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Modi's neighborhood-first policy

by Laxman Pai

The re-elected Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's first foreign travel was to the neighbouring Maldives and Sri Lanka as part of his "neighborhood-first policy."

China is also trying to exert its influence, especially in maritime sector, in both Sri Lanka and the Maldives. China's increasing involvement in both Sri Lanka and the Maldives pose threat to India's maritime boarders.

Both South Asian countries are facing political instability as their ruling class has been divided into pro-India and pro-China groups.

According to government sources, Modi's first foreign trip reinforces a growing impression that this regional tour underscores a shift in emphasis in India's foreign policy that was traditionally focused on the northern tier of countries to the Indian Ocean rim.

India wants to contain Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Modi's visits to the Maldives and Sri Lanka 'will demonstrate the priority India attaches to its 'SAGAR Doctrine', which refers to Security And Growth for All in the Region -- a coinage of 2015 by the Modi government aiming to keep the Indian Ocean region 'peaceful and secure'.

PM Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Solih jointly inaugurates two projects - the Coastal Surveillance Radar System and the Composite Training Centre of the Maldives National Defence Forces.

Modi also reviewed the progress on a key trilateral MoU which India, Japan and Sri Lanka have signed – the development of the East Container Terminal in Colombo, located just about 3 km away from the China-supported “port city”, which is being built on reclaimed land.

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