Seychelles is 116 island nation is located 1350 to 1800 kilometers from the East African coast, and the multiclutural society of Seychelles enclose people of French, British, Indian, Iranian and Chinese descent. Over 10 percent of its population is of Indian origin. Seychelles now stands among the countries recognised by the World Bank as High Income Group Countries. Seychelles gained membership of WTO and as reported by UNDP ranks 3rd highest in Human Development Index in Africa in 2014.
Seychelles' significance to India
Since Seychelles independence in 1976, there have been high level exchanges between both the countries. Recent one being visits of Prime Minister in 2015. The close relationship between two countries is based on twin platform of maritime security and development cooperation. India can reap potential of its vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.3 million square kilometres which will help India to strengthen its need for maritime security.
Seychelles is a part of the Pan African e-Network project amidst India and the African Union, that seeks to bridge the 53 member states of the African Union through a satellite and fiber optic network to India to facilitate access and sharing of expertise in the medical and education field, which will provide huge market to Indian firms.
Seychelles is a pioneer among SIDS group (Small Island Developing States) which has multifold areas of convergence with India. It is a harbinger in accelerating the concept of ‘blue economy’, which covers array of aspects like exploration of continental shelf , hydrocarbons, marine economy, and renewable energy.
As counter to Chinese ‘string of pearls’ India is demanding prominence in Indian Ocean Region by stretching economic, military and diplomatic cooperation. since 2005, India has put on board a policy to enroll four western Indian Ocean island nations and Seychelles forms a crucial part of it.
Outcome of visit
India secured a pact to develop infrastructure of Assumption Island in Seychelles, ‘Island development’ is an internationally acknowledged grandiloquence for developing strategic assets, in this context it is well known that infrastructurehad been developing in various islands by US and China.
The operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance and Radar System will further contribute to secure our maritime territory. Pact on co-operation in the field of Blue Economy is a major step in the conservation and sustainable use of Indian Ocean resources. As Modi said ‘this Ocean Economy is indispensable to meeting our future challenges’
Among 4 agreement signed agreement on hydrographic survey adds new dimension to maritime cooperation which would enrol Seychelles to be a full partner in the maritime security cooperation amidst India, Maldives and Srilanka. India has also planned to give Dornier maritime patrol aircraft to Seychelles. ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) is a voluntary initiative by India that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. In 2014 western Indian Ocean nations like Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka took an interest in Biennial International maritime exercise off Anadaman, ‘MILAN’.
The 2014 Biennial International maritime exercise off Anadaman, ‘MILAN’, saw unprecedented participation of western Indian Ocean nations like Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
India also agreed to provide free of cost visas for three months for citizens of Seychelles and making it available to them on arrival because tourism is a means to bridge mankind and expand economic cooperation. It also ensures people to people connect and promotes shared values like democracy and inclusiveness. Also Seychelle supported for India's candidature for permanent seat in United Nations Security Council.
India has to push for ‘region centric development’ which is mutually beneficial to all party involved. Modi’s visit to three island nations Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles is significant move in the course of India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and south-south cooperation.
Other IR Topics