With Maldives’ defence minister Mariya Ahmed Didi due to visit India on her first tour this week, India plans to renew its offer to extend the coastal surveillance radar systems (CSRS) project to the island neighbour, as part of the defence cooperation dialogue. This dialogue takes up from the defence cooperation agreement signed with former president Abdulla Yameen in 2016. However, as relations between New Delhi and Male iced over, Yameen refused to allow the installation of Indian radars, preferring to turn to China.
Sources said the CSRS has is being offered to other countries as well, which will contribute in creating a network of information to aid maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean region. India has an older version of these radars in Seychelles and Mauritius and Sri Lanka. India has offered the system to Myanmar where discussions are reportedly at an advanced stage, as well as Bangladesh. Thailand has also been offered the radar system, while in Indonesia, India has offered to set up a pilot project in one of the islands.
Ultimately the data collected would feed into the newly set up International Fusion Centre where, once it’s fully up and running, India expects to invite partner countries to be part of the centre. France has already declared that it would send an officer from its navy to be posted here.
India is keen to show that this is a collaborative exercise. “As we interact with Indian Ocean partner countries, with a shared desire that ocean space should be regulated, governed through maritime regulations. We will work with partner countries through their own maritime security priorities.” souces said. This is also why India is now very wary of dubbing its relations with countries in the Indian Ocean as seeking “bases.” This term, evoking memories of the US or China, has created local political opposition to India’s outreach to many countries, even Mauritius and Seychelles. The president of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth is currently on a week-long visit to India, where he is the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi. He is expected to also visit the Kumbh Mela before going to Mumbai.
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