The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which provides for the sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information, is a major step forward in defence collaboration between India and the US. It’s the third in the series of strategic pacts the two countries have inked in recent years, following the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) of 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, and the 2018 COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
The latest agreement comes amid the prolonged standoff at the Line of Actual Control. America has been vociferously backing India and bashing China over the border unrest, and the third edition of the 2+2 dialogue provided US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a platform to tear into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). More importantly, Pompeo asserted that India and the US were taking steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by the CCP. India’s interests are best served if America stays firmly on its side even if China is taken out of the equation.
Even as India has had its hands full this year with the Covid-19 pandemic and Chinese aggression, the country has made rapid strides towards cementing defence ties with its Quad partners. In June, India and Australia signed a pact allowing their militaries to access each other’s bases. A similar agreement with Japan came to fruition last month after years of negotiations. At the recent Quad meeting in Tokyo, all four members had reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The support of such formidable allies ought to give India military and diplomatic heft to put China on the back foot. It’s also hoped that the sharing of technology will contribute significantly towards bringing India nearer to the lofty goal of Atmanirbharta in the defence sector.