- At a time when India is developing the Assumption Island in Seychelles as a naval base to expand its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean, the government has decided to appoint former Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag as India’s next High Commissioner to Seychelles.
- Diplomatic ties between India and Seychelles have existed since Seychelles gained independence in 1976. A resident high commissioner of India has been in Seychelles since 1987 while Seychelles opened its resident mission in India in 2008.
- Relations between the two countries have been warm and cordial with regular high level exchange visits between the countries. These relations have been around a host of sectors including defence, culture, trade and technical cooperation.
- Trade between India and Seychelles amounted to only US$40 million in 2010-11 with the balance of trade heavily in India’s favour.
- Tourism, fishing, petroleum exploration, communications and IT, computer education and pharmaceuticals have been identified as areas of economic cooperation between the two countries.
- Both the countries signed a bilateral investment promotion agreement in 2010 and in 2012.
- India extended it a 50−millionlineofcreditandagrantof50−millionlineofcreditandagrantof25-million.
- In 1986, the Indian Navy deployed the INS Vindhyagiri at the Seychelles Port of Victoria to abort an attempted coup against President Rene by Defence Minister Berlouis in what was called Operation Flowers are Blooming.
- India helped avert a further attempted coup by Berlouis in 1986, when Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi lent President René his plane so that he could fly back from an international meeting in Harare to the Seychelles.
- In 2009, India acted upon a request of the Seychelles and dispatched naval ships to patrol the exclusive economic zone of Seychelles and to guard it against piracy. India has provided Seychelles with monetary support and equipment such as Dornier Do 228s and Chetak helicopters for meeting its defence needs.
- The Seychelles government has leased the Assumption Island to the Indian Navy to build an overseas base of operations there. The Indian Army is helping to renovate the airfield while the navy has taken permission from the Seychelles government to make a new deep sea port by dredging sand for the same instead of using the ruined, old jetty which is already present. The residents of the island were relocated to another island by the help of Indian Government.
- Developing infrastructure on Assumption Island in Seychelles is a key piece in India’s proactive maritime strategy as it counters China’s moves in the Indian Ocean region. Developing its infrastructure is being regarded a “strategic asset” in India’s arsenal.
- India has been working on human resource development and capacity building with the Government of Seychelles under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme since the early 1980s.
- India is a medical tourism destination for the Seychellois and the Government of Seychelles has tied up with MIOT Hospitals and Madras Medical Mission in Chennai for providing healthcare to its citizens.
- The two nations have also been working together in the areas of environment protection and renewable energy and India is to set up a solar power cluster in Seychelles
SOURCE: THE HINDU