News Excerpt
India admitted to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC: Commission de I'OcéanIndien, COI) as an observer after it applied last month to be considered for observer status. It is a move that will bolster Delhi’s Indo-Pacific vision.

Pre-Connect
●    Created in 1982 and institutionalized in 1984, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is an intergovernmental organization regrouping five member States: The Union of Comoros, France/Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
●    It is the only regional organization in Africa composed solely of islands, it supports the specificities of its member States on the continental and international stages.
●    The IOC’s mission is to bring together the strengths and pool the resources of its member countries, raise awareness about the specific challenges being faced by developing island States, and promote Indian oceania, a region of unique human, cultural and natural diversity.

Highlights
    The decision was taken at the meeting of the IOC Conference of ministers in Seychelles. The other four observers are China, Malta, European Union and International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF).
    The member states are known to be erstwhile French colonies or partly British, partly French colonies. With France a member of IOC because of the Reunion Islands, it played a key role in ensuring India’s admission.
    India has made some high-level visits to some of the member states like India’s Vice President visited Comoros and President Kovind visited Madagascar in 2018.

Analytica
    The admission of India, even as an observer, to IOC is of great strategic significance since it will allow collective engagement with the island nations of western Indian Ocean (WIO) and further boost ties with an already strong friend, France.
    The five-member grouping is important given India’s plans to expand in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) which strategically connects the Indian Ocean to the Southeastern coast of Africa and beyond.
    This move enhances India’s outreach in the western flank of the Indo-Pacific and acts as a stepping stone to security cooperation with East Africa.
    The move will also lend greater significance to India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy of India.

Conclusion
The growing importance of Africa in Indo-Pacific engagements combined with potential natural gas reserves in the Mozambique Channel will continue to raise the significance of this region in wider maritime security. Keeping in mind the importance of geography for maritime power projection and naval dominance, there is little doubt about the rising significance of the islands in a new geo-political environment in the Indian Ocean.

PEPPER IT WITH
      The Indian Ocean Rim Association,SAGAR, STRING OF PEARLS