25 June, 2021

Watch This Barter

India and the US get into a tighter strategic embrace under the menacing stare of China. But, in making common cause with the US, are we abandoning our strategic autonomy?

Ever Closer
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper meet PM Narendra Modi in Delhi
Photograph by PTI
Watch This Barter

India’s gradual strategic proximity to the US, reflected in the purchase of military hardware and other forms of defence cooperation, has led experts in recent years to comment on and predict the pace as well as the depth of the process. In recent months, a belligerent China’s muscle-flexing in Asia and the continuing stand-off in Ladakh have been the single biggest factor driving and accelerating such cooperation. The defence asymmetry between India and China, forcing New Delhi to look for ‘external balancing’, is one allied reason.  

By signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the last of the four foundational agreements with the US, New Delhi has sent a strong message to China vis-a-vis a robust Indo-Pacific strategy. The highlight of the 2+2 dialogue between foreign minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper on October 27 was the BECA. The significance attached to it can be gauged from the fact that Pompeo and Esper were here with just...

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