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April 17 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) hold immense strategic importance for India in the Indo-Pacific region.  

The Indian government’s renewed focus on these islands reflects their recognition as vital assets for maritime security, trade routes, and regional stability.  

Strategic Importance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 

  • Geographical Location: Located 700 nautical miles southeast of the Indian mainland, ANI extends India’s exclusive economic zone by 300,000 sq km, with potential hydrocarbon and mineral deposits. 
  • Key Maritime Chokepoint: The islands lie astride the Malacca Strait, a critical maritime route where over 90,000 merchant ships carrying 30% of the world’s traded goods pass annually. 
  • Maritime Boundaries: Sharing maritime boundaries with countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, ANI offers significant ocean space under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 
  • Defence and Security: ANI serves as India’s first line of defence against threats from the East, especially amidst China’s increasing influence in the region. 
  • Regional Collaboration: Port Blair, the capital, has potential as a regional hub for navies to collaborate on various maritime security initiatives. 

Challenges to the Development of ANI: 

  • Historical Neglect: Until recently, there was a lack of political prioritisation, reflecting a broader absence of a strategic maritime vision since Independence. 
  • Geographical Challenges: The islands’ distance from the mainland and the associated difficulties in developing infrastructure pose significant challenges. 
  • Environmental and Regulatory Hurdles: Complex environmental clearance procedures and regulations related to forest and tribal conservation create additional barriers. 
  • Coordination Challenges: Involvement of multiple ministries and agencies often leads to coordination challenges, with conflicts between long-term strategic vision and immediate political gains. 

Strategic Infrastructure Development Needed in ANI: 

Enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness: 

  • Comprehensive surveillance over the islands to monitor maritime activities effectively. 
  • Bolstering deterrence capabilities against naval threats from the East. 

Bolstering Infrastructure: 

  • Developing infrastructure to support India’s maritime economy, particularly in the southern group of islands. 
  • Improving transportation and connectivity to facilitate development and tourism, including the Galathea Bay transhipment port on Great Nicobar Island. 
  • Revitalising plans to connect ANI to the mainland through Submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for better connectivity and access to Digital India benefits. 

Enhancing Military Presence: 

  • Increasing forces and deploying appropriate assets at the Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) to maintain island security. 
  • Deploying surveillance and fighter aircraft and organizing regular rotations.  

Historical Overview of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 

  • Colonial Legacy: Established as a penal colony by the British post the 1857 War of Independence, the islands saw occupation by the Japanese during World War II. 
  • Post-Independence: Neglect persisted until 1962, with concerns about Chinese submarine activities leading to the establishment of a naval garrison. 
  • Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC): Established in 2001 post the Kargil War security review, ANC is India’s first joint and Unified operational command, responsible for maintaining maritime domain awareness and deterrence capabilities. 

Recent Developments and Future Prospects: 

  • NITI Aayog Projects: Undertaking development projects for Great Nicobar, including an international container transhipment terminal, airport, power plant, and township. 
  • Greenfield Coastal City: Proposal for the development of a new greenfield coastal city on Little Andaman to compete with global hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong. 
  • Kra Canal Proposal: The proposed canal in Thailand aims to create a shortcut for shipping between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, impacting maritime dynamics in the region. 


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are crucial for India’s maritime strategy, security, and economic development in the Indo-Pacific region.  

Addressing the challenges faced and focusing on strategic infrastructure development can harness the islands’ potential, making them a cornerstone of India’s regional influence and stability. 

Mains Question: 

  1. “How do the Andaman and Nicobar Islands contribute to India’s strategic and maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific region?” (150 words)


April 17
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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