ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The New 'Regional Security Provider'

The 2015 India-US defence framework agreement chalks up India as a "regional security provider."

As if to drive home the importance that the United States (US) attaches to India’s “Act East” policy, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter began his three-day visit to India at the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command in Visakhapatnam. After all, it is the Navy’s Eastern Command that has been assigned the job of also patrolling the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, and with the strengthening of the India–US strategic partnership, the Indian Navy will also, willy-nilly, be advancing the cause of the US “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region,” better known as Washington’s “Pivot to Asia,” to take on the resurgence of China. The US Department of Defense was very frank in stating that the secretary’s visit “capitalises [our emphasis] on the convergence of India’s Act East policy and the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.” And, as Carter put it: “These two things come together when it comes to maritime security, maritime domain awareness.”

From Visakhapatnam, Carter went on to New Delhi, where he and his Indian counterpart, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, signed a new 10-year defence framework agreement to replace the 2005 “New Framework for the US–India Defence Relationship” that together with the civil nuclear deal cemented the “strategic partnership” 10 years ago. The 2005 defence framework agreement too included Indo–US cooperation in naval military operations in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Both the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party accept the military and strategic relationship that the US expects from India—New Delhi as a junior partner in the containment of Beijing. But why should the Indian people permit successive Indian governments to allow Indo–Chinese relations to be determined by the trajectory of the US–Chinese relationship?

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