Headline : External affairs ministry sets up Indo-Pacific wing
- In a recent move, India has just set up an Indo-Pacific division in the foreign office, which will integrate the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Asean region and the Quad to the Indo-Pacific table.
- The US has recently renamed its Pacific Command to the Indo-Pacific Command as it seeks to give teeth to its Indo-Pacific policy.
- In 2018, in Shangri-La Dialogue, PM Modi insisted that a “stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region” is an “important pillar” of India’s strategic partnership with the US.
- The new division is intended to give a coherent architecture to the policy, articulated by PM Narendra Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018.
About Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean, with 22 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners.
- Aim: Strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region.
- Headquarters: Ebene, Mauritius
- Objectives :
- To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states
- To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits
- To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.
- Focus Areas:
- Maritime Safety & Security
- Trade & Investment Facilitation
- Fisheries Management
- Disaster Risk Management
- Tourism and Cultural Exchange
- Academic Science and Technology
- Blue Economy
- Women’s economic empowerment
India and IORA
- India is planning to put greater energy to the IORA because the heart of its Indo-Pacific policy is rooted in the Indian Ocean.
- This integrates the blue economy part of the Indian policy with the security part.
About Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- It is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia, which aims to promote collaboration and cooperation among member states, as well as to advance the interests of the region as a whole, including economic and trade growth.
- Members: Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos
- Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia
- It also regularly engages other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
India and ASEAN
- In its Indo-Pacific diplomacy, India has repeatedly placed Asean at the centre of its policy.
- Asean is wary of China, US and its allies, preferring to keep the Asean region outside great power politics.
- It is this that India wants to address and engage with Singapore, Vietnam and now Indonesia are key partners in the region for India.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)
- It is an informal grouping of four democracies India, Australia, US and Japan, which was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
- All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
Impact of the new division:
- The territorial divisions are crucial for policy making, so the creation of an Indo-Pacific division will re-configure the institutional mental-map to look beyond the Indian Ocean, and think and act “Indo-Pacific”.
Note: The policy will be run by the Ministry of External Affairs, which may move work with the defence ministry running its own Indo-Pacific policy.