Agalega airstrip inaugurated: Mauritius, Maldives, and India

GS Paper II

News Excerpt:

The Prime Minister of India and his Mauritian counterpart inaugurated India-assisted development projects at Agaléga Island.

Location of the Projects:

  • India has built and upgraded an airstrip and a jetty on Agalega, a two-island Mauritian dependency, 1,100 km to the north of Port Louis and 2,500 km southwest of Malé in the Indian Ocean.

  • As Indian Ocean outposts, Mauritius and the Maldives have great strategic significance for India. 
  • India’s maritime security and strategic objectives in the Indian Ocean are linked to the presence and increased activities of China in the region.

Developments in Indian Ocean region island countries:

  • Maldives case:
    • Soon after coming to power in November 2023, the current pro-China President of the Maldives requested India to withdraw its military personnel from his country. 
      • The two countries had agreed on February 2 that India would pull out 80-odd military personnel stationed in the Maldives between March 10 and May 10.
  • Mauritius case:
    • India signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the “improvement in sea and air transportation facilities” at Agaléga island in 2015.
    • It provided for setting up and upgradation of infrastructure for improving sea and air connectivity at the Outer Island of Mauritius, enhancing the capabilities of the Mauritian Defence Forces in safeguarding their interests in the Outer Island.
    • The presence of India on Agalega would lead to more effective monitoring of Mauritius’ vast 2.3 million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone, and equip it to better counter piracy, terrorism, narcotics and human trafficking, and illegal and unregulated fishing.       

Chinese Angle in the Indian Ocean: 

  • China sees great value in having a powerful presence in the Indian Ocean region. 
  • Nine of China’s top 10 crude oil suppliers transit the Indian Ocean, which is also the primary region of transit for China for engagements with Africa, the Middle East, island nations, and littorals across the vast ocean.
  • The Indian Ocean is also the main trading route between China and Europe.
  • China is the only nation with an embassy in each of the six islands in the Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, and Comoros.
    • None of the traditional players: the United States, the UK, India, or France have embassies on all six island countries.
    • China had gone beyond diplomatic and trade partnerships in the region and had begun to maintain a consistent military presence.
  • In 2017, China opened its first overseas military facility in the Indian Ocean in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

 India’s stance:

  • India understands the importance of working with the governments of all these island nations. 
  • The domestic politics of these nations often impact their behaviour and policies abroad.
  • India must manage its diplomatic relationships well while continuously pursuing its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region and countries within.



The inauguration of development projects in Agaléga Island highlights India's commitment to enhancing maritime infrastructure in the Indian Ocean. Amidst China's increasing presence, India's strategic partnerships with Mauritius and the Maldives become crucial, emphasizing the need for balanced diplomacy to safeguard its regional interests.


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