India exercises caution

India needs to shed its concerns about Chinese sensitivities and embrace its Indian Ocean partners.

India’s Reluctance on Multilateral Naval Exercises

By Pushan Das & Sylvia Mishra

The scope of the upcoming Indo-U.S. Malabar naval exercise has expanded to a trilateral that includes Japan. This will be the first multilateral Malabar exercise to be held in waters near India since 2007.

However, the exclusion of Australia from the Malabar exercise reflects New Delhi’s penchant for hedging against the prospect of Chinese opposition. New Delhi’s cautious approach to the exercise also reflects an institutional aversion to multilateral exercises geographically close to India. Given the rapidly expanding presence of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), can New Delhi afford to hold on to these hesitancies while simultaneously pursuing its quest to be the dominant security player in the region?

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