In 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Mauritius, had articulated his vision of SAGAR, the Hindi word for sea and an acronym for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ which highlighted the maritime orientation of India’s strategic neighbourhood and the importance of enhancing regional maritime security.
Recent visits by the External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Secretary to India’s maritime neighbours further underlines this. Most recently, the National Security Adviser was in Colombo for the India-Sri Lanka-Maldives trilateral which was held after a gap of six years and focussed on maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Ocean is faced with a wide spectrum of traditional, non-traditional and transnational security challenges. Countering these effectively in the vast expanse of the ocean requires a collective and inclusive security architecture with other countries in the region. India, as the largest power in the Indian Ocean and a net security provider in the region, has taken the lead in developing this construct to secure not only its own strategic interests and but also those of the other countries in its maritime neighbourhood.
This engagement is anchored in enhancing the bilateral and multilateral strategic relationship with the region through capacity and capability building for ensuring the security and the economic well-being of the region through an all-of-government approach.
In the security domain, India’s biggest challenge is to deal with an aggressive and belligerent China. While the prolonged stand-off on the LAC is a clear and immediate danger, China’s long- term strategic intent is to dominate the Indian Ocean en route to its ultimate goal of displacing the USA as the global superpower.