Geopolitics - December 2017

(Joyce) #1

December 2017



n the 70 years since indepen-
dence, India has emerged as a
major maritime nation, with a
naval power that is the world's
fourth largest in size, but scores
better than those on capabilities. In-
dia has fought four major wars with its
traditional rivals China and Pakistan,
of which at least two had major naval
power on display.
India's maritime history and legacy
is not what will define its navy's future,
but the present and clear dangers
lurking in its backyard will. India
has always held that its main area of
interest and responsibility lies in the
Indian Ocean region stretching from
the East coast of African continent on
its western seaboard to the Malacca
Straits on the eastern seaboard.
Indian Navy's former Chief Admiral
R K Dhowan had during his tenure

expanded this truism a little further to
state that Indian Navy's responsibility
and area of interest would be to go and
effectively operate across the oceans
and seas, wherever India's economic
and strategic interest lay. This is to
euphemistically state that Indian Navy
would demonstrate force and power
in waters such as the South China Sea,
where India has economic interest in oil
and gas exploration.
That strategic shift in Indian
Navy's stated operational objectives
is definitely going to give headaches
to China that has claimed almost the
entire South China Sea as its maritime
territory and thus led to conflict
situations. This has been clearly
indicated by Chinese spokespersons
time and again, asking India directly
and indirectly to stay away from South
China Sea.

If that scenario continues to play out
in China's backyard, the situation will
not be dissimilar in India's backyard,
too. China first ventured into the Indian
Ocean region in 2008 on the pretext of
sending its warships to patrol the Gulf
of Aden waters close to the Horn of
Africa against the Somali pirates. This
was a move, albeit at least two years
earlier than expected, that had taken
the maritime world by surprise. India
was actually dismayed.
In the nine years since, China has
heightened its activity in the Indian
Ocean region, through increased forays
by its submarines, some even close
to India's waters, and much to New
Delhi's chagrin. The last straw has been
the nuclear submarines of the People's
Liberation Army (Navy) lurking in the
waters close to India and docking at
ports all around in India's maritime

India's responsibility as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean region is huge. The only

force that is capable of taking up that responsibility is the Indian Navy. Being a maritime nation

primarily, India needs a strong navy that befits its size, geographical location and global stature,

argues this report from Geopolitics bureau



INS Delhi is the lead ship
of her class of guided-
missile destroyers of the
Indian Navy

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