A Congressional report on the Indo-Pacific region has said that India could lead to a "greater willingness" to resist "Chinese assertiveness" and move closer to the US while not abandoning multilateral approaches.
China has been trying to spread its influence in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific region. To counter Beijing, the US has been pushing for a broader role by India in the strategically important region.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region, which is a large swathe of land and sea stretching all the way from the west coast of the US to the shores of east Africa.
"Most analysts consider that the Modi/BJP victory in spring 2019 parliamentary elections has empowered the Indian leader (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) domestically and on the global stage. Given Modi's reputation for a muscular foreign policy, this could lead to a greater willingness to resist Chinese assertiveness and move closer to the United States while not abandoning multilateral approaches, independent Congressional Research Service said in a report.
In its latest report "Indo-Pacific Strategies of US Allies and Partners: Issues for Congress" the Congressional Research Service said that the challenges with the United States loom: many Indian strategic thinkers say their country's national interests are served by continued engagement with Russia and Iran, and thus contend there will be limits to New Delhi's willingness to abide "America's short-term impulses."
While New Delhi generally welcomes the US Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, Indian leaders continue to demur from confronting China in most instances, the CRS said, which is an independent research wing of the Congress.
The CRS prepares periodic reports on issues of interest of lawmakers for them to take informed decisions. The CRS reports are not considered as an official view of the Congress.
Thus, Prime Minister Modi, the report said, has articulated a vision of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and India has engaged Russia, Japan, Australia, and other Indo-Pacific countries as potential balancers of China's influence while remaining wary of joining any nascent security architectures that could antagonise Beijing.
While India endorses the United States' Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, its own approach differs in significant ways, it said.
According to the report, New Delhi broadly endorses the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy pursued by Washington, and India benefits from the higher visibility this strategy provides for India's global role and for its immediate region.
Despite its interest in working more closely with the US, India has not fully relinquished the nonalignment posture it maintained for most of the Cold War (more recently pursuing strategic autonomy or a pragmatic and outcome-oriented foreign policy), it said.
It continues to favour multilateralism and to seek a measure of balance in its relations with the United States and neighbouring China, the report added.
New Delhi sees China as a more economically and militarily powerful rival, and is concerned about China's growing presence and influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
Thus, Prime Minister Modi has articulated a vision of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and India has engaged Russia, Japan, Australia, and other Indo-Pacific countries as potential balancers of China's influence while remaining wary of joining any nascent security architectures that could antagonise Beijing, the CRS said.
The CRS said that under the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Modi, interest in developing stronger ties intensified, and the two countries have developed more bilateral dialogues at all levels of government, supported each other on areas of mutual concern, and bolstered educational and cultural exchanges.
Analysts point to mutual respect for democratic institutions, as well as shared strategic and economic interests, that have allowed the relationship to flourish.
Japan and Indiaboth of which have long-standing territorial disputes with Chinahave sought to increase their bilateral cooperation in apparent response to alarms raised by China's actions over the past decade perceived as too assertive or even aggressive, it added.
Many analysts see engaging India in a broader security framework as the primary challenge to establishing a quadrilateral arrangement, CRS said.
"The United States has treaty alliances with both Japan and Australia, and they have also developed a sophisticated security partnership in the past decade. India, however, appears to have been more reluctant to sign on to international commitments from its legacy as a 'non-aligned movement' state and is more reluctant to antagonize Beijing, CRS said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)