Inda’s Defence Diplomacy: An Overview

As the concept of defence diplomacy continues to gain popularity, countries will increasingly use it to enhance their national interests. Defence diplomacy is widely used to describe activities and policies aimed at maintaining and improving the security of a country. This concept involves various steps such as increasing naval engagement, carrying out more military exercises, and launching more effective defence exports. The Indian Navy played a significant role in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region. India’s Navy is one of the most powerful navies in the world. It has over 120 ships, including submarines, destroyers, coastal vessels, and stealth frigates. The doctrine, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Modi during his speech in 2015, aimed to reinforce India’s commitment and presence within the Indian Ocean Region, and it was believed that the Navy would play a significant role in providing security and protection. Through various naval exercises, such as the Malabar and Milan, the Navy demonstrated its commitment to the security and protection of India’s territories and the EEZ. It also showed that it would not hesitate to play a significant offensive role against its rivals, such as China and Pakistan.

China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea has been a key factor that has contributed to India’s development of its defence diplomacy. As the region’s rising power, India has also been working with other Southeast Asian states to expand its security ties. They are eager to counter China’s growing influence. The large number of participants and the complexity of the drills are some of the highlights of the Milan exercise, which is a symbol of India’s growing defence diplomacy.

India’s defence exports have been increasing steadily and are expected to reach about $5 billion by 2024. It is targeting to sell weapons to Africa and Southeast Asia, where Chinese companies dominate. India’s aggressive military diplomacy has paid off, as the Philippines became the first country to purchase Brahmos supersonic missile batteries. Whereas, Bahrain also expressed its interest in acquiring the latest version of India’s Arjun Mark 2 tanks.

To boost exports and expand the domestic defence industry, the government has also increased the number of defence attaches in foreign missions. An officer in the armed forces who is serving as a defence attache in a foreign embassy can enjoy diplomatic immunity and privileges. India’s defence attaches are also allocated an annual budget of around $50,000 to promote the country’s defence equipment in their markets. To promote its products, the government has allowed the export of various “Made-in-In-India” equipment, such as the Astra missile and the combat aircraft “Tejas”.

Besides helping its neighbors build their naval capabilities, India has also assisted other countries by donating equipment. In addition to helping Sri Lanka build its naval capabilities, India has also provided various equipment to other countries such as Seychelles and Mauritius. These steps are small, but India hopes that they will help it become a net security provider for the region.

Humanitarian Guidance:

Being a net security provider can also help countries carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. For a long time now, India has been leading the way when it comes to providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Due to the increasing frequency of natural disasters in the Bay of Bengal, India has been coordinating with other countries to improve their disaster response capabilities.

Although the humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) aspect of the Quad is still under focus, India has also been participating in various multilateral exercises to enhance its capabilities.


Through its partnership with West Asian monarchies, India has been able to break away from the traditional relationship with Pakistan. The concept of defence diplomacy has been instrumental in strengthening India’s relationship with other countries. As the region experiences significant changes due to the emergence of China and the Abraham Accords, India has been increasing its naval engagement. In August 2021, India participated in multiple multilateral naval exercises with its partners, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The joint naval exercises held by India with these partners helped strengthen the country’s relationship with its neighbors. As the US and other countries step up their efforts in Afghanistan, India has been able to play a leading role in addressing the region’s security issues. It also focuses on the growing maritime assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific. The various initiatives undertaken by the government have helped India establish a cooperative framework in the region. It is also expected that the country will increase its investments in the naval, logistics, and expeditionary capabilities. While the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted the world’s current state of flux. It has also turned the attention of the international community toward Europe’s security. Even though the war is not the most important factor that affects India’s external affairs, it is still very important for the country’s defence. On the other hand, the sinking of the Moskva and the developments that occurred during Russia’s march toward Ukraine have highlighted the need for India to expand its defence capabilities. In response to the need for more defence capabilities, India has been able to develop indigenous technology for various programs, such as aircraft carriers and fighter jets. While defence diplomacy is not exclusively focused on foreign policy, it should also be conducted in tandem with the country’s foreign and national interests.

Vaibhav Tomar
Vaibhav Tomar
Vaibhav Tomar is research associate at CESCUBE. He is highly interested in International relations, great power competition in Indo Pacific, Maritime security, emerging warfare concepts and military strategies. And has experience in primary and secondary research. He can be reached at vtomar866[at]