The Director-General of India’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy, was our featured speaker at a recent roundtable discussion as part of the Centre’s distinguished Ambassador’s Dialogue program. Ambassador Chinoy’s visit to Perth followed an August visit of IDSA Research Fellow Dr Jagannath Panda.
IDSA is a non-partisan think tank focused on defence and security research and policy studies. Prior to his senior appointment, Ambassador Chinoy was a career diplomat in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, including as Ambassador to Japan. Ambassador Chinoy also served in Indian missions in a variety of senior roles, including in Hong Kong, Beijing, Riyadh and New York.
The Ambassador’s Dialogue involved introductory off-the-record remarks from Ambassador Chinoy on the history of the Indo-Pacific construct, recent developments in India’s foreign policy and the trajectory of India’s strategic relationships in the region. Ambassador Chinoy’s remarks were followed by a roundtable discussion conducted under the Chatham House Rule. The key topics of which included:
- The emergence of the Indo-Pacific: Notwithstanding a recent slowdown, structurally-driven economic growth is seeing India’s share of the global economy rapidly increase, and with it its strategic weight. In recognition of the rise of India as a strategic power, and informed by the wider convergence of global power in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the concept of the Indo-Pacific has consolidated. Whilst nations have different geographies underpinning and strategies extending from their Indo-Pacific outlook, the broad framework is increasingly providing a common geostrategic architecture with which to address regional issues.
- India’s foreign policy trajectory & an international rules-based order: India, Australia and other countries in the Indo-Pacific have significant concerns about both the efficacy of and compliance with the existing framework of international laws and norms that have underpinned global stability and prosperity. Further, there is broad acknowledgement that the US and China, the world’s two great powers, under are both seeking to alter the status quo environment.
- India’s foreign policy is continuing on a trajectory of increased global engagement and rising influence. While India will continue to assert its strategic autonomy, it is seeking to balance its competitive relationship with China with specific cooperation, deepen its strategic relationship with the United States, and improve economic and strategic ties with Indo-Pacific and global partners (in particular Japan, Australia and the ASEAN community).
- Australia-India relations: Australia and India are increasingly looking to each other as strategic partners, underpinned by converging security and national interests. They are also trying to enhance a yet-realised economic partnership. The commissioning of respective Indian and Australian Economic Strategies (the Australia Economic Strategy is due to be delivered to Prime Minister Modi in late-2019) are increasingly driving industry on both sides to take another look at mutual trade and investment opportunities.
The shared economic dependence of Australia and India on the Indian Ocean, which carries a significant amount of both nations’ trade, is creating further opportunities for strategic partnerships. New infrastructure developments, such as the commissioning of the first east coast gas terminal in India, are creating new opportunities for the economic supply of strategic resources and energy commodities between both countries.