Script by Prof. CHINTAMANI MAHAPATRA, Rector & Pro Vice-Chancellor, JNU
The Quadrilateral Security Forum (QUAD) consisting of India, Australia, Japan and the United States of America is fast emerging to maintain maritime security, peace, stability, and for working towards prosperity of all nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Presently, QUAD is not a treaty or agreement. It is an informal forum for holding dialogues, exchanging views and understanding the developments in the Indo-Pacific region.
However, the concept of the Indo-Pacific region itself is a relatively new concept. This concept was not acceptable to many countries, as it stood apart from the traditional use of the concept of Asia-Pacific as a region for reference. Now the Asia-Pacific region is fast fading and Indo-Pacific is taking its place. In view of the growing importance of the Indian Ocean and its close connection with the political, economic and strategic developments in the Pacific region, it makes sense to see issues and developments in the larger Indo-Pacific region that stretches from the western coast of the United States to eastern shores of Africa.
The United States has a clear-cut strategy for the Indo-Pacific region. The Indian government has a clear vision of the Indo-Pacific known as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All) in the Region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an “Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative” that aims at free, open and inclusive growth in the region.
QUAD is one among several bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and multilateral forums that have sprung up in the region in order to deal with the emerging economic, security and political developments in the Indo-pacific region.
Addressing the Quad Leaders’ virtual Summit that saw the participation of the Indian Prime Minister, President of the United States, Joseph R Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We are united by our democratic values, and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda- covers areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good. I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which regards the world as one family”. Prime Minister Modi said the QUAD will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific. The Summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.
The QUAD leaders signed off on a plan to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capacities and logistical strengths to ramp up the manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across the Indo-Pacific. The Quad Vaccine Partnership, as the plan is called, will build on India’s “Vaccine Maitri” initiative by creating additional manufacturing capacities in India. New Delhi has already supplied close to 60 million doses to some 70 countries.
The notion of a peaceful rise of China is a thing of the past. The muscular diplomacy of China combined with its aggressive territorial expansion in the South China Sea and naval movements in the East China Sea and, of course, large military deployment along the Sino-Indian border has threatened to alter the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region. The COVID19 pandemic and economic disruptions it has caused require immediate attention and corrective measures for a sound political economy in the region.
QUAD’s relevance is now very significant. China has not hidden its strong opposition to QUAD. But, Beijing’s assumptions are factually incorrect, for the simple reason that views and opinions discussed and exchanged by the QUAD member countries are too large. China is only one among several issues that dominated the agenda of the Summit.
It is quite natural that important democracies of the region need to address the issue of some nations’ expansionist ideology. That does not mean that QUAD members are against China’s growth and development or prosperity. There is no agenda to contain China. But reigning in Chinese aggression is necessary for the peace and prosperity of the whole region.