India in South East Asia

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India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 05 Jul 2009 18:13

We have had several threads looking into country specific relations and projections, like with Myanmar, in this region. But the region has a complex internal dynamic with several intensive inputs and pressures from powers outside the region. These include, PRC, USA, and UK through Australia, and of the ME through OIC. However, Indian presence is not clear. But more than the other powers, India has reasons to be seriously concerned with the political, military and economic situation that develops in the region over the short and long term.

For a start, we have already discussed at length on this in the "Future strategic scenario" especially, around page 18. See, http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4604&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=680

Here is my take on the extension of the "heartland" theory. I would see it as a pair of axes, as shown in the map on page 18. The Atlanteans (US+UK+allies) are basically trying to push North East and the Steppenwolf (Russia+PRC+allies) are trying to push South West. However I think we have to modify the "heartland" into the more vital economic "heartland" of Northern Indian Ocean. This is where the economic engine and centre of garvity of the world is moving towards - middle eastern oil, South Asian knowledge economy (production and consumption of knowledge), a more or less stable food production, stable climate and possibly robust against potential adverse climate changes. The countries on the border around the axis - are under the dynamic of this pull, and the game is going on in winning over slowly and expanding the axis into the zone of the opponent. This can however lead to certain problems as in ordinary field battles, such as stabilizing or collapsing a "bulge". The confrontation point is steadily moving down along the frontal axis from North West to the South East - from the time of the world wars (the southern tip of this contest in WWII was ultimately an extension of the battle for survival in Europe), through proxy wars in the near East and Middle East, and now directly into the current central contact point in AFG.

India can use the general trend of confrontations moving down along this axis and push towards the east from the Indian Ocean. This is a flanking movement to outpace PRC.

In the scenario thread, we talked on broad strategic issues concerning SE Asia. But we did not take up a detailed and concrete analysis of all the the countries involved in the region, with respect to Indian interests. Further the complex interactions in between the countries and their interplay with outside powers also needs to be taken into account.

Please focus on both country specific (Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Phillipines, New Zealand, Australia) as well as inter-country and regional dynamics stressing on the political, military, and economic. India's relations with these groups, as well as future potential and steps or moves are within the scope of this discussion.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 05 Jul 2009 20:35

FICCI provides a good summary although a bit dated

India-Indonesia : http://www.ficci.com/international/countries/indonesia/indonesiacommercialrelation.htm
India-Philippines : http://www.ficci.com/international/countries/philippines/philippinescommercialrelations.htm
India-Malaysia : http://www.ficci.com/international/countries/malaysia/malaysiacommercialrelations.htm
India-Vietnam : http://www.ficci.com/international/countries/vietnam/vietnamcommercialrelation.htm

India-Kampuchea : India and Kampuchea : a phase in their relations, 1978-81 by Tridib Chakraborti Published in 1985, Minerva Associates (Publications) (Calcutta, India)

India-SEAsia : India and Southeast Asia, By Mohammed Ayoob, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1990.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 05 Jul 2009 20:46

MacIntyre writes in "Interpreting Indonesian foreign policy: the case of Kampuchea, 1979-1986", Asian Survey, vol. 27, no. 5, 1987, p515-534. "In consequence of this outlook [Sinophobia], the unstated resolution which Jakarta has sought for the stalemate in Indochina is one which would enable Hanoi to exercise at least de facto domination of Kamuchea. Such a n outcome would serve the dual purpose of weakening the position of Beijing's protege, the Khmer Rouge, while ensuring a robust Vietnam in a position to discourage future Chinese expansionary activities in the region".

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 05 Jul 2009 20:53

Just as a note : I would be interested in having more direct discussion in this thread about increasing Indian strategic presence and satisfying Indian strategic needs rather than just an analysis of ASEAN. Thus the primary thrust is on military and defence capabilities in this region as projected by India to contain the threat of PRC. All economic, political and cultural initiatives to be thought of as geared towards this fundamental aim.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 08 Jul 2009 02:33

The Emergence of India as New Military Power: Threat or Opportunity to Southeast Asia?
http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/viewFile/1304/1265

The interesting point to note is that it is coming from Malaysian researchers in 2009. Which means they can take a line of playing off PRC and India, and bargaining with both for "profits". However, the key threshold of acceptance of Indian military presence in the SE Asian territory has perhaps been crossed on most SEAsian nation's side.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby paramu » 09 Jul 2009 04:51

Does it mean that Thailand may soon lose its monarchy?

Losing King Bhumibol Concerns Don’t Deter Faber Bet on Thailand

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 09 Jul 2009 06:13

Here is a map of historical Indic influence on SE Asia. It is interesting to note that corresponding military concerns remain essentially unchanged. Courtsey Ramanaji.
Image

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 09 Jul 2009 07:00

paramu wrote Does it mean that Thailand may soon lose its monarchy?


Bhumibol is after all "ashitipor". The succession is on the minds of many. The king has been the bridge between the "yellow shirts" and the "redshirts" for quite a while. He is also seen as a cultural icon connecting the land with its past even though Boston born and Switzerland educated. Without him, there is always the perception of fear of an endless cycle of coups and a very retrogressive Myanmar style military junta taking over.

IA started cooperating with the Thai counterpart, as far as I know, from 2007, especially in "counterinsurgency training" for a Thai contingent to face up to Islamic separatism in the provinces adjacent to Malaysia. USA has a presence in the name of combating drug mafia. However as a regional power, India has a stake (if the GOI feels so) in developing bilateral (bypassing other ASEAN countries) military connections to tackle Jihadi Islam in the region. Obviously the two other potential "powers" in the region, Malaysia and Indonesia will be forced to be rather sensitive about this since both are Muslim majority countries.

Thailand can be an ideal strategic partner for Indian military expansion in IO. Cultural inclinations, religious antagonisms, and strategic location as a buffer between Myanmar and Malaysia and an alternative access to Laos, Kamupuchea and Vietnam are items to consider.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby vsudhir » 09 Jul 2009 17:11

Thailand can be an ideal strategic partner for Indian military expansion in IO. Cultural inclinations, religious antagonisms, and strategic location as a buffer between Myanmar and Malaysia and an alternative access to Laos, Kamupuchea and Vietnam are items to consider.


Most excellent jupiter garu.

Lez hope your efforts here reach at least some of the more open minds in or around the corridors of power in Nayi Dilli.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 10 Jul 2009 09:14

Isn't Thailand one of China's strongest supporters in ASEAN? But, I may be wrong here...

In my view, Vietnam is the safest bet.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 10 Jul 2009 18:35

Vietnam has shown willingness to bypass India and buy small arms from Pakistan ignoring cautious protests from the Indian side. I am not saying Vietnam should be abandoned. But, Thailand can be cultivated. One of the primary reasons is the cultural basis of Thailand, and its strong Buddhist foundation. Vietnam on the other hand had a good deal of communist brainwashing and a removal or erasure of older cultural links with India.

Because the thrust here on this thread is the military expansion of India in the SE, it ha sto be kept in mind that the Thai military is not one of the strongest in the region, and compared to Vietnam, which at least has the pride and memory of fighting successful civil wars and foreign campaigns, is a good target for strategici military partnership.

Moreover, what appears to be a safe bet, is also recognized by that country. And they will obviously try to bargain on their position. I will post an article ref where the Vietnamese have been subtly urged to play the market.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby Rahul M » 10 Jul 2009 19:25

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:Isn't Thailand one of China's strongest supporters in ASEAN? But, I may be wrong here...

In my view, Vietnam is the safest bet.

thailand is in US orbit.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby svinayak » 10 Jul 2009 19:41

Rahul M wrote:
thailand is in US orbit.

Change it to Indian orbit

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby Rahul M » 10 Jul 2009 19:50

how ? is there a video walkthrough somewhere ?

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 10 Jul 2009 19:57

Rahul M wrote:how ? is there a video walkthrough somewhere ?


No idea if this viable or workable... promote tourism to Thailand.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby svinayak » 10 Jul 2009 20:13

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:
No idea if this viable or workable... promote tourism to Thailand.

He needs a video walk though or a manual hand book

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby Rahul M » 10 Jul 2009 21:08

acharya-dev , the devil lies in the details won't you agree ?

unless you spell out 'HOW TO' what are we supposed to do with suggestions like "
Change it to Indian orbit".

better leave making general comments to sun tsu, we will stick with 'dirty details' SDRE vishnu gupta onlee !

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby a_kumar » 11 Jul 2009 01:50

India has to become a common theme in Thailand, and vice versa.

People-to-people contacts are very important, scholarships in Indian universities, special opportunities for trade and employment, most visible of all.. entertainment and media channels.

As for media channels, I would tend to say that influential ones are currently unlikely to forward Indian interests and would rather hurt us.

But, entertainment industry can do a lot (TV and movies). Bombay to Bankok was a neat movie (not for the story), but the fact that it brought India and Thialand into Indian imagination. I know there were a few underworld centric movies that touched Thialand, but this was different. We need more of this in both countries. Indian govt. needs to provide incentives this way.

A big trump we dont use enough is religious tourism. Sell visit to Bodh Gaya as a necessary thing. Encourage highlighting the commonalities in Thai textbooks.. etc.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby svinayak » 11 Jul 2009 02:04

a_kumar wrote:India has to become a common theme in Thailand, and vice versa.

People-to-people contacts are very important, scholarships in Indian universities, special opportunities for trade and employment, most visible of all.. entertainment and media channels.

As for media channels, I would tend to say that influential ones are currently unlikely to forward Indian interests and would rather hurt us.

It has to start with Indian education and text book which teach that Thailand is a sister civilization and part of the large Dharma world

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 11 Jul 2009 02:26

Its a pity that we still have not managed to build a modern "Buddhist University" at Nalanda. The International Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies in such Universities could be a great place to bring in students and monks from Buddhist majority SE Asian countries.

The Theravada school has some accommodation of the "military" without accepting "militarism". Worth exploring.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby a_kumar » 11 Jul 2009 03:10

Acharya wrote:It has to start with Indian education and text book which teach that Thailand is a sister civilization and part of the large Dharma world


Precisely.. but QUOTE secular UNQUOTE textbooks need to open up more to our earlier history to be able to appreciate this.

brihaspati wrote:Its a pity that we still have not managed to build a modern "Buddhist University" at Nalanda. The International Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies in such Universities could be a great place to bring in students and monks from Buddhist majority SE Asian countries.
The Theravada school has some accommodation of the "military" without accepting "militarism". Worth exploring.


While I agree on the relevance of Buddhist influence, I would slightly disagree.

I hope that we can have IITs or other centers of excellence (like Benaras Hindu University) around these ancient schools.

Wiki - Nalanda
Apparently sometime in 2006, an effort started. While I am glad somebody conceived it, what is highly shameful is that it seems to have been led by Singapore. From wiki....
A consortium led by Singapore and including China, India, Japan and other nations will attempt to raise $500 million to build a new university and another $500 million to develop necessary infrastructure.[2]


Now.. what in the world would make China be part of it? Its not even remotely religious..

Don't be misled by the wiki though, the original NYTimes article that is referenced didn't have China in the sentence, forget mentioned before India.
"led by Singapore and including India, Japan and others nations will discuss raising the $500 million "


Funny are the ways China has its print on everything. And there is more.

NDTV reported on May 5, 2008 that, according to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, The foundation of University would likely be in the year 2009 and the first teaching class could begin in a few years from then. Sen, who heads the Nalanda Mentor Group, said the final report in this regard, is expected to be presented to the East Asia Summit in December 2008.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 11 Jul 2009 05:19

Missed the point about "Buddhist studies". I hinted about using the pre-existing cultural foundations. In Some of the SE Asian countries being discussed, the Buddhist monks weild enormous amounts of prestige and influence. I also mentioned "military/militarism" in the context of the Theravada school. I hope we see the connection and advantage in hosting young Buddhist scholars from these nations.

An overtly "Buddhist" University would have kept cats like PRC away from nosing in. It creates existential and doctrinal problems for them. The regular skilled personnel generation can be done within the existing setup of "instititutes of national importance". For that we do not need another typical setup in Nalanda. The significance of places like Nalanda, Sravana Belgola, Nagarjunakonda can be used judiciously. Think historical, cultural, ideological continuity in SE Asian society where relevant for India, and the significance of cultural icons in such strategic connection building.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby a_kumar » 13 Jul 2009 00:03

I see what you mean, especially on how PRC will stay out owing to such an overt adoption of religion as main theme.

There are several schools, like Tibetian studies for example, that exist. How many times have people heard of them? They may be schools surviving on govt patronization just for the heck of patronizing or maybe they are used by govt to help its cause. Either way, they remain far from the common man.. he/she isn't even aware of these. To me, the objective should be that people are aware of these hence our roots.

For such an endeavor to sustain, it needs Indians to be engaged. Similarly we would want the younger generation of far-east asian countries to be engaged, rather than making it an institute of older generation. What I had in mind is an Indian institute modelled around the ancient universities working on areas of astronomy, philosopy, enginnering, medicine and buddist studies (afterthought). Come to think of it, most of the above was anyway taught in the university earlier.

Going forward, just like IIT is for India, there should be various "Gurukuls" (I know Gurukul isn't exactly a Buddist institute, name could be different), Nalanda being first of them, for Asia. Other extensions could be established in all the (friendly) asian countries in which we want to take our knowledge to. There can be another in Nagarjuna Sagar/Kashmir/NE etc.

I have noticed that several things "Eastern" that could be construed as Hindu/Buddhist, but are often referred to as Buddist in origin in the west. While west may not care about the subtleties, I don't vote for propagating that inference. So, I would rather have an Indic institute for Buddist studies rather than one for Buddist studies alone.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 13 Jul 2009 03:08

Yes,
there were six known almost at par with Nalanda, but perhaps not all at the same period. Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapuri/Uddandapur, Jagaddal, Somapura (now in BD), and Vallabhi in the west. All destroyed by invading Islamic armies. But these centres could now be revived, in a modern reconstruction. As you point out, these could be shaped under "Indic" basis. But I was looking at from a strategic viewpoint, where I would not mind too much "purely" Buddhist "departments" within these universities. There are many sects and schools of thought within currently existing Buddhist thought and they do not always see eye to eye. Different SE Asian nations are typically under different sects. This is another factor that can be used delicately.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby a_kumar » 13 Jul 2009 04:11

And don't forget Taksashila :twisted:

:SIGH: Its a pipe dream anyway, if Nalanda becomes a Japanese/Singaporean school!!

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 15 Jul 2009 21:39

Here is a theory and method for mass-mobilization by the Buddhist Sangha and monks, against organized military or repressive regimes:
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=10619
As the Burmese monks who participated in last September’s protests demonstrated, metta is not an attitude of passive acquiescence. Metta does not accept evil, but confronts it directly with a force that is its exact opposite.

In times of trouble, the revered Sangha, or community of monks, cannot merely insulate itself from the suffering of ordinary people. The monks who protested in Burma showed that they are not just peace lovers, but peacemakers. They did not stop at praying for the benefit of the Burmese people, but took to the streets to oppose the malice manifested in the exclusionary politics of military domination.

Monks—from Kachin State in the north to Mon State in the south, and from Arakan State in the west to Karen State in the east—chanted the “Metta Sutta”, the discourse on loving-kindness, as they marched through the streets in the thousands. As growing numbers of ordinary citizens joined them, they invoked the words of the Buddha: “May you be free from all danger. May your anger cease. May your heart and mind enjoy peace and serenity.”


Here is clue towards the connection and importance of the military in certain schools of Buddhism in SE Asia :
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=1652
Theravada Buddhism, Burma’s state religion for almost a thousand years, came to Burma by way of war. In the 11th century, King Anawrahta of the Pagan dynasty invaded the Mon Kingdom of Thaton in what is now southern Burma. Among the loot he took back to Pagan was the missionary monk Shin Arahan and the Buddhist scriptures he had brought with him from Ceylon. After establishing the Pagan dynasty through relentless warfare, Anawrahta made Theravada Buddhism the state religion in 1056 AD and went on a pagoda-building spree, as if to atone for the bloody atrocities he had committed while building his empire. He left a tradition of pagoda building that has continued right up to the present. It was in this tradition that the dictator Ne Win, who took power in a coup in 1962, started building his Maha Wizaya Pagoda. Similarly, the military regime that succeeded him continued the tradition by building the Swedawmyat (tooth relic) Pagoda.


The Pol Pot regime had tried to eradicate the Buddhists. But for ordinary Kampucheans, Buddhism seems to have been the sustaining and survival raft. Vietnam appears to have mad its peace with Buddhism, and although overtly Communist, still allows the Buddhist sangha networks to flourish. There are the beginnigs perhaps of a "liberation theology" based on Buddhist memes, in Thailand and Myanmar.

The crucial element, that it is also the duty of the "monk" to see to it that "people can live without fear, and in compassion" is a critical point on which Buddhist monks can decide to overcome the traditional self-restriction on "violence". The monks themselves may not participate, but may not actively hinder others carrying out violence that appears necessary for the "good, life, and happiness" of the common human. By far the greatest militancy and involvement in aggressive politics seems to be in Sri Lanka, but to a certain degree this also appears in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Kampuchea and Laos.

So any military progression from the Indian side has to walk along this narrow but plausible trajectory.


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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby ramana » 15 Jul 2009 22:19

SwamyG, Thanks for the books especially 2)

BTW, Page 6 of the Elementary Geography book has the map I want. Can someone extract it and post in the Future scenarios thread?

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby SwamyG » 17 Jul 2009 01:25

^^^
That is just a position of India on the globe. What is special about that map and what am I missing?

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby ramana » 17 Jul 2009 01:30

Look again and think about it.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby RamaY » 17 Jul 2009 01:58

Great thread.

Pranamams to Bji for starting it (and the map) and SwamyG for the ebook links.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 17 Jul 2009 02:07

RamaYji,
we are all friends and fellow travellers here, hopefully on a great journey. Between friends, namaste or "aalingan" perhaps - no pranaam please! I learn here much more than I contribute, and I learn from you too. Please continue to contribute as you are doing. This will be most useful in the future.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby SwamyG » 17 Jul 2009 05:00

Ramana gaaru: Is it the borders of India? I saw that earlier but did not think you would be pointing to that. Tibet is outside India. But there is what one would refer to "akhand bharat".

And BTW, here you....I don't know if it is legal though. If it is not, I will edit the post.

Image

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby SwamyG » 17 Jul 2009 05:49

Brihaspati ji: Yes me too forgot to thank you. SE. Asia is one of my favorites. CE Asia & ME being the other two. But the Chola Empires expansion and Chettiar community's role in Burma and always piqued me about the region. Ever willing to get gyan from the gurus.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby RayC » 17 Jul 2009 11:40

REDISCOVERING ASIA — Evolution of India's Look-East Policy: Prakash Nanda; Lancer Publishers and Distributors, K-36A (FF) Green Park Main, New Delhi-110016. Rs. 1195.

Indian leaders, in turn, visit Southeast Asian countries and are engaged in strengthening relations at political, strategic, economic and cultural levels.

<snip>

After actively involving in Indonesian freedom movement, assisting Myanmar (Burma) to maintain stability and security in the turbulent days following Aung San's assassination and the benign role in Geneva at the end of the First Indo-China War, Southeast Asia unfortunately came to be neglected by the Indian Foreign Office.

<snip>

The much acclaimed "Singapore lecture" by the former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore ushered in a new era in India's relations with Southeast Asian countries.

<snip>

India's efforts to "rediscover Asia" are taking place at a time when New Delhi is vigorously pursuing its "Look-East policy"; on the Southeast Asian side, it must be stated that after decades of dependence on the West for strategic and economic compulsions, these countries have realised that engaging India in a benign manner would provide them multiple options in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives.

The reviewer has maintained for many years that one of the major obstacles in the way of benign interaction had been our mindset. We have blindly accepted the concept of "area" — South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia — as formulated by the Western powers.

Since the countries of Southeast Asia belonged to a different area, they became intellectually distant entities.

Few people in India are conscious of the fact that the distance between Indira Point, the southern tip of the Nicobar islands, and the island of Pu Breush in the Northwest Sumatra is only 92 nautical miles, which is less than the distance between Chennai and Tirupati.

Similarly, the distance between Indira Point and Phuket in Thailand is only 273 nautical miles, which is less than the distance between Chennai and Madurai.

In its Annual Report, the Ministry of External Affairs refers to SAARC countries as "immediate neighbourhood" and member states of ASEAN as belonging to "emerging neighbourhood".

How much more near should Thailand and Indonesia be to India, for the mandarins in the South Bloc to realise that these two countries are also an integral part of our "immediate neighbourhood"?

The book is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter is devoted to introduction; Chapter II describes the historical setting and India's interface with Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea; the next one highlights India's foreign policy initiatives in Indonesia, Korea and Indo-China in the years immediately after Independence.

Chapter IV dwells on the Cold War years, when India and Southeast Asia drifted apart; Chapter V highlights the rationale behind India's Look-East policy; Chapter VI analyses the attempts to mend fences with Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand; the penultimate one describes the institutional linkages such as the ARF, BIMSTEC and the Mekong Ganga Cooperation.

The concluding chapter provides a summing up and mentions the challenges ahead for India and Southeast Asia.

India and Southeast Asia can develop and sustain benign interaction only in the context of a sustained diplomatic service, imbued with professional competence and a large group of scholars specialised in Southeast Asian Studies.

<snip>

It is imperative that the Government of India and the University Grants Commission invest more resources in the building up of Southeast Asian Studies programmes in Indian Universities, so that they could provide the much-needed academic inputs into policy-making.

V. SURYANARAYAN

http://www.hindu.com/br/2004/01/20/stor ... 461700.htm

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby ramana » 17 Jul 2009 11:47

SwamyG, Doesnt the globe look better with India at the center? This is the kind of maps we should popularize.

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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby brihaspati » 19 Jul 2009 20:19

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/02/24/se-asia039s-political-clout-grows-with-rise-china-and-india.html?1#1

Here is a rather plain message and invitation for all the "interested parties" to join in, in the "auction" for strategic space in SE Asia. This is also a good way to raise the value of the "strategic real estate". The question is, where does India fit in, and how much in terms of power projection. Military ties with Indonesia is growing, especially with the potential for hardware sales. But the dynamic with Malaysia is completely different from Indonesia in military terms, although both are Islamic majority nations, as proved by the reluctance of Malaysia to agreeing to the proposal for joint patrolling of the Malacca straits, (along with Thailand and Indonesia). In spite of many a BRFites fervent wishes, the religious inclinations and commitments of these countries cannot be dismissed perhaps in building scenarios.

Southeast Asia's political leverage on the global stage is on the rise thanks to its ability to keep the big powers' interests in the region in balance, but officials and experts warn of greater challenges in the future amid the current global woes.

Myanmar has developed strong trade ties with China and India amid economic sanctions from the West; countries along the Mekong River, including Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos have seen heavy investments from Chinese companies, while Thailand and the Philippines have leaned more toward the United States with their close defense ties.

"We are aware of such a possibility of a contest of influence *in our region* and we have to strike the right balance and use it for own benefit," an official at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta said recently.
The official, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, said ASEAN did not want to see the US check with China or China check with India under the same forum.

US Ambassador to ASEAN Scot A. Marciel said recently during a teleconference interview in Bangkok that the United States did not feel threatened by China's ties with ASEAN as "there is plenty of room to cooperate with each other".
"We've got lots of common interests although there can be differences in views and certainly we might not have same view on the situation in Burma *Myanmar*. But we see this area is not a zero sum game between the US and China at all."[....]
"China extended its relations with the region and we do not have a problem with that. We respect countries within the region who want to have good relations with China as well as Japan and the US. We prefer to say that there are areas we can work together rather than rivals to each other. This is not a game in which a loss for China is a gain for the US."

Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Diplomacy at the National University of Singapore, said last week that the threat of geopolitical tension would always be present as at some point China knew that the US might get worried with the rise of Beijing and would try to contain it the same way it did with the Cold War[.....]
"Geopolitical tension is always created between the world's greatest powers and the world greatest emerging powers," he said.

"We should have seen rising tension between the United States and China but remarkably the exact opposite has happened in the last eight years. The new challenge now begins with the Obama administration and you have to wait and see what happens, but I am confident that China will manage it well," Mahbubani said.

svinayak
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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby svinayak » 20 Jul 2009 01:36

brihaspati wrote:

"We should have seen rising tension between the United States and China but remarkably the exact opposite has happened in the last eight years. The new challenge now begins with the Obama administration and you have to wait and see what happens, but I am confident that China will manage it well," Mahbubani said.


This is a naive statement. US and China have a vested interest in not increasing tension since the resurgence of Russia after 2000 during Putin They also have a common interest on India and Tibet. This is blind to him is surprising.

RayC
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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby RayC » 20 Jul 2009 11:25

The basic issue of India’s interest in SE would be, apart from cultural and economic reasons, the need to check the threat of China.

While the threat from China from the land is well taken care of, it is the sea that is freewheeling and it is here that China can jeopardise India’s national security interests.

One has to realise that there is a fine difference between Doctrine and Strategy.

Doctrine is defined as “a framework of principles, practices and procedures relating to deployment of forces, the understanding of which provides a basis for action”. Doctrine leads through training, to a general understanding (or even anticipation) of the commander’s intent, consistent behaviour, mutual confidence and properly orchestrated collective action. History and experience, success and failure leads to lessons learnt help shape Doctrines.

Strategy (or a strategic plan), requires the start point - there has to be a threat. Without a specific threat, whether real or perceived, there is no need for a Strategy. And as the threat alters, so must the strategy keep evolving or changing. Ideally speaking, the political leadership of a country, in conformity with national policies and objectives, should evolve a Grand Strategy, which is a plan of action for attainment of these objectives. Sadly, we have none.

It is worth recall that when the Indian Ocean (IO) was dominated by India right upto the the 13th Century, it is the decline of India’s command of the IO that the Europeans came into reckoning!

Admiral Mahan, in his seminal work, “Influence of Sea Power on History” remarks,
“…it may be said that the foundation thus laid could never have been built upon, had the English nation not controlled the sea. The conditions in India were such that Europeans of nerve and shrewdness, dividing that they may conquer, and making judicious alliances, were able to hold their own against overwhelming odds.”

It is again worth recall that Lord Curzon, almost a century ago, informed the Foreign Office that control of the key choke points extending from the Horn of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope and the Malacca Strait was essential to prevent an inimical power from making an entry into the Indian Ocean.

Given that, it is worth observing the Strategic scenario.

The US will remain active in the IO since she has to contain China, an emerging superpower. Afghanistan and Pakistan have to be surveiled as also the Chinese ‘String of Pearls’ strategy as also to translate the ‘Expeditionary Warfare’ Doctrine of the US Navy and Marine Corps i.e. support US operations in the ME and other areas of interest.

China the other contender for space in the IO has the reasons to do so. She has to protect her seaborne nuclear deterrent force, her requirement to safeguard her vital energy lifelines from the Persian Gulf, and the fulfilment of her desire to reunite Taiwan with mainland China.

China has assiduously built up her equation with littoral countries of the IO, they being Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Iran and even Saudi Arabia to nclude military cooperation with most.
The PLA Navy has 90 odd submarines, six are nuclear powered and China has carried out successful tests of the 8,000 km DF-31 ballistic missile and its maritime derivative, the 8,000 km JL-2 SLBM.

Looking east, one sees that the economies of SE Asia, having weathered the crisis of the late 90s, are now upbeat once again. One of the consequences of their resurgence has been the start of a maritime arms race in this region. The provocation for this has been provided on one hand by the fear of a resurgent Chinese Navy and on the other hand by the heady combination of national pride and availability of funds. This development offers us several opportunities to build partnerships by offering assistance in areas where we have expertise and cooperate in areas of commonality.

Therefore, India has to have a military strategy that would be predicated in preparing for a possible conflict against one major adversary while deterring a simultaneous attack by another, as the worst case scenario. Within this broad frame of reference, India needs to have a blue water maritime force that is capable of not only defeating our opponents in a shooting war, but is also capable of deterring stronger adversaries in a hostile situation. Strategic deterrence is a part of this spectrum.

India’s geographic location, astride the major sea-lanes of the world, point to the crucial relevance of its role in ensuring the free flow of oil and commerce from the Gulf to the Asia-Pacific region.

The criticality of the sea-lanes from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca is evident from the fact that of the US$ 200 billion worth of oil coming out of the Strait of Hormuz annually, US$ 70 billion passes through the Straits of Malacca, mainly bound for China, Japan and South Korea.

India is currently at a very energy-intensive stage of its development. Between 1990 and 2003, oil consumption in India (and China) grew at an average rate of 7%, against just 0.8% for the rest of the world. Today India imports over 70% of its oil requirements and it is estimated that by 2050 India will be the largest importer of oil in the world. Imagine then, the effect of higher oil prices combined with a possible threat to their security.

A new development is our acquisition of oil and gas fields across the globe. Today Indian companies operate tank farms in Trincomalee and oil and gas fields in the Sakhalin Islands, Egypt, Sudan and Myanmar. While the Indian Navy is at this moment, not mandated to provide security for these assets, the billions of dollars of investment does warrant some thought about its protection and security. A strong maritime force with adequate reach and endurance is a logical choice.

A quick look at our Overseas Trade indicates India is now projected to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2020, after China, Japan and the US. India’s exports for 2004-05 were over US$ 75 billion. This figure is almost double our exports just five years ago, and it is estimated that it would double again in the next five years. The tremendous scope for further growth can be imagined when we consider that our present share of the world trade is only 0.7%.
Another facet of the ocean, which presents the prospect of wealth and prosperity, and yet contains the seeds of future conflict, is undersea resources. India has a mineral rich EEZ currently extending over 2 million sq km, and the successful exploitation of these could lift us from economic backwardness.

India’s merchant navy, though small for our needs and size, remains a major factor in our maritime security planning. Relatively speaking, it constitutes a little over one percent of the world shipping tonnage, and our ships are able to carry only about a third of our own foreign trade. In absolute terms however, India’s growing fleet of over 600 ships is quite large, and operates out of 12 major and 184 minor ports. The security of these ports, our merchant ships and the sea-lanes that they ply on represent vital maritime interests for us.

The political (or diplomatic) objectives dictate that India builds strong relations with our immediate friendly neighbours and countries of strategic interest in the Indian Ocean Region.

While there is no doubt that we must build bridges in the SE to contain the Chinese threat, we have to holistically look at strategy and it requires securing national interests and that is by ensuring that nations around the choke points of the IO are within our sphere of influence. In this context, it is worrisome that Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives are being drawn in by China and Malaysia and Indonesia are ambivalent!

RayC
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Re: India in South East Asia

Postby RayC » 20 Jul 2009 23:11

It is important to not be myopic.

One should not look merely as SE Asia, but the Indian Ocean Rim or Region.

That is where the action is!


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