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Examining the new India doctrine

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Don McLain Gill
Don McLain Gill
Don McLain Gill is an international affairs researcher based in the Philippines. He is currently completing his master’s in International Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has written extensively on regional geopolitics and Indian foreign policy for various international peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and other publications.

In a move towards recalibrating India’s defense and strategic policy, National Security Advisor (NSA) Mr. Ajit Doval firmly stated that India will fight not only within its own territory but also on foreign soil where the root of a security threat lies. This statement has strong implications for the strategy India will incorporate towards the tumultuous geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific Region.

The Makings of a New Doctrine?

Addressing the Parmarth Niketan ashram in Rishikesh, Mr. Doval emphasized that while India has never attacked anyone first, a new strategic thought will allow for a more proactive approach in effectively tackling security threats in the region. “You said we have never attacked anyone and there are many views about it. If there is a threat to the country, then we should have attacked as it is important to save the country,” the NSA had said. Moreover, he added that “We will fight where you want us to fight, that is also not mandatory. We fight where we feel the threat is coming. We have never done it for selfish reasons. We will fight a war on our land and others’ land too but not our selfish reasons but for the highest good of others.”

The NSA’s comments seem to largely reflect on the government’s intent of pre-empting to address and nip security threats. However, government officials later clarified that the NSA was speaking purely in a civilizational and spiritual context and was not referring to any specific country or situation. Furthermore, the officials said any attempt to twist the NSA’s statement was uncalled for.

However, looking beyond the justifications given, the reality of things is that these remarks come amid the standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. It is also seen that India has significantly toughened its stance against China and Pakistan by not only bolstering its military capabilities but also forging closer strategic relations with like-minded partners. Moreover, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat also highlighted that India will have to become more powerful than China to counter its challenge. He also called for the strengthening of ties with neighbouring states.

The Consecutive Tests

Over the last one and half months, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted at least 12 tests of missiles or systems for missiles belonging to a wide array of ranges and purposes. Interestingly, more tests are said to be in the pipeline. These tests can be considered as a relatively strong approach towards the security threats India is facing particularly from China. Going back to the main argument, it can be said that these missile tests align with the making of a new doctrine for a rising and more powerful India.

The DRDO has been carrying out at least test for every three days since early September. Senior DRDO scientists have said that this is arguably one of the highest numbers of tests in such a short span. A large spectrum of missiles of different purposes, types, ranges are currently in the works of being developed primarily for the armed forces. Some of the systems are at their varied stages of development where they undergo development trials, validation trials, and user trials. Some others have been said to be already inducted and undergoing upgrades or are even tested for different parameters. Missiles ranging from the nuclear-capable Shaurya to the air-launched anti-radiation missile Rudram, and the tactical missiles like the yet to be named laser-guided anti-tank guided missile.

Forging Closer Strategic Partnerships

India has also been seen to forge closer strategic partnerships through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). On October 6, the Australian and Japanese foreign ministers, the Indian external affairs minister, and the U.S. secretary of state met in Tokyo for the second ministerial of the Quad. In their readouts as well as their opening statements, each Quad member outlined its vision of the type of Indo-Pacific it would like to see. Moreover, while most of the countries did not explicitly mention China, there were several implicit references to it.

In addition, India has also finally invited Australia to re-join the trilateral Malabar maritime exercise that includes India, Japan and the US which set to take place later next month. According to a statement made by the Ministry of Defence, “As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.” This decision will significantly enhance India’s security strategy for the Indian Ocean region amid China’s growing strategic footprints.

On top of all these developments, India and the U.S. are also going to have a 2+2 ministerial dialogue scheduled in New Delhi. This meeting between the foreign and defense ministers of the two states will have a significant impact on regional security. Ahead of the meeting, the U.S. State Department said America welcomes India’s emergence as a leading global power. The State Department said that “The United States welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power. The United States looks forward to collaborating closely with India during its upcoming term on the UN Security Council.”

Conclusion

The firm statement provided by NSA Ajit Doval on the making of a New India doctrine comes at an important time when India is facing security threats in the region. Moreover, these statements well coincide with the developments taking place in India most especially through the bolstering of its defense capabilities coupled with the forging of stronger strategic partnerships with like-minded states. These developments will have strong implications for the future of India’s great power ambitions and the overall security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region.

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Don McLain Gill
Don McLain Gill
Don McLain Gill is an international affairs researcher based in the Philippines. He is currently completing his master’s in International Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has written extensively on regional geopolitics and Indian foreign policy for various international peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and other publications.
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