Author:Christian Wagner (German Institute for International and Security Affairs)
Paper short abstract:
India has intensified its security cooperation with its neighbours in recent years. This has been alleviated by a common understanding among most of India's neighbours that militant movements pose the most important domestic security threats that require cross border cooperation.
Paper long abstract:
India has a long and difficult security relationship with its neighbours. The previous perception that South Asia is part of India's security underwent a change with the economic liberalisation and the Gujral doctrine in the 1990s. Since then India has developed a network of bilateral military cooperation with most of its neighbours within the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Despite the difficult relations with Pakistan, both countries were able agreed on various confidence building measures.
In the academic discourse, India is still regarded as the regional bully but governments in most neighbouring countries see different militant groups as the most important security threats. Many of these groups operate across national borders which has facilitated the bilateral security cooperation.
The concept of India being a security provider was first conceptualized under the UPA government but had been in place long before for instance in the long military cooperation between India and Nepal or Bhutan. The Modi government has announced to expand this policy to some of the neighbouring states in the Indian Ocean as well.
South Asia's changing security environment