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Vipin Garg asked: What are the implications of US’ Asia pivot strategy for India?

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  • Saroj Bishoyi replies: As the global power shifts to Asia, the US’ Asia pivot strategy aims to maintain a dominant strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific by reinforcing its long held supremacy in the region. This strategy comes at a time when rising China’s military assertiveness in Asia is growing, America’s economic and political power is relatively declining, and the US eagerly looks forward to extricating itself from various conflicts in the greater middle east – Iraq and Afghanistan. India is seen as a lynchpin of this pivot strategy which is quite clear from the US department of defense guideline and also from various official statements.

    This pivot strategy offers both opportunities as well as challenges for India. It will help further enhance its burgeoning strategic relationship with the US as well as with the Asia-Pacific countries on a range of issues. But the key differences between the two countries are likely to emerge regarding the political endgame in Afghanistan, and any US attempt to push India into making a choice of “with us or against us” on important strategic issues in Asia. India would rather prefer its own rebalancing strategy by not allying against any country (China) where its friendly relationship with all the major powers (including China and Russia) holds key to its rise in the coming decades. Besides, its own foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region has been evolving over the last two decades. It will thus adopt a very cautious approach towards this pivot strategy.

    Meanwhile, India would like to develop a multilateral security architecture wherein all the Asian powers can work together and cooperate on vital economic and political issues for achieving their common interests. The US’ economic condition also demands a cooperative approach towards the Asian powers, including China. In addition, the US recognises that India and the US may not agree on every issue but would continue to enhance their strategic partnership. It also emphasises respect for India’s strategic autonomy. Perhaps, there is need for an intensive Indo-US strategic dialogue on the future of Indo-Pacific order.