INTO INDIA was so pleased to see Economics Correspondent for The Age, Matt Wade, today writing about the shared Indian Ocean region strategic interests of India and Australia.
This is such a refreshing shift from the rhetoric about the QUAD (India, Australia< Japan and USA) so called strategic alignment for the “Indo-Pacific Region”.
One of the clumsiest terms of recent diplomacy has been the concept of an “Indo-Pacific Region”. A quick glance at a map shows this to be wide of the mark.
But the same glance at the map will quickly show why India and Australia worry about the Indian Ocean region – they both need this area to be safe and open for maritime activity and stable for economic development. It is also realistic for these two countries to combine for peace and stability in the Indian Ocean.
It is just not realistic to expect India to share in security interests for the Pacific.
India has traditionally been a “non-alignment” country, which happens to be close in defence to Russia.
It is now promoting the concept of “Multi-Alignment”. Of course, the USA (and Australia) do not understand this at all, believing in the power of taking sides.
That is why they have been so hopeful that India coming into the QUAD is a sign of India shifting towards “taking sides” and moving “our” way.
Here is one piece of evidence that India maintains an independent and “Multi-Alignment” program – at a time when the western alliance is condemning Russia, this week India and Russia have announced progress towards a free trade agreement, to build stronger trade and investment in both countries – according to Russia’s deputy prime minister Denis Manturov, speaking at an event in New Delhi with India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar on Monday.
There you go. Multi-alignment is the modern incarnation of India’s historic “Non-alignment”.
We will have to get used to it.