Quad; its origin, goals and future plans

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Quad; its origin, goals and future plans

  • India, the U.S, Australia, and Japan are meeting for the second in-person summit of the Quadrilateral Dialogue or Quad in Tokyo.
  • Aim - cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. A major basis for the grouping is to check China’s growing influence in the region.

The story so far:

  • The leaders of four countries — India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan — are meeting for the second in-person summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad in Tokyo. A lot has changed, since the first in-person meeting of the Quad in September last year.
  • The ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has triggered geopolitical shifts, driven up global inflation, and affected supply chains amid a slew of western sanctions on Moscow.
  • In March this year, Quad leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine in an unscheduled virtual meeting called by U.S President Joe Biden.

What is the Quad

  • The Quad is an informal multilateral grouping of India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan aimed at cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
  • The region, composed of two oceans and spanning multiple continents, is a hub of maritime trade and naval establishments.
  • While not stated explicitly by the leaders, a major basis for the grouping is to check China’s growing influence in the region.

Why was it formed?

  • After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 wreaked havoc in the region now called the Indo-Pacific.
  • India stepped up its rescue efforts not just on its own shores but also provided assistance to its maritime neighbours: Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
  • Soon, the disaster relief effort was joined by three other naval powers — the U.S., Australia and Japan, with the then U.S. President George W. Bush announcing that the four countries would set up an international coalition to coordinate the massive effort.
  • It led to the birth of a new framework: the Quadrilateral or Quad.
  • The 2007 Indo-U.S. Malabar naval exercises also saw the partial involvement of Japan, Australia and Singapore.
  • The exercises and coordination were seen by China as an attempt to encircle it, which termed the grouping as trying to build “an Asian NATO”.

Revival of the Quad

  • The grouping was only revived an entire decade later in 2017, at a time when all four countries had revised their assessment of the China challenge.
  • India had witnessed the Doklam standoff.
  • Leaders of all four countries met in the Philippines for the ‘India-Australia-Japan-U.S.’ dialogue, not referred to as a Quad dialogue to avoid the notion of a “gang-up”.
  • Even at this point, a set of objectives, areas of cooperation, and even the definition of Indo-Pacific were not fixed among Quad members.
  • It was in March 2021 that Mr. Biden and other leaders met virtually, for the first time as an official Quad summit.
  • Releasing a set of objectives for the grouping in a joint statement called the ‘The Spirit of the Quad’.

What were the objectives of the grouping?

  • The March 2021 virtual summit gave rise to the main objectives of the Quad, outlined actionable goals, and formed expert working groups in multiple areas.
  • Coming together to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific formed the bedrock of cooperation.
  • Emphasis was laid on “rule of law, territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, and democratic values” in the region.
  • The other areas of immediate focus were:
    • Pandemic through strengthening equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific,
    • Combating climate change,
    • Sharing critical technologies,
    • Cyber security,
    • Supply chain resilience,
    • Infrastructure and connectivity projects.


  • Quad leaders launched the Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI) with the aim of manufacturing and distributing at least a billion COVID-19 vaccines for the Asia region by the end of 2022.
    • The plan was to manufacture U.S. developed vaccines in India with financing provided by the U.S. and Japan, and delivery undertaken by Australia and Japan to countries in Southeast Asia.
  • As for emerging technologies, the four countries aimed to work on the development and diversification of 5G telecommunications.
  • The creation of supply chains for critical minerals and technologies for making semiconductors used in smartphones, another area where China is a leader.
  • Quad nations had also agreed to build joint connectivity projects and transparent infrastructure funding for countries in the region.
  • The Quad also created a working group for combating climate change which would oversee efforts to foster green shipping by decarbonising maritime supply chains and promoting the use of clean hydrogen.
  • Quad Fellowship for 100 students in the US for STEM masters or doctoral degree.
  • Quad members also launched a maritime monitoring plan to curb illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Several countries have objected to Chinese fishing vessels often violating their exclusive economic zones resulting in economic losses, while also engaging in deep-sea trawling, which causes environmental damage.

Challenges : delivering on promises

  • Unity on China and cracks on Russia.
    • The Russian war in Ukraine, and the impact of three months of Western sanctions.
    • India is the only member of the Quad that has not joined sanctions against Russia, while also ramping up its intake of Russian oil — an estimated 40 million barrels more than it had in all of 2021.
  • The ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’ (IPEF) to bind countries in the region more closely through common standards in areas including supply-chain resilience, clean energy, infrastructure and digital trade.
    • The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as it could be seen as a counter to the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the 17-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Exam Takeaway

  • IPEF
  • Quad
  • TPP

Mains Question

Q. The Quad has ramped up its engagement in the region through various initiatives. Describe in detail various initiatives by the Quad and challenges it faces.