India’s strategic importance at I2U2

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    In Context 

    The virtual summit-level I2U2 meeting between the leaders of Israel, India, UAE and US  took place just nine months after the grouping was launched by the foreign ministers of all four countries in Israel. 

    Major Outcomes 

    • The grouping focused on the food security crisis and clean energy during their meeting 
    • They also discussed innovative ways to ensure longer-term, more diversified food production and food delivery systems that can better manage global food shocks.
      • The focus on food and energy security has acquired urgency in the backdrop of the current military situation in Ukraine that has unleashed cascading negative effects on food, energy and other sectors.
    • The UAE has promised a $2-billion plan for “integrated food parks” in India with the assistance of American and Israeli private sectors and the summit also delivered an investment commitment towards a 300-MW hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat.

    About I2U2 Grouping

    • It was conceptualised during the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four countries held on 18 October 2021. 
      • At that time, the grouping was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.
    • Members :India, Israel, the UAE, and the US
      • Each country also has Sherpa- level interactions regularly to discuss the possible areas of cooperation.
    • Aimed 
      • To encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security
      • To mobilise private sector capital and expertise to help modernise the infrastructure, low carbon development pathways for our industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.

    India’s and I2U2

    • India is one of the largest, most significant, most strategically consequential countries in the Indo-Pacific, and apart from I2U2, it is playing a central role in many other forums like the Quad.
    • The grouping points to India’s growing engagement with countries in West Asia including Israel, with whom India has developed closer ties under PM Modi in the last few years.
      • India also has very long standing ties to and engagement in the Middle East
    • India is a massive consumer market. It is a massive producer of high-tech and highly sought-after goods as well. So, there are a number of areas where these countries can work together, whether its technology, trade, climate, COVID-19, and potentially even security as well.
      • The formation of the new I2U2 grouping is a significant development where India’s partnership can prove to be a “game changer

    Concerns 

    • It has been called the ‘West Asian Quad’ by some commentators.
    • The formation of this group is criticised for having the USA’s hidden agenda to “contain” Iran in the geopolitics of West Asia.
    • India never ever got entangled in the intra-regional issues in West Asia and critics want India to refrain from being part of this alliance. 

    Conclusion 

    • It is believed that  only partnership can overcome today’s conflicts and overlapping challenges, the most important of which are food and energy security, climate change and healthcare.
    • It will strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in India’s respective regions and beyond.
    • It has potential to make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector.
      • Each of these countries are technological hubs, including India, which is the massive consumer market. 
    • India is likely to avoid any security or defence cooperation within the framework of the I2U2 – in order to avoid any impact on its relations with Iran.
    •  India was one of the most “strategically consequential countries” in the Indo-Pacific and therefore “should” play a central role in U.S. strategy. 

    [Q] Critically examine the aims and objectives of I2U2. What importance does it hold for India?