How Lakshadweep is emerging as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism in the Arabian Sea.
How Lakshadweep is emerging as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism in the Arabian Sea.

Lakshadweep, which translates to a hundred thousand islands, is a Union Territory of India. It’s an archipelago located 400 kilometres off the Malabar coast with a population of just 65,000 residents. Famous for its pristine beaches, tropical moist forests and local copra produce that makes up the majority of its economy, the island is a great travel destination and is visited by almost 3 lakh tourists every year. Malayalam is the most widely spoken language, spoken by about 85%, along with Dhivehi, which is spoken by 15% of the population.

It has a predominantly Muslim population and a literacy rate of 92%, which places it among the UTs with the highest literacy rate.

The island holds economic and strategic importance for India, especially when our neighbour China is making inroads in Maldives and Sri Lanka by expanding its maritime silk route through its debt traps. The most notable example of this is Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, which China acquired on a 99-year lease as the island nation could not pay its debt for the construction of the port and airport in the coastal town. Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Karachi is also a sweet spot for the Chinese to park their submarines and warships, which might pose a threat to Indian security.

India perceives the presence of a Chinese base in Sri Lanka and Pakistan as a threat to its security. If Maldives falls into the Chinese debt trap and gives away space to the Chinese, it would be an absolute nightmare for the Indian security establishment, which has already been raising concerns of snooping by Beijing on its missile tests.

The Indian government has been working proactively to neutralize these threats by developing its military bases in the Indian Ocean and promoting friendly relations with its maritime neighbours.

The Modi-led BJP government has been launching multiple projects to provide better connectivity and ease of living to the people of Lakshadweep.

In a recent visit to the island, PM Modi launched the Kochi-Lakshadweep Submarine optical fibre cable project to provide faster internet connectivity to the islanders. Jal Jeevan mission, which aims to provide piped drinking water to every household and distribute cooking gas connections, is changing lives on the island and raising the standard of living for islanders.

In order to provide security and secure the safe passage of vessels, the Indian Navy has made the island its home as well. INS Dweeprakshak, located on Kavaratti island, and a naval detachment posted on the island operating under southern maritime command in Kochi, Kerala, have the responsibility to take care of the marine borders and secure India’s frontiers.

The island’s strategic location makes it crucial to India’s security as it can be used to monitor any vessels in the Arabian Sea and secure a 1500 km coastline.

The importance of Lakshadweep can be measured by the value India places on the island, which holds political, economic and strategic value for the Indian government.

Read More: What is going on between India and Maldives? The uncultured comments, suspension and more


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