Book Details

Book title: Andaman and Nicobar Islands: India`s Untapped Strategic Assets
Author(s): Sanat Kaul
ISBN: 9788182747746
Publication Year: 2014
Pages: 226
Price: Rs. 1095 Rs. 1095
Stock Availability Yes

Since 1947, the Government of India has been curiously disinclined to dislodge itself from a Rip Van Winkle approach to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands that lie in the Bay of Bengal. The vast geographical spread of the archipelagos across 700 kms can be understood only when we consider that approximately about 20 km separate Myanmar`s Coco Island from Landfall, the northern most island in the Andaman archipelagos, while Indira Point at the tip of Great Nicobar, the southern most island in the Nicobar archipelagos, lies about 80 km from the tip of Sumatra in Indonesia. This is not a commonly known fact among Indians. The ignorance about the islands is endemic and may be the cause for the current policy of `masterly inactivity and benign neglect` of these high value national assets of immense untapped strategic, commercial and geopolitical potential. In this context, the author draws attention to the policy adopted by the country in the fifties to Arunachal Pradesh, erstwhile North-East Frontier Agency(NEFA) when it was decided to administer the tribal region by creating a specialized Agency out of a portion of the state of Assam, which has led to good results politically. In this book the author analyses strategic challenges facing the country as we enter into the second decade of the 21st century. The issues of `Malacca Dilemma` for China and India`s advantage as well as the issues of South China Sea, Naval Diplomacy and India`s Look East Policy have been discussed. Further, India`s settled maritime borders with its neighbours in this region is yet another great advantage. The author argues that a government at the Centre which perpetuates the existing policy, would be wilfully tying one arm behind its back, before going forth to meet national security challenges. The indifference towards tapping the strategic potential of the islands is not in national interest. The facts and circumstances in the book make clear that, going forward in the 21st century, a continuation of shutting out the islands through a government policy of `masterly inactivity and benign neglect` as the preferred strategy instrument to keep the islands safe from inimical and anti-national elements, would be contrary to national interest and security. On the other hand, leveraging these assets as proposed would give the country a position of strength on issues of security. Finally, the author argues that though the islands are an environmentally sensitive region, its strategic importance in the present day context for India cannot be diminished. The book offers suggestions about ways in which India can leverage the geographical location of the islands, especially the Great Nicobar Island at the western entrance of the Straits of Malacca, to tap the potential of the islands to meet India`s commercial and security challenges without sacrificing the environmental concerns.

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