Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific

Pradeep Kaushiva and Abhijit Singh

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In recent years, the descriptive term ‘Indo-Pacific’ has entered the geo-strategic lexicon as a substitute for the more established expression ‘Asia-Pacific’. Defined as an integrated strategic system that best captures the shift in power and influence from the West to the East, the concept has dominated strategic debates and discussions, gaining rapidly in currency and acceptance.

Popular though the term has become, its strategic context and underlying logic are still sharply contested. While proponents of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ advance compelling arguments in its favour, the debate over whether it is a valid construct, is not quite settled. Consequently, it is yet to gain full acceptance among regional analysts and policy makers who appear unsure about embracing the idea without any qualifying caveats.

Even so, the Indo-Pacific has emerged as a significant strategic space and a theatre of great-power competition. From a maritime security perspective, its importance as a geo-economic hub is accentuated by the growing presence of non-traditional threats. Piracy, terrorism, gun running, illegal fishing, trafficking, global warming and natural disasters represent challenges to maritime security that are inherently transnational in nature – where dynamics in one part of the system influence events in another, necessitating coordinated security operations by maritime forces and strategic relationships between stakeholder states.

Papers put together in this book seek to appraise the Indo-Pacific, by examining the concept holistically, deciphering the trends that impact maritime security in the region and identifying its emerging patterns. Apart from examining the inherent logic underpinning the concept, these provide perspectives on security in the Indo-Pacific region, evaluate the strategic implications of competition, conflict and instability in the region, and bring out the operational implications of using a frame of reference that combines two contiguous albeit disparate maritime theatres.

Pradeep Kaushiva and Abhijit Singh Vice Admiral (Retd) Pradeep Kaushiva is the Director of the National Maritime Foundation. A specialist in Communications and Electronic Warfare, the Admiral holds an M Sc (Telecom) degree and is a Fellow of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers. In a career spanning more than four decades, Admiral Kaushiva commanded the Indian Naval Ships Prachand, Veer, Coast Guard Ship Vijaya and the Guided Missile Frigate ‘Ganga’. As a Flag Officer, he served as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Information Warfare and Operations); Deputy Commandant and Chief Instructor, National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla; Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet and Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command at Kochi. He retired as the Commandant of the National Defence College, New Delhi.

Commander Abhijit Singh is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Commissioned in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy in July 1994, he is a specialist in Gunnery and Weapons Systems and has served onboard frontline ships. An erstwhile Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, Cdr Abhijit also assisted the late Vice Admiral GM Hiranandani (Retd) in the authorship of the third volume of Indian Naval History, “Transition to Guardianship”. He has written extensively on littoral security in the Indian Ocean Region, including papers on the Iranian and Pakistani naval forces and the evolution of the Indian Navy’s expeditionary outlook.

 

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