By Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja
14 Feb , 2013
Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013
INS Baaz Runway '23'
India’s military build-up, particularly of its naval capabilities and naval installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, worried ASEAN policy makers, who saw India as a potential threat to regional security. India’s relations with ASEAN however, improved in the 1990s as the result of the end of the bipolar world system and the UN-brokered peace settlement in Cambodia. For its part, New Delhi sought to boost economic and trade ties with the region and to establish closer political and defence ties in order to counteract China’s growing influence in South East Asia. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have immense strategic value and it could be used as a centre point for India’s “Look East” policy.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands at the junction of Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, is a Union Territory of India. The Islands comprise two groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10° N parallel, with the Andamans to the North of this latitude and Nicobar to the South. Of the 572 islands, only 37 are inhabited.
Organised colonisation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the Europeans began in December 1755…
Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042), one of the Tamil Chola dynasty kings, occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire, a Hindu-Malay empire based in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Islands also provided a temporary maritime base for Maratha ships in the 17th century. The legendary Admiral Kanhoji Angre who established naval supremacy with a base there, is credited with making the Islands a part of India.