Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Operation Cactus, geography of the East Indian Ocean.
Mains level: The newscard discusses an offensive show off by the Chinese Navy in Indian Ocean, for baking Abdulla Yameen’s government. And suggests some possible options to Indian government.
What is the issue?
- The ongoing crisis in the Maldives has acquired a particularly serious dimension
- In that time, several reports have emerged suggesting China may be directly backing Abdulla Yameen’s decision to impose—and extend—the emergency in the small island state
- These reports suggest that China has implicitly promised support to Yameen in the event that India moves to forcibly change the political status quo there
Chinese Navy presence in the Indian Ocean
- Earlier this month, a Chinese naval surface action group (SAG) of three ships entered the eastern Indian Ocean through the Sunda Straits
- The question then is about the timing and intent of the SAG deployment this time around
- While there is no definitive way of answering this question, several facts suggest that this is related to the ongoing crisis in the Maldives
- In order to stall an Operation Cactus kind-of-operation, China is signalling India that it has the muscle to push Indian forces out of the Maldives if it so chooses.
Why would China choose to signal(through its navy presence in Indian Ocean) that it is not averse to a power-play with India over the Maldives from thousands of miles away?
- The answer comes from studying Chinese naval behaviour over the past few years carefully
- China has pioneered what Western experts call “grey zone coercion”
- It is a strategy by which China seeks to meet its strategic objective without crossing its adversary’s threshold for conventional military retaliation
- By choosing to message its resolve to India from a distance, Beijing ensured that India would not be provoked militarily and yet be compelled to take into account the strategic signal emanating from the east
What are India’s options?
- India must continue to keep up a robust presence in the Arabian Sea
- The Indian Navy must also be allowed to expand its presence operations in the South China Sea, long considered a Chinese preserve
- China’s vulnerabilities in its near-seas must be taken advantage of by Indian naval planners
- India must have an alternative plan ready for the Maldives, just in case naval posturing does not beget an optimal solution