IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 1st Oct 2020
The man who says he can, and the man who says he can’t are both correct.– Confucius
EDITORIAL HUNT #166 :“India’s Maritime Strategy in Indo-Pacific Region“
India’s Maritime Strategy in Indo-Pacific Region
Happymon Jacob is Associate Professor, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Time to shift focus to the maritime sphere
India’s obsession with continental strategies has yielded unflattering results — no secure borders or deterrence stability
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : IR : Maritime Security
Great powers remain ever more interested in the maritime sphere and this interest has grown substantially since the coinage of Indo-Pacific. Discuss the role of India in countering adversaries. -(GS 2,3)
- A continental strategy
- Changes in North Western Region
- Maritime Strategy explained .
- CONTINENTAL APPROACH : For a country that has been traditionally obsessed with a continental approach to war and peace, India’s continental ‘grand’ strategy is facing an existential crisis today.
- RECONCILIATION STRATEGY : Given that reconciliation with its key adversaries, China and Pakistan, is unlikely at this point and pursuing its ambitious territorial claims on the ground is almost impossible.
- FEWER OPTIONS : New Delhi’s continental options seem restricted to holding operations to prevent further territorial loss.
STATE OF CONTINENTAL STRATEGY
- CURRENT SITUATION : The current state of India’s continental strategies is hardly flattering.
- MAINTAINING STATUS QUO : Beijing is neither keen on ending the ongoing border stalemate nor reinstating the status quo with India as of March 2020.
- EXPANSIVE TERRITORIAL CLAIMS : The peaceful India-China Line of Actual Control in the Northeast is now a thing of the past with China pushing back New Delhi’s claims on Aksai Chin.
- BITTER WINTER IN HIMALAYA : China has crossed the red line with India and India’s LAC with China is not going to be the same ever again.
- CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS : In the Northwest, Ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) have spiked since last year as has the infiltration of terrorists across the LoC.
- GEOPOLITICAL PLOTTING : Equally important is the geopolitical collusion between Islamabad and Beijing to contain and pressure New Delhi from both sides.
- UNPARALLELED SITUATION : The intensity of the China-Pakistan containment strategy against India today is unprecedented.
- PROSPECT : The extent and intent behind this collusion will determine the future of the high stakes game in the Himalayas for a long time to come.
CHANGES IN AFGHANISTAN
- THE DEPARTURE : The ongoing withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban, with whom India has very little contact, could turn the geopolitical tide against New Delhi.
- CHANGING GEOPOLITICS : The change of the geopolitical landscape in Afghanistan and the frictions in Iran-India relations will further dampen India’s ‘Mission Central Asia’.
- SECURING THE NORTH-WEST : To do so, India would need to deal with the comparatively easier part first — the Pakistan front.
- ADDRESSING THE ISSUES : Pressure from the Pakistan front could be eased by addressing the Kashmir question with Islamabad.
- NORMAL LINES : Creating a modicum of normalcy on the LoC by activating existing mechanisms such as the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) hotline is another way to deal with the Pakistan front.
MARITIME STRATEGY EXPLAINED
- CONTINENTAL FIXATION : New Delhi’s excessive focus on the continental sphere since Independence has not yielded great returns in terms of secure borders, healthy relations with its neighbours.
- CHANGING FOCUS : If so, it is time for India to change its grand strategic approach — by shifting its almost exclusive focus from the continental sphere to the maritime sphere.
- FAST TRACK APPROACH : The work in this direction, both ideational and practical, needs to be fast-tracked to keep pace with the emerging realities and to make use of new opportunities.
A MARITIME GRAND STRATEGY
- WIDE OPPORTUNITIES : The maritime sphere is wide open to India to undertake coalition building, rule setting, and other forms of strategic exploration.
- INDO-PACIFIC REIGION : unlike in the continental sphere, there is a growing great power interest in the maritime sphere, especially with the arrival of the concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’.
- WESTERN INTERESTS : The Euro-American interest in India’s land borders with Pakistan and China is negligible.
- CHINESE UNILATERALISM : Beijing’s bullying behaviour in the South China Sea has generated a great deal of willingness among the Euro-American powers .
- CHECKMATE OPPORTUNITY : This provides New Delhi with a unique opportunity to enhance its influence and potentially checkmate the Chinese ambitions in the region.
- HIMALAYAN MISADVENTURE : But it will certainly provide New Delhi a lot more space for manoeuvre in the region and message Beijing that its Himalayan adventure could become costly for it.
THINK BEYOND A DIVISION
- EXCLUSIVE FOCUS : It is high time New Delhi shifted its almost exclusive focus from the continental space to the maritime space, stitching together a maritime grand strategy.
- CONSOLIDATION OF POWER : New Delhi would do well to ideate on the current and future maritime challenges, consolidate its military and non-military tools.
- STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT : New Delhi should engage its strategic partners, and publish a comprehensive vision document on the Indo-Pacific.
- DIPLOMATIC APPROACH : New Delhi should consider appointing a special envoy for Indo-Pacific affairs.
- BOLD DECISIONS : The Asian geopolitical chessboard awaits bold moves by New Delhi.
Thanks to the massive Chinese trade that happens via the Oceanic routes and the complex geopolitics around the maritime chokepoints which can potentially disrupt the trade If India Jumps in !
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | India’s Maritime Strategy in Indo-Pacific Region