The Indian Prime Minister(PM), Narendra Modi, alongside Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan, inaugurated several Indian projects in Seychelles at a high-level virtual event Thursday.
A New Magistrates’ Court Building, a fast patrol vehicle (FPV), one MW solar power plant, and 10 High Impact Community Development Projects (CDPs) were jointly inaugurated by the Indian PM and the President of Seychelles. The projects are part of India’s efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties with Seychelles under India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) mission.
At the event, the Indian PM highlighted Seychelles’ significance as part of the SAGAR vision. “Seychelles is central to India’s vision of ‘SAGAR’. India is honoured to be a partner of Seychelles in the development of its security capabilities and in meeting its infrastructural and developmental needs,” Modi said at the event.
In 2015, Modi toured the Indian Ocean countries, of which Seychelles was his first destination. Modi’s visit was the first Prime Ministerial visit to Seychelles after a gap of 33 years. The Indian PM pronounced the SAGAR vision during this tour of the Indian Ocean Countries.
India- Seychelles Projects
Both countries’ leaders inaugurated several projects on Thursday to address Seychelles’ non-traditional security concerns such as illegal fishing and drug trafficking along with the island nation’s infrastructure development.
The Indian Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, visited the island-nation in November last year following Wavel Ramkalawan’s landslide victory in the national elections. During his visit, Jaishankar described Seychelles as “central” to India’s SAGAR vision. Jaishankar’s visit secured Indian infrastructure projects worth $91 million for the island nation, comprising 115 islands in the Indian ocean. The Magistrates’ court building built in the island-nations capital, Victoria, represents India’s first major civil infrastructure project in Seychelles with $3.5 million grant assistance.
“We are happy to have contributed towards the construction of the New Magistrates’ Court Building in Seychelles. This state-of-the-art building has been completed even during these testing times of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am sure that it will be long remembered as a symbol of our deep and abiding friendship,” said the Indian PM.
The establishment has eight courtrooms, separate holding cells for men, women, and children, along with multi-functional conference and video rooms. The court building will help bring the magistrate court spread over various locations under one roof. The court is located near the Supreme Court of Seychelles, built with Chinese assistance in 2013.
India also donated a ₹100 crore worth FPV to the Seychelles coast guard. The multi-purpose ‘PS Zoroaster’ is set to help Seychelles carry out patrolling, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching, and search and rescue operations. Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineering build the 48.9-metre patrol boat. The boat has a top speed of 35 knots and an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles.
The PS Zoroaster is the fourth made-in-India patrol boat donated to Seychelles. It was delivered to Seychelles with the assistance of the Indian Navy in March earlier this year. New Delhi has previously given the nation patrol ships PS Topaz (2005), PS Constant (2014) and a patrol boat named Hermes in 2016. India also provided maritime surveillance aircraft twice in 2013 and 2018 – India has provided 50% of Seychelles’ maritime and air resources.
In addition, the leaders of both nations jointly inaugurated a 1MW solar power plant at Romainville Island under the ‘Solar PV Democratisation Project’. The solar power plant meets the electricity needs of close to 400 houses throughout the year. The solar project was undertaken, installing solar systems at 146 government buildings and domestic households.
The virtual event also saw the handing over 10 HICDP’S implemented by the High Commission of India in collaboration with local bodies, educational and vocational institutions. The HICDP projects will significantly contribute to the socio-economic development and betterment of local communities. India has hitherto undertaken 29 small people-oriented development projects in Seychelles.
Under the SAGAR mission, India prioritized Covid-19 medical supplies to Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and the Maldives, competing with China. The ‘Vaccine Maitri (Friendship)’ initiative launched by the Indian Government ensured that Seychelles was the first African country to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Ramakalawan, who has his roots in the Gopalganj district of Bihar, thanked India for their “precious donation” of 50,000 doses of Covidshield vaccines that helped his country achieve their goal of 70% herd immunity by April, eventually opening up the economy. Seychelles also received over four tonnes of life-saving medicines, including 50,000 HCQ tablets under the SAGAR mission in May last year.
India has maintained diplomatic ties with Seychelles since the island nation’s independence in 1976 and has played a crucial role in assisting its naval capabilities. In the past, Seychelles has also received training for the Seychelles People’s Defense Force from India.
The virtual event was the first interaction between PM Modi and Ramakalawan, who came to power in October last year. Ramakalawan’s party, the Linyon Democratic Seselwa, has a two-thirds majority in the Seychelles national assembly. His cabinet comprises three ministers of Indian origin – Devika Vidot, Billy Rangasamy and Naadir Hassan.
“The inauguration of these key projects demonstrates India’s privileged and time-tested role as a reliable partner of Seychelles for meeting its infrastructural, developmental and security requirements and is a testimony to the deep and friendly ties between the people of the two countries,” said a statement by the PMO on Wednesday.
India and Seychelles have strengthened their strategic ties in the post-Covid era. Seychelles is vital to Indian’s engagement with Africa and its security and economic plans in the Indian Ocean. The two nations will commemorate the 45th anniversary of establishing their diplomatic ties with each other in less than two months.