MEA sets up Indo-Pacific wing

Making a strong strategic statement, India has just set up an Indo-Pacific division in the foreign office. The brainchild of foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, the new division is intended to give a coherent architecture to the policy, which was articulated by PM Narendra Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018.

The division, which started work this week, will be headed for the moment by joint secretary Vikram Doraiswami, for whom it will be an additional charge apart from Bangladesh and Myanmar. MEA’s territorial divisions are crucial for policy making, so the creation of an Indo-Pacific division is a big step by the government.

The division will integrate the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Asean region and the Quad to the Indo-Pacific table. Its not clear whether the different trilateral groupings in the Indo-Pacific theatre, like the India-Japan-US, India-Australia-Indonesia and India-Australia-Japan would be part of this division’s responsibility.

The US recently renamed its Pacific Command to the Indo-Pacific Command as it seeks to give teeth to its Indo-Pacific policy. In India, the policy will be run by the MEA, though it is expected that as it moves along, it will work with the defence ministry which runs its own Indo-Pacific policy — for instance, Indian ships are currently touring Vietnam on a goodwill visit en route to China, while others are in Mozambique to provide relief.

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