Dominance of Indo Pacific region
It’s a matter of pride for the India that Indian Ocean is the only ocean on the planet earth which has been ________________________________________________________________________________
By ….. Maj Gen C P Singh, Retd.
Maj Gen C P Singh, Retd is a scholar soldier accredited with MA, MSc, LLB, MBA, M Phil (Def Mgt) and M Phil (International Strategic Affairs).
Widely travelled in India and Abroad, the General Officer is an avid reader and prolific writer.
Post retirement, he is a Social Activist, Career Consultant and a Motivational Speaker of repute. The author can be contacted at www.majgencpsingh.com (In 2 Part series, the author outlines in importance of India Ocean Navy………. ________________________________________________
named after a country . The Indian Ocean is the hub of sea trade and logistics routes and India has the longest coastline on this ocean. These geographical features provide India an immense strategic and locational advantage in International trade and resultant geopolitics. In British Era, India was the center of a huge network of trade and communication stretching from Aden to Singapore. Unfortunately, post-independence, India squandered this advantage due to it’s limited ability to dominate the blue waters. If India wants to be emerge as a super power in Asia, it must leverage it’s geographic location to it’s full advantage. India’s strategy for increasing its influence in Asia must be guided by its location and consequently dimination of Indo Pacific region.
IMPORTANCE OF INDIAN OCEAN REGION Admiral Alfred T. Mahan highlighted strategic importance of the Indian Ocean. In his words- “Whoever attains maritime supremacy within the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene”. India, by virtue of its centrality and strategic location as the sentinel of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Indo-Pacific region generally , will remain vital for transit and world trade.
IOR’s rising geopolitical and economic importance and global influence is creating potential for cooperation among the countries, as security, economic, and environmental threats to the nations in the IOR are becoming convergent. Most of the countries within the region are seeking to reap the economic dividends through improved maritime connectivity and harnessing the blue economy but for that infrastructure development needs to be a prerequisite. Of late, in conjunction with geo-strategic competition within the Indo-Pacific, we are also witnessing a race for strategic places and bases within the Indian Ocean region. As yet, India has no major rivals in this region, but China has been making concerted efforts to flag it’s presence in this area.
PREMIUM GEOSTRATEGIC LOCATION Standing tall as the guardian of Indian Ocean , India is situated between the center East, Central Asia, China and the Southeast Asia . India’s strategic location at the center of the Indian Ocean gives it a superb strategic importance and helps in maintaining contact with the rest of the world . India must remember that it can use its location to its strategic advantage by projecting power. Additionally, India can also use its central location within the Indian Ocean to become a hub of transportation, communication, and trade. India is fortunately also blessed with abundant natural resources and manpower reserves in EEZ. These are certainly useful in establishing India as the dominant power within the Indian Ocean .
Blue Economy initiatives taken recently by India brings the main focus back to shared geo-economic, geostrategic and geo-environmental motivations within the Indian Ocean region. India now acknowledges the untapped growth and power potential of this region that would be fully realised with mutual cooperation of all countries in this area. India needs to intensify it’s Naval resources and foot prints in Indian Ocean to soar up their blue pursuits lest they’ll lose the ‘blue race’ within the IOR to rivals like China.
BLUE WATER DIPLOMACY International cooperation and joint operations with friendly forces is the key to blue water diplomacy and coercive tactics. The Indian Ocean cannot be controlled by anybody country because of its sheer vastness and multitude of stakeholders, unlike the South China Sea. However, control of Indian Ocean region is desirable since major sea trade routes pass through this region. India will have to strengthen its ties with countries like Japan, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam and other members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to pursue its strategic interests. Maritime collaboration through a mutual port use pact is that the primary ingenious way for growing diplomatic conversation amongst the QUAD (India, Australia, Japan and the United States), without acceding an excessive amount to each other. Fortunately QUAD is now coming out to check Chinese hegemony and mutually gain immense advantage within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
—to be Continued)