• The QUAD, known as the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (QSD), is an informal strategic forum comprising four nations, namely — United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan


The Timeline




Recent Developments

    • In 2020, the trilateral India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercises expanded to include Australia, marking the first official grouping of the Quad since its resurgence in 2017 and the first joint military exercises among the four countries in over a decade.
    • In March 2021, the Quad leaders met virtually and later released a joint statement titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad,’ which outlined the group’s approach and objectives.

Objectives of QUAD

    • As in the recently released statement titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad’, the group’s primary objectives include
      • maritime security
      • combating the Covid-19 crisis especially vis-à-vis vaccine diplomacy
      • addressing the risks of climate change
      • creating an ecosystem for investment in the region and
      • boosting technological innovation
    • Also, the core objective of the Quad is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and a liberal trading system
    • Consistently, it is seen as a strategic grouping to reduce Chinese domination
    • Further, Quad members have also indicated a willingness to expand the partnership through a so-called Quad Plus that would include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam amongst others.

Initiatives and prospects of QUAD Grouping

    • COVID and Global Health
      • Helping to Vaccinate the World
        • The Quad countries, pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses globally last year
        • They recognize the importance of open and secure supply chains for vaccine production
      • Saving lives
        • Japan, through Japan Bank for International Cooperation, will work with India to enhance key investments of approximately $100 million in the healthcare sector related to COVID-19, including vaccine and treatment drugs
      • Build Back Better Health Security
        • These countries support the call for a “global pandemic radar” and will improve our viral genomic surveillance, including by working together to strengthen and expand the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS)
    • Infrastructure
      • Launch the Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group
        • Building on existing leadership from Quad partners on high-standards infrastructure, this group will meet regularly to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate respective approaches to deliver transparent, high-standards infrastructure
      • Lead on High-Standards Infrastructure
        • Since 2015, Quad partners have provided more than $48 billion in official finance for infrastructure in the region
        • The infrastructure partnership will amplify these contributions and further catalyze private-sector investment in the region
    • Climate
      • Form a Green-Shipping Network
        • Quad partners will organize their work by launching a Quad Shipping Taskforce and will invite leading ports, including Los Angeles, Mumbai Port Trust, Sydney (Botany), and Yokohama, to form a network dedicated to greening and decarbonizing the shipping value chain
      • Establish a Clean-Hydrogen Partnership
        • This is to strengthen and reduce costs across all elements of the clean-hydrogen value chain, leveraging existing bilateral and multilateral hydrogen initiatives in other fora
      • Enhance Climate Adaptation, Resilience, and Preparedness
        • Quad countries commit to increasing the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience to climate change by improving critical climate information-sharing and disaster-resilient infrastructure.
        • The Quad countries will convene a Climate & Information Services Task Force and build a new technical facility through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure that will provide technical assistance in small island developing states
    • Critical and Emerging Technologies
      • Establish Technical Standards Contact Groups
        • This is to focus on standards-development activities as well as foundational pre-standardization research.
      • Launch a Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative
        • This initiative will help ensure Quad partners support a diverse and competitive market that produces the secure critical technologies essential for digital economies globally
      • Support 5G Deployment and Diversification
        • This would enable fostering and promoting a diverse, resilient, and secure telecommunications ecosystem
    • Cybersecurity
      • Launch a Quad Senior Cyber Group: Leader-level experts will meet regularly to advance work between government and industry on driving continuous improvements in areas including adoption and implementation of shared cyber standards; development of secure software; building workforce and talent; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure
    • Space
      • Share Satellite Data to Protect the Earth and its Water
        • Sharing this data will help Quad countries to better adapt to climate change and to build capacity in other Indo-Pacific states that are at grave climate risk, in coordination with the Quad Climate Working group.
      • Enable Capacity-Building for Sustainable Development
        • The Quad countries will work together to support, strengthen, and enhance space applications and technologies of mutual interest
      • Consult on Norms and Guidelines
        • The grouping will also consult on norms, guidelines, principles, and rules for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment.

Significance of Quad for India

    • Countering China’s economic and military rise
      • As a member of the Quad, in the event of rise in the Chinese hostilities on its borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter it
      • In addition, India can even take the help of its naval front and conduct strategic explorations in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • For a free and open Indo-Pacific
      • The summit vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region, that is free, open, inclusive, and unconstrained by coercion
      • This aspect becomes important for India, in the wake of China’s aggressiveness and coercive nature in the strategic Indo-Pacific region
    • India as a Net Security provider
      • For India to assert this role as a Region, its dominance in the Indian Ocean Region needs to be maintained and sustained.
      • In this perspective, QUAD provides India a platform to enhance security through partnership in the region
    • Multipolar World
      • India has supported a rule based multipolar world and QUAD can help it in achieving its ambition of becoming a regional superpower
    • Post COVID Diplomacy
      • There have been disruptions of supply chain across the world due to the Pandemic, and this might result in an over dependence on China for Global Value chains
      • Under such a situation, India should use it diplomacy with QUAD group to establish a base for its expertise in manufacturing sector
      • Further, Japan and the US want to shift their manufacturing companies out of China in order to curb its imperialistic behaviour, which could be capitalised by India as well

Opinion in Geopolitics

    • How China perceives QUAD?
      • China initially opposed the formation of the Quad and in the 13 years since, Beijing’s position has not changed
        • In 2018, the Chinese Foreign Minister referred to the Quad as a “headline-grabbing idea” and after the joint statement was issued earlier this year, the Chinese foreign ministry accused the group of openly inciting discord among regional powers in Asia
        • China sees the existence of the Quad as part of a larger strategy to encircle China and has pressured countries like Bangladesh to avoid cooperating with the group
    • The Reality and China’s claims
      • However, although the Quad is perceived to be anti-China, there is no direct reference to China or military security in any of the joint statement
      • This in turn has led experts to speculate that the Quad will refrain from addressing the military threat posed by China and instead focus on its economic and technological influence
      • The Quad’s decision to establish working groups on vaccine development and critical technologies can then be viewed as an attempt to constrain China, but more importantly, to create a democratic, inclusive blueprint that will encourage other states to work with the Quad

Challenges to QUAD grouping

    • Lacks Definitive structure
      • The QUAD despite its lofty ambitions, is not structured like a typical multilateral organisation and lacks a secretariat and any permanent decision-making body
      • Instead of creating policy along the lines of the European Union or United Nations, the Quad has focused on expanding existing agreements between member countries and highlighting their shared values.
      • Additionally, unlike 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.
    • Difficulty in addressing China’s concerns
      • China has strong economic ties with Quad members, especially Australia, which can be used to coerce or influence countries in its favour. This can turn out to be problematic for India
    • Imbalanced Cooperation
      • The present four members of the Quad do not have the same levels of financial resources, strategic awareness, and military capabilities in the Indian Ocean
      • Hence, convergence on a lot of issues are missing, which might create an imbalance in the future
    • Lacks coherent actions
      • The USA Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which may spawn the rise of terror networks in the troubled nation, may undercut the Quad’s joint commitment to combating terror besides raising questions about America’s willingness to recommit resources to the grim task of dismantling the terror networks

Way forward

    • The following actions could deepen the agenda of QUAD grouping:
      • Strategic cooperation
        • Bearing the strategic lessons in mind, the four countries should take incremental steps to deepen their military cooperation, in ways that do not reasonably provoke an outsized reaction from Beijing, while developing the capacity to act credibly together if the need arises
      • Geography
        • While China can rely only on its own capabilities to project power across the Indo-Pacific, the Quad countries in combination can maintain a more beneficial multipolar order by bolstering each other’s maritime capabilities in their own respective geographic area of interest and advantage.
        • India should be supported to take greater responsibility for the Indian Ocean (particularly the Bay of Bengal) where it has natural advantages, Australia the Eastern Indian Ocean, South China Sea and Pacific Islands, Japan the East and South China Seas, with the United States having broader capability over the whole of the Indo-Pacific
      • Enhancing Joint capabilities
        • There are a number of initial areas in which the four countries can augment their joint capabilities and complicate China’s two ocean strategy: improving interoperability; enhancing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; shared logistics for power projection; and capability development.



    • In 2021, India, Japan and Australia formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to build resilient supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region as they seek to reduce dependence on China
    • The need for such an Initiative:
      • There is a palpable change in geopolitics and geo-economics taking place; the US-China trade war, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a breakdown of the multilateral system, which are forcing an evaluation and reconfiguration of global supply chains
      • Today there is global consensus that nations have to design their foreign trade policy in a manner that addresses vulnerabilities, manages disruptions, and reduces concentration. India could leverage this chance to attract Global Value chains, to explore partnerships with strategically and geopolitically aligned nations such as the members of the QUAD

SCRI Snapshot


Aims of SCRI:

    • The SCRI aims to reduce dependence on China amid a likelihood of re-churning of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • It seeks to build upon the existing bilateral frameworks like the Asean-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan and India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership and attract foreign direct investment in the region
    • The initiative include sharing of best practices and holding investment promotion events aimed at supply chain diversification amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has “revealed supply chain vulnerabilities globally and in the region”
    • Noting the importance of risk management and continuity plans, the policy measures may include supporting the enhanced utilization of digital technology, and trade and investment diversification
    • To build a mutually complementary relationship among partner countries.


Possibilities for India through SCRI

    • Financing for resilience
      • India’s foreign direct and foreign institutional investments come mainly from the capital-rich countries of the G7 and OECD such as the US, UK, Europe, and Japan
      • India can be an ‘economic pivot’ for the Quad in the Indo-Pacific, if the Quad can commit financing to support its entry into Quad-led global supply chains
    • Attracting technology multinationals
      • Nearly 40 percent of all FDI into India since 2000 has flowed to the sectors of electronics, electrical machinery, and telecommunications
      • Still, India remains worryingly dependent on China, particularly on electrical machinery: China constitutes nearly 60 percent of the country’s imports in that segment
      • So with SCRI, India could position itself as a global hub for Electronic System and Design
    • Addressing raw-material dependencies
      • The critical minerals that India needs for new-age industries such as electronics and renewable energy come from limited sources
      • The International Energy Agency reports that China extracts 60 percent of rare-earths and 64 percent of graphite, but it also processes 58 percent of lithium, 65 percent of cobalt, 35 percent of nickel, and 40 percent of copper.
        • But, India is estimated to have the fifth largest deposits of rare-earths but accounts for only 2 percent of global production
      • Thus, with investments from the Quad, India can develop its own base of rare-earths and even collaborate on developing technologies that rely less on these critical minerals

Limits of SCRI and Possible solutions

    • Although primarily a geo-economic mechanism, the SCRI risks losing focus amid the intensifying regional power rivalry
      • Despite a necessity brought about by the Pandemic, emphasis on supply chain management is frequently ignored in media in favour of strategic positioning vis-a-vis China
      • However, the SCRI does not aim to entirely re-route existing supply chains; this would require complete economic decoupling from China, an unfeasible (and undesirable) goal considering Beijing’s economic clout
      • Solution: So, rather than isolating China, aim should be to ensure national economies can withstand adversity
    • The SCRI remains far-fetched, even overly ambitious. Despite their broad-based synergy on China (or matters relating to China), the main proponents of the SCRI—Australia, India, and Japan—have gaps in their global multilateral practices, including trade and economic outlooks, which might limit the progress of SCRI
      • For example, Japan’s reluctance to support the expansion of the G7 to include India and Australia highlights how national interest considerations supersede any prospects of regional cooperation
      • Solution: Japan is a trading economy, and supply chains are critical to its growth. This is not true for India, which prioritizes manufacturing and innovation, even while aspiring to enhance integration with other economies before it can emerge as a trading nation. Hence, the need to realign priorities
    • Also, no clear vision currently exists among SCRI founders on how to shape their initiative.
      • To succeed, a clear plan or charter is vital. The lack of a guiding document risks hampering cooperation, as has been the case with the Quad and Quad-plus, which has only picked up steam over the past year amid increased tensions with China
      • A similar problem emerged with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
      • Solution: These examples show the need for a common understanding, agreed framework, and concentrated dialogue to shape and implement the initiative. A charter would be useful in laying down expectations and requirements for the SCRI
    • The SCRI remains limited to its founding members.
      • Solution: With its focus on recalibrating global supply chains, expansion to include the United States must be explored
        • This would make the SCRI a derivative of the Quad, strengthening the Indo-Pacific concept and furthering their supply chain goals


Way Forward

    • Going forward, the SCRI must consider full/partial participation of key economies and economic blocs—including ASEAN, the European Union (especially France, given its Indo-Pacific focus), and the United Kingdom
      • While the SCRI might be an Asian exercise, its ambition to create diverse, expansive, inclusive, and resilient supply chains mandates involvement by other major and middle-ranked economies everywhere.
      • Moreover, the participation of technologically advanced actors beyond Asia would prove crucial given the SCRI’s focus on digital technologies.
    • On the whole, Despite its merits, the SCRI is structurally limited right now
      • Yet with economic transformation and post-pandemic recovery shaping regional power distribution, the expectations for the SCRI are immense.
      • To meet expectations, the Australia-Japan-India trilateral must acknowledge the challenges and shape the initiative adequately to overcome them.


Mains Question:

1. Critically Examine, if the aims of the SCRI are in alignment with possibilities the initiative has to offer for India. (250 Words)