The Significance of Indian Ocean: The world’s third-largest water body is the Indian Ocean which covers 20% of the Earth’s surface. It is bounded by Southern Asia in the north; Arabian Peninsula and Africa in the west; the Malay Peninsula, the Sunda Islands, and Australia in the east; and by the Southern Ocean in the south. India inhabited a central and strategic location in the Indian Ocean and its national and economic interests are related to it. 

Regional Importance of Indian Ocean

India enjoys a wealthy location at crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the International economy. With time, India is increasing trade relations with the countries of the East. Trade volumes have been doubled in a decade with ASEAN countries. In a short time, the Indian market has emerged as one of the largest importers of South-East Asian goods. The Indian Ocean is more than a channel of commerce, it is a home of around 2 million people. It creates opportunities which are responsible for the economic growth around the Indian Ocean rim which includes India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa. Today almost 90,000 containers in the world’s commercial fleet transport 9.84 billion tons per year.  

The Significance of Indian Ocean

Economic Importance of Indian Ocean

The Indian peninsula is nearly 1,980 km into the Indian Ocean with 50% of the Indian Ocean basin which lies within 1500km radius of India. India is one of those countries who have developed the technology to extract minerals from the deep ocean. India has the right to explore minerals within 1,50,000 square km in the Indian Ocean. Almost 95% of Indian trade moves through the Indian Ocean. Thousands of tankers come to Indian ports annually. These sea lanes are very important in the economic growth of the country. This ocean is a critical waterway for global trade and commerce.

This strategic expanse offers heavy international maritime traffic which includes half of the world’s containerized cargo, one-third of its bulk cargo and two-third of its oil shipment. It offers more traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia and contains an estimated 40% of the world’s offshore oil production. It includes valuable minerals and energy source, the ocean’s fish are of great importance to the bordering countries for domestic consumption and export. There are major sea routes which connect the Middle East, Africa and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. The given routes are the most important ways in the Indian Ocean and their closure would result in choking the global energy supplies:

  1. Suez Route: This route links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea through Suez Channel. There is an important chokepoint in this route which is Bab-al-Mandeb which helps to connect the Red sea to the Arabian sea.
  2. Cape Route: It provides an alternate for the Suez route which connects the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Apart from the Suez Canal, this route is used to entertain heavy tankers and bulk carriers.
  3. Straits of Malacca: This route is used for entry from the Pacific Ocean and this is the shortest and most convenient link between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
The Significance of Indian Ocean

China’s Increasing Presence In Indian Ocean

China is growing its presence in the northern part of the Indian Ocean which has become a challenge for India. India is having an eye on the deployment of Chinese ships and submarines in the region. Chinese navy is growing its presence in a logistic base at Djibouti which has increased the concern of India. China has maritime disputes with various countries. None of a country has invested as much as China in shipbuilding. There are almost six to eight Chinese naval ships and few submarines in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.

Securing International Lane

Expand of markets and larger imparts flows imply not only economic property but also vulnerability at sea. The incidence of piracy, armed robbery, and maritime terrorism are on the high rise which has placed a premium on the complexity of the sea lane defence. There are few rules for the security of the Indian Ocean which are:

  1. Preserving freedom of navigation and commercial shopping.
  2. Sustainability and equitable harnessing the Indian Ocean’s natural resources.
  3. Establishing protocols for enhancing disaster prevention or relief as well as search and rescue operations.
  4. Countering piracy, terrorism, smuggling, and illegal weapons proliferation.
  5. Manage international naval competition.


Apart from this Indian Ocean has a significant role to play in keeping the climate moderate for Southern India. Along with its strategic importance, the Indian Ocean is the only fishing ground for the coastal fisherman in India. Due to the presence of huge marine resources, it spreads prosperity in the coastal plains of India


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