[Answered] Analyze the decline of India’s naval power and its economic implications from the colonial era to post-independence. How has the neglect of maritime strategy affected India’s position in global maritime shipping and naval strength?

Introduction: Give a brief context to the question

Body: Highlight reasons for declining India’s naval power and its effect on maritime shipping and naval strength.

Conclusion: Way forward

As per Historical Statistics India had the largest economy in the world in the first millennium with a share of almost 33 percent of the world’s GDP. It began to decline with external invasions and colonization and touched a low point during the British era in the 18th and 19th centuries. India’s decline in naval power and its economic implications from the colonial era to post-independence can be analyzed through several key factors.

Declining Power in the Colonial Era to Post-Independence

  • British Dominance: The British Raj dismantled traditional Indian maritime structures and focused on land-based control. This led to a decline in shipbuilding, navigational expertise, and maritime trade.
  • Loss of Strategic Influence: India’s once-dominant position in the Indian Ocean was eroded, impacting trade routes and regional influence.
  • Economic Stagnation: Limited maritime capabilities hindered trade expansion, resource exploitation, and overall economic growth.
  • Post-Independence Period: Initially, India’s focus was on consolidating its territorial integrity and building its army and air force, with less attention given to naval development.

Neglect of Maritime Strategy on Global Maritime Shipping and Naval Strength

  • Resource Insecurity: Delays in exploiting offshore resources like oil and gas due to inadequate naval protection.
  • Limited Blue Economy Potential: Underdeveloped maritime infrastructure and capabilities hindered the growth of the blue economy (tourism, fisheries, etc.).
  • Vulnerable Trade: Limited naval presence exposed India’s trade routes to piracy and disruption, impacting import-export activities.
  • Loss of Historical Influence: India’s maritime influence in the Indian Ocean declined compared to its historical dominance.
  • Limited Global Projection: Weak naval capabilities restricted India’s ability to project power and influence beyond its immediate region.
  • Geopolitical Vulnerability: Dependence on foreign navies for critical sea lanes increased vulnerability to external pressures.


The Indian Ocean has helped India in carrying India’s cultural and civilizational imprint and created a vast sphere of Indic civilizational influence. Indian Ocean conference seeks to bring together nations of the region to address the non-traditional challenges that are common to all of them, such as climate change, ocean levels, natural disasters, and supply chain disruptions as against the traditional security-related challenges that divide and compel countries to take sides.

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