Prime Minister Narendra Modi will offer military and civilian assistance to island nations in the Indian Ocean during his visit to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles next week. The move will be aimed at countering Chinese influence in the region.
The Indian Prime Minister's trip to the island nations is scheduled to kick-off on 10 March. Modi will mainly focus on Sri Lanka.
China has not only deployed its Navy in the India Ocean in and around the four island nations, it has also built seaports, power plants and highways across the region. India wants to act as the service provider to counter China's growing influence.
"India has a role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. We are providing patrol ships, surveillance radars and ocean mapping for the island states," a defence official said, Reuters reports.
According to the plans, Mauritius will be getting a 1,300-tonne Indian-built patrol vessel, while the Maldives has sought assistance with surveillance against piracy and support to counter Islamic State's invasion in the island chain.
Even as India is expected to sign an agreement with Seychelles on mapping of the waters around the archipelago, Sri Lanka will be assisted with fisheries patrols.
Other issues on PM Modi's agenda during his visit to Sri Lanka include increasing and tightening defence and security cooperation. He is also expected to stress the need for approval of a 500 MW power plant, which will be built by India's state-run National Thermal Power Corporation under a 2012 agreement in Trincomalee, Indian officials said.
ALthough the Indian government is stressing on the need to push away China from the island chain, director of National Maritime Foundation of India and specialist on Indian Ocean security issues Vijay Sakhuja believes PM Modi should not put these nations in a position of choosing between India and China.
"China's overt military support to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Mauritius is an issue which has caused enormous anxiety in India. Notwithstanding that, it will be prudent for Modi to avoid raising the issue, which could result in an "India or China" dilemma," Sakhuja said.