In recent years India has strengthened its involvement in the African Indian Ocean Rim considerably. This shift in policy comes in part because of India's desire to compete with China's growing influence in the region. The Indian Ocean has immense significance to India's development. India's strategy is deepening not only commercially but due to concerns over its security and hegemony in the region, which are underpinned by India's 2004 maritime doctrine.
During the mid-1990s Indian foreign policy was largely introspective and concerned with consolidating its position as the regional power. Despite being a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, there was little enthusiasm for the association and it produced few tangible results. The emergence of trilateral developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa clearly reflected India's priority of positioning itself as a major developmental power.
The growing importance of the African Indian Ocean Rim to India is evidenced by increasing bilateral and trilateral efforts and improved relations, notably with Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar and coastal states such as Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. India's most formidable economic and commercial partnership in the African Indian Ocean is with Mauritius.