Delhi must try and build a stable balance of the power system in the region. That would demand greater military engagement with all the major powers, and not “military neutrality” between them.
India claims it will “look east” in its foreign policy, but it continues to be distracted by the West. Meanwhile, China is becoming a more attractive partner for others in the region.
By seeking more space with China and Pakistan at the same time, some believe Prime Minster Modi could be creating a strategic nightmare for India. Others suggest the two fronts are no longer separate.
India might think of itself as equal to China, but the realists point to the power shift that has begun to express itself in Beijing’s ties with New Delhi.
As China and India continue to rise, the competition is shifting from their continental interests to their maritime goals. This change in geopolitics also requires a shift in India’s maritime foreign policy, and brings into focus the need to engage more with friendly navies.
Rather than just looking at Maritime Domain Awareness collaboration as a reaction to China’s rise, India must see it as a necessary step to maintain its position in the Indian Ocean and secure its strategic leverage in its primary area of interest.
India's stance is not about China's rise or a reaction to Chinese actions, but a necessary step to lend its voice on a matter of principle critical to peace and stability in the region.
New Delhi might find that frankness is a lot more useful with Beijing than nursing grievances in private and feigning convergence in public.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project may be based on economic principles, but broader strategic and security interests are driving both Beijing and Islamabad.
New Delhi’s renewed efforts to persuade Beijing to change its mind on India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership should be an extraordinary exercise in realpolitik that is well worth watching.