Indian Navy's Plan to Deter China

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India has started building up its navy and establishing bases further out to sea in a move to secure their maritime backyard. The Indian Ocean connects prime shipping routes and over 2.7 billion people live in the various countries surrounding it. Forty per cent of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin.

Yet despite the name, the Indian Ocean is one of China’s main geostrategic priorities and they appear to be making moves to box in and bypass India for decades as part of their Maritime Silk Road strategy. China’s Navy has recently made high profile maneuvers through the Indian Ocean with a submarine visit to Sri Lanka and then to Pakistan. The Chinese government and their officials stated the increased activity was about trade and security, not aimed towards their rival’s in India. However they did also say quote “the Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean”

India is aiming to change the state of play by building a true bluewater navy that can stand up to any opponent and project Indian power across the Indo-Pacific region. Indian Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Kumar announced the country plans to have a 175 ship navy by 2035 along with major upgrades to existing hulls. How can India modernize their naval power? What kind of ships is India building and what do they tell us of the country’s overall strategy? Hit the like button and join our Task & Purpose discord server if you haven’t yet. This is the story of the Indian Navy and what the future holds for one of the fastest growing naval forces on the planet.

The story of how india went from a buyers to a builders was not a simple a to b process.
The Indian Navy operates a unique mix of western, eastern, and indigenously designed equipment. Following India’s independence from British rule in 1947, the country operated mostly foreign vessels in its navy for much of the 20th Century. India had inherited two frigates and a few dozen smaller vessels from the UK, but also purchased or licensed from other nations over the following decades, including the Soviet Union. Despite close ties to the British Navy following almost a century of colonial rule, India didn’t want to get drawn into the superpower clash of the Cold War. This is because India believes in a policy known as “strategic autonomy,” what that means is they want to reserve the right to make their own decisions independent of external pressure.

According to this 30 page declassified CIA document from 1988 their analysis stated that following India’s independence India originally pursued a naval strategy that was mainly just diplomatic measures because they had yet to build up a large force. quote “New Delhi’s Indian Ocean strategy centers on maritime defense and the assertion of its leadership over other regional states. It also includes supporting the internal stability of these states, protecting the interests of local Indian ethnic groups, and limiting—if not supplanting-foreign presences.” The document goes on to state that beginning in 1988 India started to modernize and expand their navy to actually start projecting power.

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