The Indian Navy’s doctrinal evolution

Between deterrence and denial

Authored by: Manjeet S. Pardesi

Handbook of Indian Defence Policy

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138939608
eBook ISBN: 9781315674742
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380092


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India has sought to emerge as a major sea power in global politics since the country’s independence in 1947. However, in spite of this grand ambition, India is yet to achieve this status. The aim of this chapter is to delineate India’s naval thinking and its consequent naval doctrine as it has evolved after independence. This chapter is organised along three different themes for analytical purposes, while noting that there is considerable overlap between these themes. The first section highlights the role of sea power in Indian strategic thinking and India’s preferred order of primacy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The next section explains that while primacy has remained the desired, and thus far, unfulfilled, goal for India in the IOR, the Indian Navy’s (IN’s) operational doctrine has revolved around the concept of deterrence. Notably, in spite of political rhetoric, India has always shown a willingness to work with regional and extra-regional powers to promote its security interests in the IOR. In recent decades, sea lane security for energy resources and trade has emerged as another significant operational concern for the IN in addition to deterrence. Finally, the third section of this chapter focuses on the role of the IN in India’s nuclear strategy in a bid to bolster the country’s nuclear deterrence.

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