Former Army Chief (Retired General) Dalbir Singh Suhag was appointed as India's next high commissioner to Seychelles, an island country in Indian Ocean which is of strategic importance to India in the Indian Ocean region. His appointment comes amid deepening military ties between India and Seycelles.
About Dalbir Singh
He was commissioned in 5 Gorkha Rifles, an infantry unit of Indian Army in June 1974. He held numerous important posts throughout his career in Army. He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka in 1987. He was Indian Army chief from July 31, 2014, to December 31, 2016.
During his term as Army Chief, Special Forces commandoes of Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at terrorist launch pads inside Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoK) aftermath of terrorist attack at an Army Camp in Uri. Before it, Indian Army had carried out similar strikes inside Myanmar to eliminate hideouts of Naga insurgent groups during his term.
Note: Appointments of former defence personnel as envoys to countries is not new. Earlier Indian Navy Chief Nirmal Kumar Verma had served as high commissioner to Canada, Verma’s predecessor Sureesh Mehta had served as High commissioner to New Zealand. Former Air Chief N.A.K. Browne also had served as ambassador to Norway.
Seychelles is a small Indian Ocean island state northeast of Madagascar. India had established diplomatic ties with Seychelles in 1976 after its independence. Since then, bilateral ties have steadily improved over the years. In terms of bilateral trade between both countries, India had exported goods worth US $101.16 million and imported goods worth US $0.548 million from Seychelles in 2017. In 2017, India was 8th largest exported to Seychelles.
India and Seychelles have established relationship in defence and maritime security. Under it, India helps to patrol waters of Seychelles and gives equipment to island nation’s defence forces.
In recent years, India has agreed to help Seychelles map its hydrology reserves, launched coastal surveillance radar project and boosted security cooperation with island nation.
Assumption Island: In 2015, Seychelles had agreed to allocate land on its Assumption Island for India to build its first naval base in IOR to expand its footprint in the strategically-key region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence. In this regard, agreement was signed in 2015 between India and Seychelles.