POLS 4440 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Indo-Pacific
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Is India Ready for the Indo-Pacific? By Harsh V. Pant & Abhijnan Rej
- Formal enshrinement of the Indo-Pacific as a unified strategic theater in the U.S. National Security
- The development was arguably the result of the growing realization in Washington, D.C., and other
capitals that it cannot be business-as-usual going forward with China, given its increasingly assertive
foreign policy since 2013.
- The expansive maritime space that is the Indo-Pacific, per the U.S. definition, includes the Pacific and
part of the Indian Ocean, up to India’s western coastline.
Thesis – As we argue in this article, while India endorses the idea of the Indo-Pacific rhetorically, three
issues prevent actual operationalization of the concept for New Delhi.
These issues geographically pertain to India’s east, north, and west.
• East – strategic and naval capability, and normative deficits prevent India from playing a larger
role in the western Pacific.
• North – a manifest power differential with China – and an uncertain future trajectory of India-
China relations – further contributes to India’s reticence to play a larger and more robust role in
• West – divergent Indian and American positions in the western Indian Ocean, in particular on
Pakistan and Iran, prevent the creation of a unified cohesive view of the Indo-Pacific that both
Whither India in the Pacific?
- India has significant interests in the western Pacific and in the South China Sea (SCS)
- “Look East” policy— through which India sought to engage with Southeast Asia—was expanded to
include the Pacific as early as 2003, with ongoing deepening strategic partnerships with key regional
players—a position the successor “Act East” policy also carries forward
- India remains reluctant to play a more robust naval role in the western Pacific as demonstrated by its
refusal to join the United States when Washington has called for joint U.S.-India patrolling of the SCS
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