The evolution of world from a multilateral one, which was being led by the West, to a more plurilateral one, which offers a relatively more level playing field to other nations, is giving rise to a multipolar world that we are witnessing today. Multipolarity is a distribution of power in which more than two countries, not necessarily democracies, have nearly equal amounts of military, cultural, and economic influence.
Gone are the days when few countries from the West could dictate the terms on how the world would function. The biggest example supporting this assertion would be the shift of power, or one can say sharing of power, from G7 to G20 group of countries due to the financial crisis of 2008. The events of 2008 paved the way for an economic rebalancing of the world which, in a matter of time, got translated into a political rebalancing of the world.
Moreover, the last three decades have been marked by growing nationalistic approach by several countries like the US, China, and others. These countries have prioritised their own interests while making foreign and economic policies, and naturally so.
Therefore, the weakening of multilateralism, coupled with the rising nationalistic attitude gave way to a multipolar world - a world where there are not one, not two, but many ‘super-powers’, a stark do away with the bi-polar world that we had observed during the time of the Cold War.
This is a world where countries are going beyond pre-determined alliances to make new groupings that have mutual interests and can share the global burden. We have seen the soon-to-be former President of the US, Donald Trump, putting forth the idea of a G10/11 because G7 got “outdated”, and the incumbent Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, talking about enlarging the scope of G7 to a D10, which is a group of 10 Democracies.
G7 is a group of seven countries, namely US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan. Now, both Trump and Johnson want India, Australia, and South Korea to be a part of the G7. The West knows that to counter the authoritarian and expansionist regime of China, it will have to work together with these three countries.
India, South Korea, and Australia are the three major economies present in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. Thus, the West has a vested interest in the Indo-Pacific region.
Indian Ocean Region, more specifically the Indo-Pacific, is becoming a hotspot of regional and global dominance due to its increasing economic and strategic importance, and China has started flexing its muscles in the region, creating an obstacle in rule-based international order.
QUAD countries – US, India, Australia, and Japan – holding joint naval drills in the region, Germany announcing to send a warship in Indian Ocean as part of plans to contain the China’s growing authoritarian influence in the region, European countries formulating Indo-Pacific strategy against the backdrop of China’s increasing belligerence towards its neighbours in Asia, and Australia increasing its military expenditure to $270B to build larger and more technologically advanced defence forces are the events reflecting that Indo-Pacific region is crucial for foreign policy of countries, which want to save the international law & order to create prosperous, free, and safe ocean environment.
The vast maritime space stretching from the western coast of North America to the eastern shores of Africa is popularly known as Indo-Pacific. The term became popular in international politics as India highlighted the importance of the region, both economically and strategically, to draw the attention of world leaders and policy-makers.
“India not just mainstreamed the expression Indo-Pacific but, more substantially, encouraged others to perceive and define the region in its full extent", said Foreign Secretary Shringla.
“In the past, the Indo-Pacific concept was seen as an Asian concept with Western Europe keeping a safe distance. Now, the gloves are off.” Harsh Pant, an international relations professor at King’s College, London said.
India had done its bit to link western countries to the Indo-Pacific, and put forth the idea that the Indo-Pacific is not a regional construct, but a global issue.
The West will increase its footprint in Indo-Pacific to safeguard the democratic values of navigation in the sea, and there is no better partner than India. Thus, making Indo-Pacific an area of strategic importance in the new multipolar world order.