April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

KATCHATHEEVU AND BEYOND, ISLANDS AND INDIA’S NEW GEOPOLITICS

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THE CONTEXT: India’s foreign policy and strategic orientation have undergone significant transformations over the last decade. There has been a notable shift towards engaging with island states and territories, embracing the Indo-Pacific concept, and expanding its geopolitical vocabulary to include regions like Eurasia and Europe. This shift reflects India’s evolving strategic priorities and response to global geopolitical dynamics.

 ISSUES:

  • Embracing the Indo-Pacific: The Indo-Pacific concept, initially met with skepticism in India as an “American plot,” has become a central element of India’s strategic discourse. Deteriorating relations with China and a growing partnership with the United States influenced this shift. The Indo-Pacific strategy emphasizes maritime orientation and includes the Quad alliance with Australia, Japan, and the US.
  • Island Focus: India’s strategic focus has expanded to include significant engagement with island states across the Indo-Pacific region. This includes heightened attention to the Maldives, engagement with Papua New Guinea, infrastructure development in Mauritius, collaboration with Australia, and development projects in the Andaman and Lakshadweep islands.
  • Eurasian Engagement: While the Indo-Pacific represents India’s maritime strategic interests, Eurasia highlights its continental focus. India’s engagement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) underscores its interest in Eurasia, driven by long-standing ties with Russia and the quest for a multipolar world.
  • European Relations: The last decade has seen a significant increase in India’s engagement with Europe, marked by numerous high-level exchanges, growing trade, and strategic partnerships. Europe has emerged as a critical region in India’s foreign policy, with India recognizing the continent’s diversity and the importance of various European regions.
  • Beyond Traditional Regions: India’s strategic imagination has broadened, moving beyond traditional regional concepts to embrace new geographies like Zomia and Khorasan. These regions represent areas of strategic interest due to their geopolitical significance and the challenges they pose.
  • Zomia and Khorasan: The focus on Zomia reflects concerns over centralized state control and the potential for a political vacuum in areas with weak state presence. Khorasan’s significance arises from its historical context and the contemporary challenges of extremist groups and regional instability.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Enhanced Cooperation with Island Nations: India should continue to deepen its strategic and economic ties with island nations across the Indo-Pacific. This includes not only military and security cooperation but also investment in infrastructure, climate resilience, and sustainable development projects.
  • Joint Maritime Initiatives: India could spearhead or participate in more joint maritime initiatives aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation, combating piracy, and enhancing maritime domain awareness. Collaborative efforts in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations can bolster India’s position as a responsible naval power.
  • Active Engagement in the Quad: India should leverage the Quad as a platform for promoting a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. This involves not only security cooperation but also collaboration in areas like vaccine diplomacy, critical technologies, and infrastructure development.
  • Building Regional Consensus: India could work towards creating a broader consensus on the Indo-Pacific vision, engaging with ASEAN and other regional players to ensure that the concept is inclusive and respects the sovereignty and interests of all stakeholders.
  • Diversifying Partnerships in Europe: India should continue to diversify its partnerships within Europe, engaging with different regional blocs and countries based on shared interests in trade, technology, climate action, and security.
  • Strategic Connectivity Projects: India could explore new connectivity projects linking it with Europe through the Middle East, potentially revitalizing the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and exploring new routes that enhance trade and people-to-people ties.
  • Sub-Regional and Trans-Regional Cooperation: Given SAARC’s limitations, India should focus on strengthening sub-regional groupings like BIMSTEC and engaging in trans-regional cooperation that includes Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region. India must develop and engage bilaterally with its neighbors, focusing on economic cooperation and infrastructure development and addressing security concerns through dialogue and collaboration.
  • Engagement with Borderland Regions: India should closely monitor developments in the Zomia and Khorasan regions and engage with relevant countries and international organizations to support stability, development, and counter-terrorism efforts. India could offer strategic and humanitarian assistance to countries in these regions, helping to address the root causes of unrest and supporting efforts towards peace and stability.

THE CONCLUSION:

India’s foreign policy audit reveals a strategic pivot towards maritime orientations and a redefined regional engagement strategy. Addressing the identified issues requires a multifaceted approach that combines strategic partnerships, regional cooperation, and active engagement in emerging geopolitical landscapes.

UPSC PAST YEAR QUESTIONS:

Q.1) Do you think BIMSTEC is a parallel organization like the SAARC? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two? How are Indian foreign policy objectives realized by forming this new organization? 2022

Q.2) The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS aims to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing alliances in the area? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario.  2021

Q.3) Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)’ is transforming itself into a trade bloc from a military alliance in present times – Discuss. 2020

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q.1) Discuss how India’s strategic imagination of the world’s regions has evolved over the last decade and how this has impacted its foreign policy priorities and engagement with various geographies.

SOURCE:

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/elites-need-listen-margins-9248267/

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