India brings Indo-Pacific and ASEAN Policies under one Unit

Published: September 29, 2020

The Ministry of External Affairs is to create a new Oceania Territorial Division with Australia at the centre. It will integrate ASEAN divisions and the Indo-Pacific within it. This will now align policies in the region stretching western Pacific to Andaman Sea.

Significance

The region targeted by India (western Pacific to Andaman sea) is considered by China as a strategic backyard.

In 2019, India created the Indo-Pacific division to include Indian Ocean Rim Association, QUAD and ASEAN. The Indian Ocean Division was created earlier to bring together Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles. Later Comoros, Madagascar and Reunion Islands were included. These countries are important to India for the following reasons

  • India has its strong Naval Base in Maldives.
  • In 2018, Seychelles and India signed an agreement to build a joint military facility in Assumption Island, Seychelles.
  • Agalega Island of Mauritius was leased to Indian Navy for the development of strategic assets.
  • Reunion Islands is a French Naval Base. In March 2020, India and France conducted joint patrols from Reunion Islands for the first time.
  • India established its first military listening post in foreign soil at Madagascar.

Bases and Stations of India in foreign soil

The following are bases and stations operated by India in foreign soil

  • Tajikistan: Farkhor Air Base. It is operated by Indian Air Force. Apart from India, the other countries to operate military bases from the country are USA, Russia and Germany
  • Bhutan: The Indian Military Training Team is permanently stationed in Bhutan
  • Mauritius: India operates and maintains a coast surveillance radar system
  • Oman: Duqm has been established for Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
  • Seychelles: Coast Surveillance Radar System has been deployed and maintained by India
  • Madagascar: Listening post has been set

India-Australia

The step is being undertaken by India as Australia is currently playing a larger role in the India’s outreach to the region. Australia recently has shown interests in participating in Malabar exercises. It is a military exercise that is held annually between India, US and Japan. With this, the QUAD grouping will become stronger.

India needs International cooperation

With the Chinese increasing their influence in the Indian Ocean, it is essential for India to seek international help to counter the influence. This can be well achieved through QUAD grouping. This is because, the QUAD countries Japan, Australia and USA have similar views as that of India on Chinese aggression in the region.

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