THE Pacific Island Countries (PIC) were once called antipodal as they were situated on the other side of Europe on the globe. In keeping with this nomenclature, their annual get-togethers never drew much attention. But the tide turned in 2012 when the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended a summit of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), which has New Zealand and Australia among its members. China stepped up its loan diplomacy and the competition has heated up so much that both Beijing and Washington are actively seeking to sign defence pacts with these island nations.
With Fiji having a substantial Indian-origin population, New Delhi was always keen to strengthen diplomatic ties with countries in this region. It became a PIF dialogue partner in 2002 and announced several initiatives in 2006. India responded to the start of the geopolitical contest with the formation of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in 2014. Last week’s visit by PM Narendra Modi to Papua New Guinea to attend the third FIPIC summit underlined India’s outreach. This approach of sustained diplomacy is a part of the South Block’s engagement playbook with island nations in the Caribbean and those near the Mozambique Channel off the African coast.
Even as demonstrations greeted the defence pact inked by US President Biden’s stand-in Antony Blinken in Papua New Guinea, PM Modi’s 12-point action plan showed that India was charting a benign and undemanding course. With the island nations wary of getting embroiled in the US-China power play, India is in a good position to pursue its South Pacific goals.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Shah in Manipur, bid to bring Meiteis, Kukis on talks table
22 detained ahead of minister’s first visit since clashes br...
Monsoon may be below normal
Forecast for rainfall, thunderstorm over next 3-4 days
Boyfriend stabs, bludgeons teen to death in public
Passersby mute spectators in delhi; suspect held
12 youths from Punjab, Haryana stuck in Libya
Duped after being promised jobs in Dubai