22nd January 2022

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Quad 2020

Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will meet other Foreign Ministers from the Australia-India-Japan-US Quadrangle in Tokyo on Tuesday, seen as a major turning point for the group, led by mounting concerns about China in the region.

  • Officials familiar with the agenda say that cooperation on 5G connectivity, cybersecurity, a supply chain initiative for manufacturing, maritime cooperation, infrastructure and connectivity, as well as distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine are areas where there are alternatives to Chinese initiatives.
  • India’s participation in the Quad, the forum in which the United States, Japan and Australia also participate, has been criticized as a departure from New Delhi’s traditional policy of non-alignment.
  • Over the years, India has experimented with alliances of different kinds: during World War I, some nationalists joined with Imperial Germany to establish the first Indian government-in-exile in Kabul; During World War II, Subhas Chandra Bose joined forces with Imperial Japan to establish a provisional government at Port Blair; and in independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who publicized and advocated for non-alignment, signed security treaties with Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim. Additionally, Nehru, who actively opposed American alliances in Asia, turned to the United States for military support in 1962.
  • The Donald Trump administration is staunchly against alliances. More importantly, India has never asked for an alliance.
  • Both countries, however, are interested in building issue-based coalitions in pursuit of common interests.
  • In the past, India’s treaties with Nepal, Bangladesh, and Russia were aimed at meeting India’s security imperatives, whereas most of China’s alliances were primarily transactional in nature.
  • Democratic India cannot be as brutally transactional as communist China; however, Raja Mohan concludes, New Delhi can learn a thing or two from how Beijing forged alliances.
  • An India that puts its interests before doctrine will find coalitions like the Quad essential to its international outlook.
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