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Here’s why the big idea of 2017 is the ‘Indo-Pacific’

Editor's Note:

This article first appeared in Hindustan Times. The views are of the author(s).

As another year comes to an end, it is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that political leaders and controversies come and go, but ideas, concepts, and terminology often have a longer shelf life. What were the big ideas of 2017?

Some, inevitably, are the product of technological developments: blockchain (a distributed ledger to ensure secure transactions) and deep learning by machines (a more sophisticated form of artificial intelligence) have been around for some time as applied concepts, but have only recently become a part of popular consciousness. Other notions that have gained salience are political in nature, such as ‘fake news.’ Some are purely linguistic. Online searches for the rather archaic word ‘dotard’ spiked after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un used it to insult US President Donald Trump.

In the international political realm, I would venture that the idea of the year is the Indo-Pacific. In 2017, with its official adoption by the US, it reached a new threshold, and it may now be with us to stay. The Indo-Pacific is not a new idea, nor is it originally an American one. It actually arises from the natural sciences, referring to a large bio-geographic region of warm water in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its evolution as a strategic concept is a more recent development.

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