India-Pacific Islands Relations

India-Pacific Islands Relations

News: The article discusses the importance of Pacific Island nations for India in context of the latest edition of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC)

What are the Pacific Island countries (PICs)?
 The PICs, consist of 14 member nations including Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
 With unique challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, the PICs are nonetheless rich in culture and natural beauty.
 At the moment they hold strategic relevance with increased attention from global powers, including India, the US, and China, each vying for influence through security, economic, and developmental partnerships.

How India intends to help PICs?
 India unveiled a 12-point action plan during the third Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation Summit.
 India promised to boost healthcare infrastructure in the islands. Eg – 100 bed hospital in Fiji
 India plans to establish a regional IT and cybersecurity training hub in Papua New Guinea
 India promises to organize Jaipur Foot Camps in the region every year, helping provide prosthetic limbs to those in need.
 India intends to help with solar projects, desalination plants, sea ambulances etc

What are mutual benefits for both?
 India is a crucial development partner for the Pacific Island nations. With its human-centric approach, India offers support in critical sectors such as healthcare, IT, and climate change.
 India’s increasing engagement with Pacific Island nations helps provide a diplomatic balance in the region.
 India’s approach to providing developmental aid is based on not increasing the indebtedness of these nations.
 Presence of India within this region can help extend our influence as a strategic power especially within Indo-Pacific discourse.
 India’s involvement can serve as a counterbalance in context of China.
 Significant opportunities for India in context of healthcare, IT, renewable energy etc.

 Geographically the islands are located far away from India and it will be difficult to keep constant engagements.
 Other significant players such as the USA’s increasing presence can be detrimental to India making its own mark in the region.
 Ensuring the sustainability of development projects is another challenge. Given the small size and often remote locations of these islands, ensuring efficient implementation and long-term operation of projects can be difficult.
 China’s expanding influence in the Pacific region poses a major challenge to India.

Way Forward
 Increase economic engagement with PICs and ensure consistent and proactive engagement with the island nations.
 Enhancing people-to-people connections can go a long way in strengthening the relationship. This can involve exchanges in culture, education, science and technology, sports, and more.
 Collaborate with like-minded countries in engagement with PICs. 

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