Seychelles- India relation can be characterized by close friendship, understanding, and assistance. India’s diplomatic ties were established with Seychelles after its independence. Primarily Indian’s went to Seychelles as plantation workers. Seychelles was under the governance of the Bombay presidency during the British colonial period. After independence, the trade relationship between both countries had facilitated the migration of many Indian trading communities. Seychelles and India’s close relations have witnessed many regular high-level visits between the countries. The former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Presidents R. Venkataraman and Pratibha Patil have paid visits to Seychelles in the past. Many regular state visits by the Seychellois President France-Albert René, James Alix Michel, and Danny Faurve have also been made.
Trade Between the Two Nations
Trade between Seychelles and India has been growing over the past few decades. Tourism, fishing, petroleum exploration, IT, computer education, and pharmaceuticals have been identified as areas of economic cooperation. India has exported goods worth USD 101.16 million and imported goods worth USD 0.548 million from Seychelles during the period from January to October 2017. Many Indian companies have established their name in the Seychellois economy. Bank of Baroda has successfully been running its overseas branch at Victoria, the capital of Seychelles since 1978. The telecom giant Airtel group from India has invested US$25million to provide telecom and internet services since 1998. TATA, the mega business conglomerate has provided buses for smooth transportation between Mahé and Praslin.
Agreements between Seychelles and India
There are several bilateral agreements/ MoUs that have been signed between Seychelles and India. Namely, the Air Services Agreement (1981), Agreement on Tourism (1996), Trade Agreement (2000), Joint Business Council (2000), MoU on Healthcare (2003), MoU on Defense Cooperation (2003), MoU on Science and Technology (2003), Cultural Exchange Programme (2003-05), Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) (June 2010), MoU for setting up of an Information Technology Centre in Seychelles (February 2010), MoU for the stationing of an Indian Navy’s Dornier aircraft in Seychelles (February 2011), MoU for the supply of a new Dornier aircraft to Seychelles (February 2012), MoU for the supply of a Coastal Surveillance Radar System in the outer islands (Feb 2012), MoU on Police Research & Training (April-May 2012), MoU for cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports (April-May 2012), MoU for the adoption of a revised Bilateral Air Services Agreement (September 2014).
Visits Between the Two Nations
During the exchange visit of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi to Seychelles in March 2015, four MoUs/Agreements were signed on Renewable Energy, Hydrography, Protocol on Sale of Navigational Charts / Electronic Navigational Charts and the development of Facilities on Assumption Island. During the state visit of the then President James Michel in August 2015, the following agreements were signed: Bilateral Air Services Agreement, Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA), MoU between ICAR and Seychelles Agricultural Agency for Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Education, Protocol on Framework of Cooperation in the field of Blue Economy. Another MoU for a second Dornier Maritime Aircraft to Seychelles to boost the maritime surveillance was also signed. In the past India has gifted a fast interceptor boat, Dornier aircraft which stands as a testimony of India’s commitment to the people of Seychelles.
During the first state visit of President Danny Faure in June 2018, the following 6 agreements were signed: White Shipping data Agreement, MoU on cybersecurity (2018), MoU on Small Development Projects, MoU between the Foreign Service Institute India and the Department of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2018-2022, Twinning Agreement between the Corporation of the city of Panaji (Municipal Corporation) and the city of Victoria of the Republic of Seychelles. India regularly provides arms and training for the Seychelles Peoples’ Defense Forces. Indian security forces have been continuously patrolling the high seas to keep a check on the rising sea-based terror and piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Defence Ties Between the Two Nations
Defence relations form the dominant part of bilateral relations between Seychelles and India. India and Seychelles share the Indian Ocean and hence both countries strategically converge in maritime security. Both stand together against international crimes against piracy, drugs, trafficking, and illegal exploitation of oceanic resources. India has also been proactive in strengthening the capacity of the Seychelles Peoples’ Defence Forces (SPDF) and has donated military vehicles and surveillance equipment for the same. India is keen on developing the Assumption Island in the Indian Ocean and expanding its footprint in the strategically key region. Both Seychelles and India signed an agreement in March 2015 to build a naval base keeping in mind the concerns of each other. The base will be managed by both countries. India has announced a credit line of $100million for defence procurement from India and enhances its security capacity. Seychelles is a part of India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative cooperation among Indian Ocean nations.
India has been exploring the possibility of India-France-Seychelles trilateral cooperation. The Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region was signed during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India. India and France share common concerns on the freedom of navigation and support greater coordination in the regional and international arena. This can prove to be the real strategic partnership in the sphere of the Indian Ocean.
The geopolitical and strategic prominence of the Indian Ocean is equally important for both countries. India has taken many anti-piracy measures on Somali waters. The Indian government has been proceeding to explore the new possibilities of strengthening the bilateral relationship. The initiatives of the Indian government are intertwined to explore multidimensional perspectives of the relationship between both the countries such as the enhancement of political relations and boost of democratic bonds.
Other Areas of Cooperation
The Indian government has been maintaining close cooperation with Seychelles in the form of human resource development and capacity building under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme in the 1980s. India is one of the main centers for medical tourism for the Seychellois. The Government of Seychelles has tied up with MIOT Hospitals and Madras Medical Mission in Chennai for providing healthcare to its citizens. The two nations have also been working together in the areas of environmental protection and renewable energy. India has set up a solar power cluster in Seychelles. India is an important source of tourism, trading partner for Seychelles. Seychelles provides India the link to the East African countries which is a huge market for India.