On the heels of the G20 Summit in Australia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is touring the country, in a gesture that highlights the increasingly close ties between Canberra and New Delhi. Indeed, Australia is looking to make those ties even firmer, especially when it comes to maritime security. Over at The Diplomat, Abhijit Singh notes:
[…] Australia’s consistent efforts for a deeper, more purposeful maritime association with India have begun to bear fruit. Last year, at the special invitation of Australia, the Indian Navy sent its latest indigenous warship INS Sahyadri to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) in Sydney – a move widely perceived as a sign of a growing nautical convergence. The maritime interaction was widely perceived as the first concrete achievement in a set of deliverables envisaged during AK Anthony’s visit to Canberra in June last year, when the two sides had signed an agreement on regular ministerial level meetings, frequent defense exchanges, and deeper maritime collaboration. Safety of sea-borne trade was on the agenda during Abbot’s visit to New Delhi in September this year, with both sides reaffirming the need for a “peaceful, prosperous and stable Asia-Pacific region, underpinned by cooperative mechanisms.”By all accounts, however, it is the decision to hold a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015 that has been the most encouraging development in India-Australia maritime ties – especially since the last time the two navies engaged operationally was during Exercise Malabar in 2007. Still, the maritime interaction between the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has yet to attain the critical mass needed for a self-sustaining relationship.
Australia has certainly been busy on the world stage; over the weekend it announced the reinforcement of its defense ties with Japan and the U.S. Indeed, the country looks poised to play a greater diplomatic role in this century than in the last one.In soliciting a closer relationship with Modi, Canberra is courting a man whom many hope will raise India to the first rank of global powers. Whether Modi lives up to these expectations remains to be seen, but the thickening of ties between these two emerging Asian powers is a move to watch in the Game of Thrones.