India and Seychelles are committed to promote democracy, rule and law and maintain international peace and security. The foreign policy of the two countries is based upon the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement. The two countries have broad-based relations that cover a host of sectors including defence, culture, trade and technical cooperation.
The recent visit of Seychelles President Danny Faure to India has further strengthened the bilateral relations between the two countries. The two countries signed a number of Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) during the during the State Visit of President of Seychelles to India which are namely 1) Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Small Development Projects through Local Bodies, Educational and Vocational Institutions; 2) Twinning Agreement on the Establishment of Friendship and Cooperation between the Corporation of the City of Panaji (Municipal Corporation) and the City of Victoria of the Republic of Seychelles; 3) MOU between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Republic of India and the Department of Information Communications Technology of the Republic of Seychelles on Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security; 4) Cultural Exchange Programme between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles for the years 2018-2022; 5) Technical Agreement on Sharing White Shipping Information between the Indian Navy and the National Information Sharing and Coordination Center of the Republic of Seychelles; and 6) MOU between the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.
One of the important outcomes of the visit was the agreement to work on the stalled Assumption Island project. It may be mentioned that agreement between the two countries to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island was signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in 2015. It involved the development of an airstrip, jetty, and housing infrastructure for the Seychelles Coast Guard. As explained by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the aim of the project was “to assist Seychelles secure the vast EEZ, including near Mozambique Channel, located over a thousand kilometres from the main island of Mahe.” Indian PM Narendra Modi remarked that the two countries have agreed to work on the Assumption Island project based on each other’s rights. Beyond the Assumption Island project, India decided to extend a $100 million line of credit and gift a Dornier aircraft to Seychelles. India will also finance three civilian infrastructure projects in Seychelles. These include Government House, new Police Headquarters and Attorney General’s Office.
India and Seychelles have an elaborate architecture of defence and security cooperation that has deepened over the years with the growing piracy menace and other economic offences in the strategic Indian Ocean region.
In pursuance of the MOU on Hydrography signed during the visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi in March, 2015, Indian Naval Ship INS Darshak visited Seychelles from 5 November to 19 December 2015 to conduct hydrographic survey of Victoria Port and adjoining areas. Two patrol boats PS Topaz and PS Constant were gifted by India to Seychelles. Indian Coast Guard’s Fast Interceptor Boat C-405 (rechristened ‘PB Hermes’) was gifted to Seychelles in 2016. India also gifted one Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Seychelles in 2013.
In the area of bilateral trade and cooperation, there is still room for further development. According to the estimates provided by Indian Ministry of External Affairs, India exported goods worth USD 101.16 million and imported goods worth USD 0.548 million from Seychelles during the period January to October 2017. In October 2017, Seychelles import from India was 2.94% of Seychelles’ total imports from other countries. India stood at 8th position by way of exports to Seychelles. Seychelles export to India was 0.42% of Seychelles’ total exports to other countries.
Thus, the visit of Seychelles President Faure to India provided a further impetus to wide-ranging bilateral cooperation including in the fields of defence and security and development partnership between the two countries.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor