Foreign Affairs
Indian Ocean: Indian Ocean is crucial for geopolitics


The region is serving as a connecting hub for global energy and commodity trade. This includes important sea routes of communication and major congestion points such as the Malacca Strait. The Indian Ocean region has become important for the geo-strategic aspirations of big powers with vested interests in the region.

China’s growing presence in the region, its economic involvement for strategic purposes and its geopolitical ambitions have fueled the interest of many actors in the Indian Ocean region. The Chinese spy ship has gone around twice in this area. There has been an increase in strategic rivalry and competition in the region.

Powers such as the US, China, Russia, France and the European Union have begun to increase their involvement in the region through economic and political ties. India is building strategic ties with the small island states in the region. Vigilance is being seen regarding the intentions of China.

Condition of island countries

Small island states in the western Indian Ocean – Maldives, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles – are being drawn into the battle of the superpowers. Ever since the diplomatic exercise started regarding the Indo-Pacific region, the strategic importance of the geographical location of these islands has increased. These islands provide easy access to congestion points, are located near important sea lanes of communication and can serve as resource mobilization bases for maritime forces patrolling the region.

India and Quad countries

The countries in the Quad – the US, Japan, Australia and India – are particularly concerned about China’s growing influence in the region. The main focus of his maritime security policy is the problems related to navigation. The islands have been given an important status in China’s maritime security policy. China has adopted an island development strategy in its initiative to cooperate with island countries in the disputed South China Sea and isolated areas. Small island countries have shown an inclination towards China in view of their insecurity.

From Madagascar to Comoros Islands, from Mauritius to Maldives, China has made inroads. In 2018, when Maldives owed China nearly US$1.5 billion in debt, it had to turn to its traditional partner India for help to avert an economic crisis. Madagascar is also surrounded by a heavy Chinese presence and is involved in driving its economy. He is worried about falling into a debt trap. China’s presence in Madagascar puts it at greater risk of instability and political upheaval.

Indo-Pacific equation

America has been continuously giving heavy concessions to India in many areas. World powers are starting to believe that an economically prosperous India with dominance over the Indian Ocean will be a balancing factor against China. America is at the centre of the Indo-Pacific. All its branches formally join its friendly countries. These include Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and Thailand. Its uncertain and ambiguous relationship with Taiwan and strategic partnership with Singapore and India are also part of this exercise.

Alliance with America

India has been given a high place in all the plans and documents of America (eg National Security Strategy). In the Indo-Pacific document of January 2021, India has been seen as an important country to balance China. India is certainly a part of the process of creating a security net in the Indo-Pacific. India is a founding member of the Quadrilateral Dialogue (QUAD).

This organization was built on the democratic identity of the four-member countries (Japan, India, Australia and America).

What do experts say

There is a need to create a network of alliances, organizations and rules and regulations for a free and open Indian Pacific. In these exercises, other countries including India, Indonesia, and Vietnam will be involved along with countries associated with America through friendship treaties. Another important thing that has been added to this is that America will encourage its allies and partner countries to strengthen relations with each other.

in the world of China India is a new factor in the alliances that are being formed. A number of new alliances are taking shape in an exercise to tackle transnational crime, terrorism, and expansion in maritime and air security. America has also clarified its stand in the Indo-Pacific region. While promoting a liberal economic system in the Indian Ocean region, an exercise is underway to stop China from creating a conservative sphere of interest.

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