The geostrategic areas of the small island nations in the eastern and western Indian Ocean location is a crucial factor to think about for diplomacy reformations for both the standard powers and the new powers of the 21st century. The uncertainty of the diplomacies of these 6 island countries (Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka) persists, as regards their alliance with increasing powers.
The domestic political scenarios of these island nations play a considerable role in their external relations. The challenge for these smaller sized nations is the vulnerability to external pressures along with maintaining stability and sovereignty. Here is where diplomacy has actually been the vital tool for developing deep-rooted diplomacies. Due to the moving and susceptible domestic political programs of these island countries of the Indian Ocean, the formula of their foreign policy is slow in development and ensuing application.
Indian Ocean Region and ‘Sagar’ Mentor
Enhancing maritime domain is an especially vital function of collective action of standard powers with island nations of the Indian Ocean. With regard to the Indian Ocean’s geo-political significance, diplomacy is of vital worth in unifying the interests of Asian-African and Australasian nations. The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) including over 20 considerable countries have in fact been connecting in influencing and helping the diplomacy of its member countries. The significance of IORA takes into account the interests of 1.6 billion individuals of the member nations. India believes the IORA as an important channel for attaining peace and security in the territory. India plays a vital function as a popular member in forming the objectives and implementation of the policies of IORA. Just just recently, India was admitted to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as an observer member. This advancement is among the actions in India’s tactical vision for ‘Sagar Teaching’ (Security And Development for All in the Location) provides more aspects for Eastern Indian Ocean island nations to deepen industrial and security linkages with India. Thus India’s strategy to its location through ‘Neighbourhood First’ diplomacy teaching applies more resources and affects for higher top priority on small island countries such as the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Eastern Indian Ocean Island of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s diplomacy as an island nation promotes its nationwide interest in coevality with mainland India without compromising its diplomacy with other fan countries. For stabilisation of the Indo-pacific region, these geopolitically well-located islands are of utmost value to considerable countries. Nevertheless, China’s growing impact in these island nations such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives has really been a substantial obstacle to India’s security interest.
Sri Lanka’s tactical position in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean holds excellent worth for India, supplying great deals of factors for India to pursue much better bilateral relations. To Sri Lanka’s south and east are the crucial countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) and on the west lies the African continent. It is approximated that more than 60,000 ships cross the coast of Sri Lanka and its range to India and China, provides elements to think for better relations.
On the other hand, the Eastern Indian Ocean Island nation deals with competitors for control by China on one side and the US-led Asia-Pacific Quadrilateral Alliance on the other. Given its active involvement in the IORA, Sri Lanka’s capacity of being a helpful and collective partner has lots of benefits and uses further inspiration for India and United States to establish diplomatic relations with the island nation. The Indian Ocean island nation will strengthen such tactical security policies that will be made with an ‘India extremely first approach’. Colombo, on the other hand, will keep its doors open up to land into deals with other crucial players for monetary advancement. Connection and bandwagoning have been main to the new diplomacy characteristics of smaller sized states just recently. In the 21st century, the power matrix in between bigger and smaller sized countries will be determined by this paradigm shift.
Western Indian Ocean Island of Maldives
The Indian Ocean, which motivates a significant part of world exchange and completes as a monetary help for more than 2 billion people, has become an around the world hotbed. To its west, India values rights over virtually 400,000 square kilometres of the exclusive financial zone (EEZ) since of the Lakshadweep Islands. Placed 500 km off the coast from both Sri Lanka and India, The Maldivian Island has strategic checkpoints on both ends of their borders in the Indian Ocean where oil passes through every day. Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden and the Malacca Strait are all within its limitations.
As the island nation is close to the equator, it has a large monetary unique zone (EEZ) that needs tracking and security for necessary shipping lanes. They offer maritime defence services across 960 km from the north to the south consisting of the EEZ from the 20 tolls. The Maldives is a crucial buffer zone that divides the Indian Ocean from the east from the west, it is well within the borders of the Indian tactical orbit. Apart from India and China that has tactical impact, even the United States is straight associated with defence on these little islands within the Indian Ocean through their marine base in Diego Garcia. Around 30,000 United States defence employees in the 35 sq. km base deal defense to the Indo-Pacific location and also cancels the Chinese effect in this area
A far-sighted Indian Ocean diplomacy
Making groundwork based upon the predictions of the future of the small island state’s Ocean policy is a rather difficult job. With the growing impact of China in South Asia, majorly contributes to the doubt on whether Sri Lanka and the 5 little Indian Ocean Island’s diplomacy hold significant top concern in the Indian National Security program. For this far-sighted diplomacy to work, the shared involvement in commitments in between numerous firms in both in the 6 Indian Ocean Island countries and India is important. This, in turn, will produce the vital prerequisites for India to protect a strong influence on the island nation.
(Dr. Srimal Fernando is a recipient of the distinguished O.P Jindal Doctoral Fellowship and the SAU Scholarship under the SAARC umbrella. He is an Advisor/Global Editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa in cooperation with Diplomatic World Institute (Brussels). He is similarly the winner of the 2018/2019 ‘Best Reporter of the Year’ award in South Africa, and has been the recipient of International Communication Association (GCA) Media Award for 2016.)
(Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Bachelor’s Degree hons.) in Journalism and Mass Interaction at the Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (JSJC). She primarily concentrates on Indo-China global media relations. She was similarly a recipient of the ICASQCC Gold Medal in Mauritius. Roy is member of the SGRC at Jindal Global University and a social activist in Chennai.)