ISSN- 2278-4519
RNI : UPBIL/2012/44732
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India-US Maritime Security Cooperation: Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific

Dr. Kripa Shanker Yadav
Associate Professor & Head
Pawan Kharwar
Assistant Professor
Deptt of Political Science
J. S. P. G. College Sikandrabad, Bulandshahr (U. P.)

This piece of work tries to study the relations of one superpower and another emerging power in international order. The relations of India-US have passed through a roller -coaster character since 1950s. It tries to present a study of the relation between two states.  It observes about the transition from ‘estranged democracies’ to a ‘strategic partnership’ of the relations.The post-Cold War strategic scenario provided a chance to both countries to redefine their bilateral priorities. The study is trying to find out – How the neglected country for almost 50 years got top priority and finally turned to be natural ally. The relations have passed through different stage from ‘neither friend nor enemy’, ‘distanced democracies ‘, ‘engaged democracies’ and finally as ‘natural allies’ with nuclear partnership. This achievement and transformation is not happened overnight. To achieve these, both countries have passed through different states overtime.Indo-US strategic relations were touched new heights when the Obama administration had declared India as a major Defence partner in 2016. The new US President Donald Trump also showed its softness towards India and called Indian Prime Minister Modi as a ‘True Friend of US’.With the rebalancing of the Asia strategy of the Trump Administration, Indo-Pacific as a term began to overlap with that of Asia-Pacific. Though broadly both these terms roughly point to the region east of the Indian subcontinent and beyond, there are fundamental differences between the two that India should not overlook.While Asia-Pacific has an economic overtone to it, Indo-Pacific has evolved within a strategic context and can be said to be a concoction mostly of the West that is rather politically motivated.The paper intends to analyse the Indo-US maritime cooperation through lens of Indo-Pacific.Introduction  Today the Indo-Pacific region is the happening region of the world; it has great nations like Japan, China and India as main historical and cultural players in leadership position of the region. The South China Sea area is an area of Prosperity with China being the biggest Territorial power in the area with an awesome economic clout. A nation that now wishes to use its economic clout to get more territorial  areas on which it has a disputable right, even though it has been struck down by the international court of Justice, but China’s military might will not let the implementation take place in spite of the protests all round. Power and war for territory or trade follow or precede each other in the making of a great nation. The new American Administration says that providing costly security to nation’s world over reduces its expenditure on the American people   by reducing the spending on infrastructure and social facilities. China has picked lots of land in the ocean and developed them into islands, laying claim on them and building them into full-fledged military bases, and claiming the 200 kilometres area around the islands as the UN allows International borders of a nation to be, so in many cases in the area the land of the new Chinese territory overlaps the territorial rights of the neighbouring countries. As per Reuters US officials said   in recent days, speaking on condition of anonymity, “It is not like Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house Sam (missile) batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for” said a US intelligence official, referring to surface-to-air missiles.  In the process, China has robbed the entire region the wrong way. With the US refusing to pick the security of nations the whole world will see a new arms race, both Non – nuclear and nuclear as your neighbour has Nuclear weapons so you should have it for your protection. South Korea, Japan have nuclear capability for peaceful uses of Nuclear energy, to use it for weapons will not be difficult. It is just a change of mind-set. A market India can look at, of course not for first use but defence. As of now Russia and India are also actors in this region as they both are the powers to recon with. Russia after it stopped a free fall in the oil prices has become the mentor of the entire Middle East for both Shia and Sunni people, a great Diplomatic victory for President Putin and Russia. The Indo Pacific region is going to be an area of interest for a long time to come. The new shift may open up unpredictable situations at the backdrop of new alliances in the global and regional arena.Defining the Indo-Pacific The idea of an Indo-Pacific region involves recognizing that the growing economic, geopolitical, and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions are creating a single “strategic system.”At its simplest, this can be understood as a set of geopolitical power relationships among nations where major changes in one part of the system affects what happens in the others. In this sense, the Indo-Pacific can be understood as a maritime “super-region” with its geographical center in Southeast Asia. This should not be mistaken as some kind of effort to reduce the centrality of Asia in regional conceptions; rather, it is a region with maritime Asia at its core. The Indo-Pacific concept underscores the fact that the Indian Ocean has replaced the Atlantic as the globe’s busiest and most strategically significant trade corridor, carrying two-thirds of global oil shipments and a third of bulk cargo. The powerhouse economies of East Asia depend acutely on oil imports across the Indian Ocean from the Middle East and Africa, and this dependence is set to deepen further. Around 80 percent of China’s oil imports, perhaps 90 percent of South Korea’s, and up to 90 percent of Japan’s are shipped from the Middle East and/or Africa through the Indian Ocean. This, in turn, is a major strategic vulnerability, which is influencing diplomacy and partnership building, as well as the hard-power priorities of naval modernization. Together, these developments are making the Indo-Pacific the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity. Japan’s active strategic diplomacy in recent years, including an enhanced security and economic partnership with India and the establishment of a small military base in Djibouti, can be seen as Indo-Pacific in character. Indeed, Japanese policy statements are now frank about declaring that security issues in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, and East China Sea cannot be treated separately; Japan has a stake in all of them. To some degree, the same can even be said of the Republic of Korea, which has undertaken lethal and effective special forces action against pirates in the Gulf of Aden; is developing “blue-water” or oceangoing naval capabilities in part to contribute to the protection of its energy-supply lifelines; and which, since 2011, has deployed 150-strong special-forces contingents to the United Arab Emirates on rotation to train local forces in counter-terrorism and to protect South Korea nationals and interests. The most active power, however, in developing and advocating the Indo-Pacific idea has undoubtedly been Australia. Canberra has a unique role here: it is a middle power in the gathering Indo-Pacific strategic game, in multiple ways. These include its relative diplomatic influence, its unusual two-ocean geography, its proximity to and monitoring oversight of the crucial sea lanes connecting the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and its perceived status as a state that-despite being a close US ally-is also developing important economic, societal, and even security relations with multiple Asian powers. Moreover, Australia has long grappled with its singular status as neither an Asian nor a Western power, perceived as both integral to yet separate from both the Western world and the Asian region. All of this helps explain why Australia has been at the forefront of driving an Indo-Pacific understanding of the region, notably by formally recognizing this as the name of Australia’s zone of strategic interest in its 2013 defense white paper. Australia is the first country to definitively and comprehensively redefine its region as the Indo-Pacific, and this has become a bipartisan view among foreign and security policy leaders, from the 2013 Labor government under Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the current conservative government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.The potential for the middle powers to have influence in an Indo-Pacific setting has also been implicitly recognized in statements by Indonesian leaders since 2013 as well as the way Modi has characterized Australia (“the heart of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region”). As powers between the United States and China continue to explore closer security cooperation with one another, some of them are beginning to couch their connections in terms of shared Indo-Pacific interests. For instance, the low-key but historically important trilateral meeting in mid-2015 between the foreign secretaries of India, Japan, and Australia appears very much to have discussed the region and its security challenges in this shared frame of reference.India-US strategic Engagement in Indo-Pacific India today is finally coming into its own and now surging ahead with the self-confidence that comes with growing capabilities. By expanding our trade with the US significantly and broadening our engagement, most importantly in the Asia-Pacific, the world is acknowledging India’s status as a rising and emerging economic superpower. The Asia Pacific is a highly dynamic and geographical region with a plethora of political, strategic, economic and socio-cultural factors at play. Keeping this in mind, it would be imperative to have a far more constructive regional approach, which is grounded in a balance of power and mutual compromise. Considering this, India needs to step forward and take a more proactive approach, when it comes to shaping the political, economic, social environment in the region. In not doing so, India could lose out on a wonderful opportunity to project itself as a growing strategic power in the region, thereby affecting our geopolitical interests.As we move forward, and India takes on a more proactive role in regional stability, it would only be productive for the US to place a higher priority on helping India achieve its potential. The way ahead would be to jointly invest in a greater coordinated capacity and contribute to a strong security environment in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. According to the AMCHAM – KPMG in India annual report ‘The India-US dynamic – prospering together’, an increased participation from both countries across a broad spectrum of sectors such as aerospace and defence, infrastructure, energy, and so on is imperative. This is key to building a strong framework for significant growth in the India – US partnership. Talking of working across sectors, India today is viewed as a major defence partner of the US. This can be attributed to the fact that we have finalised critical defence agreements such as the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMAO), Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI), and so on with them. The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act is expected to lead to greater industry collaboration on defence co-production and co-development, thereby helping with facilitating the export of goods and technologies for projects, programmes and joint ventures between both nations. This is also expected to enable information sharing, interoperability and technology transfers within both countries. All of this augurs well for us as American companies today are keen to leverage the cost arbitrage component design and manufacture costs in India by seeking opportunities for private partnerships in India’s defence market.As stated in the AMCHAM-KPMG in India annual report ‘The India-US dynamic – prospering together’, both the countries have a $126 billion two-way trading relationship. Our shared vision of the Asia-Pacific region’s strategic outlook would not only bolster our bilateral defence interests, but what would also be imperative is that the US has the foresight to cultivate a strong partnership with a prosperous, confident, and India, a natural ally, basis our shared democratic values. Another key area where both, India and the US can collaborate are promoting a market-driven blue economy. This will essentially lay down the basis for a broad framework for growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to bountiful hydrocarbon, mineral and food resources, as well as mushrooming coastal populations. Given the US’s expertise in maritime architecture, it can support India in creating a robust regional architecture in the area of stability, economic freedom, growth and maritime security.Another aspect which merits particular attention in the India-US partnership is digital connectivity. Using digital as a tool for economic development and empowerment by both the nations can be the conduit to connect close to three billion emerging users in other developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region as well as neighbouring Africa. As digital norms are institutionalised, whether relevant to data flows and ecommerce, or related to critical infrastructure, defence and public services-it offers opportunity for India and the US to build and subsequently provide a feasible working model relationship for the digital economy. The goal should be to create a strong framework that responds to developing-country imperatives such as affordable access, local content generation and cybersecurity. To sum it up, the strategic imperative for a deeper cooperation between the two countries is indisputable. Our list of common challenges and shared opportunities is long. The need of the hour is to strengthen the dialogue, invest more time in regional integration, strengthen regional forums, explore additional multilateral opportunities for engagement and pursue areas where both India and the US can create long-term peace and prosperity for all.Conclusion India does not have to mend her ways to deal with the region as her terms of engagement are perfectly in consonance with the broad principles of the emerging Indo-Pacific. The construct has already helped India in more than one way. First, India got her due recognition as a responsible regional player capable of acting as a net security provider. Second, the close relationship with the US and its treaty allies gave India access to advanced technology, critical resources, and military hardware which was absent during earlier times. Third, as an integral part of the regional architecture, India got an opportunity to not only follow the norms but also to set them. And finally, the construct offered India an additional lever to deal with China. Therefore, any further development of the construct is likely to benefit India.References :1- IndiaUS+Maritime+ Security+Dialogue2-

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