- As India’s concerns in global matters grow, the country also needs to contemplate and reflect deeply on what is happening in its immediate neighbourhood.
What is in news?
- The outcome of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the turmoil in the East and South China Seas, or other big-ticket issues across the world is important, but it is South Asia and the neighbourhood that demands India’s concentrated attention.
- If India is not seen to be actively involved in ensuring that the region is at peace and functions in conformity with its world view, the consequences of regional fallouts may endeavor worst consequences.
What are the alarming fallouts in South Asia and India’s other neighboring countries?
The alarming fallouts in South Asia and India’s other neighboring countries are as follows:
Nepal and Bangladesh:
- India needs deal with a new government in Nepal.
- It needs to study the prospect of unrest and possibly violence in neighbouring Bangladesh, prior to scheduled elections in 2019.
- Another and a more imminent challenge for India is to sort out the embarrassing situation in the Maldives.
- Under the current President, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, anti-Indian tendencies have steadily increased and there has been a pronounced tilt in favour of China.
Maldives’s Free Trade Agreement with China:
- The Indian High Commission in Male has sent a report on the development in Male which caught many in India by surprise.
- Not only is this Maldives’ first FTA with any country, it is also China’s second FTA with any country in South Asia after Pakistan.
- What is of particular worry is that while the text of the FTA between China and Maldives was concluded in September this year, there has been little debate and scrutiny of the pact in Male.
- Besides, on the sidelines of the FTA agreement, President Abdulla Yameen also pledged support for China’s 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), as reported by PTI on December 6.
- India has already expressed concerns over this road, especially because of its implications in the Indian Ocean Region (ICR).
- The Maritime Silk Road (MSR) is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which includes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, along with the MSR.
- India has already opposed the USD 50 billion CPEC and remains silent on the MSR, given its security impact in India’s backyard.
- India and China have been engaged in a deadlock over the CPEC as it’s being laid through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- Although China calls the CPEC a connectivity project, India has raised its reservations about it traversing through the disputed territory.
Pakistan and Afghanistan:
- Pakistan facing a daily haemorrhaging of human lives due to cross border firing and terrorist violence from Pakistan.
- Equally vital for India is to try and find a way out of the Afghan
- The daily massacre of innocents, men, women and children, civilian officials and military personnel, experts from several countries and diplomats, marks the start of the complete collapse of a system of governance.
- The collapse of the Afghan state does have severe consequences for India and nations in the vicinity.
- The Chinese presence in Sri Lanka is not underground.
- Over a period of 12 years (2005–17), Beijing has poured in $15 billion into projects in Sri Lanka.
- The Chinese Ambassador conveyed an unambiguous message to India, which sees Chinese presence in Sri Lanka as an intrusion in its immediate sphere of influence
How can India and Southeast Asian countries cooperate to fight terrorism?
India has recently become ASEAN’s partner in countering terrorism. The two entities can excavate the following areas:
- The Delhi Declaration has vowed to leverage existing mechanisms and memoranda, such as the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus), on countering terrorism.
- The countries would do well to also address newly evolving issues such as the proliferation of fake newsaiding terrorism, terrorism related funding via cryptocurrencies, and the use of the dark web as a growing online sanctuary.
- The illicit arms trade in both India and ASEAN nations, which helps fuel terrorism, is another area that the two entities can explore to address terrorism.
- Notably, India could also learn from Singapore’s approach to pluralism and diversity, a large preventer of terrorism beyond just operational and legal measures.
- Moreover, all the nations could use this opportunity as a means to upgrade their capabilities in combating non-Islamist threats, such as the Naxalitesin India and separatist militants in Thailand, among others.
- India cannot afford to remain idle and must come up with an answer soon enough that is consistent with its strategic interests.