Nearly two weeks ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a tour of the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka — three key Indian Ocean island nations. There were suggestions that the prime minister would visit Maldives as well, but it was dropped from the itinerary following the arrest and incarceration of that country's first democratically elected president and current opposition leader, Mohamed Nasheed. India was expressing its disapproval.

The prime minister indicated a major stepping up of India's military and civilian assistance to the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka during his visit in an effort to balance China's growing imprint in the region, which has built highways, power plants and seaports in these small island nations.

India envisages its role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region, and toward that end, it is providing patrol ships, surveillance radars and ocean mapping for the island states.