Professor Misra’s book, Quest for an International Order in the Indian Ocean is a well structured analysis of the politico-strategic significance of the Indian Ocean, the interests of the big powers and the response of the littorals. The author concludes that by limiting the arms build-up in this area, there will be a better climate for creating a new international order. The author quotes Admiral Mahan’s well publicized statement that ‘whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia’. This statement, however, pertains to a period when empires were carved out by controlling the oceans, aided by the indivisibility of the seas which were the dominant features of the colonial era. The author further analyses the spectrum of interests of the big powers, particularly the superpowers, in this ocean area. He correctly infers that it was not the so-called ‘vacuum’ after the formal British withdrawal from East of Suez, but rather the instability of this region, the weakness of the littoral nations, and the lack of capacity of the old colonial powers to exert their hegemony that encouraged the superpowers to enter this ocean in their quest for new pastures.
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