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Editorial of the Day (1st Mar): India-Maldives-Mauritius

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth attends the inauguration ceremony of several India-assisted development projects at the Agalega Island in Mauritius.

The Maldives: Indian Military Personnel Replacement

  • Political Shift: The newly elected pro-China President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, who campaigned on an “India Out” platform, has requested the withdrawal of Indian military personnel.

Mauritius: Infrastructure Inauguration

  • Strategic Inauguration: Indian PM Modi and Mauritian PM Jugnauth jointly inaugurated a new airstrip and jetty in Mauritius, built by India on Agaléga island.
  • Development Commitment: The 2015 MoU signed by India and Mauritius aimed to enhance sea and air transport facilities in Agaléga, improving local living conditions and defence capabilities.
  • Sovereignty Assurance: PM Jugnauth emphasised that upgrading Agaléga’s infrastructure does not compromise Mauritius’ sovereignty or convert it into a military base.

Editorial of the Day (1st Mar): India-Maldives-Mauritius_4.1

India’s Strategic Presence in the Indian Ocean

  • Strategic Outposts: Mauritius and the Maldives are considered crucial for India’s maritime security due to China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.
  • Economic Zone Surveillance: India’s presence in Mauritius aids in monitoring the 2.3 million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone, addressing threats like piracy, trafficking, and illegal fishing.

China’s Influence in the Indian Ocean

  • Trade and Presence: China has significant trade routes through the Indian Ocean and maintains embassies in all six island nations there, unlike other global powers.
  • Military Expansion: China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti suggests potential future expansion in the Indian Ocean, with speculation about locations in Pakistan, Myanmar, or the western Indian Ocean.

New Delhi’s Diplomatic Approach

  • Diplomatic Management: India acknowledges the importance of maintaining strong relations with island nations, recognizing that domestic politics can influence foreign policy.
  • Political Observations: New Delhi is closely monitoring the political developments in the Maldives, especially concerning the presence of Indian military personnel.
  • Counterclaims: Opposition in the Maldives has refuted President Muizzu’s claims about the presence of Indian military personnel, labelling them as falsehoods.

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