New Delhi: – Inclusion of Australia in the Malabar war exercises to be held in the Bay of Bengal, at the end of this year, has almost been finalised. Australia, along with the United States and Japan, will be a permanent participant in the Malabar war exercises from this year, claims a senior official from the defence department. These will become the biggest war exercises by navies of the QUAD countries, and a reaction is expected from China regarding the new development. The official added that no heed would be paid to any reactions received from China.
Malabar war exercises, conducted by the Indian Navy who is the host along with the United States and Japan, are held every year in the Bay of Bengal. But demand was being made that India should invite Australia to join the exercises in view of the changing global equations. The defence department officials said that this was discussed in a meeting held two days ago and it is almost certain that Australia will be included in the Malabar war exercises from this year. Before this, India had included Australia in the year 2007. But after a strong reaction from China over the Australian inclusion, India had kept Australia away from the exercises for the last 13 years. But, the officials, while talking to a newspaper clarified that the situation is entirely different today.
The concerned officials informed the newspaper that 2007 is history. Malabar 2020 will be entirely different in its character. Chinese objections had importance 13 years ago, but the scenario is different today. The Galwan Valley conflict has exposed the real face of China. India will be taking all its military decisions without taking any Chinese opinions into account. The concerned officials indicated a change in the Indian policies saying that although a Chinese reaction is certain on the Australian inclusion in the Malabar exercises, India will not pay any heed to the Chinese objections. The Indian defence ministry has not made any official announcement in this matter.
Analysts from the United States and Australia have welcomed the indications of Australian inclusion in the Malabar war exercises. Dr Satoru Nagao, Visiting Fellow at Hudson Institute, claimed that the addition of Australia in the Malabar war exercises would deliver a clear message to China. At the same time, Dr Nagao suggested that instead of keeping the QUAD cooperation restricted only to four countries, the scope should be widened with the inclusion of south-east Asian countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia to form an Asian NATO. Dr Nagao added that the addition of India supporters from Europe, like the United Kingdom and France, also can be considered in the new organisation.
Meanwhile, a meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Japan will be held in October before the Malabar war exercises. There could be discussions regarding increasing the bilateral trade and military cooperation during this meeting. It is said that the decision regarding allowing Japan to use the Indian army base in Andaman and Nicobar Islands will also be taken during this meeting. A strong reaction will likely be received from China, who is increasing its activities in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, over both these Indian decisions. But India has decided not to pay any heed to Chinese objections henceforth.