From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Agalega Island
Mains level : Indian ocean power competition
Mauritius has denied a report that it has allowed India to build a military base on the remote island of Agalega.
- Agaléga are two outer islands of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers north of Mauritius island.
- The islands have a total area of 2,600 ha (6,400 acres).
- There is an MoU between the governments of Mauritius and India to develop the Agaléga islands and resolve infrastructural problems faced by Agaleans.
Why in news?
- India asserts that these new facilities are part of its Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) policy, which aims to increase maritime cooperation between countries in the region.
- Mauritius, for its part, has indicated that its coastguard personnel will use the new facilities.
- But it is clear that the Indian investment of $250m in developing an airfield, port, and communications hub on this remote island is not aimed at helping Mauritius develop its capacity to police its territorial waters.
Significance of this area
- The Agalega area is currently a blind spot for the Indian Navy and by building a military facility in it, New Delhi hopes to expand its maritime domain awareness.
- In times of conflict, knowing the location of enemy ships and submarines, without being detected in the process, creates a significant advantage.
- China’s naval forays into this region are the true motivator for its expanding naval presence.
- In peacetime, effective maritime domain awareness helps establish international partnerships with like-minded militaries and also acts as a deterrent to both state and non-state adversaries, by signaling reach.
- The Indian Ocean is now increasingly contested.
- Whether or not China is deterred by India’s surveillance efforts, Agaléga is now a pawn in this new era of major power competition across the Indian Ocean and indeed the wider Indo-Pacific region.