Challenges posed by China in the Indo-Pacific region and the consequent foreign policy push under former US President Donald Trump played a crucial role in bringing India and Australia closer. Today, this cooperation is deepening. A pointer to it is the recent document signed by the navies of India and Australia titled ‘Joint Guidance for Australia-India Navy to Navy Relationship’. The document aims at ensuring a shared approach to regional and global security challenges.
India-Australia cooperation broadens
Under this agreement, India and Australia will cooperate closely at the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus framework. It highlights clearly that India and Australia have reached an understanding to work closely bilaterally as well as multilaterally at various strategic forums.
Colombo Security Conclave expands
Moreover, India revived the ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ in 2020 after a pause of six years. The last meeting saw the Dy. National Security Advisors of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives come together to focus on maritime security in addition to human trafficking, counterterrorism and cybersecurity. Importantly, India successfully pushed the case for adding Bangladesh, Seychelles and Mauritius to this forum. All the new entrants are India’s close allies and intrinsic to the region. Their inclusion marks India’s widening influence in the Indian Ocean Region.
Indian Navy spreads far and wide
Amid these maneuvres on the diplomatic front, the Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh has said, “Our navy has spread far and wide in the aim of protecting India’s maritime interests.” Giving further details to the media, Admiral Singh cited India’s naval drills in the Pacific, Indian Navy securing Indian oil carriers in the Strait of Hormuz, Navy’s anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, forward naval deployment in the Malacca Strait, etc.
All these efforts are highlighting a synergy between India’s foreign policy, economic policy and military objectives. It makes clear that India is widening its reach to tackle Chinese bullying in Indo-Pacific bringing hope of peace to relatively smaller nations.