During his June 2018 state visit to India, President Danny Faure of Seychelles was given the red-carpet treatment. He took home major gains in defense for the tiny Indian Ocean nation: a second Dornier aircraft, a $100 million line of credit for maritime security cooperation, and a white shipping information-sharing agreement. However, Seychelles did not reverse its rejection of a military base sought by India despite some careful diplomatic couching about the two countries’ shared interests.
Foreign Policy & Security
The Wuhan Summit between India and China has to be seen in the backdrop of wider developments in the Indo-Pacific region. It is important that New Delhi and Beijing are able to manage their differences, as both of them need to concentrate on their economic development.
The study of India in the United States was relatively modest prior to India’s independence. In 1939, the great Sanskritist, W. Norman Brown, who established the first academic department of South Asian Studies in the US reflected, “It takes no gift of prophesy to predict that [during the second half of the twentieth century] the world will include a vigorous India, possibly politically free, conceivably a dominant power in the Orient, and certainly intellectually vital and productive.
India’s Africa policy over the past few decades has oscillated between passive and reluctantly reactive at best. Strategic apathy toward the continent was obvious on many fronts. Not only did countries in Africa not feature in New Delhi’s larger foreign policy matrix, but until recently there wasn’t any significant attention paid to the continent. Indian leaders seldom travelled to African nations and very rarely did they feature in conversations surrounding New Delhi’s foreign policy ambitions.
Recent political developments between India and South Korea have created an opening for the two countries to share mutual security interests in Asia. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who celebrated his administration’s 100th day in office two months ago with strong public support, is taking a bold step by inviting India into South Korea’s diplomatic domain.
In his landmark speech, “Confluence of the Two Seas,” delivered in August 2007, during his earlier stint as the Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe remarked that “the Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity.” Over the past decade, the geniality between Japan and India has increased, a sharp contrast to the lukewarm relationship that previously existed.
China’s inroads into South Asia since the mid-2000s have eroded India’s traditional primacy in the region, from Afghanistan to Myanmar and also in the Indian Ocean. As Beijing deploys its formidable financial resources and develops its strategic clout across the subcontinent, New Delhi faces significant capacity challenges to stem Chinese offensive in its own strategic backyard.
The case of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired (according to New Delhi) Indian naval officer under arrest in Pakistan since March 2016, has attracted tremendous public attention. Pakistan has accused Jadhav of working for the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)—India’s premier external intelligence agency—and in April 2017, a court martial sentenced him to death for abetting “terrorism” inside Pakistan. India denies this claim and has secured a stay on Jadhav’s execution from the International Courts of Justice.
The June summit between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi concluded with a palpable sigh of relief from policy experts in both the United States and India. Far from the awkward encounter that some had feared, the leaders’ first face-to-face engagement was strikingly positive in tone and substance. One of the key outcomes that emerged from the visit was a welcome sense of continuity in the U.S.-India defense and security relationship.
Bangladesh-India relations are perhaps the most complex bilateral relations in the subcontinent. Despite its role in Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, India is often perceived as serving its own self-interests against Pakistan. With the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1972, the two countries attempted to improve their relations to no avail. As a result, decades-old issues concerning land, water, illegal migration, and border security still remain, as does Bangladesh’s seeking of favorable access to Indian markets, particularly for its widely exported garment products.