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Quad grouping

  • 27 July, 2020

  • 10 Min Read

Quad grouping

Context:

  • The article analyzes India’s dilemma with respect to closer co-ordination with the Quad.

Origin of Quad:

  • The Quad was born out of the crisis that followed the Tsunami in December 2004. India’s humanitarian and disaster relief effort in the Indian Ocean was coordinated with the three other naval powers engaged in similar efforts — U.S., Australia and Japan.
  • Since then the idea of the Indo-Pacific as a larger maritime strategic community, and the Quad as an effective instrument in it, has gained credence among the four nations.
  • In 2007, the annual India-U.S. ‘Malabar’ exercises included Japan, Australia and Singapore.
  • After being neglected for about a decade due to strategic reasons, in 2017, the Quad returned, coinciding with the revision in U.S.’s assessment of the challenge from China, and similar reassessments in India, Japan and Australia.
  • In November 2017, just months after the Doklam stand-off between the Indian Army and the PLA, officials from all four countries met in Manila for the ‘India-Australia-Japan-U.S.’ dialogue.
  • There have been increasing naval exercises between the nations in the region. Recently, a trilateral exercise between the U.S., Australia and Japan was held in the Philippines Sea,
  • There has been speculation that Quadrilateral (Quad) exercises will be launched soon between all four navies.

Significance of Quad:

  • The Quad grouping primary objectives include connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and maritime and cybersecurity, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region.
  • The Quad has been coordinating efforts to provide financing and sustainable alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Notable among these initiatives being the India and Australian efforts in the Pacific islands, India-U.S. coordination in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, and India-Japan joint efforts to develop projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • The military aspect of the Quad has also grown. India has strengthened its naval ties with each of the other Quad countries, and there have been more interactions, formal and informal at the official, political and military levels.

India’s dilemma:

  • The need to counter the aggressiveness of China on one side by partnering with other powers in the region as against India’s desire for strategic autonomy has thrown tough choices for India in respect of its Indo-Pacific maritime alliance.
  • India’s choices will have not only far-reaching implications for regional but also global security.

Arguments against India’s greater involvement in the Quad:

  • China has always opposed the militarization of the quad coalition which it views as a counter to its claims in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
  • India has been wary of joining any exercise that could be construed as an alliance.
  • India is the only country in the Quad that shares a land boundary with China, and the militarisation of the Quad will not help India deal with this threat.
  • Unlike the U.S., Japan and Australia, which are tied by military alliances, India is a member of other strategic forums, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with China, Russia and Central Asia, BRICS and RIC, which appear to be at cross purposes with a Quad alliance.

Arguments in favour of enhanced engagement with Quad:

  • The recent Chinese moves of transgression and deadly clashes across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) may prove to be the tipping point that makes India move closer to the Quadrilateral Security Group.

India’s options:

  • India could revert to its traditional positions of non-alignment.
  • India could opt for a closer coalition with China’s adversaries and take sides in the new Cold War-like situation that is developing between the U.S. and China.
  • India could forge closer relations with China’s ally Russia in its attempt to manage the threat from China.
  • India could pursue “multi-alignment”, inviting middle powers such as the EU, the U.K., France, Russia, and partners such as Brazil, the UAE and South Africa into its Indo-Pacific strategy.

Source: TH

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