energy and support to all these Indian Ocean states. Many of the countries in Indian Ocean are crucial for India’s security and economic concerns. As Hindustan Times rightly mentioned, New Delhi has to ensure that Indian Ocean is, strategically, India’s Ocean! This visit has signaled that India is a security provider in strategically crucial sea lanes for global commerce and geopolitics. India is making its maritime safe and secure for the nation’s interest.
(Image taken from http://www.marineline.com website)
What PM did in these three countries was to assert India is still a leader with the ability to safeguard and develop these regions and it does not waste its comparative advantages to China and partly US which are trying to influence their presence.
At the same time this does not mean dominance or an ownership, but India would like these countries to consult it before taking any major strategic decisions. Generally small countries lying in the Naval borders of big Nations can feel venerable. For instance China’s revolution in military affairs (RMA) has raised fears of mineral rights, claims over territories, in the nations of East and South China seas. Where as India will never go for a territorial claim, it would strengthen the defense sectors of those countries to eliminate any external powers in those regions.
It is important and a high time for India to strengthen ties with these nations because:
- Seychelles had previously offered refueling and docking facilities to Chinese warships. Sri Lanka too had hosted Chinese submarines for re-supplying. With the mindset of Chinese to send more and more Naval naval escorts to these places, India should ensure it is the “preferred partner” for these kind of activities.
- Terrorism through sea is a threat to India
In Summary, Modi has signed two agreements with Seychelles and Mauritius and thus India acquired the infrastructure development rights. By operating and sharing the surveillance systems on these islands, India is slowing ensuring its presence and support in Indian Ocean.
Analyzed from ET and HT.
ET magazine today published “The 10 most powerful militaries in the world” in its centre page. I felt a moment of pride when I see India ranking 4th. I see India has second largest military manpower in the world after China. While US spends $612 billion and China $126 billion, Russia $76 billion, countries UK, Japan, India, France and Germany spend nearly $45 billion each of their budget. Also published are various numbers of military assets like tanks, rocket systems, aircrafts, helicopters, submarines, and aircraft carriers.
Image taken from indiandefence.com
It’s also nice to see India possess 2 aircraft carriers while rest of the countries has 1 or none. Of course no need to mention US has 10. The number of aircraft carriers a country has determines its air power and amount of dependency on other countries’ local military bases.
In the last year’s Union budget, FDI limit in defence was increased from 26 to 49% to boost military modernization. It is very vital for India to allocate its budget based on strategic and operational (military modernization) priorities. Government has made military modernization as priority for now.
Strategic priorities determine when and where the forces are to be deployed. Though two third’s of military is deployed against Pakistan, the threat of conventional military war from Pakistan is not as much as from China now.
Why threat from China is noticeable:
- There are unanswered questions on how the mountain corps across the China’s border is raised.
- There has been increased presence of China’s navy in Indian Ocean.
- The increased China’s defence budget.
Well, when it comes to National security – defence, not all strategies are not visible to us. I am certainly sure; there is something in our government’s mind that has a counter to China.
Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will join Indian Navy today. This aircraft carrier is described as a game changer in Naval circles. Reason?..
A country’s geostrategic influence occurs primarily by its Navy. Say, for example, US, for the matter, plays a dominant role in Middle East, South East Asia and elsewhere because of its high capabilities in its Navy force – with 11 carrier battle groups. China in South China Sea, is dominant because of it strong Chinese Navy presence.
India is geographically centered in Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 40% of Indian offshore oil production comes from Indian Ocean. 2/3 rd world’s oil traffic goes through Indian Ocean making India’s geographic position prominent. Strong presence of Navy in these areas of IOR gives New Delhi with one of the powerful tool – “Foreign policy”.
- India can’t leave China to increase its footprint in Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
- South East Asian countries look for help for the Indian Naval presence that will counter Chinese Influence.
- 77% of China’s oil imports too pass through IOR
- If India has to have a heavyweight in IOR, it should have intent and ability to provide humanitarian assistance in case of natural disasters and protect the shipping lines like how US Navy generally does.
Some facts on INS Vikramaditya
- To start with Indian Amy, as always has the lion share in defence budget, this time of 49%. Air force, 28%. Though Navy is allocated 18% of the defence budget it is already an increased one.
- Unfortunately this carrier does not have protection against air attacks(neither air missiles nor close in weapons), however it has ability to become invisible on radar through its electronic warfare systems.
- The Military build-up at Andaman and Nicobar gives India a key geostrategic edge.