What is India's 'Double Fish Hook' Strategy?
To counter China's strategies in the Indian Ocean Region, India started strengthening its relations with its Eastern Indian Ocean neighbours such as Indonesia, Australia, and island nations in the Southern Indian Ocean region such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, and French territories spread across the Indian Ocean.
India has also been granted the status of 'Observer' in the Indian Ocean Commission (facilitated by France). India and France are also engaged in regular maritime surveillance sorties from Reunion islands. This hints that the Indian Navy has been working on the 'Double Fish Hook' strategy to counter China.
India's 'Double Fish Hook' strategy is expected to complement the fish hook strategy undertaken by the United States and its allies in the Pacific Ocean. Also, India is looking forward to upgrading the facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to project its power in the Bay of Bengal and nearby Malacca Straits.
As per several media reports, to monitor the movements of the US and its allies' ships and submarines, China floated many surveillance pods in the South China Sea.
Signing of Agreements
To counter Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean Region, India started partnering with the formidable navies of the US, France, and Australia.
In August 2016, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was inked between India and the US, giving access to each other's military bases and naval ports.
In June 2020, Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was inked between India and Australia, providing support for maritime reconnaissance missions undertaken by the two countries with the use of each other's island facilities. These islands are-- Andaman and Nicobar Islands(India) and Coco Islands (Australia).
Apart from these two agreements, India also signed a Port Development Project with Indonesia and agreed to develop civilian and military facilities in the Sabang Port, Indonesia.
The above-mentioned agreements act as India's 'Double Fish Hook' strategy with the first hook starting from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, extending to Sabang port(Indonesia), Coco Islands (Australia), and ending at Diego Garcia, the US military base in Chagos Islands.
Image Credit: Modern Diplomacy
The second hook starts from Duqm Port (Oman), extending to French territories (Reunion Islands), Mauritius and if a connecting line is drawn, the fish hook will again end at Diego Garcia.
'String of Pearls' Strategy of China
China with its 'String of Pearls' strategy is creating a ring around India by its facilities at Chittagong (Bangladesh), Karachi and Gwadar port in Pakistan and Colombo, Hambantota (both in Sri Lanka), along with other facilities.
The 'String of Pearls' strategy refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainland to Sudan Port.
It is to be noted that the term (String of Pearls) has never been used by the Chinese Government officially, but is often used by the Indian media.
Necklace of Diamonds Strategy
In a counter-action to China's 'String of Pearls' strategy, India has started working on the 'Necklace of Diamonds' strategy. This strategy aims at garlanding China or in simple words, the counter encirclement strategy. India is expanding its naval bases and is also improving relations with strategically placed countries to counter China's strategies.
Image: Necklace of Diamonds Strategy
Thus, India's 'Double Fish Hook' strategy would depend much on the development of facilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Chief of Defence staff has already stated that it will be a joint command of the three services and also it will be a rendezvous point for the forces of the Quad nations.