By Jacob L. Shapiro
May 19, 2016
As the rest of Eurasia slides further into crisis, the only thing getting in India’s way is India.
India deployed four ships, including two stealth frigates and one guided missile corvette, into the South China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean, where they will remain for two and a half months, according to a statement released yesterday by the Press Information Bureau of India. The statement said that the Indian ships will participate in the annual Malabar exercises with the Japanese and U.S. navies and will make port calls in Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Apple Inc.’s CEO Tim Cook arrived in Mumbai today. At the end of his five-day trip, Cook is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the surface, these seem like impressive developments. From a military perspective, the ship deployments suggest India is feeling confident enough in its abilities to send warships into one of the most contested seascapes in the world. From an economic perspective, Apple, fresh off its first drop in quarterly sales in 13 years, may be looking at India as a possible solution for a 26 percent decline year over year in revenue in China. This seems to indicate that India may be well placed to take advantage of the exporter’s crisis. India is in a good strategic position today, but that doesn’t mean we should indulge in delusions of grandeur. The fundamental issues that have always held India back are still there – and they won’t be dissipating in the near future.