Seas over the centuries have remained a vital element in attaining strategic upper hand over rivals. European powers accumulated status of superpower via dominance at the sea. Through seas, they were able to take over continents that were full of resources. Africa, Asia and South America were subject to colonization as they were easily accessible via sea. British empire expanded through the sea and it remained a superpower until its naval power lost its dominance. Oceans are the gateway to trade and expansion of power which is clearly stated by Alfred Thayer Mahan in his book “The Influence of Sea Power upon History”. The Indian Ocean remains a significant strategic force of nature as it contains precious trade routes for oil and trade. Likewise, India has shown its ambitions in the Indian Ocean by building up its own capacity, signing naval base agreements and making investments in foreign ports. Insecurity created by the duo of Pakistan and China as lifted the red flag for US alias. China through the increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and Pakistan’s newfound love in its navy will make the Indian Ocean highly militarized zone in coming time.
India building up its own capacity; Car Nicobar Air force Base.
Car Nicobar island is located at the south-east of India’s southern coast. India has built a 9000-foot runway which is going to be upgraded by New Delhi which will allow it to deploy military transport, patrol and combat aircraft. The sole purpose of this air force base is to monitor Chinese naval ships and movement carried out from various Chinese controlled seaports in the region. Lastly, in case of a conflict, India could choke strait of Malacca that holds the key for Chinese trade and supply of oil.
Boosting Corporation with partners.
India is trying to build up coast guard and naval facilities at Mauritius and Seychelles. These island states are located at the south-west of the Indian Ocean. India is eyeing to encircle China and Pakistan’s naval presence in the Arabian Sea. In order to achieve that it is seeking assistance from France which has a naval base at Reunion Islands. This French naval base is the most advance naval base in the Indian Ocean after the Indian naval bases. Along with these corporations India is also building information fusion centres, maritime domain awareness and radar information from all across the region. Large radar networks have been build in small developing islands including Srilanka, Bangladesh, Seychelles and Mauritius.
Investment in Commercial Ports; Chabahar and Sabang
India is trying to invest in commercial ports across various parts of the region. It is following the Chinese strategy of using commercial ports for regional influence. Chabahar in Iran is situated in the Persian Gulf that has seen steady investment from New Delhi. Likewise, Sabang Port in Indonesia is one of the key port to hinder China’s “String of Pearl “strategy. India with active support from the US is seeking to increase its naval power and influence in the region.
China-Pakistan; higher than Himalaya and deeper than Arabian Sea Nexus.
China as turned into an active Indian rival in the region. After the skirmishes; in the Kashmir region, China is going to come out with full force. All three arms of defence are going to swing with ruthless aggression and will simultaneously support Pakistan’s defence as well. From missiles, aircraft, tanks, gunships, radar and air defence systems are going to be supplied to Pakistan in order to pressurise New Delhi from the western flank.
Pakistan Navy; the rise of sleeping, Giant
It is important here to discuss the modernization of Pakistan Navy that was falling behind to its rival. It has picked up pace towards becoming a force multiplier for Pakistan. China once again came out as a vital partner to Pakistan’s naval up-gradation program by supplying essential frigates and submarines to Pakistan Navy. Transfer of technology will allow Pakistan Navy to build its own capacity and maintain its naval assets. Eight Chinese Hangor (Type 042 Yuan-class), four MILGEM project corvettes (Turkish) and two Type 054As (Chinese) are soon going to join Pakistan Navy making it a potent force in coming time. However, it is also believed that Pakistan is going to get its first aircraft carrier with Chinese assistance that could increase Pakistan’s influence in the Indian ocean. Along with that recently attained second-strike capability and new naval installation at Gwadar, Pasni and Omara; Pakistan is a force to be reckoned in the Indian Ocean.
New Delhi wants to remain relevant in the region and for that to continue it is trying to increase its range of influence in the Indian Ocean. China over the years has invested its resources by acquiring seaports that serve their purpose in trade and defence. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port has the limitless opportunity for Eurasian Belt and China. In terms of safety and security naval bases are planned for future in the province of Baluchistan to host multiple naval fleets of various navies. New Delhi and its partners would face alliance that would be equipped with modern weaponry supported by air support and offshore missile system which could limit their movement in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s landmark deal with China has opened an additional gateway for China in the Indian Ocean. Economic diplomacy is doing its trick while the Indian economy has slumped further away to carry out such huge investments. Keeping a naval force is an expansive task with the present situation it clearly is in favour of China to dominate the Indian Ocean.