A vast expanse that holds a fifth of the water on the Earth’s surface, the Indian Ocean has long been a crossroads for merchants, mariners, and navies. The ocean is critical to the geopolitical and economic fortunes of both its littoral states and outside powers. As they have for centuries, ships squeeze through its narrow straits and sail into its deep waters, plying busy trade routes that span the globe from Africa to the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Today, as a space where the interests of the world’s great powers intersect, the Indian Ocean is becoming ever more important. It is a fulcrum not only of strategic competition between nations but also of an array of valuable economic and development opportunities. Yet there are few dedicated Indian Ocean programs anywhere in the world. The Carnegie Asia Program aims to rectify this gap and build a hub for some of the world’s best research on the Indian Ocean and its island states and territories.

  • TV/Radio Broadcast

    The Indian Ocean and the Asia Chessboard

    A discussion of the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean to the United States and its allies and partners in the region.

  • Op-Ed

    Developing the Sister Islands of Indian Ocean

    The primary issues facing island nations in the Indian Ocean are sustainable development, illegal fishing, disaster management, the climate crisis, renewable energy and other aspects of the blue economy.

  • Indian Ocean Geopolitics

    The in-vogue term “Indo-Pacific” positions the Indian Ocean region as part of singular geographic–and geopolitical–region along with the Pacific Ocean. Yet understandings of and approaches to the Indian Ocean region are very much in the eye of the beholder.

  • Commentary

    What Can India, France, and Australia Achieve Together?

    Foreign ministers from India, France, and Australia recently met (virtually) at the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship annual conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics. What can they get done if they work together?

  • TV/Radio Broadcast

    A Regional Identity for the Indian Ocean

    A discussion of the development of a maritime-linked regional identity throughout the Indian Ocean littorals and what forces are likely to shape how regional states engage within the wider Indian Ocean Region.

  • TV/Radio Broadcast

    On the Indian Ocean Imperative

    Few regions of the world have gotten more attention in the first few months of the Biden administration than Asia. And, within Asia, top U.S. leaders have singled out the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in particular.

  • Op-Ed

    It Is Time to Reimagine the Indian Ocean

    If China indeed is emerging as the key competitor to India’s interests in the Indian Ocean Region, then Delhi needs to reframe its mental maps and view the Indian Ocean as one continuous space, and understand regional dynamics better.

  • Op-Ed

    Showing Up is Half the Battle: U.S. Maritime Forces in the Indian Ocean

    U.S. foreign and defense policy does not treat the Indian Ocean region as one space but instead as a boundary between spaces. This division has led to fragmented policies across the region that fail to address regional strategic concerns and challenges.

  • Q&A

    What Is Happening in the Indian Ocean?

    Dizzyingly enormous and varied in topography and culture, the Indian Ocean is critical to global trade, security, and geopolitics. As countries jostle for influence in its crowded waterways, how will the new power dynamics play out?

Ideas and analysis are valuable, but Carnegie’s business is improving policies, decisionmaking, and real-world outcomes. Excellence in scholarship and responsiveness to changing global circumstances define our work, and we are committed to making a concrete difference in the world.

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Associate Fellow Darshana Baruah directs the Indian Ocean Initiative, drawing on her own innovative research and writing on maritime security and the importance of island nations, as well as New Delhi’s strategy toward the Indian Ocean. The Initiative draws together the work of other leading Carnegie scholars who have advanced the study of the Indo-Pacific, its security architecture, and the development of connectivity across this huge tract of ocean.

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