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Mains Test Series

India – Location, Structure and Physiography

Q1.  Examine the need for the economic and strategic development of India’s Islands.

Introduction: India has two island groups, one in the Bay of Bengal (Andaman and Nicobar archipelago) and the other in the Arabian Sea (Lakshadweep Island). With the formation of organisations such as the Island Development Agency, the need for economic and strategic development has come to the fore.

The need for the strategic development of India’s island:

A. Countering String of Pearl policy: The development of these islands can help in countering the Hambantota, Sittwe and Gwadar ports economically and strategically that China has developed.

B. Andaman and Nicobar:

  1. Double Fish Hook strategy: The Indian naval force launched the Double fish hook strategy to counter Chinese military power with the eastern hook starting from the Andaman Islands and the Western hook starting from the Chabahar port of Iran, etc
  2. Important Choke point: It sits near the ‘Strait of Malacca’, from where nearly 70,000 out of the 1,20,000 ships sailing through the Indian Ocean pass. The East-West International shipping corridor connects the Indian Ocean to Europe’s Suez Canal.
  3. Energy Security: Around 80% of the world’s maritime oil trade passes through the Indian Ocean region. China’s energy security is hugely dependent upon the Indian Ocean sea lanes of communication.

C. Lakshadweep: Establishing a high-star naval base in this region would help India Control Smuggling, piracy and terrorist activities by establishing surveillance and control in the region.

  1. It is the lifeline of the global trading waterways; 12 merchant ships cross from here every minute. In addition to the fish trade, there is also a reserve of essential minerals.
  2. It is a unique waterway that connects the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman to Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
  3. Protection against Piracy: The potential crises of Somalian pirates in the Arabian Sea can be best handled through Lakshadweep.

Need for Economic Development of India’s Island:

  1. Large Exclusive Economic Zone: The area is feasible for large-scale hydrocarbon exploration, including deep-sea oil drilling, methane gas hydrate production, etc.
  2. Potential as Logistic hub: Great Nicobar is Equidistant from Sri Lanka’s Colombo port, Malaysia’s Klang port, and Singapore, and can be a formidable rival to all regional ports and emerge as an alternative transhipment facility for Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.
  3. Fishing Industry: The Andaman and Nicobar group constitutes 321 islands, covering a total area of 8293 sq. km. The crucial community of these areas can be pushed to build a modernised and sustainable ecosystem of island fisheries and aquaculture integrated with the vision of the Blue Economy.
  4. Tourism: Due to their isolation and scenic appeal, these islands are emerging as prominent tourist attractions for the people, bringing significant revenue. The government is actively promoting tourism, such as scuba diving and adventure tourism, as a means of income.
  5. Cultivation: It is possible to explore the varied environment for exotic and medicinal plant species and to propagate sustainable agriculture and horticulture practices conducive to the agro-climatic condition of the regions.
  6. The jewellery and handicraft industry: The abundance of different shells and Pearls in the coastal region has tempted people to indulge in shell crafting.

Conclusion: Realising the importance of India’s islands, various multidimensional steps have been taken, such as developing the Andaman and Nicobar Command, Island Development Agency, Rationalization of the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules, etc. This can help India in making full use of its Islands.

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