What makes Modiji unique? It is the skill to spot pearl hidden inside mud. Any great leader must have this ability.
The pearl I am talking about is our humble looking and soft spoken external affairs minister Mr. S. Jaishankar. It is the ingenuity of Modiji to have spotted this great person.
Coming to our point: we know of China’s strategy of “String pearls” where China has acquired ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Africa and Pakistan to encircle India in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). A hostile country like China having so many bases in IOR is a big threat to India.
All the above bases were acquired during the reign of Sonia Gandhi, and she did nothing to stop China: essentially acting as China’s spy/agent in India.
Something different has now happened in Maldives. Why is Maldives important? The archipelago is situated at the center of Indian Ocean. And hence, the location of Maldives makes it extremely important and strategic.
India on Sunday signed an agreement with the Maldives to “develop, support and maintain” a harbor at Uthuru Thila Falhu naval base in the island nation. This base is very near to the capital Mahe. Though the new harbor is being built officially for the use of Maldives National Defense Force Coast Guard, it is likely to turn into a strategic asset for India and give it an edge over China, which has been trying to spread its tentacles in the IOR. China was also purportedly interested in building the harbor for the Coast Guard of Maldives. China however could not make any headway after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the November 2018 elections and took over as President of Maldives, succeeding Abdullah Yameen. Abdullah Yameen was pro China and anti India.
India finally elbowed China out and the both sides agreed on the terms of reference for the project in September 2019.The erstwhile government of Abdullah Yameen had leased out to China the Feydhoo Finolhu islet of Maldives for 50 years in December 2016 (at a paltry sum of USD 4 million). It had raised alarms in New Delhi, particularly after satellite images in December 2017 had revealed dredging and landfill works done to expand the islet, ostensibly by the company based in China.
This deal. however, did not come for free, India extended a line of credit (i.e. low interest loans) of USD 50million to Maldives. India also gave USD 500million for building a bridge, and is constructing a cricket stadium in Maldives for free. Not to mention, India has to spend huge amounts of money for building Navy to counter China in IOR.
All these taxpayers’ money had been saved if Rajiv Gandhi not made the mistake of marrying Sonia Gandhi. The money could have been spent to build better school and roads.
What will be the impact?
- India will have a strong presence at center of Indian Ocean.
- India can counter China in this region.
- With strong presence near straits of Malacca, and now in Maldives and next at Chabahar port in Iran, India will counter encircle China’s “string of pearls”.
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