‘Bharat ek shanti priya desh hai ye to puri duniya ne dekha, par hum shanti ke liye apni shakti ka bhi pradarshan kar sakte hain,’. These are the words of former Prime Minister late Pt. Atal Vihari Vajpayee. And for the first time, India is following this principle in the Indian Ocean region.
Indian Ocean is not the same
There was a time, not too long ago, when the Indian Ocean and India used to be synonymous with people. The common perception was that the Indian Ocean solely belongs to India. This was accomplished through trade and navy in the region.
However, over the last few decades, the picture has started tweaking, as other powers, specifically China, are challenging dominance of India in the Indian Ocean region. And a strange kind of South China sea-type race has begun in the region. This time India is asserting its supremacy.
New Delhi hits two birds with one stone
Beijing was trying to repeat the misadventures of the South-China Sea in the Indian Ocean region. While the whole world is fearful of China, India has given a strong message by thwarting China’s jingoism.
After India’s objection, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe asked China to defer the arrival of the Chinese military vessel, as he made it clear that even if, the Hambantota Port has been leased off by the Chinese, Sri Lanka cannot allow it to become a strategic hub of the paper dragon.
With this muscle flexing, India has not only shown China its place but has also persuaded the neighbouring country to fall in line.
IOR- The lifeline of India
The action against China was necessary, as New Delhi cannot allow a strategic hub of the paper dragon in its proximity. The Indian Ocean not just has ample resources and minerals buried under the sea bed, but is also a geopolitical keystone, and strategically crucial. To add to this, Guarding the Indian Ocean region is a necessity for New Delhi. India has a coastline of 7,516 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.03 million sq. km. Talking about volume, over 90 per cent of India’s trade, and talking about value, 70 per cent of trade, is transported through waters.
India is the net security provider in the Indian Ocean region, and India’s firm presence in the waters is not only necessary for New Delhi but for the entire world.
India’s masterstroke in the Indian Ocean region
The Indian Ocean region comprises of continental Asia, continental Africa, the Indonesian archipelago, and Australia among other island nations. India has been in talks with the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam regarding defence deals and hence there are growing military ties in the Indian Ocean region.
Although Diplomacy is tough, India is busy achieving its goals through the principles of diplomacy only. With a diplomatic edge having Dr Jaishankar as the caretaker of foreign policy, India is looking at releasing its goals such as the Look East policy, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, BIMSTEC and Ganga-Mekong Cooperation.
To add to this, India has a firm grip on nations like Maldives and Singapore and is heavily investing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in order to convert them into a strategic base.
As I started, we as a nation are very peace-loving, but we can demonstrate our power in order to protect our peace, and the Necklace of Diamonds and Double Fish Hook strategies of Indian forces stand in a deposition for the same.
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