The Rise of the Indo-Pacific
Context: The Indo-Pacific region is crucial in Indian foreign policy.
Where do we geographically place the Indo-Pacific?
- India has used ‘indo-pacific’ in joint statements with a series of partner countries, including the United States, Australia, France, Indonesia, Japan, and of course the United Kingdom.
- The Ministry has recently set up an Indo-Pacific Division as well as an Oceania Division, and placed them under the same Additional Secretary level officer. This is a sign of India’s commitment to this critical geography.
- For India, the Indo-Pacific is that vast maritime space stretching from the western coast of North America to the eastern shores of Africa.
- India’s great religious traditions, such as Buddhism, spread far and wide in the Indo-Pacific. Some of the oldest and most impressive Hindu temples are found in Vietnam, remnants of the Cham kingdom.
- A thousand years ago India’s greatest coastal empire, the Cholas, sent maritime expeditions and trading ships as far east as Sumatra, ancient China, and Abbasid empire in what is today Iraq.
- Sea-borne trade with Africa and with the Gulf states have been constants of Indian economic life.
How has India strived to utilise the geo-strategic potential of Indo-Pacific?
- The Indo-Pacific ocean system carries an estimated 65 per cent of world trade and contributes 60 per cent of global GDP. Ninety per cent of India’s international trade travels on its waters.
- India’s Indo-Pacific strategy was spoken by Prime Minister in a speech in Singapore in 2018 as the SAGAR doctrine (Security and Growth for All in the Region)
- India plans to support the building of a rules-based regional architecture resting on seven pillars. These are:
- Maritime security
- Maritime ecology
- Maritime resources
- Capacity building and resource sharing
- Disaster risk reduction and management
- Science, technology and academic cooperation
- Trade connectivity and maritime transport
- We have wanted to strengthen security and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific by becoming a net security provider.
- For instance, in peacekeeping efforts or anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden .
- In the past six years, India has provided coastal surveillance radar systems to Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
- All of these countries also use Indian patrol boats, as do Mozambique and Tanzania.
- Defence training programmes have increased.
- Mobile training teams have been deputed to 11 countries from Vietnam to South Africa, as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar in our immediate neighbourhood.
- The Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region has enhanced maritime domain awareness among partner countries.
- HADR missions in the Indo-Pacific in recent years have included Operation Rahat in Yemen in 2015; when India rescued and evacuated 6,710 persons, including 1,947 citizens of over 40 other countries.
- The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), co-founded by India and the United Kingdom in 2019. CDRI is key to India’s regional and global commitment to taking on climate change.
- India has also promoted and contributed to infrastructure, connectivity, economic projects and supply chains in the region, always prioritising the needs of the host community and the ethic of equity, environmental sustainability and social viability.
- International partnerships: India has created partnerships and mechanisms with countries the opportunities, concerns and stakes of which intersect with ours.
- Networks such as Quad, with India, the United States, Japan and Australia as participants, and the India-Japan-US, India-France-Australia and India-Indonesia-Australia trilateral arrangements offer cases in point.
- UK’ has characteristic wisdom and prodigious institutional memory, we hope too that the UK’s strategy will approximate India’s own and long-standing Indo-Pacific vision.