Modi’s visit to the Indian Ocean countries

The visit of a Prime Minister of India to Mauritius has always been given the greatest attention by both governments as it provides an excellent  opportunity to boost existing avenues of cooperation  in the light of geopolitical events and add new ones in the emerging sectors of our economies.
In view of the growing importance of India on the international scene and its tremendous weight as  a  regional player in the Indian Ocean region, the recent visit of Mr Narendra Modi,Prime Minister of India, assumed a broader significance. He visited Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Seychelles during his tour, skipping Maldives at the last minute because of political unrest. As a charismatic leader ,a powerful communicator and an inspiring transformer, Mr Modi is redrawing the landscape of Indian diplomacy. He is determined to see that India plays a more proactive role in international affairs and match that role with economic activities to create substantial economic prosperity for his country and the region. I shall in a while show how Mr Modi’s visit to the three countries is characterised by a clear strategy of common partnership for peace and security in our region, the development of ocean economy and maritime security.
In Mauritius, Mr Modi has redefined the status of our bilateral cooperation by inviting us to take a deeper insight at our common strategies. We are years away from the Independence era when cultural matters dominated our cooperation agreements. Our two governments realised there was a real need to give more space to economic relations. As an officer working in the Prime Minister’s Office then, I  personally witnessed the gradual transformation of our bilateral cooperation. According to me, the first Indian High Commissioner who put his full weight behind the focussing of our relations on economic issues was Mr Kishan Rana. He convinced the top brass of the private sector to visit India, see for themselves the Indian savoir-faire and assess the scope for huge commercial prospects. He accompanied the delegation of CEOs to India, ensuring that they met the giants of the Indian agro-industrial sector. He is now a Professor Emeritus and has authored many books on diplomacy. Another Indian High Commissioner who gave a new impetus to our economic partnership was Mr Shyam Saran. I remember him for his valuable contribution when I chaired the meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim for Regional Cooperation in 1995 and 1996. He retired as Foreign Secretary and then served as special adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
It is well known that Mr Modi modernised the economy of Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister. His business-like attitude as Prime Minister of India has earned him a lot of respect both in India and the outside world. He is regarded as a man of action and a great visionary. Furthermore, he has the knack of developing friendly relations with government leaders. In Mauritius, the rapport between Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Mr Modi augurs well for innovative  partnership agreements between our two countries.  Two of the agreements signed during his visit concerned the development of the ocean economy and the implementation of sea and air transport facilities in Agalega.These  agreements which will have far reaching effects on the way we engineer the ocean economy in our vast maritime zone, the manner we want to develop our islands, and the meaning we ascribe to peace and security in the region. It is therefore crucial that we elaborate the right strategies  with the participation of our best brains.
Leaving Mauritius for Sri Lanka, Mr Modi pleasantly surprised the Tamils there and the Tamil diaspora world wide  by visiting Jaffna, the highest concentration of Tamils and one of the areas worst affected by the civil war. He thus became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna. Without meddling in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, Mr Modi carried with him the message of Peace, Unity and Reconciliation and pleaded for greater devolution  and political empowerment for the Tamil community. The Tamil National Alliance leader showered much praise on Mr Modi for his courageous stand. Stressing on the importance of a united Sri Lanka, Mr Modi signed a number of cooperation agreements in Colombo, including the setting up of a Joint Task Force on ocean economy, the allocation of a line of credit for the railway sector and the development of joint energy projects. During his political discussions, with President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr Modi laid stress on the importance of peace in our region, as he did in Mauritius.
There is one meeting in Sri Lanka which struck my attention. Mr Modi wanted to meet the defeated President Rajapaksa as “a matter of courtesy” and given that they had “a personal equation”. Prior to that meeting, the Sri Lankan government claimed that  it launched several investigations of corruption against Rajapaksa, his family and associates. It would go after Rajakapsa’s “ill gotten assets and the money he stashed away internationally.” The meeting between Rajakaksa and  Mr Modi lasted 15 minutes and no comments were made on the exchange. Can one draw a parallel between the plight of Rajakapsa and that of Navin Ramgoolam? The stark reality is that Mr Modi did not ask to meet Ramgoolam. He did not deem it necessary to do so. Has Ramgoolam lost the respect of other government leaders?
The final stop took Mr Modi to Seychelles where he spent a few hours. During his discussions with President  James Michel, Mr Modi developed the same themes, i.e peace and prosperity in the region, the partnership  with Seychelles in the development of its security capabilities, ocean economy and the need for Seychelles to be a full partner in the maritime security cooperation between India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Clearly, Indian diplomacy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi  will be vibrant more than ever before. We need to catch all the signals emanating from Delhi and interpret them properly. The role and staffing of our diplomatic mission in Delhi should be revamped.


But it's not all hunky-dory as one cannot ignore that his party is rooted in hindu fanatism and of its intolerance to religious minorities; so many christian churches systematically desacrated & burnt down. Such was not the case under the Congress Party. The latest ignominious act of the fanatics from this same ruling party was the raping of this over 70 years old nun and the looting of her school. " a great visionary" will never oppress its own citizens. This is only the beginning of his reign and it's no rocket science to guess what more atrocities to be commited by the end of his term...