Context:

Recently, there was a report on the construction of an airstrip and two jetties to house an Indian military base on Agalega, located about 1,000 km north of the archipelago’s main island.

Mauritius has denied a report that it has allowed India to build a military base on the remote island of Agalega, with a government official telling that no such agreement exists between the two nations.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign policies affecting India’s Interests, Important political developments in foreign countries affecting India’s interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Agalega Islands and India
  2. Significance of this area
  3. India–Mauritius relations

About Agalega Islands and India

  • Agaléga are two outer islands of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers north of Mauritius island.
  • The islands have a total area of 2,600 ha (6,400 acres).
  • There is an MoU between the governments of Mauritius and India to develop the Agaléga islands and resolve infrastructural problems faced by Agaleans.
  • India asserts that these new facilities are part of its Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) policy, which aims to increase maritime cooperation between countries in the region.
  • Mauritius, for its part, has indicated that its coastguard personnel will use the new facilities.
  • But it is clear that the Indian investment of $250m in developing an airfield, port, and communications hub on this remote island is not aimed at helping Mauritius develop its capacity to police its territorial waters.

Significance of this area

  • The Agalega area is currently a blind spot for the Indian Navy and by building a military facility in it, New Delhi hopes to expand its maritime domain awareness.
  • In times of conflict, knowing the location of enemy ships and submarines, without being detected in the process, creates a significant advantage.
  • China’s naval forays into this region are the true motivator for its expanding naval presence.
  • In peacetime, effective maritime domain awareness helps establish international partnerships with like-minded militaries and also acts as a deterrent to both state and non-state adversaries, by signaling reach.

India–Mauritius relations

  • India–Mauritius relations date back to 1730, diplomatic relations were established in 1948, before Mauritius became independent state.
  • The cultural affinities and long historical ties between the two nations have contributed to strong and cordial relations between the two nations.
  • More than 68% of the Mauritian population are of Indian origin, most commonly known as Indo-Mauritians.
  • India and Mauritius co-operate in combating piracy, which has emerged as a major threat in the Indian Ocean region and Mauritius supports India’s stance against terrorism.
  • From the 1820s, Indian workers started coming into Mauritius to work on sugar plantations.
  • In the 1830s, when slavery was abolished by the British Parliament, large numbers of Indian workers began to be brought into Mauritius as indentured labourers.
  • November 2nd is observed as ‘Aapravasi Day’ to mark the ship named ‘Atlas’ docking in Mauritius in1834 carrying the first batch of Indian indentured labourers

-Source: The Hindu

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