The Indo-Pacific concept is not tomorrow’s forecast but yesterday’s reality and denying it is tantamount to refuting globalisation, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday. Addressing the CII Partnership Summit 2020, Jaishankar said the Indo-Pacific concept has recently gained greater salience in diplomatic parlance.
He, however, also pointed out that he has said before, “Indo-Pacific is not tomorrow’s forecast but yesterday’s reality.” Explaining what the Indo-Pacific is really about, Jaishankar said, “Literally, it signifies the confluence of the Indian and the Pacific Oceans that can no longer be handled as distinct spheres.” “Every nation and region would have its own version of this reality. But I can speak for India and say this: it (Indo-Pacific) captures a mix of our broadening horizons, widening interests, and globalised activities,” Jaishankar said.
“Many would agree with us; others could offer additional justification. Indo-Pacific, for some, can also be resource optimisation in an enlarged arena. Or just a desire to contribute better to global challenges that now transcend old boundaries. Many have also chosen in that process to reaffirm basic principles like rule of law,” he said. As societies have got more globalised and the power distribution rebalanced, the interests of many now extend beyond their near proximity, he noted. This trend has been particularly strong in Asia, which has been at the heart of a new economic resurgence, Jaishankar said.
“Whether viewed from the perspective of resources, endeavours or challenges, it is, therefore, no longer realistic to confine our thinking within the earlier box,” he said. Jaishankar asserted that doing so would either mean “we are being deliberately outdated; or that we have chosen to make only selective exceptions”.
Neither, of course, suits India, or indeed much of the international community, he said. “Denying Indo-Pacific is tantamount to refuting globalisation,” the minister asserted.
Given that this region is primarily a maritime space, countries are naturally focused on building practical cooperation in that domain, Jaishankar said, adding that a safe, secure and stable maritime space is a necessary condition for peace, security and prosperity. “Conversely, threats there imperil human security in all its dimensions, whether by disrupting commerce, disturbing the ecology, or creating disputes over ownership and rights. In our inter-dependent world, the complexity of such challenges has become too large for any one nation to address by itself,” he said.
“Indeed, the very vastness of this arena brings out why the need for collaborative action has now become so pressing. Naturally, the individual interests of countries are at stake; but so too is their collective benefit in ensuring that the global commons is better secured,” Jaishankar said. It is the challenge of harmonising these pulls and pressures that the Indo-Pacific policy of all players needs to address, he added.
On June 1, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region in his speech delivered at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. India’s concept of the Indo-Pacific is inclusive in nature, and supports an approach that respects the right to freedom of navigation and overflight for all in the international seas.