Analyze the factors, that are driving a global shift towards the Indo-Pacific region. Discuss in the context of evolving discourse on the region. Also, discuss the opportunities and challenges in this regard.

The Indo-Pacific region accounts for 62% of the world’s population and 65% of global GDP. Further, it accounts for 46% of the global merchandise trade.

Factors driving the shift towards the region:

  • Economic Importance – As 80% of offshore oil trade passes through the region and 40% of offshore oil production occurs in the Indian ocean.
  • The rise of Asian Economies is also a factor in the shift towards Indo-Pacific.
  • New strategic ground – With the emergence of China and its aggressive tactics, it has become the ground for competition for global dominance. More than 120 warships of foreign nations are present in the region.
  • The occurrence of criminal activities like piracy, smuggling, drug trafficking, etc needs to be tackled.
  • Environment – As the Indian ocean is warming 3 times faster than the rest of the world, scientific interest is also shifting towards the region.

India’s Interests in the region:

  • Trade – 50% of India’s trade passes through the region, having important choke points like the strait of Malacca.
  • Strategic – India’s position of a net security provider through SAGAR and its hegemony in the region.
  • Role in crime prevention and disaster relief. India has played the role of 1st responder in disasters, e.g: operation Neer for the Maldives.
  • Global groupings like QUAD have increased India’s military capabilities to counter China.

Challenges for India:

  • Rise of China in the region and BRI of China.
  • The string of pearls by china around India in form of military bases.
  • The shift of Russia towards China & Pakistan.
  • Non-functional SAARC and weak BIMSTEC.
  • Limited financial capacity.

Thus, there is a need for India to maintain strategic autonomy and ensure its interests in the Indo-pacific region.

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