2023 JFIPP Research Fellow - Dalbir Singh Ahlawat

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Dalbir Singh Ahlawat

Senior Lecturer, Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University

[Project Title]
Harmonizing Australia, India and Japan's Strategies Towards the Small Island States in the Indo-Pacific Region

Project Summary

The Indo-Pacific region is passing through a flux that is impinging on the balance of power and challenging the status quo. While the major powers, China and the United States, are jostling for dominance, the major democratic countries like Australia, India and Japan have been reorienting their respective policy postures for a peaceful, stable, free and open Indo-Pacific region.

In this power shift, the small island states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans find themselves vulnerable as these states lack self-sufficiency and are dependent on other states for aid, trade and development. In addition, they face several challenges such as climate change, rising sea levels, lack of infrastructure facilities, and outward migration. In the past, Australia, India and Japan undertook some stabilizing initiatives, but these measures received mixed responses in these islands. As a result, other external powers made some inroads and provided alternative development models. However, these models developed their own fault lines.

Against this backdrop, this project emphasizes that Australia, India and Japan consider the Indo-Pacific region vital to safeguard their respective interests and also have common goals of protecting the sovereignty of island states, maintaining a rules-based order, and supporting the freedom of navigation for a free and open Indo-Pacific. However, notwithstanding having similar goals, they pursue different strategies. For this, this project aims to delineate the policy postures that these countries pursue an integrated approach for stability and rules-based order in the region.

The policy outcome will be based on qualitative and quantitative research methods. For the quantitative input interviews will be conducted in Australia, India and Japan with policymakers, academics and researchers. The qualitative data will be based on both primary and secondary sources, such as government reports, white papers, and recent research publications by leading experts in the field.

The project findings will be disseminated by presenting at seminars and conferences, publishing with think tanks in Australia, India and Japan as well as other internationally reputed media outlets. The findings will also be published in a high-ranking peer-reviewed Q1-ranking academic journal.

The project will have long-term implications as it will establish a network of established scholars as well as emerging researchers and encourage them to participate in seminars and conferences, joint publications and interaction through online platforms.

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