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Indo-Pacific division

Topic covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Indo-Pacific division

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About Indo- Pacific division and key facts related, Shangri- La dialogue.
  • For Mains: Need, significance and potential of regional blocks, challenges posed by them.

 

Context: India has set up an Indo-Pacific division in the foreign office.

The division will integrate the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Asean region and the Quad to the Indo-Pacific table.

 

Significance:

MEA’s territorial divisions are crucial for policy making, so the creation of an Indo-Pacific division is a big step by the government. The new division is intended to give a coherent architecture to the policy, which was articulated by PM Narendra Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018.

 

Why is Indo- Pacific region significant for India?

India is planning to put greater energy to the IORA because the heart of its Indo-Pacific policy is rooted in the Indian Ocean. This integrates the blue economy part of the Indian policy with the security part.

In its Indo-Pacific diplomacy, India has repeatedly placed Asean at the centre of its policy. Asean by itself does not actually speak as a united entity, particularly when confronted by China’s overwhelming presence, for, while Asean is wary of China, it is equally wary of the US and its allies, preferring to keep the Asean region outside great power politics. It is this that India wants to address and engage with. Singapore, Vietnam and now Indonesia are key partners in the region for India. This will also involve the Quad and taking this new grouping to the region.

 

What constitutes Indo- Pacific region and why a cooperation among countries is necessary?

Countries falling in the direct hinterland of the vast Indian and Pacific oceanic expanse are termed ‘Indo-Pacific countries’. It is a multipolar region, contributing more than half of the world’s GDP and population. The motivation for a larger bloc always comes from the sheer size, resources it owns, and, the scope and size of the economies of scale that it can generate. This is, in fact, a region in which several Asian powers are once again rising, especially in geo- economic terms.

An encouraging attribute of the Indo-Pacific construct is that it is driven by a host of developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) and some important developed countries such as Japan, US and Australia. It is, thus, a near-perfect case of a multipolarity, which not only motivates greater South-South cooperation but also promotes North-South cooperation.

It has several important regional trading blocs, many of which have implemented free trade agreements (FTAs) in goods and services and some of which have even been elevated to the Customs Union.

The attributes of the Indo-Pacific are also highly appealing. The region comprises at least 38 countries that share 44 percent of world surface area and 65 per cent of world population, and account for 62 per cent of world–GDP and 46 per cent of the world’s merchandise trade.

 

Challenges:

Indo-Pacific has all ingredients to generate regional trade and investment opportunities, thereby benefitting the people of the region. However, the region is highly heterogeneous in terms of economic size and level of development, with significant differences in security establishments and resources. It also faces complex challenges in terms of economy, security and the environment.

 

Need of the hour:

The maintenance of peace, stability and security in, upon and over the seas; unimpeded lawful commerce; freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the oceanic and air space; and the protection and preservation of marine resources, as well as a sustainable and responsible fishery–framework, are all critical towards building a regional consensus on maritime security and cooperation in Indo-Pacific.

 

What is the Shangri-La Dialogue?

The dialogue also called as IISS Asia Security Summit was launched in 2002 by British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Singaporean government. This annual dialogue brings together defence ministers and military chiefs from 28 Asia-Pacific countries to talk about security in the region. It gets its name from the location of the meeting, the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore.

 

Mains Question: To fulfil ambitions in Indo-Pacific and beyond, India must work for a cohesive South Asia. Comment.

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