Indian Ocean Region
This is a guest blog by Akash.
Indian Ocean has had plenty of trade routes since centuries. Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has connected various civilizations and has been a medium for cultural exchange.
Nowadays we see ‘Rajabhisheka’ of Thai king in typical ‘Brahamanical’ methodology and Arabic culture being prevalent in Maldives.
For India, Indian Ocean was it’s backyard until a decade back but now with increasing involvement of foreign entities for exploration and security reasons the story is different.
How would involvement of other countries impact India?
India’s 95% of exports are through IOR, hence safeguarding it is utterly necessary.
India has a huge coastline which as of now portrays India’s vulnerability and needs security beef up.
IOR is a very good fishing ground which provides employment to plenty of Indian fishermen. Any disturbance there would challenge the economic stability.
Concerns of India
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by China is one such concern. With Maritime Silk Route (MSR) of BRI, China has portrayed it’s intent to have economic dominance in IOR. Plenty of projects are being sanctioned and it’s presence is increasing.
String of pearls is an offshoot of BRI. According to a Pentagon report, MSR not only significantly helps China to establish bases in IOR but also surround India with its naval bases.
We have seen China’s naval presence in Hanbantota(Sri Lanka), Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Cocco Island & Kyakpya port (Myanmar).
Another concern is debt trap technique that China uses to get hold of assets.
Volatile Middle East could also lead to loss of remittances which India gets through its diaspora there.
Choking strait of Hormuz under any contingency could be dangerous as most trade passes from there.
Steps India is taking
India has been cooperating with various IOR countries who also feel threatened by China .
Through this cooperation a series of naval bases in Seychelles, Mauritius and Myanmar are coming up.
India has strengthened it’s anti piracy role in the region.
India has also helped Indian diaspora during Middle Eastern crisis as in Op. Raahat and Op. Sankat Mochan in Yemen and South Sudan respectively.
Indian Ocean Rim Association is also being strengthened.
It is evident that we should prepare ourselves to meet the challenges and responsibilities in IOR in the future.
India needs to protect its interests and for that a strong navy is necessary.
India should continue to strengthen military and economic ties with IOR countries as well as US.