In a move likely to evoke strong reaction, the Indian Navy announced last week that it would establish a major forward operating base on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands near the Malacca Strait - one of the world's most important maritime choke points.
About 40 percent of the world's trade passes the 550-mile long Malacca Strait connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans. Almost all of Japan's oil imports and 80 percent of China's go through this strategic channel.
India plans to turn a small naval facility called the Naval Air Station Campbell Bay into a comprehensive forward operating base to be renamed "The Naval Air Station Baaz," according to New Delhi TV.
The new naval base is expected to be completed within a year or two to accommodate heavy transport planes and a variety of maritime and naval surveillance aircraft and vessels.
"Our ability to monitor the Bay of Bengal, the Malacca Strait, will go up exponentially," an Indian Navy official told New Delhi TV.
India is rapidly arming itself to become a key global military power and imports more advanced weapons than any other country.
India's Navy has acquired nuclear ballistic missile submarines from Russia and is building its own aircraft carriers and submarines. The Indian Navy is active in vast stretches of water, from the Western Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific.
The move sends a strong signal that India is seeking a major stake in the international naval race and wants to influence global security and energy trade.
India fears that the U.S. buildup of military power in the Asia-Pacific will squeeze out its traditional influence in the Eastern Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. India is also worried about China's rapidly growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the Gulf of Aden and other strategic areas, such as the Seychelles.
A full-fledged naval base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would shorten the distance between India's forward deployed forces and the Malacca Strait by several hundred miles.