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International Relations

India as an Observer at IOC

  • 07 Mar 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

India has been accepted as an observer of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

  • India's joining of the IOC as an observer has strategic importance as the Commission is an important regional institution in the Western/African Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean Commission

  • The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is an intergovernmental body created in 1984 to protect the interests of the Western Indian Ocean islands.
  • It consists of Madagascar, Comoros, La Réunion (French overseas territory), Mauritius and Seychelles.
  • The Commission has five observers — India, China, European Union (EU), Malta and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
    • OIF is a 54 french speaking nations collective.

Significance of an Observer Status of India

  • Engagement with the Western Indian Ocean:
    • It will facilitate collective engagement with the islands in the Western Indian Ocean that are becoming strategically significant.
    • Given China’s growing presence in the region, India will be able to increase its naval presence and gain support for its maritime projects across the Indo-Pacific.
    • The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is also a strategic location of the Indian Ocean linking the Southeastern coast of Africa to the wider Indian Ocean and beyond.
  • Opportunity in the Mozambique Channel:
    • The IOC islands are situated around one of the key chokepoints in the Indian Ocean- the Mozambique Channel.
      • The Mozambique Channel is an arm of the Indian Ocean located between the African countries of Madagascar and Mozambique.
    • The Mozambique Channel lost its significance post the opening of the Suez Canal, but the recent hostilities near the Strait of Hormuz brought the channel back into focus as the original route for bigger commercial vessels (especially for oil tankers).
    • Potential of natural gas reserves in the Mozambique Channel further increases the significance of the region.
  • Cooperation with France:
    • It will also help to boost cooperation with France that has a strong presence in the western Indian ocean.
  • SAGAR Policy:
    • It will help to extend India's SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy in the region.
    • SAGAR is an articulation of India’s vision for the Indian Ocean which aims for enhancement of capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories & interests; deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral; action to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism.

Source: TH

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