Indian president Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Madagascar in March was a sign of the growing importance of strategic islands in the Indian Ocean region. The visit—the first ever by an Indian head of state—underlines both Madagascar’s strategic location in the southwest Indian Ocean and Delhi’s historical disregard toward island nations, a misstep that the foreign office has begun correcting only recently.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last-minute decision to add France to his Europe tour in early June is an indication of Delhi’s interest in engaging European powers in the Indian Ocean.
The annual summit between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, held on November 11 in Tokyo, once again underscored the importance of maritime security in the bilateral relationship. Describing the relationship as “unique” and “special,” the two leaders talked of a greater convergence in their visions for Asia. While there have been developments in almost all areas of the relationship, maritime security under Modi and Abe has become one of the most visible areas of cooperation in the strategic partnership. By addressing strategic concerns beyond the realm of security cooperation, the leaders have found a unique and constructive way to collaborate in the Indian Ocean and beyond.