Securing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Dr Pushpita Das is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • May 2011

    The Andaman and Nicobar islands are of immense strategic significance for India. The geographical configuration and the location of the island chain in the Bay of Bengal safeguards India's eastern seaboard as well the approaches to the Indian Ocean from the east. Its proximity to the Southeast Asian region enables India to forge friendly relations with its Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbours. The physical isolation and remoteness of the archipelago, however, make it vulnerable to conventional and non-conventional threats. At present, any possibility of a conventional threat to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands appears remote given India's friendly ties with its Southeast and East Asian neighbours. Nevertheless, military intervention in the Indian Ocean by extra-regional powers, especially China, remains a potential cause of concern. Meanwhile, non-conventional threats such as poaching of marine and forest resources, illegal migration, arms smuggling and natural disasters have been posing serious challenges to the internal security of the island chain. Steps to address these problems have been undertaken by the government, but the issues of remoteness, inadequate infrastructure, poor coordination among security agencies and pervasive underdevelopment create hurdles. Building critical infrastructure and sustainable economic development is, therefore, imperative for securing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands