(This News Article Is Originally Posted on India Today by Abhishek Bhalla)
The Indian Navy will be part of a French naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal next month. The participating nations also include the other Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) member countries — Australia, Japan and the United States of America (USA).
This is the first time that the Indian Navy will be part of the France-led war game ‘La Perouse’. Until now, India was not invited for the French naval exercise.
After the Malabar Exercise in November last year, during which the navies of India, the US and Japan got together with Australia as the new addition, India’s inclusion in the France-led joint naval drill is a significant step.
“The exercise is scheduled between April 5 and 7,” said an official.
This will be followed by another important naval exercise ‘Varuna’, which takes place annually between India and France. This time it will also include the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“It will take place in the last week of April in the Western Indian Ocean,” the official informed.
India’s maritime diplomacy
India’s maritime diplomacy involves naval exercises with several friendly countries, keeping in mind China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean region. The inclusion of more navies in such exercises is also a response to Chinese aggression in international waters and its increasing foray into the region.
As part of maritime cooperation, the Indian and Vietnamese navies carried out a passage exercise in the South China Sea in December 2020.
The Indian Navy also carried out war games with the navies of Singapore and Thailand in the Andaman Sea, soon after the Malabar Exercise.
As part of the Indian government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ vision, the Indian Navy undertook joint exclusive economic zone surveillance with Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius, as well as coordinated patrols (CORPATs) with Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indian Navy has participated in 13 bilateral and multilateral exercises so far this year.
Besides improving inter-operability between friendly navies, the joint drills are aimed at strengthening mutual confidence, developing standard procedures and enhancing overall maritime security.