The recent development in Indian Ocean Region,(IOR) which has discomforted India is the Maldivian decision to ask India to take back its troops and military hardware from Maldives, in a given time period. For decades India has enjoyed its sphere of influence in Maldives, an archipelago which sits near the world’s busiest Sea Lane of Communication, (SLOC) in the Indian Ocean. The policy making circles in New Delhi, are considering this move of the island nation as Beijing’s orders. Here it is important to mention that most recently Maldives and China have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Maldives’ President Abdullah Yameen’s visit to Beijing. Different experts on IOR are considering this FTA a stunning blow for Indian Influence.The FTA will allow China and Maldives to reduce the tariffs of over 95 percent of goods to zero. Both states have agreed to cooperate in all key areas especially in finance, healthcare and tourism. The Maldives’ economic department is very much optimistic for long term economic goals. According to Maldivian officials, Maldives will earn higher revenues from goods and services taxation due to ‘trade creation’ and ‘trade expansion’. Strategically, geographical proximity to the main Indo-Pacific SLOC gives a pivotal role to Maldives in IOR. For India, Maldives has much strategic significance because it is located 1200 km from mainland India and 700 km from the Lakshadweep island of India. Maldives and India have enjoyed good bilateral relations over the centuries. Bilateral ties became even better after 1965, when Maldives gained independence. The 1990s, saw yet another boon when both countries inked multiple agreements. India has played quite a vibrant role in establishing the current political and economic structure of Maldives. When Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, took over the government, India supported his rule and him remaining in power, thereafter. In the current geopolitical scenario, the Indian Ocean is the top agenda of Modi’s government. In international affairs, IOR has pivotal importance with great potential to become the most important source of new global growth.India is not fearful of the Maldives. India is fearful of China’s increasing influence in the region through its investments in the Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If China succeeds in materialising its plan in the region, then China will be the power that challenges India economically and militarilyThe twenty-first century Maritime Silk Road has created rivalries between China, on one side, The US and India one the other, while the latter aims to maintain its hegemonic power in the IOR. When the cold war ended in 1990, there was an unipolar structure in the world. US was the sole power in terms of economic and military strength and remained the hegemonic head of world. But on the basis of speedy economic growth and higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Chinese economy has exceeded the US economy in the past decade. Chinese energy demands are higher than any other country in the world, and its local energy resources are limited, it has become the number one energy importer of the world. On the other hand, India considers itself the pre-eminent power in IOR. The situation in the region and especially in Maldives is clearly an important phase in the evolution of Indian ideals of the region. India is looking at Chinese ventures in IOR in purely strategic terms. The Nehru Doctrine asserted that India will not tolerate any power in the IOR. In other words, from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa to Strait of Lombok, Indonesia the entire Indian Ocean is India’s ocean and any extra regional power will respect Indian consent.Perhaps India is maximizing its geo-strategic and geo-economic influence on different small states in the Indian Ocean. Along with it, India’s Act East Policy has certain compatibility with the American Indo-Pacific Policy. In the maritime domain, US Indo-Pacific Command and Indian Navy have signed many MoUs for cooperation and coordination to counter Chinese military and economic hegemony in the region. In June this year, the US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, announced that the US Pacific Command will now be called the US Indo-Pacific Command. The name change; is seen by observers as an important tactical move for strengthening Indo-US naval ties. In the context of recent diplomatic unrest between India and Maldives it is evident that Indian rule of IOR is passing from a rough and bumpy track. Basically, India is not fearful of the Maldives. India is fearful of China’s increasing influence in the region through its investments in the Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If China succeeds in materializing its plan in the region, then China will be the power that challenges India economically and militarily.The write is an International Relations Analyst based in Islamabad and can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, September 8th 2018.