As India struggles to manage China’s economic and diplomatic influence in its immediate neighbourhood, it has recently made progress in building more robust ties with four crucial island states in the Indian Ocean: Mauritius, the Maldives, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka. What has been done – and what has worked – may well bear on Australia’s “step up” in the Pacific.

Improving these ties has taken time, a great deal of diplomacy from India’s leaders, and significant financial investment. Each of these four states has had past differences with India. At one point or another, New Delhi has intervened – or simply meddled – in their internal affairs. During the 1980s, India’s military or intelligence service helped see off coup attempts (or feared attempts) in Mauritius (1983), the Maldives (1988), and Seychelles (1986). Notoriously, India also became embroiled in Sri Lanka’s civil war against Tamil separatists, first in the shadows, then as peacekeepers, and finally as protagonists.

Please click here to read the full “India’s clever alliances with island states” article published at The Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Deputy Director Research, Professor Ian Hall.