China Watch

India scaling up defence diplomacy in extended neighbourhood

Keeping regional security in mind, India has scaled up its defence cooperation with its extended neighbourhood in the last three years under New Delhi's Neighbourhood First, Act East and Look West policies.
Jan 22, 2019
https://southasiamonitor.org/samfolder/cms/
Keeping regional security in mind, India has scaled up its defence cooperation with its extended neighbourhood in the last three years under New Delhi's Neighbourhood First, Act East and Look West policies.  Informed sources in New Delhi  told IANS there has been an emphasis on defence exports with 'Made in India' products being a priority area.
 
In the Maldives, where political turmoil took much of last year, the Indian establishment is now seeing the situation as getting stable as the Indian Ocean archipelago nation is critical for regional security from New Delhi's perspective.
 
The year 2018 started off on a wrong note in the neighbourhood with then Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, seen to have been distancing himself from India and leaning towards China, imposing a state of emergency in February.
 
Yameen's move was in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling that ordered the release of nine opposition leaders, including former President Mohammed Nasheed.
 
Pro-India Nasheed, who was in exile at that time, requested New Delhi to send an envoy, "backed by its military", to secure the release of judges and political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
 
Though the Indian Army did not set its boots on the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, New Delhi kept calling for restoration of all democratic institutions there.
 
The crisis came to an end in September when Ibrahim Mohammed Solih, put up as the joint opposition candidate, defeated Yameen in the presidential election.
 
After India signed a bilateral action plan with the Maldives in 2016, the country's defence minister is set to visit India later this week.
 
According to the sources, India now has a number of coastal surveillance radar systems (CSRS) in the Maldives.
 
With Bangladesh too, defence diplomacy is on the upswing after Manohar Parrikar became the first ever Indian Defence Minister to visit the eastern neighbour.
 
India has extended a $500-million line of credit (LoC) to Bangladesh to look at Indian defence products.
 
With Sri Lanka too, a similar line of credit has been extended and there has been exchange of visits by high-level military officers between India and the island nation.
 
India is also holding defence dialogues with Myanmar after that country's transition to a civilian-led government following the general elections in 2015.
 
"With Myanmar, we have worked on various issues, especially in the maritime domain," one of the sources familiar with the developments said.
 
Under the Act East Policy, India is building its defence ties with with key Southeast Asian nations like Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.
 
"We now have structured dialogues with Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia," the source mentioned above said.
 
"We have signed an equipment-centred MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the Philippines."
 
Extending further east, India has also boosted its defence ties with Japan and Australia.
 
India, Japan and Australia, along with the US, are part of a quad revived in 2017 that seeks to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacfic, a region that stretches from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa.
 
This comes in the face of China's increasing footprint in the region and Beijing's aggression in the South China Sea.
 
Japan and India have held air force exercises, which is a significant development.
 
The two sides have also set up the first ever joint venture for defence equipment production.
 
With Australia, there has been a considerable forward movement in the last three years, according to the sources.
 
Apart from the armies and navies of the two countries participating in joint exercises, the Indian Air Force also participated in Exercise Pitch Black organised by the Royal Australian Air Force.
 
However, the most remarkable transition in defence ties has been with India's extended neighbourhood towards the west.
 
The low-key defence relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has grown up considerably in the last two to three years.
 
Apart from holding joint naval exercises, the UAE is now looking at India as a potential source of defence equipment.
 
There have been positive outreaches from India to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
 
"We are now exploring the possibility of a joint army exercise with Egypt," one source said.
 
It is learnt that other countries like Jordan and Morocco are also engaging with India in a more active manner, especially in terms of counter-terrorism.
 
India has also boosted its defence cooperation with Central Asian nations like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, according to the sources.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweets about SAMonitor
SAM Facebook
SiteLock