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The Commonwealth connection: extending India’s outreach?

International relations Commonwealth India Indo-Pacific Region

India has been a member of the Commonwealth for almost seventy years, joining when the body was formally constituted under the London Declaration in 1949. India’s membership did not compromise its sovereignty as a republic and the country has had, from decade to decade, both more, and less, involvement in the Commonwealth. A high point of engagement, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meetings between 1978 and 1982, are not always recalled. India’s present Pacific Islands engagement through the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Co-operation (FIPIC), and other regional bodies, encompasses fellow Commonwealth members. India’s considerable experience and current direction in what is now called the Indo-Pacific region is a focus of this paper, as is a possible future role for it as an active member of the Commonwealth.

Key points:

  • India has been a member of the Commonwealth since 1949.
  • India has had earlier involvement with then-emerging small Pacific Island Commonwealth member states.
  • Today, India’s involvement in Pacific regional bodies and organisations, often overlapping, demonstrates the extent of its outreach.
  • India must now decide, in light of the outreach aims of the 2018 London CHOGM, where its efforts may best be directed.
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