Sharifah M. Alatas


This essay is an analysis of India’s maritime strategy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) from the end of the Cold War to 2015. The main focus is on India’s strategic culture. Even though it is widely recognized that India does not have a strategic culture, this essay suggests that India’s strategic culture does exist, although in its infancy. Gathered from scattered writings in the press, academic journals, think tank publications, biographies and autobiographies, this essay hypothesizes that, first, India does have a strategic culture but is somewhat muddled and not yet conceived of concretely, and second, that India does have a grand strategy paradigm about operational policy in the IOR, which is a component of strategic culture. It argues that despite becoming a nation-state only in 1947 and that the sub-continent’s history bears testament to a variety of strategic cultures, such as the Mughal, Maratha, Kalingan, Chola, Mauryan, Assamese, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati and Kashmiri strategic cultures, a post-Cold War India is slowly evolving a more singular strategic culture we can call ‘Indian’. An attempt is also made to provide a glimpse of India’s strategic culture from a neo-liberalist angle in order to lessen doubt and confusion over the issue.


Grand strategy, Indian Ocean Rim (IOR), Maritime strategy, Strategic culture, Power.

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