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.
GS-2, GS-3, Internal security, International Relations, Uncategorized

India, Japan, U.S. to hold naval exercises

The Hindu

What happened?

  • In a move that is sure to raise eyebrows in Beijing, four Indian warships will join the navies of the United States and Japan in the second half of June for the next edition of Malabar exercises east of Okinawa, a Japanese island.

Exercise Malabar

  • Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
  • Originally only a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S., Japan became a permanent partner of the exercise in 2015.
  • Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
  • The annual Malabar series began in 1992, and includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers, through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises

Australia wants to join too

  • Australia has repeatedly expressed interest in joining Malabar on a permanent basis and the United States had been pushing its inclusion, but India has so far resisted the move so as not to antagonise China.
GS-2, GS-3, Internal security, International Relations, Uncategorized

Indian maritime challenges and its diplomatic dimensions

India shifts its focus from ‘using’ to ‘securing’ maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.


Scope of discussion

  • Maritime challenges & Our new Maritime Security Strategy
  • Geopolitical aspects of maritime challenges – Fodder for Mains & Essay
  • Indian maritime agencies – Fodder for Prelims
  • Diplomatic dimensions – Fodder for Prelims & Interview
  • Challenges ahead? Mains & Interview

Indian Maritime challenges

India’s maritime geographical position is both an advantage and a challenge. The close proximity of international shipping lanes to India’s coasts attracts other powerful countries too to try to dominate and, thus, create the potential situation of confrontation with India.

India’s own strategic interests made it pay attention to waters beyond its immediate proximity.Late 2015, we released our new edition of Maritime Security Strategy. Contrast the aggressiveness vis a vis the older strategy document released in 2007:

  • 2015 – Ensuring Secure Seas
  • 2007 – Freedom to Use the Seas
source: nausena-bharti.nic.in

This is the third maritime guidance document since 1998 and the most comprehensive account of India’s nautical imperatives, challenges, strengths and opportunities. Here’s why we say so:

#1. India has accepted the concept of “Indo-Pacific” in India’s maritime security. This essentially brings the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific – theaters of geo-political competition  into one strategic arc and broadens our focus.

#2. The latest Maritime Security Strategy (2015) enhanced its definition of primary & secondary areas of maritime interest – 

  • Primary – Coastal areas, islands, EEZ, the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, their littorals, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, various choke points and their littorals, SLOCs and energy and resource interests

  • Secondary – Various seas outside the Indian Ocean Region

South-west Indian Ocean and the Red Sea were formally under the secondary area of interest. In defining the areas of interest, the navy’s intention is to outline the geographic extension of its strategic influence and give an indication of its involvement in those areas.

#3. Aim to become the “net security provider” to island states in the Indian Ocean. What does that mean?

As per the document, the term net security describes the state of actual security available in an area, upon balancing against the ability to monitor, contain, and counter all of these.

#4. The strategy emphasises the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and strengthening the international legal regime at sea, particularly UNCLOS.


Geopolitical aspects of maritime challenges

  1. Indian strategists are, naturally, paying attention to developments practically in all waters due to the country’s growing international profile
  2. Their growing concern is regarding tensions rising in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Mediterranean
  3. The Indian Ocean remains largely peaceful but has an unstable littoral
  4. Pakistan has declared its intention to put its nuclear weapons at sea which raises the prospect of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Jihadis
  5. We face a mix of the ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ challenges – IT, biotechnology, race for natural resources etc.

To read more on how India has evaluated its prospects in Indian ocean, read this article on Blue Economy


 

Indian maritime agencies

#1. Indian Navy – It aims to be the ‘net security provider’ in the maritime neighbourhood, including deployments for anti-piracy, maritime security, NEO (Non-combatant Evacuation Operations) and HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operations

#2. Coast Guard – The Coast Guard protects India’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) from criminals, pirates, smugglers, poachers, human-traffickers and foreign subversion.

#3. Coastal police – The role of the coastal police gained prominence following the Mumbai terror attacks of November, 2008. confines its activities to largely coastal waters up to 24 nautical miles.

#4. Ocean affairs – Ministry of Earth sciences (2006) is responsible for development of technology for exploitation and exploration of marine resources, weather services, climate change and geo-hazards


Diplomatic dimensions

  1. India has cooperated well in anti-piracy operations, played a key role in IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), launched IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, 2008) and shaped BIMSTEC and MGC (Click to read)
  2. Prime Minister’s articulation of India’s ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR), on 12 March, 2015, highlights both security framework for the Indian Ocean as well as regional integration with emphasis on Ocean Economy
  3. Japan’s inclusion into the MALABAR exercises
  4. Navy has also carried out Non-combatant Evacuation operations in Libya (2011), Kuwait (2014) and Yemen (2015)
  5. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations such as cyclone relief (in 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2014)

Did you know: In August 2013, a dedicated communications satellite for the navy, GSAT-7, was launched for surveillance purposes


What are the challenges ahead?

  1. The navy’s fleet is ageing, with an estimated 60% of vessels reported to have reached various stages of obsolescence
  2. The Scorpene-class submarine is the first to be acquired in 16 years, in an attempt to stabilise the fleet’s fast-dwindling numbers
  3. The navy is 16% below strength in officer ranks and 11% below strength in non-commissioned ranks
  4. In August 2013, the navy suffered its worst peacetime accident when an ex-Russian Kilo-class conventional submarine sank in Mumbai’s naval dockyard, killing 18 personnel

 

Questions for you

  1. Since we are talking about maritime security, comment on the point of convergence and divergence of Project Mausam & Project Sagarmala
  2. “Net security provider” – This term would have crossed your reading sphere in our dealings with US (defence ties) as well. Is India showing promising signs in becoming one? What has been our progress on this front (land, air, sea)
  3. Since we revised our maritime document very recently and increased the ambit of Primary & Secondary areas of interest – find & locate them on the world map (for Prelims’ sake!)
Big Picture, GS-2, Internal security, International Relations, Uncategorized

Militarizing the South China Sea

There are reports that China has placed surface to air missile batteries in the Woody Island, a link in the chain of Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Woody Island has been claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. However, the island is under the control of China since 1974. Islands and rock formations in the South China Sea are subject to claims by number of surrounding countries. However, to strengthen its claims China has been extending its coastline by building on reefs and rock formations. The US, Australia and Vietnam have accused China of militarizing the region. However, China has hit back by saying that US is the main reason for the militarization of this region. It should be noted here that recently a US naval ship sailed close to the disputed area in the South China Sea. It is also significant to note that this region witnesses around 5 trillion dollar worth international trade passing through it annually.

Some experts argue that China’s spectacular economic rise accompanied by its increased military strength and spending is the real concern for the rest of the world, especially the US. China, too, is willing to push western countries out from the western Pacific Ocean. However, Philippines and Vietnam are not happy with the recent increased Chinese assertion. China, however, defends this action citing historical connections. But, this has certainly raised concerns among other countries.

Roughly, 12 nautical miles from the coast is considered as sovereign zone of any country. According to UNCLOS, 200 nautical miles is considered as EEZ. However, the problem here is that China, Vietnam and Philippines have a concept called as Territorial Sea, which means whatever their claims are no country can enter into this zone, be it military or civilian vessels. And this is the problem for international trade. International vessels going through this region have to take the permission of these countries.

 

Why is the United States so interested in what goes on in the South China Sea?

Officially, the United States holds that freedom of navigation is important. But, few experts argue that US is doing all these things just to suppress China. Fundamentally the United States will not allow a challenger to replace it, either regionally or globally.

 

Why does China want to control the South China Sea?

Control of the South China Sea would allow China to dominate a major trade route through which most of its imported oil flows. It would also allow China to disrupt, or threaten to disrupt, trade shipments to all countries in East and Southeast Asia — as well as deny access to foreign military forces, particularly the United States. The floor of the South China Sea may contain massive oil and natural gas reserves. Sovereignty over the region could give China a level of energy security and independence far beyond what it currently possesses.

 

The dispute between the United States and China is likely to escalate to some degree. U.S. Pacific Command planners are preparing to sail and fly again within 12 nautical miles of areas that China claims as sovereign territory. However, China has stated that it will defend what it considers its territorial limit. If the Chinese government blinks, it could suffer domestically due to the loss of face for the Communist Party. If the United States wavers, it will risk perpetuating the impression, among U.S. partners and allies, that it lacks resolve in light of its policy in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. The stakes are high for both sides, as is the risk of a miscalculation. The United States is marshaling major allies in the region to take a role, in the hope that the combined weight of U.S., Japanese and Australian forces will give China pause.

Editorials, GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

A, B, C of Blue Economy

“Blue Economy”:
The oceans, which have always been a source of livelihood, trade, colonialism, storms and piracy, present opportunities and challenges. 

What is Blue Economy?

The newly set up Blue Economy Strategic Thought Forum India, under the auspices of the National Maritime Foundation defines the blue economy as “marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.

The blue economy, as distinct from the blue-water economy, encompasses in it the “green economy”, with focus on the environment, and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”, with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development.

Advantage of Blue economy:

The central principle of the blue economy is the idea of cascading nutrients and energy the way ecosystems do. Cascading energy and nutrients leads to sustainability by reducing or eliminating inputs, such as energy, and eliminating waste and its cost, not just as pollution, but also as an efficient use of materials.

The book The Blue Economy: 10 Years — 10 Innovations —100 Million Jobs by Gunter Pauli, 2010,contains fascinating innovations to open a new world of production and lifestyle. These game-changing ideas will entice entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, these innovations have the potential to increase rather than shed jobs, as emulating natural systems will mean the deployment of humans rather than machines. Ideas like eliminating air in freezing water, use of food-grade ingredients as fire retardants, growing mushrooms with coffeeshop waste, silk as a replacement of titanium, electricity generated by walking and talking, etc, are mind-boggling.

Maritime Mining and Laws:

The euphoria over marine mining (manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean floor) led to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority. The UNCLOS, the “constitution of the seas”, which came into force in 1994, became the basis for the legal rights for mining in the open sea. The interest in seabed mining flagged because of escalating costs, but it’s being revived on account of the demand for minerals and metals in industrial development, particularly in China, Japan and India.

Indian Ocean:
Today, India is working with the states in the Indian Ocean region and others to strengthen security and economic cooperation. The re-emergence of piracy has added a new dimension. The new focus on the Asia-Pacific highlights the security and economic dimensions. The US rebalancing of forces and counter-measures by China have created a new cold war. New partnerships are in the making in the Asia-Pacific, seeking Indian participation by competing powers. The blue waters of the Indian Ocean have become a new theatre of tension. 

The blue-water economy will become central to the development of the entire region. Our competition with China is likely to be exacerbated by the competition for a piece of the blue economy, as evidenced in Bangladesh.

Recent conversations on Blue Economy

  1. Both the traditional blue-water economy and the new blue economy are important for India’s sustainable development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed the blue economy during his visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
  2. PM Modi spoke of the blue economy to Saarc leaders. In September 2015, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) hosted the first Ministerial Blue Economy Conference and identified priorities
  3. Goal 14 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” — makes detailed references to the reduction of marine pollution, conservation of coastal and marine areas and regulated fish harvest.

India can profitably integrate its ongoing programmes like Make in India, smart cities, skill development and self-reliance in defence. Delhi’s forthcoming chairmanship of the BRICS will offer a splendid opportunity to highlight the cooperation needed for the blue economy.


Blue economy has been a buzzword for few years now. It was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his 2010 book,The Blue Economy: 10 Years — 10 Innovations —100 Million Jobs. It has opened new avenues for bilateral and multilateral work, involving the environment, energy, defence and food production.

  • The oceans, which have always been a source of livelihood, trade, colonialism, storms and piracy, present opportunities and challenges.
  • Professionals connected with the oceans, including the negotiators of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), have been prominent since the 1980s.

What is Blue Economy?

The newly set up Blue Economy Strategic Thought Forum India defines the Blue Economy as “marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.

  • It refers to a healthy ocean, supporting higher productivity. The current focus is confined to marine products, including minerals, as if this is all it concerns. The concept of blue economy is much broader and encompasses even maritime activities, such as shipping services.
  • Blue economy infrastructure is environment-friendly because larger cargo consignments can move directly from the mothership to the hinterland through inland waterways, obviating the need for trucks or railways.

Difference between Blue Economy and Blue-Water Economy:

The blue economy, as distinct from the blue-water economy, encompasses in it the “green economy”, with focus on the environment, and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”, with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development.

Significance of the Blue Economy:

The central principle of the blue economy is the idea of cascading nutrients and energy the way ecosystems do.Cascading energy and nutrients leads to sustainability by reducing or eliminating inputs, such as energy, and eliminating waste and its cost, not just as pollution, but also as an efficient use of materials.

  • The Blue Economy will promote innovations and open a new world of production and lifestyle. These changes will in turn entice entrepreneurs. They also have the potential to increase rather than shed jobs, as emulating natural systems will mean the deployment of humans rather than machines.
  • Ideas like eliminating air in freezing water, use of food-grade ingredients as fire retardants, growing mushrooms with coffeeshop waste, silk as a replacement of titanium, electricity generated by walking and talking, etc, are mind-boggling.
  • Goal 14 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” — too makes detailed references to the reduction of marine pollution, conservation of coastal and marine areas and regulated fish harvest.

Maritime diplomacy:

Maritime diplomacy had its heyday back in the 1980s, with the sensational discovery of manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean floor. The euphoria over marine mining led to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority.

  • The UNCLOS, the “constitution of the seas”, which came into force in 1994, became the basis for the legal rights for mining in the open sea.
  • The interest in seabed mining flagged because of escalating costs, but it’s being revived on account of the demand for minerals and metals in industrial development, particularly in China, Japan and India.

India and the Maritime Diplomacy:

The Indian Ocean has been a fulcrum of Indian diplomacy since Independence. During the Cold War, India was extremely active in the UN Adhoc Committee on the Indian Ocean in its bid to keep the Indian Ocean a Zone of Peace, which, in essence, meant keeping the Indian Ocean free of great-power rivalry.

  • But the littoral and hinterland states differed on the meaning of the zone. Many sought the presence of external powers to counter India’s growing strength. But even at that time, cooperation for ocean resources was a priority.
  • Today, India is working with the states in the Indian Ocean region and others to strengthen security and economic cooperation. However, the re-emergence of piracy has added a new dimension.
  • The new focus on the Asia-Pacific highlights the security and economic dimensions. The US rebalancing of forces and counter-measures by China have created a new cold war. New partnerships are in the making in the Asia-Pacific, seeking Indian participation by competing powers. The blue waters of the Indian Ocean have become a new theatre of tension.

OBOR and India:

The Chinese initiative — one belt, one road (Obor) — is a $150 billion grandiose development strategy and framework for China to push for a bigger role in global affairs and to increase its exports.

  • Some see it as an opportunity for India, others as a challenge. Hence, the choice has to be made cautiously, balancing our security concerns about an expanding China with economic engagement.
  • Given the history of Sino-Indian relations, it’s difficult to look at Obor as a benign initiative. But it will be difficult to stay out of a new global highway linking Asia with Europe.

Importance of Regional Organizations:

The importance of regional organizations has increased in the context of the blue economy. PM Modi recently spoke of the blue economy to Saarc leaders.

  • In September 2015, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) hosted the first Ministerial Blue Economy Conference and identified priorities.

Way ahead:

In the coming years, the blue-water economy will become central to the development of the entire Asia-pacific region. Also, India’s competition with China is likely to be exacerbated by the competition for a piece of the blue economy, as evidenced in Bangladesh.

  • India’s neighbourhood policy too assumes primary importance in light of the blue economy. India can profitably integrate its ongoing programmes like Make in India, smart cities, skill development and self-reliance in defence.
  • Delhi’s forthcoming chairmanship of the BRICS will offer a splendid opportunity to highlight the cooperation needed for the blue economy.

Conclusion:

India is no longer hesitant about taking a larger responsibility for securing the Indian Ocean, promoting regional mechanisms and working with great powers like the United States and France with which India now shares many interests. India has also initiated a new process of multilateralism in ocean politics by gluing together security and the blue economy. However, the action on the ground remains to be seen.