This could be a sensitive topic that I am discussing today as part of the #AtoZChallenge and hence it was much needed that i do a thorough reading of all the facts behind it. All the details have been taken from the and.nic.in website and other Indian defense forums. It’s about
Geographical Importance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
As you know in the Bay of Bengal, far removed from the mainland, lie the 572 islands of Andaman and Nicobar, which form India’s southeast border. While the northernmost part of the archipelago is only 22 nautical miles away from Myanmar, the southernmost point, called the Indira Point, is a mere 90 nautical miles from Indonesia. These islands dominate the Bay of Bengal and the Six Degree and Ten Degree channels which more than 60,000 commercial vessels traverse each year.
Among the nine major bottlenecks that control entry to this region are the Malacca Strait and the Six Degree Channel. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands lie in this strategically important zone, meaning that India with its growing naval capabilities could play a significant role in controlling access .
India’s Navy chief, Admiral R K Dhowan recently acknowledged that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a “very very important aspect” of India’s security, acting as extended arms of the country. Dhowan said that India needed to deploy naval assets to the islands for surveillance in important sea lines of communication.
The Indian Ocean has become an important aspect in China’s foreign policy, as it links Chinese sea lines of communications (SLOCs) to African and Middle Eastern energy as well as European trade routes. The Indian Ocean region (IOR) contains China’s most important SLOCs: as much as 75 percent of China’s oil imports (more than 6 million barrels daily) come from the Middle East and Africa. This maritime presence is supplemented by Chinese investments in port facilities that ring the IOR. Chinese scholars view the Indian Ocean as an area of potential rivalry between India and China, according to naval scholar Toshi Yoshihara.
The growing influence of China in the IOR is already causing concern in India. If India fails to use its geographic advantages in the region, it will face an emboldened PLAN. The geostrategic position of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands makes them central to any Indian response to rising Chinese influence in the IOR. Strengthening capabilities in this area would force the PLAN to shift its focus from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, which could tax Chinese forces and attention. China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean is assured; but India’s role is still emerging. Fortifying the Andaman-Nicobar Islands would be the first step toward a more robust Indian Ocean strategy
As of now to maintain the security of the country and the islands has the only Andaman and Nicobar Command. It is the only tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces based at Port Blair. It was created in 2001 to safeguard India’s interests. As of 2014, the command includes 15 ships of the Indian Navy, two Navy Sea bases, four Air Force and Naval Air bases and two Army brigades.
Andaman Islands were occupied by East India Company in 18th century. Later they established a panel colony on Andaman and coconuts from Coco islands were mainly food for it. But due to improper governance, British transferred Coco islands to the government of lower Burma and eventually they became a part of British Burma. Later in 1937, when Burma was separated from India, they remained Burmese territory. In 1948, when Burma got Independence, they became part of newly formed union of Burma.
Considering the location of these islands, they are highly strategic for India, China and Burma. From the beginning, China had an eye on these islands in order to monitor India’s naval and other significant activities in Indian ocean. Coco islands were allegedly leased to China in 1994. However, the government of China and Myanmar denied this. In order to monitor Indian naval activities especially in the crucial point in shipping routes between the Bay of Bengal and the , China supposedly established a signal intelligence (SIGINT) station on COCO island in 1992.
I hope the Indian Administration works more strictly towards increasing its security and tighten all possible loopholes that could cause any foreign entity to harm the Indian Defense system.
This is the information i could gather from various sources, hope it is of some help to you all to understand these islands are more than just a tourist destination. It is strategically important to the country.
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