Like Australia in the Pacific, India has been pursuing its own Indian Ocean island step-up, largely driven by concerns about China’s growing influence in the region. This has included increased bilateral aid, investment, and security assistance to the island states. India is also trying to develop regional security structures that focus on maritime and other transnational security threats. India may find that it can gain considerable leverage from working with regional partners.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is significant for a number of reasons. To begin with, it serves as the global hotspot for naval trade and for maintaining sea-based lines of communications. It houses chokepoints like the Bab-el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal, and the Malacca and Sunda Straits, accounting for over 40% of the global oil and gas trade. On the other hand, it is home to many High-Risk Areas (HRAs) for piracy, making the regional security situation dynamic and prone to attacks from pirates. In this context, regional powers, including the United States, India and Australia, have time and time again emphasized the importance of cooperation towards counterpiracy. It forms a major part of discussions surrounding maritime security in the IOR, and consequently, the India-Australia axis has emerged crucial for the strengthening of counterpiracy operations in the region.