Click here and search for August 21, 2015, Spotlight/News Analysis for audio. In the International Relations part of GS-3 paper, Pacific Islands Forum is neglected by many students. Recently, PM Modi had visited these countries and India has hosted a summit level meeting also. Hence this is an important topic from the examination point of view. Please listen to the discussion for better understanding and don’t neglect this area.
On August 21, 2015 India hosted the second edition of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) summit in Jaipur. All the 14 nations of the group participated in the summit. The first was summit held in Fiji in 2014. This is a part of India’s extended Act East Policy.
Importance of Pacific Islands
They are dispersed and low populated countries.
They have logistics problems to develop their economies.
Less manufacturing activity
With climate change and global warming, these countries fear of being drowned or disappeared.
These countries are highly influenced by Australia due to its close proximity – for example, Australia helping the development of natural gas of Papua New Guinea etc.
These island groups are forming partnerships with EU and other economic groupings.
Their natural resources are being depleted day-by-day – sugar, timber etc. India used to import phosphates from the Nauru Island, which is now being depleted.
More than 3,000 Chinese companies are already operating in these Island groups in various businesses.
6 out of 14 Pacific Islands recognize Taiwan as a legitimate govt of China.
These 14 nations are supporting India’s attempts to become permanent member of UNSC.
India can engage with these countries in the field of agriculture, especially palm oil, sugar, and timber. India can enter into partnerships with these island groups and add value to their commodities.
These islands have plenty of oil, gas, and minerals in their sea beds. For example, the Kiribati islands, they are spread over an area that is bigger than the Indian subcontinent and have rich sources of minerals. India can form joint ventures and explore these minerals.
These islands are frequently affected by natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes etc. India can help them in disaster management.
India can make use of the mahogany (timber) that is extensively grown in these islands, for getting raw materials for paper industry.
The other biggest potential area which India can leverage from these islands is the development of services sector – IT, tourism, healthcare and fisheries.
India is developing renewable energy and has set a target of 175 GW by 2022. It can help the Pacific Islands in this area and provide energy security.
In the past, these pacific islands have faced a threat to democracy. For example, there was a coup in Fiji, which overthrew the democratically elected government; there was a civil war in Papua New Guinea. In this context, India can serve as a stable and solid partner, as it is one of the largest democracies in the world, so that these islands can have an assured trade and investment relations.
The Pacific Island groups have enthusiastically welcomed India’s offer in telemedicine, tele-education, space cooperation, fostering democracy and community activities. Unlike other proximate countries like Australia, India has intimate relations, going beyond exploration of natural resources, with these nations. For example, Fiji has huge number of Indian ethnic population. Culturally they are linked to India. So, India should fight for their cause in the coming UN Climate Change meeting in Paris. India should see to it that these islands get enough finances for disaster mitigation measures.