Context: Recently, the US announced that the first in-person meeting of the Quad countries is going to be held in New York, US. The heads of all the four countries (India, Japan, Australia, and the US) are going to attend the meeting. However, China criticized the Quad and said the formation of “exclusive cliques (circles)” targeting other countries runs counter to the trend of the times and is “doomed to fail”.
The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
All four nations share a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
The QUAD traces its genesis to 2004 when the 4 countries joined hands together to coordinate disaster relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami. It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the 4 nations.
Significance of the grouping:
Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest. Members share a common vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific region. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime awareness and maritime security. It is one of the many avenues for interaction among quad members and should not be seen in an exclusive context.
Free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the futuristic interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. Peace and tranquility can solve common challenges of terrorism and proliferation. Upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight.
Challenges Related to Quad:
Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad still holds an undefined vision and without any strategic mission.The Quad is not structured like a typical multilateral organisation and lacks a secretariat and any permanent decision-making body.
Moreover, unlike other international alliances like NATO, the Quad does not include provisions for collective defence, instead choosing to conduct joint military exercises as a show of unity and diplomatic cohesion.
The entire focus on the Indo-Pacific region makes the Quad a maritime grouping, rather than a land-based grouping, raising questions whether the cooperation extends to the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions. Also India is averse to the Alliance System, and in fact it is the only member in QUAD that is averse to a treaty alliance system. It has slowed down the progress of building a stronger Quadrilateral engagement.
Firstly the Quad nations need to have a clear Indo-Pacific vision in an overarching framework with the objective of advancing each other’s economic and security interests.This will reassure the alongshore States that the Quad will be a factor for regional benefit, and a far away from Chinese allegations that it is some sort of a military alliance.The forthcoming Ministerial meetings in New York can be an opportunity to define the idea and compile a future path.
India has many other partners in the Indo-Pacific, therefore India should pitch for expanding the reach of QUAD to countries like Indonesia, Singapore etc. India should develop a comprehensive vision on the strengthening Quad and the Indo-Pacific region, which would ideate on the current and future maritime challenges, consolidate its military and non-military tools, engage its strategic partners.