While geo-economic and environmental consequences for India and Australia are far too large to ignore, they have also created significant opportunities to work together – from boosting maritime defence infrastructure to fighting global warming and the destruction of precious marine resources. The ever-increasing environmental risks have added to the threat of climate change in the IOR, with both posing a major risk to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in India and Australia.
“The IOR holds great significance in the future world order in terms of economic growth, natural resources, as well as major sea lines of communication. However, the economic geography of the IOR is not just expanding, it’s also being re-shaped and de-stabilised by China’s overarching influence through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), dominance over critical sea trade routes, and debt diplomacy,” said Ria Kasliwal, a Fellow with the Observer Research Foundation.
“For India and Australia, security and stability in the IOR is crucial. Being geographically and economically central to the IOR, any geo-economic contestations will have a huge impact on India… For Australia, there is an emerging acknowledgment of the importance of stability in the IOR, especially as the consistently increasing trade between Australia and the IOR will be under risk given China’s influence. Australia learnt the negative consequences of extreme dependence on China, having faced economic retaliation from the latter over the former’s inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus,” she said.
With vast maritime interests at stake, India has thus emerged as one of the pillars and key enablers of IOR, boosting peace and stability in the region as well harnessing the forces of blue economy.