While inaugurating the submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) in Andaman and Nicobar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained the recent significant development which is connecting the Islands in an unprecedented manner. He focused on the point that OFC and other infrastructure initiatives in Andaman and Nicobar are easing the lives of people by providing all the opportunities of digital India in the first place. Beyond that, he also stressed on the point that Andaman and Nicobar will be the driving force in facilitating port-led trade with South-Asian countries.
The speech by the Prime Minister and many other recent developments have indicated that Andaman and Nicobar Islands will play a role in the global scheme of things.
Island Development – PM’s Account
- The OFC project is connecting the Andaman Nicobar Islands with Chennai. It is easing the lives of people of the islands. Online education, tourism, banking, shopping, tele-medicine all will be strengthened with this initiative.
- India’s Act East Policy and the burgeoning trade in the Indo-pacific region will have Andaman Nicobar as the Centre point.
- High Impact Projects are on in the 12 islands of Andaman and Nicobar. With the internet connectivity achieved now, the other infrastructure across road, air, and water modes are unveiling.
- Cochin shipyard is preparing four ships for the island and it will increase the capacity of water connectivity.
- In Great Nicobar, a Trans-Shipment Port is coming with nearly Rs 10,000 crore investment. Andaman Nicobar lies in the competitive distance to many global ports and the government is committed to use it to the advantage of the global supply chain.
- Blue water economy with the element of fisheries, Aquaculture, Seaweed farming are given priority.
Andaman Nicobar- Through Media Lens
- A recent article in Hindustan Times noted that “New Delhi recently moved to expedite plans for basing additional military forces, including facilities for additional warships, aircraft, missile batteries and infantry soldiers at the strategically-located Andaman Islands.”
- The same article observed, “In 2016, New Delhi and Tokyo discussed a joint project to upgrade infrastructure in the ANI, including a proposal to install a sound surveillance sensors (SOSUS) chain to improve India’s underwater domain awareness.”
- Under Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN – II round, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands were included. It helped in improving its physical connectivity with mainland India.
- India relies on imports of important minerals like nickel, rare earth metals etc. Thus, the government has taken many steps towards deep-sea mining for sea bead minerals.
- The islands were neglected from the mainstream discourse by attaching a low priority to them. However, prioritising the development of islands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a push to a plan through institutionalizing it and establishing the Islands Development Agency (IDA) in 2017.
The telecom connectivity to the Islands which provides faster internet and communication is one example of the changing phase. On a bigger picture, Andaman Nicobar Islands are getting connected not just to gain domestic significance but to play a bigger global role.