Operation Sagar was a COVID-19 relief mission initiated by the Indian government in May 2020 as part of its attempts to offer critical aid to Indian Ocean nations. Mission Sagar II followed in November, and Mission Sagar III in December of that year.
Mission Sagar, according to the Ministry of External Affairs, works in concert with the SAGAR (SECURITY and Growth for All in the Region) initiative.
Mission Sagar is not the same as the SAGAR programme. Mission Sagar is a humanitarian and inter-country outreach effort, whereas the SAGAR project is a marine cooperation policy ideology.
As previously stated, Mission Sagar is in line with the SAGAR initiative. The initiative is a vision for India’s economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indian government decided to fulfil the SAGAR initiative’s aim by delivering critical humanitarian relief to its marine partners.
In 2020, the Indian Navy launched three missions that were carried out by its ships. These ships delivered crucial supplies such as medications to India’s maritime partners’ ports. We shall go over the specifics of each Mission Sagar launched by the Indian government.
Mission Sagar- I
India dispatched INS Kesari to depart port on May 10, 2020, carrying food, medicines, and medical assistance teams. It would travel to Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, and La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. These countries are members of the Indian Ocean Commission, to which India has become an observer.
It was the first time a single relief expedition covered all of the island nations in the Western Indian Ocean. The only significant exception was Sri Lanka, where supplies were airlifted in by the Indian Air Force.
The INS Kesari arrived in Kochi on June 28, 2020, after crossing 7,500 nautical miles in 55 days.
Mission Sagar- II
INS Airavat will depart port in November 2020. It was transporting supplies to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Eritrea.
Along with accomplishing a humanitarian mission, India was enhancing its geopolitical position as these countries are located on the important maritime path connecting the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. As a result, they are critical shipping routes and can be a strategic advantage during times of conflict.
Mission Sagar- III
INS Kiltan set sail for Cambodia and Vietnam in December 2020. The INS Kiltan was transporting 15 tonnes of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) for disaster relief in Vietnam and Cambodia following disastrous floods.
This exercise, like earlier Sagar missions, was designed to demonstrate that India is a reliable partner for Southeast Asian nations and the region’s first responder.
It also emphasised the significance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in strengthening existing strategic connections.
Mission Sagar- IV
The INS Jalashwa arrived in Port Anjouan, Comoros, in March 2021 to deliver 1000 metric tonnes of grains to the island nation. This is the second visit of an Indian naval ship to Comoros. Previously, as part of Mission Sagar I, India donated medications and dispatched medical personnel to Comoros.
In addition to providing much-needed humanitarian assistance and improving ties with its maritime partners, India seeks to challenge China’s “string of pearls” concept and any other manifestations of its expanding dominance in the region.