Indian Ocean – UPSC GS1 Geography

Discuss why the Indian Ocean is considered as critical to the future of the world and India. (200 Words)

The only ocean of the world name after a Country is “Indian Ocean”.
Importance of Indian Ocean to World:
  • 70 percent of world trade from West to East and East to West.
  • Oil trade from Middle east to China, Japan, India, SE Asian countries
  • Polly metallic nodules at Ocean floor provide vital metals extraction sources from ocean.
  • Western powers involvement in security management against radical and fundamentalist Islamic groups in and around Iraq.
  • All the sea lanes leading to the Indian Ocean, particularly the Suez Canal and the Straits of Malacca be kept open at all the times.
Importance of Indian Ocean to India:
  • 7,500km coastline linking to Indian Ocean
  • 80% of India’s trade is through Sea route passes through Indian Ocean.
  • 85% of oil and gas imported through Indian Ocean into the country.
  • Fishing and tourism depends on it due to huge marine resources it spreads prosperity in coastal plains of India.
  • Security of Country after 26/11 and recent 1st January 2015 (mid-sea blast of fishing boat incident). No industrial development, commercial growth, and stable political structure is possible unless our nation‘s shores are protected.
  • Vital for managing better relation with neighbours like Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri-Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Iran, etc.
To, maintain safer trade routes, and induce Energy Security for every party, India has recently pitched to declare Indian Ocean Region as “Region of Peace” at Galle dialogue (2014-Sri-Lanka), which provides enough reason that Indian Ocean is critical to India and the world.


Why is securing its interests in Indian Ocean important for India? How can India make use of its strategic advantage in Indian Ocean to counter possible threats by the rise of China? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Importance from above.
How India can counter China:
India does not have huge reserve as China and cannot do the scale of investment as it China does. But trust, good image, relations and soft power that India has developed will go a long way in countering possible threat by China. India can:
  • Participate in all regional connectivity – Outside OBOR, India must participate in all regional connectivity like INSTC, Ashgabat agreement etc.
  • Harness Cultural links – We have rich cultural linkages with west and Central Asia countries. We must use it to establish relation economic, political and military relations. Through this our “Project Mausam” will also get a boost.
  • Soft Power – We have reputation of sharing developmental benefits, unlike China. This image should be harnessed to win more and more projects in Africa, Maldives, Sri Lanka and other littoral countries.
  • Naval Exercises – Joint exercises in Indian Ocean with other powers like U.S, Japan and Australia should be done to prevent hegemony of any one nation.
  • Military capability – Research ties with U.S, Russia and Israel should be beefed up and procurement with technology transfer have to be adopted.



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