Quad remains a group of friends who share many things, but not a common enemy
- The Quad Ministerial meeting ended with outcomes that showcased its “positive agenda” in the Indo-Pacific region.
About QUAD grouping:
- It is a four-nation alliance of India, Australia, USA and Japan which was established in 2007.
- It is often dubbed as an “Asian” or “mini” NATO and is viewed as a counterbalance to China’s military and economic clout in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
- Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific.
- Each is involved in the development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security
In 2020, all four QUAD Countries took part in the Malabar exercise.
- Malabar exercise: annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and USA
- Held alternately in Indian and Pacific Oceans. Japan and Australia first participated in 2007. Since 2014, India, the US and Japan have participated every year.
- In 2020: Australia joined the Malabar Exercise on India’s request
Initiatives by QUAD members
- Vaccine Doses: Plans to deliver more than a billion vaccine doses — India-made with U.S. funding and distributed through Japanese and Australian networks — and donate another 1.3 billion doses around the world
- Indo-Pacific Clean Energy Supply Chain Forum: to tackle climate change
- Technological advancement: to further “Quad vision” for technology governances and safe and transparent 5G systems
- Launch humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations
Opportunities for India Under Quad Arrangement
- Counter China: In the event of any Chinese aggression on borders, India by cooperation with Quad countries can potentially disrupt Chinese trade.
- Unlike in the continental sphere where India face China-Pakistan collusion, the maritime sphere is wide open to India to undertake coalition building, rule sets, and other forms of strategic exploration.
- Emerging as a Net Security Provider: There is a growing great power interest in the maritime sphere, especially with the arrival of the concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’.
- With India, located right at the centre of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical imagination can realise the vision of a ‘broader Asia’ that can extend its influence away from geographical boundaries.
- India can build around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities.
- Sustainable Development in the Indian Ocean Region: India, as a mistress of the Indian Ocean, holds the responsibility to act as the net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. India along with like-minded countries needs to counter China’s String of Pearls strategy and ‘debt-trap’ diplomacy.
- Act East policy: Joining Quad group will strengthen and supplement India’s Act East policy.
Issues Related to Quad
- Undefined Vision: Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without a defined strategic mission.
- Differences in the practice of vision for the Indo-Pacific region and the world in general.
- Maritime Dominated: The entire focus on the Indo-Pacific makes the Quad a maritime, rather than a land-based grouping, raising questions whether the cooperation extends to the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions.
- India’s Aversion of Alliance System: The fact that India is the only member that is averse to a treaty alliance system, has slowed down the progress of building a stronger Quadrilateral engagement.
- Need For Clear Vision: The Quad nations need to better explain the Indo-Pacific Vision in an overarching framework with the objective of advancing everyone’s economic and security interests.
- Quad should avoid becoming an Asian-NATO as being projected in the discussions.
- Such an alliance has the potential to start an arms race in the region.
- It should be more inclusive, taking into consideration the interest and concerns of littoral and ASEAN countries.
- Strategic autonomy: India should not compromise on its strategic autonomy unlike Australia and Japan, which are bound by alliance treaties to the U.S.
- Expanding Quad: India has many other partners in the Indo-Pacific, therefore India should pitch for countries like Indonesia, Singapore to be invited to join in the future.
- Need for a Maritime Doctrine: India should develop a comprehensive vision on the Indo-Pacific which would ideate on the current and future maritime challenges, consolidate its military and non-military tools, engage its strategic partners.
- QUAD grouping may have similar concerns and share many core values, but they do not have an identical worldview.
- Quad remains very much a grouping that is “for something, not against somebody”.