Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam
Q. Discuss the significance and importance of Vanilla Islands to India. (250 words)
- Why in News?
- Significance of Vanilla Islands to India
- Importance of Vanilla Islands to India
Why in News?
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu went to the Comoros and other destinations in Africa to add a new feather to our diplomatic lexicon — the Vanilla Islands.
A group of Exotic Island states in the South Western Indian Ocean — The Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion, Seychelles — joined hands a few years ago to promote tourism to their corner in the Indian Ocean. These islands started growing vanilla — this is a good enough reason for calling themselves after it.
Significance of Vanilla Islands to India:
- The significance of these islands emerged in the recent past as the resources of Africa are eyed by China, India as well as other countries. These islands are situated on important Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC), which have become important from the strategic point of view.
- The presence of SLOCs has further enhanced China’s footprint in the Indian Ocean Region. The islands are also looking to develop partnerships with the major powers. India is also trying to show its presence in this region.
- The Comoros has special importance as it is situated at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel and provided a strong base to control the channel.
- Comoros had been eager to step up its engagement with India and Vice President’s visit to the Comoros would help Delhi to launch economic, defence cooperation with the littoral.
Importance of Vanilla Islands to India:
- The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) together account for more than 40 members. Their large numbers and impact on the voting patterns in the UN and other multilateral forums had made island states of interest to major powers.
- Immediate vulnerability to rising sea levels has made island states the most active champions of urgent global action to mitigate climate change.
- Island states have also taken the lead in developing the concept of “blue economy” focused on sustainable use and development of ocean resources.
- India’s activism on countering climate change and promoting blue economy has made the island states special partners for India.
- Many of the island states are also beginning to see themselves as large “Ocean States”. Due to the provisions of the Law of the Sea, the ocean states are entitled to large exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Seychelles for example, has a land area of approximately 455 sq km spread over 115 islands and a population of barely 100,000. But its EEZ is close to 1.3 million sq km.
- Comorosis a founding member of the International Solar Alliance. It is a member of the IORA that India is reviving. It is also a member of the Arab League and the OIC.
India has had strong ties with one of the Vanilla Islands. Only recently, India has begun to pay attention to the strategic dimensions of the relationship with Mauritius. The Indian Foreign Office set up a separate Indian Ocean Division with a focus on the island states. India must begin to treat the Vanilla Islands as a single strategic space.