September 21, 2018
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India needs to take advantage of 2+2 dialogue consensus

Ever since the United States brought out its revised national strategy, the Indo-Pacific region is gaining fresh momentum. This is not just to counter rising China and its fast spreading influence but forging new allies in the region who could possibly shoulder America’s responsibility and help protecting US interests to remain as a superpower till next century. Thus, America’s growing proximity with India should be seen in the context of changing geopolitics which can impact global power matrix and techno trade. The US aim is to remain a supreme power in the foreseeable future and not to allow anybody to challenge this position. Since China is fast catching up in terms of military and economic power, the US sensitivity towards China is now more than ever before. As India is currently making progress it does not have any ambition to dominate on any other power or challenge them while pursuing its own interests. India not only lacks any such ambition also lags behind capability. But China is a different story. During the recently concluded 2 plus 2 dialogues between India and US in the first week of September, Beijing was watching carefully joint statements made by India and US just word by word. The Chinese reaction is mute to a larger extent in public domain but its propaganda machine like Global Times and others send out messages that Beijing will monitor all such cooperation for its national strategy.

The US is showing proximity with India in a series of areas for cooperation including hitech defence trade but whether India is in a position to absorb such technology is still a challenge. The defence trade between India and US is going to grow in coming decades regardless of who is in power India or not. Yet, a developing country like India may not be able to afford such US systems even if it grows more than 10 per cent per of its GDP per annum. It is no secret that American armament industry is suffering for a long. At the same time a growing country like India can be a future prospect for buying US weapons and platforms. India has clearly shown its intention that while it will buy some US equipment, Russia will remain a major supplier for many decades to come. During the forum the US was not only insisting to cut ties with Russia but change India’s approach in Indo-Pacific region. India is a reluctant player when it comes to assertive power matrix. But the US wants India to play a major role in coming decades in the region. This will help US to reduce defence spending while garnering a number of allies who can reduce its burden. The US is going to shift almost 65 per cent of its military assets towards Indo-Pacific region by 2020. Since America will invest such a huge amount, it will push for arms sales in the region with a renewed vigor. This is not against China or any other country but pure economic interests. Since both sides are boasting about the burgeoning defence cooperation and the US's recent STA-1 classification which eases defence and high technology trade between the two countries, it can be a pointer in this direction that geo politics can be converted into geo economic interests.

Indeed, the Chinese may have their own calculation yet Beijing will become more wary about India being slowly drifting into US orbit. However, India needs to clarify that Indo-US partnership is not aimed at containing or working against any third country. India should purely focus on safeguarding its own interest in this part of the world which is life line for India’s existence. India’s historic relationship with Russia has already seen its own merit. Similarly, China is a neighbor with whom India has a border dispute. India can carefully utilize this situation to balance its relationship with China. Since Beijing always mentions that India needs to be sensitive towards China with regard to former’s relations with US, now China needs to keep Indian interests in mind when it comes to Pakistan and other issues. It is a two way process. However, neither side needs a sermon from a principal about how to conduct international diplomacy. Since Indo-Pacific region is going to play a crucial role in maintaining global peace, prosperity and economic growth, India needs to invest into futuristic technology to bolster its fledgling export and manufacturing sector. The US has highest number of start-up business ventures in the world. India should learn the experience and try to access futuristic technologies from US. While dealing with great powers, India needs to remember true diplomacy is not lying in public with confidence but not speaking at all. In fact, the rising China of today had started its first step in a similar note in 1979 for a long journey what is today known as ‘long cherished Chinese dream’ to regain the lost glory of the Yellow empire.