The economic importance of the Indian Ocean for India

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QuestionGive an account of the economic importance of the Indian Ocean for India. 27 January 2022

Answer“Whoever has control over the Indian Ocean has dominion over Asia. In the 20th century, this ocean is the foundation of the seven seas. The fate of the world will be decided on its water level. The importance of the Indian Ocean region can be clearly understood in the words of Alfred Thayer Mahan.

About 78% of India’s international trade is done through the Indian Ocean. A large amount of India’s resources are also obtained from this ocean. Two-thirds of India’s natural gas and petroleum comes from various branches of the Indian Ocean, particularly the Arabian Sea (the region from Bombay to the Gulf of Cambay). About 60% of India’s total fish production comes from the Indian Ocean Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.).

This ocean is located at the crossroads of global trade. Therefore, it links the large international economies located in the North Atlantic and the Asia-Pacific region. Its importance increases because in today’s era global shipping is increasing. Indian Ocean is also rich in natural resources

  • 40% of the world’s offshore oil production occurs in the foothills of the Indian Ocean.
  • About 90 percent of the world’s crude oil trade is transported through three narrow waterways known as choke points of the Indian Ocean. This includes the Strait of Hormuz, located between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which provides the only sea route from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world. It will also be the country with the largest population and most potential in the coming decades.
  • 15% of the world’s fisheries industry is in the Indian Ocean.
  • The foothills and coastal silts of the Indian Ocean contain many minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, silver, gold, titanium, zirconium, tin, etc.

Presently there is potential for mining of many poly-metallic nodules in the Indian Ocean. The ‘International Sea Bed Authority’ has given India the right to mine them in an area of 1.5 lakh km.

India has made a concerted effort towards the development of an organization for coastal regional cooperation called ‘HIMTAX’ (IORARC – Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation). No discrimination shall be made by this Organization in trade facilities by the Organization with non-member countries

Geo-strategicly and also geopolitically, India is at the center of the Indian Ocean. Given the importance of the Indian Ocean, India has consistently tried to keep it a zone of peace and has developed cultural and economic ties by increasing interactions with coastal countries. Being the largest country located in the Indian Ocean region, India’s responsibility in maintaining regional economic development and strategic peace increases for this reason. The Indian Ocean is also important for India for the purpose of future exploitation of the resources of the Antarctica region.

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