Text of address at the Raisina Dialogue on “Strategic Conversation: The Emerging Security Dynamics in the Indo-Pacific” hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in association with MEA, India on 16-18 January 2018 in New Delhi
6 Strategic Realisations for India:
- Realisation 1: Global Power Axis has shifted from Pacific – Atlantic to Indo – Pacific. Asia has emerged as the most influential power hub; Almost half of world’s population; Half of world’s container traffic; One-third Bulk Cargo; 40% of World’s Off-shore Oil Reserves; Home to several fast growing new economies; Asian defence spending (B$439) more than Europe’s (B$386); Half of World’s Submarines, combat aircraft with extended range missiles, supported by highly sophisticated communications networks will be seen roaming in the region in a few years.
- Realisation 2: Great power axis brings great opportunities and greater challenges; Diminishing influence of the western powers in the region and Rising power of China are the new reality;
- Realisation 3: India, thus far a regional power, has an opportunity to rise as a ‘responsible and influential global power’. For that it has to completely reorient its strategic mindset. Strategic shift is needed from Westward Ho to Eastward Thinking; from Land-based thinking to Ocean-centric thinking.
- Realisation 4: Unlike in Pacific-Atlantic region, countries in Indo-Pacific region are not merely nations; they are civilisations. The so-called ‘American Way’ will no longer be at work in the region. It is the play of the civilisations that will be at work. India has to make cultural and civilizational linkages an important part of its diplomacy.
- Realisation 5: Countries like China are bracing ahead with plans that can be described as 21st ‘Century Marshal Plan’. Global rule based order is coming under severe stress. India has to realise that it can’t just be a spectator, or a mere participant, or even a ‘pole’ in the so-called multi-polar world. It has to become a stakeholder.
- Realisation 6: India has to give up its reticence and passive diplomacy. Under PM Modi we did exactly that. We conveyed to the world that we have arrived.
In the light of these six strategic realisations of India, the world also has to have six strategic realisations about the Indo-Pacific region.
6 Realisations for the World:
- Realisation 1: Indian Ocean is the epicentre of global power play in the 21st Century. It is time we give up the outdated phrases like Asia-Pacific and embrace the new concept of Indo-Pacific. Centrality and Primacy of the Indian Ocean to the global economic and military activism needs to be recognised.
- Realisation 2: India is keen to play a proactive role in the region. It has stated ambition to rise as an ‘influential and responsible global power’. India’s rise will be for global peace and good. It’s key presence needs to be acknowledged and supported.
- Realisation 3: While the new power axis is making old alliances and multilateral forums less relevant and ineffective, new and robust alliances and institutions are taking shape. They will be guided not necessarily by the western dominance of ideas. The future of the Indo-Pacific region is in the hands of the alliances and institutions of the 21st Century taking shape in the region. It will be the Asian Way as distinct from the American Way.
- Realisation 4: A win-win proposition for India and its western allies: India-led framework to the East of India; and India-supported framework to our West
- Realisation 5: Countries in the Indian Ocean region are eager to get together to develop their own code of conduct for the high seas and the regional waters. Such a code is essential for peaceful and non-intrusive growth of the countries in the region.
- Realisation 6: From Bi-Polar politics to the dreams of the ‘End of History’ of the last century, we have moved into the 21st century with the slogan of Multi-Polarism. What is needed is Multi-Stakeholdarism. World shouldn’t be a cheerleader of neo-Marshal Plans. It should rather promote Multistakeholderism in order for those plans to be acceptable and beneficial to the countries in the region and beyond.