Foreign Policy and Sea Power: India’s Maritime Role Flux

IDSA Journal of Defence Studies, 31 October 2017

The core argument this article makes is that India’s maritime worldview and role conceptions have not only been evolving since the 1950s, but they have also been closely interlinked with how policymakers thought about India’s regional identity and the state’s economic capacity to release resources towards sea power. Today, there are three maritime role conceptions that are vying for the apex’s strategic attention, and they are reflective of a deeper role flux in India’s regional identity. While these maritime role conceptions may not be entirely mutually exclusive, each role implies a foreign policy posture, maritime doctrine and a logical force structure. This article will explicate the evolution of these maritime role conceptions; offer reasons for the role flux in recent years; and highlight key, contemporary policy-relevant issues to anchor the debate on the inter-relationship between foreign policy and sea power.