The Signing of BECA | Advantages for India | Regional Implications
On 27th October 2020, India and the United States have signed BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement). The agreement aims at greater information sharing between the two states. The bilateral exchange of information would include the sharing of geospatial information, the sharing of the navigation maps for both the air and the sea, and the sharing of unclassified data. India would gain access to high-quality data from the U.S. precision military satellites.
How would India benefit from the new pact and what would be the potential implications of BECA in the region? To understand these aspects, one must be cognizant of the recent developments in the region.
New Delhi has always cherished the dream of rising as a great regional power. However, its ambitions were always checkmated by Pakistan in its west and China in its north.
As China is emerging as a global power, it poses a grave threat to American geopolitical and economic interests. Thus, Washington views India as the potential counterweight to China in the region.
It was the part of the US’ political maneuver that in 2018, the erstwhile ‘United States Pacific Command’ was renamed as ‘U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’, in order to lay emphasis on India as its key strategic partner.
India has always self-aggrandized as the emerging economic and military might in the South Asian region. However, Indian delusions of being a regional power were badly shattered when first it faced humiliation during the episode of Balakot Strikes when it lost two of its fighter jets during air combat with Pakistan. The next humiliation that India had faced was at the hands of Chinese troops at Ladakh.
A state that always posed itself as a counterweight to China and claimed to be capable of fighting a two-front war with Pakistan and China simultaneously, has suffered military defeat from both the states at different times and places.
Despite buying state-of-the-art weaponry and high-tech defense hardware from the United States, Russia, Japan, and Israel, the Indian military unpreparedness was laid bare to the world, bringing disgrace to the country.
Now, after signing this new deal (BECA), experts opine that India would be more vigilant about the locations and movement of the Chinese and Pakistani troops, and would be in a better position to counter the threats from China.
As the military defeats at the two different fronts have considerably spoiled the Indian military image, BECA might help to restore the fraction of the lost confidence of the Indian public on the Indian military preparedness.
Quite ironically, it was after losing the dogfight with Pakistan on 27th Feb. 2019, that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the statement that if India had Rafale jets in its inventory, the picture would have been altogether different. On similar lines, Captain Vikram Mahajan (Retd), the director of Aerospace and Defense at policy think-tank US-India Strategic Partnership Forum said“If the deal (BECA) would have been signed earlier, the situation at the northern border of India could have possibly been different.”
By now, India must have learned the lesson that one should neither overestimate one’s own military preparedness nor should underestimate the enemy’s readiness to respond.
Beyond a doubt, with the pact, Washington aimed at putting India in a better position against China. The exchange of geospatial information that would expose the enemy troops’ locations coupled with the exchange of unclassified data would definitely put India in a better strategic position against its rivals in the region.
For Pakistan, and to some extent for China, for sure BECA would give rise to a security dilemma and would further push China and Pakistan for closer cooperation. India is playing dirty politics in the region due to which regional peace is largely at stake.
In the past, Washington and New Delhi have signed many defense and cooperation agreements, all of which were aimed at countering the rise of China. BECA is also a link in the same chain. However, it is yet to be seen how China would respond to the new developments and the changing regional dynamics.