India commissioned its first nuclear-powered submarine, the Russian Akula-II class INS Chakra, last week. In an email interview, James R. Holmes, a specialist in Asian sea power at the U.S. Naval War College, discussed the Indian navy.
WPR: What is the current force structure, capability and focus of India's navy?
James R. Holmes: Taking these elements in reverse order, India sees itself as a natural, benign, nonaligned hegemon in the Indian Ocean region, much as the United States saw itself a century ago during the age of the Monroe Doctrine. Accordingly, India’s 2007 Maritime Military Strategy (.pdf) defines the navy’s “primary maritime military interest” as providing “insulation from external interference” so that economic development takes place in secure surroundings. If New Delhi aspires to use sea power to maintain order in the Indian Ocean while buffering against meddlesome outsiders, it needs a navy second to none in the region.