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Cotton Route: Counter China’s maritime ambitions


  • India proposes to counter China’s maritime ambitions with a ‘Cotton Route’ to help forge economic and strategic partnerships with other countries by reviving ancient Indian Ocean pathways through which the fabric was exported to both the east and west.
  • Mindful of Chinese initiatives launched since 2013 to connect coastal states, including countries in South Asia and India’s extended neighbourhood, the Modi government has launched its own strategy to partner with countries with which it shares historical trade and people-to-people links.
  • Apart from the ‘Cotton Route’, India plans to launch Project Mausam, a regional initiative to revive its ancient maritime routes and cultural linkages with countries in the extended neighbourhood.


  • To balance China’s growing maritime ambitions, especially its security interests and projects that have adverse implications for India’s defence.
  • It is aimed at increasing India’s economic cooperation and strategic partnerships with countries in the Indian Ocean region.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trips to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka were aimed at boosting these initiatives.

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