THE concept of Indo-Pacific is a rejection of the spheres of influence and a reiteration that the world cannot be frozen for the benefit of a few even if that is the case with the United Nations, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar said on Friday. Addressing a global town hall event via video-conferencing, Jaishankar also said that the Indo-Pacific was an indication of a future not a throwback to the past and “only those harbouring a Cold War mindset will see such intentions”.
His remarks come in the wake of China’s increasing military muscle-flexing in the region which has become a major talking point among leading global powers. Jaishankar said there has been a growing recognition of the logic of the Indo-Pacific in recent times and the ASEAN’s outlook on it was a notable step.
“Apart from the nations of the larger region, we’ve also seen Germany, France and the Netherlands subscribe recently to this approach. The need of the day is to give it a practical shape, this can be done by plurilateral diplomatic consultations such as the QUAD or it can be furthered in a structured fashion by the Indo-Pacific Oceans initiative that India tabled at the East Asia Summit in 2019,” Jaishankar said at the town hall session, titled ‘The Indo-Pacific and the COVID crisis’.
“This is built on the seven pillars of maritime security; maritime ecology; maritime resources, capacity building and resource sharing; disaster risk reduction and management; science, technology and academic cooperation; and trade, connectivity and maritime transport,” he said. Jaishankar said that from any objective viewpoint, Indo-Pacific is a more contemporary description of the current reality. Such a landscape creates an ethos for greater cooperation -- one particularly necessary at a time when global goods are in short supply, he said.
Jaishankar said that when challenges multiply but capacities do not keep pace, the answer is only in more intensified cooperation. Issues like maritime security, transparent and market-based connectivity or counter-terrorism do require such solutions, he said. “Indo-Pacific is also a rejection of spheres of influence and all that this may imply. It is a reiteration that the world cannot be frozen for the benefit of a few,” Jaishankar said. “It is an indication of a future not a throwback to the past. Only those harbouring a Cold War mindset will see such intentions,” the External Affairs Minister said.
Every era produces its own strategic concepts and analytical constructs and the current one is no exception, Jaishankar said, adding that after all the sharp distinction between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean theatres was only made after the World War II.