GS2- International Relation - Why is India looking West now?

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Why is India looking West now?

Why is India looking West now?

  • India has vital stakes in its western neighbourhood, extending from Afghanistan to Turkey across the oil rich Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden. This is the region from where India gets more than two-thirds of its oil and gas supplies.
  • This region, even more than its eastern neighbourhood, where PV Narasimha Rao fashioned an imaginative ‘Look East’ policy based primarily on regional economic integration, is crucial for stability and economic growth in India.
  • It is from the western neighbourhood that India gets around 65 per cent of its oil and more than 80 per cent of its gas supplies. Seven million Indians live in these Arab Gulf monarchies — Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman — which are all members of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council.

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  • What is significant about the partnerships India is looking to create in the region is the fact that it is defined not just by India’s “Look West” policy, based on its energy and financial needs, but that it is equally defined by the GCC’s “Look East” policy, soliciting greater Indian engagement with West Asia. Several factors have contributed to this fundamental shift in West Asian strategic thinking.
  • First, the structural change in the global energy market with West Asian oil and gas increasingly heading to South and East Asian markets rather than to the Trans-Atlantic markets. Saudi Arabia, Iran and others, who earlier virtually blackmailed India with rising oil prices, will find that deprived of traditional markets in the US, Europe, West Africa and Latin America, their future markets will primarily be major Asian economies like China, Japan, India and South Korea.
  • Second, partly as a consequence of this change in flows and partly owing to the fiscal stress faced by the trans-Atlantic economies, West Asia is looking to India and other Asian powers to step in and offer security guarantees to the region. Many GCC states have welcomed defence cooperation agreements with India.
  • Third, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the mess in Egypt and Iraq, the Gulf states find India and China to be more reliable interlocutors than many western states.
  • Fourth, under pressure from radical and extremist political forces within West Asia, most states in the region have come to value the Indian principle of seeking and securing regional stability as an over-riding principle of regional security.