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DE-FACTO COLOSSUS OF INDO-PACIFIC

India Emerges as Force to Reckon With, in the Region

 

The Indo-Pacific, sometimes known as the Indo-West Pacific or Indo-Pacific Asia, is a biogeographic region of Earth’s seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia.

On the sidelines of the G20 summit conducted in Osaka in June 2019, India engaged in two trilateral meetings.  The first one was with Japan and the United States.  “This grouping should be called ‘JAI’, the ‘Success’, and ‘Victory’ in Hindi”, quipped Indian PM Modi.  ‘Jai’ is the acronym for Japan, America, and India.  These three countries have a lot to gain from each other.  The meeting emphasized the imperative for the three countries working together towards an open, stable and rule-based Indo-Pacific region.

Second trilateral meeting was with China and Russia under the ambit of RIC countries.  The three countries had a summit-level meeting last year in Argentina.  As the world’s leading economies, exchange of views amongst RIC on the economic, political and security situation of the world is extremely important.  The trilateral meeting on 28th June 2019 came across as a useful forum for discussing and coordinating on major global issues.

The RIC (Russia-India-China) meeting was an excellent forum to discuss ways to enhance multilateral cooperation between the three nations.  The leaders agreed to mitigate challenges being faced by the planet, most notably terrorism and climate change.

Stage is Set

The two meetings and Bharat’s active participation indicated towards its enhanced economic and military clout.  There is no denying the all evident increased strategic influence of India in the Indo-Pacific region.  There are umpteen signals to support this.

The US is banking on India to counterbalance Dragon’s domination.  Moving away from ‘Peacefully Rising Nation’, an epithet repeatedly used by the middle kingdom to camouflage its ambitious charter the Asian giant is repeatedly exhibiting traits of belligerence.  It is utmost important for the world community to take notice and inject some sense of sanity in the world order.

Calculus of Arms and Ammunitions

India is one of the largest arms buyers in the world.  This position makes it attractive for both, the US and Russia. Today the US has emerged as the biggest supplier to India’s war machinery.  Russia, big regional player, all set for resurgence,  is still a major defence supplier for India.  The two countries have been working on a deal for the delivery of Russian-made S-400 missiles.  Moscow also has considerable heft in countries like Iran.

Russia accounted for 58% of Indian arms imports in 2014–18, compared with 76% in 2009-13. Israel, the U.S., and France all increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18.  However, the Russian share in Indian imports is likely to go up sharply during the next five-year period as India signed several big-ticket deals recently, and more are in the pipeline.  These include S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, a second nuclear attack submarine on lease, and deals for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters and short-range air defence systems.

Viewpoint

India has been able to strike a chord and usher into an era of convivial relations with all its neighbours.  With China, India has kept its channels of communication open.  Spirit of Wuhan summit is still evident in the body language of the leaders of two Asian giants.  Modi and Xi were able to solve Doklam imbroglio with maturity, diplomatic skills, and understanding.  The two countries are also partners in economic forums such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS.   

India, with its huge population, military capabilities, and strong government, could significantly alter the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region.  With impressive credentials of  PM Modi, the stock of Bharat appears to be moving northwards.  How dexterously Indian diplomatic apparatus is able to exploit the present dynamics, only time will tell.

15 Jul 19/Monday                                                   Written by Naphisa

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