Why is India crucial to America's Indo-Pacific policy?

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Published: Mar 19, 2021, 10:36 PM(IST)

Biden and Modi Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

The leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan, together known as the Quad, held the first summit last week pledging to work together for a free and open Indo-Pacific and to cooperate on maritime and cybersecurity in the face of challenges from China

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in New Delhi on Friday to deepen ties between India and United States.

Austin is making the first visit by a top member of the United States President, Joe Biden administration to Delhi as part of efforts to ally with countries seeking to push back against China's assertiveness in the region.

Also read| US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin arrives in India, meets PM Modi

During Austin's visit, the two sides will be discussing India's plan to purchase armed drones from the United States as well as a large order for over 150 combat jets for the air force and the navy to help narrow the gap with China.

The leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan, together known as the Quad, held the first summit last week pledging to work together for a free and open Indo-Pacific and to cooperate on maritime and cybersecurity in the face of challenges from China.

Austin's visit to India's comes a week after the first virtual summit of the Quad. India is a crucial part of the group and for America's Indo-Pacific plans.

What's the Indo-Pacific?

It is the maritime space between the Indian ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. This region is being called ''the geopolitical centre of the world.''

It is witnessing a rise in Chinese aggression, the growing interest of western nations and the realisation of India's indispensability.

The UK recently said- India is an increasingly indispensable partner. Johnson's government said it would "tilt" its focus towards the Indo-Pacific region as part of its Integrated Review of government policy for the coming years, saying the area increasingly represented the geopolitical centre of the world.

India and the United States share a common strategic vision, that is, 'free, open and inclusive'' Indo-Pacific and both understand the true nature of China's challenge.

The US views India's emergence on the global stage as a counter to China.

The US State Department said it supports ''India's emergence as a leading global power and vital partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity.'

The two countries are defence partners, The US designated India as ''major defence partner'' in 2016 and signed the LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement). Through it, America and India can now use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

In 2018, India and the US signed the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) which provides inter-operability between two militaries and ensure smooth cooperation between the countries tech and equipment. 

In October 2020, India and the US signed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) to boost bilateral defence ties.

Both India and the United States have a common challenge, China. 

India drew closer to the United States following its own tensions with China on their disputed Himalayan border, where deadly clashes erupted last year. Washington has helped New Delhi, leasing surveillance drones and supplying cold-weather gear for Indian troops.

India and the United States share common values. The US Department of State said, ''The US-India partnership is founded on a shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, equal treatment of all citizens, human rights, and the rule of law.''

It also said, ''The United States and India have shared interests in promoting global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment, and connectivity.''

Unlike former US President Donald Trump, Joe Biden does not have a 'go-it-alone' policy. Biden wants to adopt a multilateral approach in tackling china.

The Biden administration recently released its national security blueprint. It was called the ''interim national security strategic guidance.''

It said, ''We will deepen our partnership with India to advance shared objectives.''

The Quad summit laid the groundwork for the strategic partnership between the US and India in the Indo-Pacific.

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