India’s Answer to One Belt One Road Initiative: The Cotton Route

India’s Answer to One Belt One Road Initiative: The Cotton Route

Question - China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative is oriented towards making it a superior manufacturing hub. Discuss the history and key features of the Cotton Route proposed by India for countering this.

• India will counter China’s maritime ambitions through a Cotton Route to form economic and strategic linkages with other nations

• It involves revival of ancient Indian Ocean pathways through which fabric exports were made to the east and the west

History of Cotton Route

• Cotton route will soon reach out faster and wider reviving ancient linkages with other nations

• India’s first cotton exports were made during the 1st century CE

• Regular supply of large quantities of cloth was made from Tagara (currently Ter in Maharashtra)

• Archaeological discoveries from sites at Myos Hormos and Berenike (ports of the Red Sea) indicate cotton was exported to Central Asia via the ancient Silk Road

• Cotton was also one of the chief products of ancient trade; Cotton Road was equally historically important

Features of the Cotton Route

• Chinese initiatives since 2013 have aimed to forge trade links with coastal states

• This includes South Asian nations and the extended neighbourhood of India

• Cotton Route will capitalise on historic trade and P2P links

• Aim of the Cotton Route is to balance China’s expanding maritime ambitions, specifically interests and projects countering India’s defence

• Apart from Cotton Route, India will also launch Project Mausam to expand ancient maritime route linkages and cultural links with neighbouring nations

• The Tri-Nation tour by PM Modi to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka was aimed at boosting these initiatives

• The aim will be to boost relations and exploit trade potentials with nations across the Indian ocean

• India will have two major partners to form continental gateways and linkages for the Cotton Route namely Iran and South Africa

• Russia and India’s North-South Corridor will link the latter to Iran and bypass Pakistan in connecting India to Central Asia and Afghan markets

• Teheran will play an important role in the Cotton Route’s link to Eurasia

• BRICS member nation South Africa is another important connection for India’s Cotton Route

• Its road and rail infrastructure connects to the southern reaches of the continent and a critical factor in boosting intercontinental trade

• Indian goods will penetrate into Africa for sharing the natural riches of the continental state

• Cotton Route also incorporates key island strategies for strengthening viability

• India’s visit to the Indian Ocean Island states is a step in this direction

• India will build a strategic presence in the region to form a shield in the Western India Ocean for countering China

• Indonesia will play an economic role in the Cotton Route as it has linkages with ASEAN members which can be exploited for natural trade ties

• Another component of India’s Cotton Route is the construction of overland trade paths skirting the rim of the Indian Ocean in Southeast Asia and East Africa

• India will also create an ASEAN highway through Myanmar for expanding the Cotton Route

• India will counter China through soft power by means of the Cotton Route

• Red Line refers to the path extending rom Egypt to South Africa encompassing East Africa and the western rim of the Indian Ocean

• This too shall be used for expanding the Cotton Route

Facts and Stats

• India’s exports to Indian Ocean countries was USD 77,097 million in 2011

• As per the Economic Survey of 2012-2013, FDI inflows from Indian Ocean time countries accounted for 75% of total FDI received
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