GS-2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Context: Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Quad Countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York in September 2019.
The Quadrilateral Group consists of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S.
The Quad has a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
AGENDA/ OBJECTIVES OF THE QUAD:
- To tackle the challenges of terrorism and proliferation.
- It is a development and collaborative initiative with the objective of promoting stability and maritime alliance in IOR, trade and commerce.
- Grouping will get support to manage Pakistan and threats emanating from it by controlling China.
- Ensure freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region and maintain its hegemony in the India Ocean where China is forming a string of pearls.
- The other objective behind forming this group is to give a collective voice to Asian democracies to counter China’s assertiveness.
- In recent times, China has been following aggressive policy in the South China Sea, border areas (Dokhlam), OBOR project, support to North Korea, and has been successful in creating a rift among ASEAN nations too because of its superior economic and strategic power.
NEED FOR QUAD:
- The quadrilateral comes in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.
- It has also raised concerns regarding freedom of trade and navigation through the waters of the south and East China seas.
- To counter-hegemony of China in the region.
- Single Navy of any country can’t provide security in vast oceans.
- It will increase connectivity in the Indo Pacific region and provide economic opportunity.
- It will provide safety to international maritime trade routes like Malacca strait.
IMPORTANCE OF QUAD FOR INDIA:
- India has taken a significant turn in its policy for the subcontinent by joining the quad grouping.
- It provides New Delhi a powerful platform to advance its interests in East Asia.
- It will deepen India’s ties with the US, Australia, and Japan with benefits in diplomatic leverage and sharing of burden in defense.
- It will also provide India a significant chance in shaping US policies in Afghanistan-Pakistan to the benefit of India.
- It will provide a powerful platform to advance Indian interest in the region and strengthen the Act East policy.
- Foster economic growth with better market adaptation, so it will lead to more employment opportunities in India.
- It helps India and the other three Nations to counter China’s OBOR. As India is refused to join OBOR it helps India to connect with other markets like Central Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
- Objective – Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without a defined strategic mission. In 2007, when the grouping was first formed following cooperation after the 2004 tsunami, the idea was to better coordinate maritime capabilities for disaster situations.
When revived in 2017, the grouping seemed to have become a counter to China’s growing inroads into the region.
So Quad members still face the challenge of defining its common agenda.
- Region – A common definition of the geographical area encompassed is yet to be found.
The US sees itself and India as the extremes of the Indo-Pacific.
On the other hand, India and Japan have included the oceans up to Africa in their definition. The entire focus on the Indo-Pacific makes the Quad a maritime, rather than land-based, grouping. This raises questions whether the cooperation extends to the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions.
- Maritime – Even on maritime exercises, there is a lack of concurrence.
E.g. India has not admitted Australia in the Malabar exercises with the U.S. and Japan, despite requests from it.
It is felt that it would be too early to discuss “militarising” the Quad.|
India has also resisted raising the level of talks from an official to the political level.
India is the only member not in a treaty alliance with the other Quad countries which could possibly slow down progress.
NEED OF THE HOUR:
- The challenge before the quad grouping lies in finding areas of mutual interest.
- All the member nations should work with cooperation.
- Financial institutions like World Bank and Asian Development Bank must focus on infrastructure funding in the region. It will help in counter China’s large scale infrastructure building in countries of Southeast Asia to Africa under the Belt and Road Initiatives to economic growth.
- India and Japan are already in discussions for the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor which is the step in the right direction.
- Owing to India’s presence and impact in South Asia the neighbourhood first policy should not take a backseat.