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India in the Indian Ocean: Growing Mismatch Between Ambitions and Capabilities

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Given the rise of major economic powers in the Asia-Pacific that rely on energy imports to sustain their economic growth, the Indian Ocean region has assumed a new importance. Various powers are once again vying for the control of the waves in this part of the world. This article examines the emerging Indian approach towards the Indian Ocean in the context of India's rise as a major regional and global actor. It argues that though India has historically viewed the Indian Ocean region as one in which it would like to establish its own predominance, its limited material capabilities have constrained its options. With the expansion, however, of India's economic and military capabilities, the country's ambitions vis-à-vis this region are soaring once again. India is also trying its best to respond to the challenge that growing Chinese capabilities in the Indian Ocean are posing to the region and beyond. Yet, preponderance in the Indian Ocean region, though much desired by the Indian strategic elites, remains an unrealistic aspiration for India given the significant stakes that other major powers have in the region.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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