GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India, US and an eastward tilt

Indian Express

Issue

  • India-US foreign Policy

Context

  • Author has raised a question that, Why does India-US military cooperation not include northern Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf — a region of great importance for India’s security?

Background

  • The US is pressing India to sign a number of what it calls “foundational agreements” to operationalise India’s military commitments implicit in the Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean arrived at during President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015.

US has ignored India in the  Arabian sea and the Persian Gulf

  • India is dealt with in the US politico-military system by the Pacific Command, headquartered in Hawaii, and whose responsibilities extend up to Diego Garcia.
  • The Central Command, headquartered in Florida, “looks after” the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Technically speaking , the Joint Strategic Vision should cover northern Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
  • But US has shown lukewarm approach to an Indian connection in Afghanistan or, for that matter, the Persian Gulf and the Saudi peninsula.
  • Whereas it has shown eagerness for Indian participation in action in the South China Sea.

Importance of  northern Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf for India

  • Both from the geo-economic and geo-strategic view, this is the most important external region for India’s security.
  • We source 70 per cent of our oil from there, and 7 million Indian citizens working there send back $30 billion in remittances.
  • As our energy needs increase, this area will only become more important.
  • In the past, we have had to carry out large-scale evacuations of our nationals because of war-like situations in this region, most recently from Yemen in 2015. The prognosis for the stability of the whole region is not particularly good.
  • Yet, somehow, there are no drills, joint exercises or planning between the US, which is the dominant power, with a fleet headquartered in Bahrain, and India for conflict contingencies.
  • India should  keep national interest firmly in mind.

Where do we need US?

  • Given the rapid rise of China and our own considerable difficulties with Beijing, having the US as a security partner is useful.
  • But India does not really need the US for its existential security, certainly not from any direct threat from China.
  • India  needs the US as a guarantor of a secure and stable world system, but especially as a security provider in the Persian Gulf region, where we have no military capacity.

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