Alfred Deakin Research Institute

ADRI-TERI Symposium

Human Security, Energy Security

Harsh Pant presents an overview of the Indian foreign policy and security matrix.

India is:

  • a reluctant superpower that seeks to resolve poverty concerns by protecting interests.
  • the world's largest energy consumer
  • the world's second-most populous nation.

India faces a daunting energy policy, and energy is one of the core variables in India's shifting foreign policy thinking.

The 2005 US-India Nuclear Deal was not just about nuclear energy. It was also part of a larger national strategic policy. Nevertheless, the nuclear debate has continued to plague national relations, including the recent visit of PM Gillard to India.

India's foreign policy concerns:

  • 60% of India's oil imports from the Middle East.
  • Nurturing ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.
  • Hostilities with Pakistan affect pipeline developments through Turkey or Iran-Pakistan.
  • Lack of China-India cooperation
  • China is spreading a wider energy security net in the world, projecting power into Indian sea-trading regions suggesting a 'string of pearls' scenario.
  • The Straits of Hormuz and Straits of Malacca are of concern to national interests.

NH: Given India's ineluctable rise to superpower status, how is Australia responding? Is it competing with others to tap the booming market? How is it positioned in the relationship between China and India? How do we face a growing Chinese military capability to defend its oceans, and in 10-15 years the Taiwan seas?
PH: Changing traditional top-down Command and Control structures, the US military are deploying new organizational paradigms such as 'swarming' and 'immunological' modes, so as to be responsive to absurd situations.
AB: The US military is re-appropriating terminology from contemporary critical theory.
PH: US AirSea Battle operations are being developed to meet new Chinese military capabilities.
HP: India has not yet reached a point to transcend economics with politics.
AM: Could the game-changer be Myanmar? We must ask what a superpower is, and how it should project power. India is not necessarily a superpower. It is difficult to imagine India taking aggressive military positioning in the next few decades. External affairs are not as important as pragmatic economic and trade priorities. Soft power and ecological aspects have been part of the economic cooperation to attract investment to federal units such as Karnataka, Orissa, Gujarat, West Bengal. Rather than military interests, India has used negotiation and compromise to mitigate Chinese (and Pakistani) aggravations. Would western countries use similar soft methods?
PH: Non-extractable small nuclear reactors in coastal regions could offer potential.
MP: How viable is it to run desalination plants with these small nuclear reactors?

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

18th December 2012