India’s Strategy in the Indian Ocean Region: A Critical Aspect of India’s Energy Security

Published date01 June 2018
Date01 June 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Assistant Professor (Stage-II), Department of Political Science, Chandernagore College,
West Bengal, India.
Corresponding author:
Arnab Dasgupta, Assistant Professor (Stage-II), Department of Political Science,
Chandernagore College, West Bengal, India.
India’s Strategy in the
Indian Ocean Region:
A Critical Aspect
of India’s Energy
Arnab Dasgupta1
The Indian Ocean region serves as one of the busiest commercial as
well as primary energy supply lines in the world. However, the energy
traffic in the region is vulnerable to various strategic choke points.
Any disruption caused either by sudden incidents or by sustained
developments, thus, might create havoc for the entire global energy
security. A unique geostrategic position has accrued India certain
natural strategic advantages in the Indian Ocean. On the other hand,
India depends essentially on the vital maritime energy supply lines
in the region. Hence, ensuring the security of the Indian Ocean
Region thus becomes India’s natural prerogative. India therefore
needs to strategize its national maritime interest in the Indian Ocean
as an uninterrupted energy supply is essential for national economic
growth. This article seeks to identify the critical aspect of the Indian
Ocean maritime supplies in India’s energy security and to find out
India’s strategic imperative to that effect.
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
22(1) 39–57
2018 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0973598418757817
40 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 22(1)
Energy security, maritime security, Indian Ocean, regional security,
USA, China
Security of energy, especially hydrocarbons, has been a constant part
of national security concerns (Yergin 2006: 69). Concerns for energy
security include geopolitical rivalry, anthropogenic and natural threat
perceptions of the supply sources and supply lines, fear of scramble for
supplies, and vital role of energy sources in the national growth planning.
Thus, the hitherto attempts to strategize and securitize energy supplies to
ward off any possible threats or disruption are proof enough that the
states do consider energy as a vital parameter of their national security
structure. This is why, energy security or energy threats should not be
considered as something of pure nontraditional genre; rather, it is the
very extension of the traditional state-centric security paradigm. Again,
there are traditional as well as nontraditional threats to energy security
itself. The former emanates from the state actors, whereas the latter
involves non-state collateral actors such as piracy, environmental
hazards, and climate change. A unique development in the global energy
regime since the mid-1990s has been the spectacular rise of the Asian
energy importers, with China and India being the prime mover among
them. India, for the matter concerned, has traditionally been dependent
on the maritime supplies of hydrocarbons. With a stable growth
momentum under certain peculiar geopolitical environs, this reliance on
energy supplies, via maritime routes in the Indian Ocean, has further
been bolstered. This trend will continue in the long run in view of the
stagnant domestic supplies. Therefore, India’s energy security, on the
supply side, denotes basically the securitization of the maritime supply
lines in the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean holds a
vital space in the global strategic order. It is in this region that the scores
of the rising powers will be settled. The ascendancy of the Asian growth
engines in the eastern and southern parts of the continent has lent a potent
force to the imagery of the twenty-first century being the ‘Asian century’.
The pre-eminence of the Chinese and Indian economic successes in this
age has once again mirrored the global center stage these two economies
used to enjoy prior to the advent and ascendancy of the European trading
nations. The Indian Ocean has been a perfect theater for such strategic

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