ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's Ocean?

The right questions are not being asked about the country's (aggressive) Indian Ocean strategy.

Ever since the subcontinent, ensconced between the mountains in the north and the sea in the south, has been India, its centre of gravity has remained firmly in the northern plains, watered by the Indus and the Ganges—its name itself, India, has been given by one of the northern-most rivers. The Himalayas have been both sentinel and gateway. Yet the oceans which surround India on the west, south and east have always brought people and goods from Africa, Arabia and South-East Asia, acting as bridges for perhaps as long as, if not for longer, than the passes of the Hindu Kush.

The British colonial dispensation was the first all-India state to emerge from the Indian Ocean and take its control of these seas seriously. The viceroy in Delhi was responsible to the British Empire for controlling the sea lanes between Aden to the west and the Straits of Malacca to the east. At independence, India inherited some of the colonial state’s “responsibilities” in this ocean but was soon found wanting.

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