Making the US-India Partnership the Prime Axis of the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region has emerged as a new pivot point in the new global order.The Indo- Pacific stretches from the tropical water of the Indian ocean to the eastern side of the Pacific sea. Though the circumference has its geographical and economical value, the recent aggression of the PRC(China)has reiterated its strategic value. Indo-Pacific democracies like Australia ,Indonesia and India or even smaller countries want to see this region free,open, connected and resilient.


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Importance of the Region

Economically, the Indo-Pacific is a focal point of worldwide exchange and business, and hence a possible area of financial flourishing for the nations in the locale. It represents 65% of the total populace, 63% of the world's GDP, and 46 percent of the world's product trade..The locale likewise rules 50% of the world's oceanic trade.


Security Cooperation

The Indo-Pacific has arisen as a conspicuous geostrategic scene as of late, particularly considering China's developing presence in the locale. The locale has seen the multiplication of multilateral and minilateral stages for collaboration and discourse among different partners, like the Quadrilateral security exchange (Quad) of India, the US, Australia, and Japan; the India-Australia-Japan and the India-Indonesia-Australia trilaterals; and the recently constituted AUKUS, a collusion of Australia, the UK, and the US. While these gatherings focus on essential security worries, they can possibly extend their participation to areas like the economy.


Environmental Concerns

Countries in the Indo-Pacific have been the victim of various natural and anthropogenic disasters.There is huge need of collective rehabilitation and management in the regional level to at least minimise the losses. The necessity to expand the scope of environmental governance to include risk mitigation or rehabilitation measures in response to disasters like oil spills or chemical leaks into the high seas has been brought to light by several occurrences over the previous two years. These variables not only pose a major risk to environmental security due to the decline in underwater life quality and other ecosystem services they sustain, but they are also essential to many different economic sectors in the region, including the luxury travel sector in the Maldives. International legal criteria are a good place to start in order to guarantee the collective sustainable use of the high seas. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) implemented regulatory restrictions on the amount of sulphur in ship fuels in 2020, requiring international stakeholders.


Why is the US Concerned

The US considers itself as an indo-pacific power. The US wants to maintain its hegemony in the region . Recent chinese aggression in the region is putting america to recalibrate its allies in the region.The Indo-Pacific region is crucial to the security and prosperity of the United States, as has long been understood. Our relationships were established two centuries ago when Americans travelled to the area in search of business opportunities, and they deepened once Asian immigrants started coming to the US. The Second World War served as a reminder to the United States that only by having a secure Asia could we have a safe nation. As a result, during the post-World War II era, the United States strengthened its ties with the region by entering into binding treaty alliances with Thailand, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Australia. These agreements laid the groundwork for regional security that allowed democracies to flourish. As the United States sponsored the leading institutions in the area, notably the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), those connections deepened;

Growing Chinese strategic clout in the region is also a matter of concern for the autonomy and trade of smaller countries in the region. Beijing has recently ignored the South China Sea territorial claims made by its neighbours, creating improvised islands and establishing no-fly zones all throughout the region. Although some of China's claims have been contested in international courts, Beijing has disregarded any decision that didn't support its position.Consistently expressing its disdain was the Obama administration. America wants to maintain “integrated deterrence”.It will form the cornerstone of the US security plan for the region and it will drive intivesd that reinforce deterrence and counter coercion

In february 2022, US introduced its New declassified strategy document for the Indo-Pacific.The document underscores the “strategic necessity” of the American role in the region as the Indo-Pacific is vital to our security and prosperity.


A factcheck on the strategy said that the administration ‘s vision is to more firmly anchor the United States in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the region in the process.The strategy placed the United States's attention on the number of significant challenges that he Indo-Pacific region is faced with, partly those posed by the PRC.The United States will prioritise five goals in the Indo-Pacific region—each in conjunction with our allies, partners, and regional institutions. We will work to advance free and open Indo-Pacific trade and cooperation, build connections within and beyond the region, drive regional prosperity, and bolster regional security.


The US will continue to develop a strategic partnership in which the United States and India cooperate with one another and through multilateral organisations to develop stability in South Asia, deepen our economic and technological cooperation, and contribute to a free and open India. It will also work cooperatively in different innovations like health, space, and cyberspace. We acknowledge that India is a leader in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, an active participant in and connected to Southeast Asia, a driving force behind the Quad and other regional fora, and a direct cause for regional success and development.


This Biden document is the third of its kind, following similar documents from the Obama and the Trump administration.The strategies are hardly new. Policies set in the document have continuity with previous administration’s strategies. These include a focus on challenges from China, advancing the U.S. relationship ,a major defensive partnership with India and supporting its role as a net security provider in the region. There is an emphasis on working with other countries not just from the region but also from the beyond..US see Indo-Pacific that is free open ,connected and resilient. The main goals of the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) are the following: Ensuring unimpeded commerce, creation of a free and open order in Indo-Pacific and most important, countering Chinese aggression. The document finds India to be the prime ally in the region. Emphasizing the importance of India, the Assistant Secretaries of State for the Bureau of East and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritnbrik and Donald lu said that “India is more than just a partner.We work more closely with India on daily basis than any country in the region”.


India’s Role


The US continues to support India’s rise and regional leadership. The US wants to explore more drivers to work with india bilaterally and through groups on the ranges of the issues.US referred india as a “like-minded partner” and “driving force” in the QUAD.China action along the line of actual control has had a galvanising impact on india and US alignment.


In January 2015, New-Delhi and Washington D.C recognized the growing importance of the maritime domain and issued a joint vision for the “Asia-Pacific & the Indian Ocean region”.Modi Shringla dialogue 2018 comment clarified the geographical definition of the Indo-Pacific ?from the shores of Africa to America”. The events of the Indo-Pacific provides India an opportunity to maximise its strategic interest while responding to changes in the security environment,For the effective and realistic collaborations to take place,There is need to acknowledge and recognize the difference in priorities, threats and regional dynamics for each of the Indo-Pacific partners. Like Australia and Japan are more concerned to pacific region security while France wants to maintain its free movement in Western Indian Ocean. The U.S. is concerned for the Indian Ocean.


Challenges

The document assumes India as Russia traditional arms partner. It doesn’t aim to touch that field, it intends to maintain and give leverage to India in diplomatics way only and only.One of the important but weakening area of mutual growth is trade & economics. Both countries find themselves outside of two emerging regional economic articles.United States from Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and India from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),both countries leader rationalised their decisions by pointing domestic concerns.


Conclusions


The United States and India have been on a path of increasing convergence in their strategies vis-à-vis the Indo-Pacific region over the last 20 years, spanning three administrations across the bipartisan divide . The Biden administration will become the fourth administration to tread this path of convergence. However, as the United States and India look to open a new chapter in their bilateral cooperation in this region, they will need to grapple with serious differences of opinion that will shape not just the trajectory of this deepening partnership, but the wider region as well. India finds a good role in the document as the U.S. envisages to continue to build a strategic partnership in which the United-States and India work together regional groupings to promote stability in “South -Asia”.


{Gaurav Kumar is a graduate student at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University }


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