India’s southern region has long Deccan peninsula that protrudes into the Indian ocean. India has 7516.6 km of coastal line including Lakshwadeep islands in the Arabian Sea and Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal. This gives an edge to India in the Indian ocean in linking West Asia, Europe and Africa from the Western coast with the Southeast and East Asia from the East cost.

History of Indian Sea route:

India’s contacts with the World have continued through the ages but her relationships through the land routes are much older than her maritime contacts. The various passes across the mountains in the north have provided passages to the ancient travellers, while the oceans restricted such interaction for a long time.

The sea route to India was first discovered, when a Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama reached Kappadu near Calicut, India in 20, May, 1498. Since, then it has been a route to link West to East Asia passing through the Indian Ocean. It led to many invaders like Britishers, French, Dutch, Portuguese came and tried to established their colonies. Consequently, Britishers managed to make India as its colony to gain economically to its Empire.

It got impetus when Suez Canal route was opened in 1869 with distance reduced to 7000 km from Europe to India. Hence, it reduced the sea route to export commodities to Asian countries from Europe and helped European Imperialism in Africa and Asia continents to flourish.

Socio-Economic Significance of Indian Sea route:

1. Social Significance: These routes have contributed in the exchange of ideas and commodities since ancient times. The ideas of the Upanishads and the Ramayana, the stories of Panchtantra, the Indian numerals and the decimal system thus could reach many parts of the world. On the other hand, the influence of Greek sculpture, and the architectural styles of dome and minarets from West Asia can be seen in different parts of our country.

2.Economic Significance: Since, the sea route was discovered, it has gone through many economic activities which not only helped India but also its neighboring countries. The spices, muslin and other merchandise were taken from India to different countries in ancient times. Since, there were many small and big kingdoms which kept on fighting with each other to secure their dynasty on the Indian sub-continent, did not focus on the economic values of sea route of India.

But, when Vasco da gama discovered this route in the end of 15th century, it gave the route to many other European empire eager to enhance their empire in other parts of the world. India sea trade link got pushed, when India was ruled by Mughal Empire. In Mughal period, Akbar welcomed Portuguese Jesuits, which allowed Portugal to enter the trade with Indian goods. At the very end of his rule, the British, Dutch, and Portuguese started trade with the Mughal empire as well. After Akbar, his son Jahangir also welcomed the British diplomat Thomas Roe. Thomas Roe got the permission from Jahangir to build British East India Company on Indian subcontinent and first factory at Surat. This also gave great push to Indian Economic ties at that time.
Ultimately, when Britishers fully declared India as its colony in 1858. It helped East India Company to flourish in India and to export raw material from India through sea route and import furnished goods in India and other neighboring countries and to East Asia.

Today, India has 200 major and non-major ports which plays a significant role in the development of world’s third largest economy. Government of India is also planning to upgrade 101 Inland Waterways and upgrade 12 Major Ports of India as a economic point of view and trade with other countries. The plans to modernize these ports and has approved a project called Sagarmala– upgradation of 12 Major ports to utilize the economic potential of India Sea route in the Indian ocean.

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