New Delhi [India]May 28 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 12-step initiative at the third Forum for Indo-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) summit in Papua New Guinea on May 21.
At a time when the US-China strategic competition in the South Pacific is intensifying, India’s active participation in the neutral and constructive agenda in the region will not only lead the trend of developing cooperation with the Pacific Island Countries (PIC), but also help ease geopolitical tensions. China’s increasingly active activities in the region have raised doubts about its hegemonic intentions in the region, as seen in the South China Sea.
Most of the initiatives put forward by the Indian Prime Minister are purely for development and well-being rather than creating strategic interests as countries like China often see in their engagements.These 12-step initiatives include FIPIC SME Development Project, Solar Energy Project for Government Buildings, Provision of Drinking Water Desalination Units, Provision of Marine Ambulances, Installation of Dialysis Units, 24×7 Emergency Helpline, Jan Aushadi Kendras, Yoga Centers, etc.
India’s engagement with Pacific island nations includes the creation of social and economic infrastructure and community development projects. Cooperation in education and health and the use of information and digital technologies have been among the areas of focus.
India believes that the world’s development journey, including in the area of sustainable development, will be incomplete unless the Pacific island countries are included in this journey. These countries need capital and technology to realize their development potential. Thus, it was India that highlighted the need for development assistance to Pacific island countries and engaged in South-South cooperation for this purpose.
India’s strong push for cooperation with Pacific island nations in development and human well-being is nothing new. In times of need, India supports the Pacific Islands by providing Humanitarian Assistance to Disaster Relief (HADR) as well as vaccines and medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic. India’s journey of deep engagement began with the FIPC Forum in Fiji in 2014 under the leadership of the Prime Minister of India, followed by the second meeting of the Forum in Jaipur in 2015.
India believes in shared prosperity for the world. With this in mind, India established the India-United Nations Development Partnership Fund in 2017 with the main objective of providing development assistance to developing countries, with a special focus on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States. PICs can benefit from this fund, especially for their sustainable development projects.
PIC is made up of three main island groups: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The 14 countries in the Southwest Pacific include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Papua, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu . These resource-rich but economically underdeveloped countries sit at the crossroads of strategically important maritime trade routes, which is why world powers are racing to gain a deeper foothold.
However, India believes that regional peace and development require development cooperation rather than competition for regional strategic footholds. The Prime Minister of India has stated this on many occasions.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Mallop touched the feet of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival for the third PIC summit in a gesture of extraordinary confidence in India’s PIC. India enjoys this status not because of its deep pockets but because of its sovereign, neutral, principled and non-exploitative foreign policy. (Arnie)
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