Security Issues

India’s obligation to develop the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI)

The union government is putting out a number of infrastructural projects for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI), but environmental organizations are on the attack.


  • Oceanic outpost: The ANI is India’s continental outpost in the ocean.
  • Allows for distinctive surveillance: The islands provide India with a unique capability for maritime interdiction and surveillance thanks to their strategic placement overlooking the ten-degree and six-degree channels, through which the great majority of freight and container traffic in the eastern Indian Ocean transits.
  • In terms of strategy, the ANI serves as a crucial “staging post” for marine operations and a supply base, enabling quick turnaround for Indian warships and planes stationed in the Andaman Sea.
  • Difficulties in developing Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI)
  • The defence and foreign policy departments in India were not totally in sync when the country first started creating the ANI in the 1980s.
  • The diplomatic establishment of India opposed the militarization plan, claiming that turning the islands into a strategic-military garrison would weaponize the littoral and would not be popular with India’s maritime neighbours.
  • Fears among neighbours: Indonesia and Malaysia feared that India might use its military installations on the Andaman Islands to dominate its region and project influence east of Malacca.

Today’s perspective

  • Greater understanding of India: It might be said that today there is greater understanding of India’s need to build the ANI. It is obvious that India must develop the islands; this is a requirement that cannot be disregarded.
  • India’s obligation Regional states realise New Delhi has little choice but to strategically consolidate on the islands as China expands its footprint in India’s backyard.
  • Securing maritime borders: Following the stalemate with China in Ladakh in June 2020, there has been increasing pressure on the Indian military to thwart Chinese adventurism in the Indian Ocean.
  • The stakes for India in the eastern Indian Ocean are higher than ever as a result of China’s efforts to increase its presence in the region, including in the Maldives (Feydhoo Finolhu), Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), and Bangladesh (at Cox Bazaar, where China is reportedly building a submarine base).
  • The leaders of Asia understood that India has good intentions because it is willing to minimise its security presence on key islands.

Logic behind developing Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI)

  • New Delhi must also oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative in order to offset it. The way China is building infrastructure in the Bay of Bengal implies that it wants to have both economic clout and geopolitical power in the region.
  • Dual-use facilities as a deterrent to China: According to some reports, China wants to provide its military access to facilities it developed in the Bay of Bengal. According to reports, Beijing is pushing to build “dual-use” facilities with both commercial and military uses.

The way to counter China

  • By increasing military presence in BOB: Increasing India’s military presence in the littorals would be one strategy for India to fight China’s incursions into the Bay of Bengal. The procedure has already started.
  • by converting islands into fleets’ logistical support hubs: Developing its island holdings in the eastern Indian Ocean and providing military facilities there for logistical assistance to fleets from friendly Quad countries are two further ways India may counter China.

Delicate ecology of the island

  • Environmentalists claim that building on environmentally delicate islands could result in a significant loss of biodiversity, which would be detrimental to the local population and the native inhabitants of the islands.
  • The ecological effects of infrastructure construction on the islands, particularly the proposal for a container terminal in Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar Island, cannot be ignored by New Delhi.
  • The idea calls for the wholesale destruction of forests, which could harm the area’s delicate natural balance.

A trans-shipment port, new hotels, and resorts might undermine decades of conservation work.


The urgent need is to strike a balance between two conflicting demands: allow for island development while preventing extensive environmental harm. This is going to be a difficult performance for Indian decision-makers to perform in terms of ‘high-wire’ acts.

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