Importance of Indian Ocean in the Economic, Geopolitic and Strategic

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Indian ocean has gained the world’s attention due to its strategic importance in terms of economic and geo-politic. It is the the third-largest of the world’s ocean. It is sirrounded by three lands on it sides, in the west by the eastern and soithern parts of Afroca and the south-western part of Asia, in the north by southern Asia and in the east by south-eastern Asia and western Australia as shown in figure 1. Indian Ocean is named after Indianas one of the littoral countires. In the present days, the unique geographic structure and the strtageic values of minerals are the criteria that shows the economic and geo-politic importance of the Indian Ocean. There are many important straits, gulfs, bays and seas. Major powers such as India, USA and China has shaped their maritime strategies for the strategic importance. They have interests and play significant roles in the region. This study aims to investigate the importance of Indian Ocean in term of economic, geo-politic and strategic context. The focus of this article is to explain the current situation on the Indian Ocean and the future possibilities of it.

Other than oil, there are also raw materials which are strategic importance. These include uranium, lithium, beryllium, thorium, coal, copper, iron, manganese, tin, mica, bauxite, chromites, nickel, cobalt, antimony, asbestos, vanadium and phosphates.

Marine resources in the Indian Ocean is a lot. About 4.2% of the ocean’s continental shelves contain enormous mineral deposits. Latest surveys revealed that the narrow shelf south of Sumatra, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea are rich in oil, tin, gold and sea-food. The offshore presence of calcareous deposits suitable for chemical and cement industries have been reported from the Andaman and Lakshadweep zones. Offshore oil production in Bombay High have been increasing.

Indian Ocean is also important as area for navigation and trade. The maritime trade is highly intense in that area. Cargo of oil are loaded or unloaded in the ports of the Indian Ocean. Other than oil, iron-ore, pit coal,kernel,bauxite are also being loaded and unloaded there. The NATO countries are among the largest number of vessels passing thriugh the Indian Ocean. Other vessels pass thriugh the Red Sea and Suez Canal in two directions annually.

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For big powers, the region makes excellent prospects for economic exploitation. As a deceloping country, it has large market for the finished products of the industriaized nations. Food potentiality is also a factor which shows the significane of the Indian Ocean. Narsima (1974) stated that there were more than 12 million tones of fish caught during that era.

Creating the strongest sea power is an essential geopolitical strategy. It was implemented by great maritime nations like England. Geopolitics can be determined by showing the relationships between geostrategic positioning, the relative economic and technological capabilities .of states, international public opinion, international law and morality and the regional and global balance of power. Pannikar (1944) mentioned that “the whole ocean area is strategically of thenthenfreatest importance as it is the highway of European nations to India, the Far East, Australia, Australia, Africa and now even Antatctica”(pp. 7-8). For example, China’s economy depends on it. This is because the all of resources imported must transit the Indian Ocean before reaching China. It also has to pass the Strait of Malacca. This is called as ‘Malacca dilemma’ because of the difficulty of transiting trade back to China through the waterway. This shows that China deals with a difficult feography in the region which it depends on for economy survival and growth.

Other than that, the Indian Ocean is home to a developing India which owns an advantageous geography than China. As China moves forward to establish its expeditionary naval forces to take off on a ‘two ocean strategy’ which focuses on the Pacific and Indian ocean, India recently made it clear that it considers from the Cape of Good Hope to the Lombok Straits in the Indian ocean as its primary area of interest. Three aircraft carrier groups were used by the Indian Navy to patrol around the Indian Ocean. A visit from the Chinese Navy caused discomfort for the Indian governement.

Strategic in the modern world is referred as the military applicability. It also refers to strategic situation which is constantly changing and role a region can play in the regional security interests. Important factors to be considered as the strategic importance are mineral resources and its geographical location. Mineral resources which are essential for defence-related industries are highly considered. Without those minerals, most of the defence technologies in western countries will be collapsed. The geographical location also determines the strategic context. It has potential as the security and defence preparation of big powers because the sea routes enable their trade passes and essential supplies come to them. The Indian Ocean is globally important since the western powers utilise it for the transportation of vital minerals. (…..) stated that the north-south route from the Persian Gulf around the cape of Good Hope to western Europe and North America, and the eastern route from the Persian Gulf fo Japan are the routes vital for the industries which have the greatest military significance and for transport of petroleum. The United States have crucial dependence on Gulf oil and they are determined to keep this life-line. (….) also added some islands served as operation bases, refuelling stations, staging posts and stepping stones for launching attack or transporting troops in war.

In conclusion, the Indian Ocean is highly important economically, geo-politically and strategically to the big powers such as USA, China and India. The northern part of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has several key parts of the seas like straits, gulfs and bays. The Indian Ocean is linked to other main water bodies on the earth which creates interconnected shipping lanes connected by strategic waterways and choke points. In persisting the maritime power, good geo-strategic is one of the important aspects to achieve, as seen through the spread of archipelagos and islands which becomes the striking feature of the IOR. Besides, Indian Ocean is also known by the presence of its rich natural resources. Its abundance of natural wealth has became a unique feature of the IOR and caused an increase in the number of human activities in the region. The activities are including the trade of export and import, and the oil and minerals exploration. Those actions influence the political, economy and military aspects of the states in the international system. Various states compete with each other to strengthen their presence in the IOR. This situation has caused the resources of the Indian Ocean to be very valuable in fulfilling their national security interests. The expanding activities and developments in the IOR create a new prospect and challenges for the nation states in the region and for those wishing to take advantages of these opportunities. It is confirmed that the growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean is related to the rapid advent of industrialization.

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Importance of Indian Ocean in the Economic, Geopolitic and Strategic. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Importance of Indian Ocean in the Economic, Geopolitic and Strategic.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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