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India and its Navy in the XXIst Century

Abstract : The United States’ strategic reorientation towards the Indo-Pacific has been accompanied by a heightened interest in matters maritime. In contrast to the primary theaters of the Cold War, the region’s strategic and economic geography is strongly defined by its wide oceans, narrow chokepoints, and meandering waterways. As a result, the naval profiles of Asia’s two great rising powers, India and China, have attracted a hitherto unprecedented level of scholarly attention. However, while various studies have focused on the role of China’s navy within its wider military strategy, until recently most detailed explorations of India’s growing naval power primarily focused on the Indian navy itself-rather than on how the quest for seapower fit into New Delhi’s emerging grand strategy. Building on several years of research in India, China, Sri Lanka, and the United States, and over one hundred interviews of Indian naval officers and government officials, both serving and retired, this dissertation aims to provide a deeper understanding of the context and ramifications of India’s naval rise. In particular, it seeks to explain a troubling paradox: the continued misalignment of New Delhi’s military strategy with its maritime geography. Indeed, the country’s enviable position at the heart of the Indian Ocean, along with its peninsular formation and extensive coastlines, would seem to suggest a natural predisposition towards the exercise of naval power. In reality, however, India’s navy since independence has consistently been the most poorly funded of its military services, and has frequently struggled to make do with limited resources. While the navy’s fortunes have taken a positive turn over the past two decades, both in terms of funding and procurement, the so-called Cinderella service still only captures the smallest portion of the overall defense budget, which remains heavily skewed toward the nation’s manpower-intensive Army. In 2013, for example, the Indian Navy only captured 16% of the defense budget, whereas the Army captured approximately 58%, and the Air Force 26%. Over the past five years, Indian naval officers have repeatedly assured this author that the Navy’s share would eventually rise to 25% of the overall defense budget, only to be sorely disappointed. The core question this dissertation endeavors to address is whether this trend will persist, or whether various factors will combine in order to provoke a gradual rebalancing of the nation’s military strategy and force structure.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 14, 2022 - 2:41:20 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 15, 2022 - 3:16:53 PM


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Iskander Rehman. India and its Navy in the XXIst Century. Political science. Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Sciences Po, 2014. English. ⟨NNT : 2014IEPP0056⟩. ⟨tel-03641741⟩



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