- Amina Bibi

In the indo- pacific region, where in Bay of Bengal the chain of Andaman and Nicobar (A &N) Islands is situated. The Andaman Sea has its prominence of joining the Bay of Bengal with the vast indo- pacific waters through the Strait of Malacca. The Indian government’s policy in Indian Ocean and its outreach in the indo – pacific have significant importance of A & N Islands. It is a key pillar to counter China’s outreach into the indo-Pacific region.

From thousands of years Indian Ocean has been India’s centre for trade and strategic powers. The importance of A & N Islands has increased. Further, it is following the new policy towards trade and cooperation in the region of Indo-pacific. Under the umbrella of the Act east policy, A & N Islands plays a major role in a good relation with East Asian countries. In the Indian Ocean region (IOR), Chinese interest is growing fast. Traditionally, India is a security provider for (IOR). As well as, it is India’s neighborhood. 

India is regularly conducting joint naval exercise with foreign navies. As recently, in August 2020 it had naval exercise with USA and Japan. In 2019, India-Thailand-Singapore had trilateral navel exercise near the Islands. The upcoming Malabar exercise is also planned in the IOR. As Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said “ Highlights the importance of Maritime Logistics, Proposal to construct a Trans-Shipment Port in Great Nicobar, Modernisation of A&N infrastructure will have a multiplier effect”, (Chaudhury 2020).

The chain of A & N Islands is under the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data  the total confirmed COVID- 19 cases in India is 3, 463, 972,  and the active cases 781975, the total deaths has been reported till now 64469.


Source:  i worldmeters.info/world-population/india-population/, ii. Mohfw.gov.in, iii andaman.gov.in,  v tribal.nic.in.

When we see above the table, the A & Nicobar Islands COVID- 19 total confirmed  cases   were 3104, which is a big number as per the population. The active cases 473, and total deaths has been recorded till now is 45. As well as, when we see the Great Andamanese tribe as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) data their total population is very less in numbers (51) and total COVID-19 confirmed cases were 11. In this 7 people has been recovered, which is a positive sign. The Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) workers also tested COVID-19 positive.

The impact of COVID-19

The increasing positive cases clearly show the negative sign of the management of Covid 19 cases by the administration.  During the Lockdown phase 1, A & N Island has managed the situation immensely well and the death rate was zero. But In Lockdown Phase II, the situation was totally different. The number of positive cases was increased day by day. The COVID-19 positive cases have reached from South Andaman to Middle, North, and in Nicobar Island simultaneously.

The effect of COVID-19 presently in totally collapsed the socio-economic situation of the Islanders. The unemployment rate has been trigged by the COVID-19, the inflation rate has become very high. The mismanagement (COVID-19) cases of the government hospital of South Andaman G. B. Pant had compelled to the islanders to do protest during this pandemic.

**Amina Bibi is a PhD Scholar of Inner Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU.**