A Geopolitical Churning Perspectives from the Indian Ocean

ORF Neighbourhood Scope | The Indian Ocean, traditionally seen as India's sphere of influence, has witnessed an increase in the presence of regional and extra-regional powers in recent years. Smaller island and littoral South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, which remained at the periphery of great power politics, are witnessing a multi-polar power contestation as the Indo-Pacific region grows in prominence. India is keen to maintain its sway in the region even as China continues to make inroads with its assertiveness, deep pockets, and opaque lending. QUAD partners - the USA, Japan, and Australia and countries like Turkiye, Russia, and France are quickly catching up with this evolving great game.  On their part, the South Asian countries are leveraging their geographical location and growing importance to further their interests, economic and security goals, and development partnerships.  

How does the Indian Ocean fit into the broader evolving geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific? Who are the new players in the region? How is India responding to these new players and the evolving competition? What do South Asian countries like - Bangladesh, Maldives, and Sri Lanka - think of this contestation? How are they responding? How do these countries perceive China’s presence in the region? What would the Indian Ocean Region look like in the coming years?    

This event was part of the series “The Neighbourhood Scope,” a monthly feature of the Strategic Studies Programme that intends to rekindle key conversations, questions, and debates concerning India’s neighbourhood.


Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy, Associate Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, India
Bhagya Senaratne, Postdoctoral Fellow, New York University, China
Ahmed Shaheed, Professor, University of Essex ; Former Foreign Minister, Maldives
Lailufar Ysmin, Professor, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh


Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, India