From being an important ally of the USSR/Russia in the garb of Non Alignment to being a great friend of the United States, there has been a significant shift in India’s foreign policy over the years. Great diplomacy and understanding between the two countries is the reason why a country which had once imposed sanctions on India for secretly conducting a nuclear test by fooling their most capable intelligence agency stands firm with the Indian Government. Be it the Indo – US civil nuclear deal of 2008 or the four foundational agreements which have been signed over the past 18 years, the relations are fostering irrespective whichever political party is in power in both the countries.
The 2+2 dialogue was held between the United States and India just a week before Presidential elections are conducted in the United States. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper met India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh. The most important outcome of the meeting was the BECA (Basic Exchange and Co-operation Agreement) which was signed by both the nations after long and extensive discussions from both the sides. This completes the set of four foundational agreements which include LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement), GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) and the BECA. The BECA is extremely significant for India as well as the United States.
A) The Importance of BECA for India
Being a rising military power, India will benefit a lot out of this agreement. The execution of this agreement clearly indicates that India is slowly moving away from Russia as its primary military ally. India is on a missile testing spree these days. In the months of September and October 2020, India has conducted 10 missile tests. The BECA will give an extra boost to this rampant missile testing as India will now be able to access real time geospatial intelligence of US. BECA enhances the exchange of unclassified information that can aid navigation and targeting. This basically means that India can use US maps and charts which will enhance the accuracy of accuracy of automated missiles and drones. The targeting, identifying, updating, tracking and navigation of various targets and positions will improve.
This agreement comes at a very crucial time when Indian military is facing the most intense military standoff across the undefined border with China. India can track troop and artillery movement of the People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The well updated and accurate maps will benefit the Indian Army in tough winter condition in Ladakh where the temperate drops to around -30 Degree Celsius. Also the movement of terrorists and Pakistani Army in PoK will be well tracked by the military. This agreement in short will strengthen the borders of our country.
B) The Importance of BECA for United States
The anti China sentiment of the current US establishment is very evident. US see China as threat which can challenge its dominance in the world. US is consolidating all the nations which share the same anti china sentiment at the moment and there is no surprise that the QUAD alliance compromising of India US Japan and Australia which are affected by Chinese Communist Party’s expansionist policy in some way or the other is strengthening its bond. US desperately needs support to track China and for the US, India is the best option. The political ties are at an all time high, India is a country which is geographically very close to China and India has the ability and the competence to counter China. Important thing to note is that the BECA is not just a one sided agreement which will give India access to geospatial intelligence of US. Even US shall have the access to the maps and charts of the Indian intelligence which can help the US agencies have a close track on the PLA.
This agreement comes in nick of time for India. The political pundits say that if Biden wins the 2020 Presidential Election, he won’t hard on China like Trump is going. If Biden-Harris pair win the election, Indo-US political relations will more or less remain the same but the anti China sentiment will surely reduce significantly which might hamper India’s attempt to counter China as the Indian administration won’t have the backing which Trump has offered. But this agreement would definitely help the Indian military to give a befitting reply to China irrespective who handles the White House.
- Manav Asrani, Writer Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
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