India’s Growing Naval Might

India’s latest International Fleet Review highlights the growing importance of the maritime sphere for New Delhi.

India’s Growing Naval Might

By Harsh V. Pant

The Indian Navy underlined its growing prowess at the International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016 last week. Though it was largely a ceremonial inspection of naval warships by the Indian president, it provided an opportunity to the Indian Navy to showcase its might and rapidly expanding capabilities. It was in 2001 that an event of such a scale was last held in India and since then the Indian Navy’s participating contingent has only grown bigger, with 75 frontline ships and submarines in attendance, in addition to 24 ships and delegations from over 50 nations including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, France, Indonesia, Iran, Maldives, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Flagging the threat of sea-borne terror and piracy as two key challenges to maritime security and underlining the need to respect freedom of navigation against the backdrop of South China Sea dispute, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared during the IFR that India will be hosting the first-ever Global Maritime Summit in April. He made it clear that the Indian Ocean region remains his government’s priority given India’s 1,200 island territories, and its huge exclusive economic zone of 2.4 million sq km. He further underlined the Indian Ocean region’s role “as a strategic bridge with the nations in our immediate and extended maritime neighborhood.” Underlining the need for a “modern and multi-dimensional Navy,” Modi stressed that India would continue to actively pursue and promote its geopolitical, strategic, and economic interests on the seas, in particular the Indian Ocean.

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