29 May 2019 By Publikasi IIS

‘Indo-Pacific,’ a Central Concept for India’s Contemporary Foreign Policy

‘Indo-Pacific,’ a Central Concept for India’s Contemporary Foreign Policy

Friday (24/5), Institute of International Studies held the second edition of CANGKIR TEH (Berbincang dan Berpikir tentang Hubungan Internasional). On this chance, the theme being discussed was “Conceptualization of Indo-Pacific: India’s Vision Beyond Geographical Limitation.” As for the speaker, CANGKIR TEH brought forward Habibah Hermanadi, S.I.P., Institute of International Studies researcher who is currently undergoing a Master study in University of Delhi, India. This discussion took place in Room BA-504 FISIPOL UGM and in essence discussed why India constructed a specific Indo-Pacific framework and how India utilizes said concept in the context of foreign policy.

Indo-Pacific is a central idea for India. According to Habibah’s explanation, various academic forum as well as practitioners in India lately discussed Indo-Pacific conception which attempts to connect two oceans; Indian and Pacific. This reflects India’s counter-discourse towards the concept of Asia-Pacific that often excludes India, in which Asia-Pacific is associated with states in East and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, Habibah explained that there are at least three other factors that support the centrality of aforementioned conception. First, India has a historic claim that gives strength to India’s attempt to “free” the ocean, which is important due to the belief that such is the condition of past civilization. Second, Indo-Pacific conception acts as a geostrategy consideration, where through Indo-Pacific, India is anticipated to be able to build a geopolitical sphere of influence. And third, it becomes a perception management in order to shift the paradigm from Asia-Pacific to a new concept that includes India inside; creates a perception of Indo-Pacific as a regional architecture building, as a development model pembangunan, as well as an alternative from other models that is currently popular, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In the context of foreign policy, India uses Indo-Pacific through several ways. First, through a multilateral policy titled “NAMO’s Bouquet”. NAMO is an acronym; N for “North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)” or a multicapital trade corridor stretched out from states in the Northern to Southern hemisphere; ‘A’ which stands for ‘Asia-Africa Growth Corridor’ (AAGC) initiative that promotes maritime trade with the scope ranging from the East (Asia) all the way to the West (Afrika); ‘M’ refers to MAUSAM project – a cultural corridor focusing on Hindu, Budha, and Islam values among Indo-Pacific countries; and finally ‘O,’ short for Open which refers to openness and inclusivity. Not only through NAMO’s Bouquet, India also implemented a maritime-oriented policy, promoting Indo-Pacific as a new trend of knowledge that upholds the principles of adjustable and adaptable.

Unfortunately, since Indo-Pacific is considerably a new concept, it is still difficult to define Indo-Pasifik as a singular concept. Currently, there are many debates through many point of views regarding how to understand Indo-Pacific: be it as a model, concept, perspective, regime, sphere of influence, or perhaps as an alternative. These questions remain unanswered; at least until the policy implementation phase has been finished.

Writer: Sonya Teresa Debora
Editor: Angganararas I. & Alifiandi R. Y.
Translator: Heidira Witri Hadayani