India and Indo-Pacific strategy For UPSC

India and Indo-Pacific, Why in News ? : An article appeared in “THE HINDU” named as “THE CHALLENGES OF INDO-PACIFIC TALK”

India-and-Indo-Pacific-strategy-For-UPSC

What is Indo –Pacific ?

  • In terms of geo-spatiality, the Indo-Pacific is broadly to be understood as an interconnected space between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Its expanse is debated to be ranging from the eastern shores of Africa to the western coast of the United States, these variations depends on countries specific positioning and interest in the region.

What made possible for function of Indo-Pacific ?

  • Growing forces of globalization
  • Trade and changing equations between various actors which has broken down older boundaries and opened up new avenues.

Recent development

  • The growing footprint of China across the length and breadth of the region
  • The relative decline of the U.S. alliance system and it’s strive for resurgence.

Categorization of the region

The WWF and Nature Conservancy divide the Indo-Pacific into three realms, and each of these into a number of marine provinces.

  • Central Indo-Pacific

The Central Indo-Pacific includes the numerous seas and straits connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans, including the seas surrounding the Indonesian archipelago (with the exception of Sumatra‘s northwest coast, which is part of the Western Indo-Pacific), the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the north coast of Australia, and the seas surrounding New Guinea, western and central MicronesiaNew Caledonia, the Solomon IslandsVanuatuFiji, and Tonga. The Central Indo-Pacific, due in part to its central location at the meeting of two oceans, has the greatest diversity of corals and mangroves.

  • Eastern Indo-Pacific

The Eastern Indo-Pacific surrounds the mostly volcanic islands of the central Pacific Ocean, extending from the Marshall Islands through central and southeastern Polynesia to Easter Island and Hawaii.

  • Western Indo-Pacific

The Western Indo-Pacific covers the western and central portion of the Indian Ocean, including Africa’s east coast, the Red SeaGulf of AdenPersian GulfArabian SeaBay of Bengal, and Andaman Sea, as well as the coastal waters surrounding Madagascar, the SeychellesComorosMascarene IslandsMaldives, and Chagos Archipelago.

Importance of the Indo-Pacific Region

  • In 2018 Shangrila Dialogue India had clearly indicated the geographical reach of India’s idea of the Indo-Pacific – from East Coast of Africa to West Coast of USA.
  • It is a very rich region in terms of natural resources (fisheries, oil, gas) as well as mineral resources.
  • World engagement in the region – Trade of some of the major economies like China, Japan, Korea or the west coast of the United States goes through this region.
  • More than 50% of India’s trade is conducted through Indian Ocean and South China Sea. India has been one of the major players in the region.
  • India conducts many military exercises with the United States, countries of ASEAN, Japan, Korea and Vietnam in the region. Such as – Malabar Exercise, tri-service exercise `Triumph’,

Indo-Pacific Maritime Cooperation

  • The major focus of the Indo-Pacific is based on oceans, which is the common thread that connects all. Countries including India, Indonesia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, primarily maritime nations occupy the most important strategic positions in the Indian Ocean.
  • The government has introduced the concept of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) and believes in an Indo-Pacific that is free, open and inclusive, and one that is founded upon a cooperative and collaborative rules-based order.
  • A free-and-open Indo-Pacific; a regional approach to the region’s transition from the existing ‘Brown’ to a ‘Blue’ economy; what is the opportunities and challenges arising from the maritime impact of ‘Industry 4.0’; and India’s ‘SAGAR’ and ‘SAGARMALA’ could be made mutually-reinforcing on a regional level.

India’s Approach to Indo-Pacific region

  • It underlines the Indo-Pacific as an opportunity to expand its footprint across the region while facing significant capacity and capital constraints.
  • It places partnerships at the core of India’s Indo-Pacific interests. While collaborations with bigger powers such as Australia, France, Japan, and the United States have provided a greater platform for New Delhi to expand its diplomatic footprint, its relationship with island nations will shape India’s role in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Indo-Pacific presents new opportunities to India’s great power ambitions, India’s priorities and significant investments will remain in the Indian Ocean.
  • India’s Act East policy remains the bedrock of the national Indo-Pacific vision.
  • Evidently, the centrality of ASEAN is embedded in the Indian narrative of Act East Policy.
  • Various Initiative – India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), in ASEAN-led frameworks, in BIMSTEC and the Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor.
  • India has also been convening the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, in which the navies of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) participate.
  • India’s growing partnership with Africa is evident from the convening of mechanisms like the India-Africa Forum Summits.

Way Forward

  • More engagement with like-minded countries –  Japan and Australia are India’s key partners in the Indo-Pacific region. The meeting provided a unique opportunity to build upon the progress that the three countries have achieved bilaterally in recent years.
  • Strengthen Equity in the region – countries in the region should have equal access as a right under international law to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air.
  • Initiative SAGAR – India needs to stick to its visionary Plan of India Ocean i.e. SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region.

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Dr. RS Aggarwal
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