Washington, May 1
India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pursued an assertive foreign policy in 2020 aimed at demonstrating the country’s strength and its perception as a net provider of security in the strategically vital Indian Ocean Region, a top American intelligence agency has said.
The Defence Intelligence Agency also told lawmakers adding that New Delhi also hardened its approach towards an aggressive China.
“Throughout 2020, Narendra Modi’s government pursued an assertive foreign policy aimed at demonstrating India’s strength and its perception as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean Region,” Scott Berrier, Gen Director of Defence Intelligence Agency told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.
In the first months of the Covid pandemic, New Delhi played a leading role in delivering medical equipment to countries throughout South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, facilitating the evacuation of Indians and other South Asians from virus hotspots, he said on Friday.
“India hardened its approach towards China following deterioration in bilateral relations that followed Chinese efforts to take Indian-claimed territory along the disputed Line of Actual Control border beginning in the summer of 2020,” Berrier said.
In response to the June clash between Indian and Chinese troops, and the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, New Delhi responded by deploying an additional 40,000 troops, artillery, tanks, and aircraft to the disputed border, occupying strategic mountain passes in disputed territory, and sending Indian Navy ships to shadow Chinese ships in the Gulf of Aden, it said.
India also implemented economic measures meant to signal its resolve against China, including banning Chinese mobile phone apps and taking steps to use trustworthy vendors of telecommunications, he told the lawmakers.
According to Berrier, India also maintained an assertive approach on its border with Pakistan, refusing to engage in diplomatic dialogue in the absence of Pakistani action to end support to anti-India militant groups.
Tensions remain high in the aftermath of the 2019 Pulwama terrorist attack and subsequent military reactions, and the Modi government’s August 2019 action “to curtail Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy by revising the Indian Constitution”. PTI