India dithered over projecting naval power. Now it’s been pushed to the sidelines of the Indo-Pacific

Relevance: To know about India’s missed opportunities to improve international cooperation.


This article explains the opportunities that India missed, which ultimately led to the formation of the AUKUS alliance.


Recently, the US, UK, and Australia announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific named the AUKUS. Recently, the US has clarified that India or Japan would not be added to the AUKUS alliance.

Must Read: AUKUS Security Alliance – Explained, pointwise
What are the opportunities India missed which led to the formation of the AUKUS alliance?

Raja Menon is of the view that India’s missed opportunities led to the formation of the AUKUS Alliance. He mentions the following reasons to support that view.

India did not push the US to provide nuclear technology to India: One should remember that Australia is not the only country to seek nuclear technology from the US.

Indian efforts to expand nuclear submarines have been crippled by a lack of funding and the inability to access highly enriched uranium cores for the propulsion reactor.

Many Indian naval veterans have, on their visits to Washington, approached key figures in the US establishment about nuclear submarine technology for the Indian Navy. But the PMO and MEA did not support the naval veterans.

So the US rejected Indian requests that the US Navy is against transferring the technology to a non-aligned state.

India failed to materialise Quad: With the introduction of the Quad, India had an opportunity to operationalise the coalition and set up a Quad secretariat in India.

India could have easily pushed the Quad to focus on the maritime domain. But, India so far did not take the Quad beyond diplomatic talks and failed to push Quad into the areas of common interest. This led to the formation of AUKUS focusing on the maritime domain.

What is the result of India’s inaction?

India will not be a frontline state to tackle China: With nuclear submarine technology, Australia has now become a ‘Net Security Provider’ in the Indo-Pacific.

Erode India’s regional presence in the Indian Ocean: At present, the Indian Navy presently dominates the Indian Ocean, but its conventional underwater capability has been shrinking.

The AUKUS alliance could eventually lead to crowding of nuclear attack submarines (SSNs/submersible ship nuclear) in the Eastern Indian Ocean, eroding India’s regional pre-eminence.

What are the available options with India?

Documenting India’s strategic needs: the US office’s Net Assessment defines the evolving scenario every four years in a docket entitled “Global Futures” as a guide to government. At present, India has no such document, so India should document the evolving scenarios to understand our strategic needs better.

Focus on Navy: India will have to provide more attention on improving its naval capabilities, as this is the only instrument that gives us punitive capability against China.

Signing a nuclear submarine deal with France: With the formation of the AUKUS, France lost a billion dollars worth of submarine projects with Australia. So, India can use this opportunity and sign a technology transfer deal for Nuclear submarines like Project 75 ‘Scorpene’.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • India dithered over projecting naval power. Now it’s been pushed to the sidelines of the Indo-Pacific” published in Indian Express on 24th September 2021.
  • India is not a bystander in the AUKUS saga” published in The Hindu on 25th September 2021.
Print Friendly and PDF