Imparting an added traction to its Indian Ocean diplomacy, India has enhanced its maritime cooperation in the region by gifting an interceptor boat to Seychelles. The island nation is strategically significant for India as it seeks to bolster its maritime presence in the region.
The interceptor boat, which will be used for patrolling, will be handed over to the government of Seychelles on January 21. It has been manufactured by Larsen and Toubro. The fast interceptor boat, which will travel a distance of 1524 nautical miles to Seychelles, will be handed over either by the Director General of Coast Guard or the Indian High Commissioner.
In a major leap forward for New Delhi’s interests in the strategic Indian Ocean region, India and Seychelles had signed a pact for cooperation on Blue Economy to promote sustainable ocean development in the region during the visit of President James Alix Michel to India in August 2015. India’s accelerated cooperation with Seychelles comes in the backdrop of China’s growing forays into the Indian Ocean region, which New Delhi is prone to regard as its backyard.
With the gifting of the interceptor boat, India is leveraging its position in the Indian Ocean region. With the signing of pact on cooperation in Blue Economy during Mr Michel’s visit, Seychelles could also gain economically by enhanced collaborating with Asia’s third largest economy and the world’s fastest growing economy.
Bolstering India’s Indian Ocean policy
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in March 2015, Mr Modi had said, “Seychelles is a vital partner in our Indian Ocean neighbourhood. Short it may be, but this visit has been very productive. ” During the visit, Mr Modi had formally launched the Coastal Surveillance Radar Project, a signature project of India that aims at bolstering surveillance capabilities of the island nation. “Our security partnership is strong. It has enabled us to fulfill our shared responsibility to advance maritime security in the region,” Mr Modi had said while unveiling his decision to gift another Dornier aircraft to Seychelles.
India had gifted a naval ship, INS Tarasa, to Seychelles to augment surveillance and patrolling capacity of Seychelles waters that encompasses an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 1.3 million sq. kms in 2014. India has also been strengthening the Seychelles Peoples’ Defence Forces (SPDF) in the wake of proliferation of pirates in the region. Military vehicles and surveillance equipment have also been donated to SPDF by India.
(Sridhar Ramaswamy contributed inputs for this article)
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