The Indian Ocean Region has always played a vital role in India’s foreign policy strategy and successive Prime Ministers have attempted to ensure that India remains the dominant regional power in the area. Maintaining freedom of navigation and ensuring a healthy and peaceful coexistence between nations in the IOR has been the main objective of New Delhi’s maritime foreign policy. The Modi government’s Act East Policy was designed to build upon the foundations of the Look East Policy of the 90s and focus on improving India’s connectivity with ASEAN and the Pacific Rim islands. However, this report will analyse how despite the Indian Prime Minister’s soaring rhetoric and praise for the cultural linkages between India and the ASEAN region, little in the way of economic or maritime cooperation has actually been observed. In addition, India’s continued wariness of China’s efforts to make inroads in the IOR through the One Belt, One Road Initiative, has consigned New Delhi to a backseat role in its own backyard. This report will also attempt to suggest potential ways forward for Indian foreign policy vis-à-vis its South Asian neighbours including economic cooperation with China, at least for the short to medium term, as the best possible path for India to enhance its regional connectivity and foster closer economic integration with its neighbours.
Click here to read the report: India’s Trade and Maritime Policy in the Indian Ocean Region