India and China, since they are being compared with each other have become more aggressive in the competition of spreading their influence in the region. While China projects itself as a world power, India continues to keep its limits within the subcontinent region. Although the world requires India to take leading role in the geopolitics diplomacy, India's response so far has been indifferent. India kept itself away from saying any word on the issue of Syria and Libya.
Although India has been slow when compared to China to secure even regional influence, India has managed small achievements in gaining international strategic presence.
India and China play a complex diplomatic politics. Friends at global levels, but rivals in the regional level. India and China trade is worth billions of US dollars. Recently on March 29th, 2012 Indian and Chinese leaders met during BRIC summit. The leaders stressed on linking economies along with other BRIC nations, as in trading in local currencies as well as linking stock exchanges of the member countries. The leaders also stressed on setting up of an international bank on par with Asian Development Bank, IMF and World Bank. It would fund various development projects in member countries and other emerging economies and may act as a relief provider for first time buyer mortgage in case of real financial crisis and disaster. The goal of the bank will also include lending, in the long term, if there comes a global financial crises such as the Eurozone crisis and issuing convertible debt, which could be bought by the central banks of all the member nations. Hence it will be acting as a vessel for risk-sharing.
Things that irritates China is India's sweet relations with exiled Tibetan government and Taiwan Island, which China claims as its own territory. India and China has been involved in full fledged war in 1962, after that both the countries tried to keep their differences aside and focus on the economy, although border disputes occurred many times.
India's main concern at the moment is checking its all time arc rival Pakistan and securing its influence on the Indian Ocean region.
So far India had been taking on the invasion by the neighbouring countries on its land, but recently it has realized that its presence at the other strategic locations on the map is also necessary to showcase its military readiness, flexibility and superiority.
On Thursday, July 5th, the visiting Mauritius foreign affairs and trade minister Arvin Boolell to India made an unexpected offer of giving two Mauritius sun-drenched islands to India as part of a trade and investment deal.
He said that India can use those islands to its advantage, it could be either a military base or India can develop them as a tourist spot. However soon the Mauritian High Commission in a press release denied that such an offer was ever made.
This is not the first time when Mauritius presented such an offer. The island nation had offered India the same two of islands North and South Agalega Islands nearly 1,100KM north of the Mauritius main Island in 2006. But the country had to take back the offer due to large disagreement in the political system of the country.
If the political pressure eases down in Mauritius and Indian government accepts the offer, then situated close to an important sea lane of communication in the southern Indian Ocean, these islands can be effectively used by the Indian Navy and Air Force. North Agalega island already has an airfield and can be repaired to make it into an advanced airbase. The island also caries a huge potential of becoming a tourist destination and agricultural land, although the land area is officially mere 70 sq km and it could be smaller as suggested by the satellite images.
India shares good strategic relations with Mauritius and its Naval and Air Force personnel work closely with the Mauritian Police (Army, the country doesn't have its own standing army), helping them in various tasks like checking illegal fishing in the maritime zones of Mauritius as well as checking pirate activities.
The deal is still on the paper and may not even exist as denied by the Mauritian High Commission, today the only Indian presence in the foreign country is Tajikistan where India maintains two air bases Farkhor and Ayni.
Farkhor is official Indian air force base. Situated near the border of Afghanistan, the airbase is nearly only 250KM away from Pakistan. Russia has a great influence in Tajikistan and doesn't allow any other country to form a base their. However, this base was secured by India with the assistance from Russia. in 2003, at the cost of $10 million, India repaired the base which was lying unused since 1980. The base hosts a squadron of Mig 29.
Ayni Airbase is situated much away near the border of Uzbekistan. Both India, Tajikistan and Russia deny the reports that India has been using this base for its Air Force. In January 2011, Tajik Foreign Minister, Hamrohan Zarifi, officially launched negotiations with Russia to discuss possible deployment of Russian military at Ayni. It is confusing that India has invested on this air base seven times more than what it invested in Farkhor, still there are denial from all the sides about its use as possible Indian Air Force base. Tajikistan has confirmed that India extended the length of the runway to 3,200 meters and installed state-of-the-art navigational and air defense equipment. India also maintains and operates a military hospital at the base.
|Farkhor and Ayni Air Base|
Both the Bases gives India an advantage over China and Pakistan. Indian aircrafts stationed there can reach China and Pakistan within minutes from the backside, at the time when the enemy would be expecting Indian aircrafts to come from the conventional direction.
Located in the east, India has its own base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, these islands joined the Indian Union in 1956 once the Royal Air Force handed the Car Nicobar airbase, once India secured the large island group, it not only had expanded India's Exclusive Economy Zone, but also brought Indian forces to the mouth of strategic Straight of Malacca.
Situated at the vital sea lines of communication between the Middle East and East Asia, the Maldives will be the nucleus of future security order in the Indian Ocean. M P Anil Kumar, analyst and former Indian Air Force Pilot says that India should offer Maldives statehood under its union. Maldives came into everybody's attention as it is the nation which has been experiencing the worst form of global warming. Maldives's height above the sea level is very low, that makes it very vulnerable to floods. Due to rise in sea level because of global warming, Maldives islands are feared to be submerged first. Considering the possibility that Maldivians will have to migrate before that happens, he said that their most preferred choice will be India, because of many similarities and closeness.
"Given what could happen by the year 2100, it is imperative for India to act in good faith, and also with an eye on our national interest. India should offer Maldives statehood within our Union. This move, apart from letting the Maldivians resettle on the mainland with minimum legal fuss will help to extend India's EEZ. A win-win prospect for both parties," He added "Even if they decline, India can ask for the belt of waters surrounding the archipelago to be converted into mare nostrum. Yep, the EEZ pitch is a decoy."
The possibility of Maldives joining Indian Union is very less, moreover China already has its footsteps on the island nation ans is trying its best to start the project of developing its base in Marao island of Maldives quickly. India has though tried to setup its naval and airbase in the island nation. It was in August 2009 when A.K. Anthony, visited the islands to discuss the deployment of surveillance aircraft and ships
Under the plan, India has expressed its will to renovate a former Royal Air Force base on the islands, and integrate the Maldives into its own coastguard system since the Maldivian government finds it impossible to police its own waters.
"India wants to reinforce and expand its perimeter defence and an active surveillance from a naval base will contribute to that important strategic objective," said Dr Anupam Srivastava, director of the Asia Programme at the University of Georgia's Centre for International Trade and Security.
Please share and join the discussion on facebook by clicking the "Like" below.