Maritime transport is an important factor not only for economic development but also from a security perspective. The research paper starts with an introduction to the Indo-Pacific region and its geographic location and characteristics. With different defence cooperation made to govern the Indo-Pacific region. Then dwelling on the understanding of the same region from different dimensions and analysing the dynamics of one of the most important strategic locations Analysing the situation from India’s perspective Knowing the benefits that await India’s attention as well as the challenges that need to be solved through diplomacy or other strategic defence corporations
The research papers highlight how, over the last few decades, the Indo-Pacific region has gained importance and is emerging as an important strategic location. The role of defence corporations is to handle these challenges. Being part of these defence strategies can help India in not only securing the Indo-Pacific from security loopholes but can also assist in gaining economic as well as diplomatic advantages over the Indo-Pacific region.
As Kautaliya mentions in his Arthashastra, ” maritime security is evolving as an important and relevant aspect of securing a nation.” Following India, it promotes the security and prosperity of the country through the maritime region. India is located at the head of the Indian Ocean and is an important player in the Indo-Pacific. It becomes necessary for the country itself to get involved in defence cooperation to bolster its role in the strategic region.
Indo-Pacific is the region covering the vast stretch of Indian and Pacific oceans bordering twenty-four nations. The region has been stretched from the eastern coast of Africa to the western coast of the Americas. Encompassing the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is a strategically important location because of countries like the United States of America, India, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, and other growing nations.
The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is not in use and is not globally accepted; instead, the term ‘Asia-Pacific’ is relevant and is used by countries like Russia and China. Until Karl Haushofer articulated his view in his academic paper titled ‘Geopolitik des Pazifischen Ocean’ (Geopolitics of the Indian Ocean), stating about the term ‘Indo-Pacific’, Further, in 2007, the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, expressed his views on the strategic location of the Indo-Pacific at the ‘Confluence of Two Seas’ in the Indian Parliament.
The region turns out to be economically significant due to the presence of the Malacca Strait, Sunda Strait, and Strait of Hormuz, which are known as the busiest points of global trade as well as global choke points. The region does face maritime security concerns such as piracy, territorial disputes, and issues raised due to naval powers present in the region. The region is strategically competitive as these growing economies try their best to establish their influence over it. In contemporary times, the region has been facing the issue of climate change and environmental vulnerabilities.
Defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region has been playing a crucial role in extracting maximum benefit for the good of mutually agreed countries. From the Indian context, we can observe that the relevance to the importance of the Indo-Pacific emerged in the late 1990s, when the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was launched in 1997 with the purpose of fostering regional economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Defence cooperation working in Indo-Pacific
India in the Indo-Pacific region, being the advocate of a free and open Indo-Pacific, needs to have a rule-based order over the region, and all the stakeholders in the region need to have an equal say over the opportunities. The relevance of the Indo-Pacific began in the late 20th century with the formation of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in 1997. envisioning the idea of fostering economic development in the Indo-Pacific Ocean Region (IOR). Further in the 21st century, we can observe that in the year 2014, India became part of the Forum for India-Pacific Ocean Island Cooperation (FIPIC), which became a regional defence cooperative dialogue between India and the other 14 Pacific nations. In the year 2015, India embarked on the formation of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). Followed by Indo-Pacific construction in the year 2018 to secure the eastern and western fronts of the Indian Ocean.
Coming to the other defence cooperation in which India has been playing the role of a key member, we can observe the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) involving India, the United States of America, Australia, and Japan with a major aim of defence cooperation, discussing security challenges and common challenges hampering the countries in the Indo-Pacific region. practising military cooperation and defence practice, namely in the Malacca military exercise involving India, the United States of America, and Japan.
India’s involvement with ASEAN is of great importance. In the recent 20th India-ASEAN summit, we can observe how extensive deliberation takes place over the partnership between the two, further fostering the ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This gives important reference to ASEAN’s strategic location as well as its being at the core of the Indo-Pacific region. Mutual ideas were shared for robust connectivity, trade, digital transformation, multimodal connectivity, the eco-corridor link, the blue economy, and food security.
Coming close to home, we can observe India’s trilateral missions with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. We can observe military exercises like DOSTI, which has been conducted since 2012 and was initiated in 1991. There are security meet-ups like the Colombo Security Conclave, which upholds the objective of maritime peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
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