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Quadrilateral grouping and its strategic importance

Context:

  • India has recently become a party to a group called “Quad or Quadrilateral”, composing Australia, India, Japan and U.S.A.

Introduction:

  • The recent meeting between Quad countries held in Philippine on the Sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.
  • The purpose of the meeting was to achieve prosperity, peace keeping and promotion of stability in South Asia.

What is Quadrilateral?

  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is the strategic dialogue between four countries viz. India, United States, Japan and Australia.
  • It was originally initiated in 2007 but later disbanded with withdrawal of Australia.
  • It has been recently revived and is being viewed as response to increased Chinese economic and military power.

Need for setting up of the 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 Indonesian Pacific region and provide economic opportunity.
  • It will provide safety to international maritime trade routes like Mallaca strait.

Significance for India:

  • India has taken a significant turn in its policy for the subcontinent by joining quad grouping.
  • It provides New Delhi a powerful platform to advance its interests in East Asia.
  • It will deepen India’s ties with US, Australia and Japan with benefits in diplomatic leverage and sharing of burden in defense.
  • It will also provide India 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 region and strengthen Act East policy.
  • Foster economic growth with better market adaptation, so it will lead to more employment opportunity in India.
  • It helps India and 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 South East Asian markets.

What are its objectives?

  • To tackle 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 Indo-Pacific region and maintain its hegemony in India Ocean where China is forming 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 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.

Negative impact of quad for India:

The initiative has some negative implications like:

  • It further hampers the bilateral relations between India and China.
  • It went against Non-Alignment movement which is India’s initiative
  • Quad may affect India-Russia relations and gave further impetus to improve China-Russia relations, which will impact India.
  • While the quadrilateral grouping will bring developmental projects, it will considerably erode India’s primacy in the neighbourhood region.
  • While India has impeded Chinese desires to have a diplomatic mission in Bhutan, it would be a challenge if US pursues the same.
  • Similarly, India also runs the risk of seeding ground to Japanese & US Navies in Sri Lanka.

Why Quad grouping is bad for India and its neighbours?

  • It will not be able to realize trade potential for long term economic development especially for North East region.
  • Domestic strategic requirements will be sidelined.
  • The grouping will surely strengthen India’s global image but negligence of neighbours in its wake can be hazardous.
  • It will develop clash of interest with developing neighbours.

Why India should not neglect its neighbours?

  • To become a powerful nation in South Asia support of neighbouring counties is must for India.
  • India share vast maritime and land borders with its neighbours, which in case of conflict will lead to serious threats.
  • Apart from expanding globally internal tranquility is also very important which can be brought with peaceful engagement with neighbouring counties.
  • Achieving internal security, counter terrorism, and trafficking are priority for rise in global platform and this can be possible only through the support of neighbouring countries.

Hurdles on the way of Quad:

  • The quad is not a military alliance like the NATO.
  • India doesn’t have security agreement with Quad members.
  • India objected to Chinese naval presence in Sri Lanka. Now India will not be able to object to U.S. naval warships and Japanese presence there.
  • China is at advantageous position when comes to economic aspects, given its trade ties with Quad and other south Asian neighbors
  • The very challenge before the quad is to handle the member nation’s different ideologies on how to handle China’s aggressiveness.
  • The upcoming aim of the quad is to ensure that the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions remain free and open for multilateral trade and commerce.
  • Strategic analysts argue that India is dragging itself into the US-China rivalry.

Way ahead

  • 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 right direction.
  • Owing to India’s presence and impact in South Asia the neighbourhood first policy should not take backseat.
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