• Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 12-point development plan for the Pacific Island nations in a range of areas including healthcare, renewable energy and cyber-security.
• Modi made the announcements on the new initiatives at the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) summit held at Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.
• Announcing the development plan, Modi said India has decided to establish a super-specialty cardiology hospital in Fiji and will assist in setting up dialysis units in all the 14 Pacific island countries.
• He also announced that sea ambulances will be provided to all the 14 Pacific island countries.
What is FIPIC?
• Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational grouping established in 2014 for cooperation between India and 14 Pacific Island nations.
• Member countries of the grouping are: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
• Though these countries are relatively small in land area and distant from India, many have large exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and offer promising possibilities for fruitful cooperation.
• India’s focus has largely been on the Indian Ocean where it has sought to play a major role and protect its strategic and commercial interests. The FIPIC initiative marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region.
• India’s engagement with the 14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) is part of New Delhi’s Act East Policy.
• A major part of India’s engagement with PICs is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation that is mainly in the form of capacity building and community development projects.
• A major initiative launched under the rubric of the Act East Policy for the PICs is the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).
• Prime Minister Modi hosted the first FIPIC summit in Suva on November 19, 2014 during his visit to Fiji.
• The second FIPIC summit was held in Jaipur on August 21, 2015 again with all 14 PICs taking part.
• In that summit, India announced initiatives across a wide array of areas to assist the PICs in facing challenges and achieving aspirations for the well-being and development of its peoples.
India’s Act East Policy
• India’s Act East Policy focuses on strengthening relations with India’s extended neighbourhood in the Indo-Pacific Region.
• The objective of Act East Policy is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, thereby providing enhanced connectivity in its broadest sense, including political, economic, cultural and people-people relations.
• The policy, which was originally conceived as an economic initiative, has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions including establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation.
• With ASEAN at its core, India is robustly engaging countries of Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia & Oceania.
• India has ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ with a number of countries in the region including Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
• It has ‘Enhanced Strategic Partnership’ with Malaysia, ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ with Republic of Korea and Japan, and Strategic Partnership with Singapore and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
• Apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS), India has also been actively engaged in/with other regional fora such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC), all of which contribute to realisation of India’s Act East Policy.
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