PM Narendra Modi now look to increase India’s military power towards eastwards. Admiral D K Joshi (retired), who quit the Indian Navy in a huff in 2014, has been appointed the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The appointment of Admiral Joshi as the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar isn’t only about setting past mistakes right. It is also a clear signal that the Modi-led NDA government wants to make the archipelago – India’s easternmost military post – play a more decisive military role for its “Look East Policy”.
In fact, the archipelago is designed to be the main staging post for warships, aircraft and submarines to counter the growing aggressiveness of China in the Indian Ocean. More number of Chinese warships and submarines prowled the Indian Ocean in 2017 than ever before. And, on the other hand, the Andaman Nicobar base will form an important logistic base for the Indian Navy’s reach out programme to countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Vietnam among others.
The 750-km long Andaman and Nicobar archipelago comprises a chain of 572 islands and is located 1,200 km from mainland India, but is merely 90 km from Indonesia and 50 km from Myanmar.
The Andaman Nicobar island chain faces the crucial Malacca Strait – one of the busiest shipping lanes and also China’s gateway to the Indian Ocean and therefore a natural choke-point. It has assumed even greater importance with the stupendous rise of China in the last decade.
Nearly 80 per cent of China’s crude oil imports from the Middle East and Africa pass through the Malacca Strait. And, an estimated 15 million barrels per day of oil flow through the Malacca Strait from the Middle East Gulf and West.
The Indian Navy is now permanently sending warships along the 40 Km strait to police the waters. Further down in the Northern Indian Ocean region, the Sunda Strait is also seeing more Indian warships in a policing role.
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