Dynamism in India-U.S. Ties - Daily Current Affair Article

Why in News:

  • In November, a congressional delegation (CODEL) led by U.S. Senator John Cornyn travelled to the Indo-Pacific Command countries including India, Philippines and Taiwan.
  • The delegation noted the “increasing convergence of strategic interests” between India and the U.S. and pointed out for enhancing further cooperation and to promote global peace and stability.

Indo – Pacific Command:

  • Indo-Pacific is a single strategic construct linking the contiguous waters of the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
  • The Indo-Pacific construct means different things to different people.
  • For the US, it extends up to the west coast of India which is also the geographic boundary of the US Indo-Pacific command whereas
  • For India it includes the entire Indian Ocean and the western Pacific.
  • The ASEAN countries look at Indo-Pacific as a consociational model (means turning fragmented political culture into stable one) , thus bringing in China not only for the sake of giving it some stakeholder ship but looking for ways to cooperate with it in the region.

Strategic significance of Indo-Pacific region for India:

  • Strategic significance: Indio-Pacific is a multipolar region, contributing more than half of the world’s GDP and population. A stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region is an important pillar of India’s strategic partnership with the other countries especially USA.
  • Mineral Resources: Maritime territories have emerged as depositories of vital resources ranging from fish stocks to minerals and offshore oil and gas. The South China Sea, for instance, is estimated to hold some 10% of the global fish resources as well as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of gas.
  • Economic Growth: According to a report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), countries in the Indo-Pacific produce over 60% of global GDP, making the region the largest single contributor to global growth. Thus, the region is important for India’s economic growth and aim of reaching a $5 trillion economic goal.
  • Commerce: The region consists of many of the world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca which is very critical for the growth of the world economy. The Indo-Pacific region also stands at the intersection of international trade, with around 32.2 million barrels of crude oil pass through annually and 40% of global exports come from the region.
  • Maritime Trade: Pacific islands are strategically significant from New Delhi’s point of view as they sit astride important sea lines of communication through which important maritime trade is conducted.
  • Connectivity: 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.
  • Chinese threat: China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military demand rule-based order to secure India’s interests and free trade. In the present time, the control of sea lanes and ports would be the game.
  • Freedom of navigation: It is important to adhere to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment. Also for free sea and air lanes, connectivity and upholding international rules and norms.

Defense Agreements Signed Between India and USA

The USA has signed 4 important military agreements with India. These agreements are usually signed by the USA with its defense allies for smoother military cooperation. The list of agreements are given below.

1. General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) – It was signed in 2002, to facilitate sharing military intelligence between India and the USA.

  • GSOMIA paved the way for greater technology cooperation in the military sector.
  • It allows the sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Government of India and Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) but not with Indian private companies.

2. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) – It was signed in 2016, as per this agreement. India and USA can use each other’s military bases to carry out repairs and for resupplying.

  • It gives both the nations access to each other’s military facilities. But it does not make it automatic or obligatory.
  • It is a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation.
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. Any other requirement has to be agreed upon by both sides on a case-by-case basis.

3. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) – This agreement is to share and secure communications exchange between 2 nations during training exercises and operations.

  • COMCASA is meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the U.S. to India.
  • This would facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use U.S. origin systems for secured data links.

4. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) It is signed on October 27th 2020, India and the United States signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement – BECA.

  • It was signed during the third round of 2+2 dialogue.
  • It facilitates exchange of geospatial information. It would set a framework through which the US could share sensitive data to aid targeting and navigation with India.

These agreements can bring military advantage to India though they have been politically contentious. Also, it is feared that they may undermine India’s military autonomy.

Conclusion:

  • Indo Pacific is a strategic space which offer a number of challenges and opportunities for India and all other stakeholders.
  • Appropriate diplomatic maneuvering and economic and military assertion is vital for the implementation of India’s interests in the region along with leveraging the space as a building block for a multipolar world order.

Sources:

General Studies Paper 2 & 3
  • International Relations, Agreements involving India and/or effecting India’s interest

Key phrases: Indo-Pacific, single strategic construct, convergence of strategic interests, global peace and stability, multipolar region ,fish stocks ,oil and gas, blue economy , rule-based order , economic and military assertion

Mains Model Question:

  • Discuss the strategic significance of Indo-Pacific region along with recent developments in relations between India-US relations?