Indian Ocean Region
This article deals with ‘Indian Ocean Region.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
What is Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
- Region containing and surrounding the Indian Ocean is known as Indian Ocean Region
- Indian Ocean Region has 51 coastal and landlocked states . Hence , it is a vast region.
Reasons behind increased importance of Indian Ocean
- Indian Ocean has become life
line of world trade (& has been so since time immemorial) . Indian
Ocean is important for commerce as
- 2/3 rd of world oil shipments passes through Indian Ocean
- 1/3 rd of bulk cargo passes through Indian Ocean
- It hosts nearly 40% of world’s population
- Indian Ocean
has world’s most
points, notably Straits of
Hormuz, Malacca and Bab
el Mandeb. As these choke points are important for global trade, number of extra-regional
states maintain a naval
presence in Indian Ocean.
- US 5th Fleet in Bahrain & uses island of Diego Garcia as air-naval base .
- France has naval bases in Djibouti, Reunion, and Abu Dhabi.
- Presently, China’s aggressive soft power diplomacy and Maritime Silk Road (MSR) Policy has been the most important element in shaping the Indian Ocean strategic environment.
Changed attitude of India towards Indian Ocean
- IOR is centre stage of 21st century politics & India stands geographically right in the middle . South Africa , Iran , Indonesia & Australia are also part of Indian ocean RIM family but none has centrality & attraction like that of India
- India is positioning itself as the “net security provider” in the broader Indian Ocean region
Importance of IOR for India
- India situated right in the middle of Indian Ocean
- Important to secure it to protect Indian ships from piracy, stop human trafficking and drug smuggling
- 90% of Indian trade passes through it , it is important to protect our Sea Lines of Commerce
- Energy Security : Most of our oil supplies come from Indian Oceam Rim countries
- Check Choke Points important for Indian trade
of assets and islands
- Islands : Andaman and Nicobar + Lakshadweep
- Assets : Like Bombay High
- Economic : It is source of resources like
- fishing and aquaculture
- Deep sea mineral exploration
- Petroleum reserves like Bombay High
- India has cultural relations with IOR countries dating back centuries
- India has been centre stage of Indian Ocean trade corroborated by texts like Periplus Maris Erytharei, Jataka Stories, Sangam Poetry etc
- Large Indian disaspora is living in Indian Ocean Rim Countries and Small Island Nations like Mauritius, Maldives, South Africa etc
Chinese Threat & String of Pearls
China’s Malacca Dilemma
- 360 ships /day pass through Strait of Malacca
- If there is any blockade by human or any natural disaster , it will cause problems to China because China’s 80 % of oil & gas imports & almost 60% exports pass through this region
- Located right on the Malacca Strait is Singapore . Singapore hosts huge US naval base . To counter Malacca Dilemma, China has opted to go for ambitious String of Pearls strategy
- Andaman & Nicobar Islands are situated very near to Malacca and they can be used to choke the Straits .
String Of Pearls
- Theory that China is trying to increase its naval presence in Indian Ocean and counter India by surrounding it
- It is developing string of ports around India for this purpose
|Djibouti||First Chinese Overseas Military Base (overlooks Bab el Mandeb)|
Indian Steps + Iron Curtain
- To Counter String of Pearls , India is also making ports
|A&N Islands||Can act as Iron choke to Malacca |
– Malacca strait is overlooked by A&N islands
– India has established an air naval station here called Baaz
|Chabahar Port||India is developing Chabahar port in Iran|
|Duqm port||Feb 2018 : On Modi’s Oman visit , India signed agreement to get military and logistics support to Duqm Port|
|Seychelles||Leased Assumption Islands from Seychelles + $ 100-million credit for augmenting defense capabilities + Given 2 Dornier Aircrafts for reconnaissance|
|Mauritius||Develop infrastructure on Agalega Island in Mauritius.|
|Srilanka||Developing Kakesuthai & Triconmalee port|
|France||India and France, signed the “reciprocal logistics support” agreement as part of which warships of both the nations would have access to each other’s naval bases.|
- Making Alliances : Apart from that , India is
trying to contain China through
- Making alliance with Vietnam ( Vietnam too had issues with China in South China sea )
- Malabar practice with US & Japan (latest 2018 : Guam)
- Military Modernisation :
- Agni, Sukhoi, Nuclear submarines , Aircraft Carrier-Vikramaditya . They are not meant for Pakistan but to fight against powerful nation like China
- Iron Curtain Policy to counter Chinese String
- Term Given by naval analyst Zang Ming
- Andamaan &Nicobar islands can be used as metal chain to block Chinese access to Strait of Malacca
- Japan is also helping India to develop Andaman and Nicobar
- Project Mausam
- Launched in June 2014
- It is a Ministry of Culture project
- Aim :
- Project tries to see how the monsoon winds helped maritime trade historically between Indian Ocean-connected countries.
- How winds influenced local economies, scientific quests, modern statecraft, religion,politics and cultural identity.
- Cotton Route & Spice Route
- ‘Cotton Route’ to strengthen economic ties between countries in the Indian Ocean rim.
- Spice Route => revival of old links between 31 countries in Asia and Europe with India, particularly spice-rich Kerala .