India-US Strategic and Security ties at QUAD


    In Context

    • India’s security potential in the IOR fits well with the US’ search for like-minded partners that could share security responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

    About QUAD

    • About:
      • It is also known as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD).
      • QUAD is an informal group of India, the US, Japan and Australia.
      • It is a strategic dialogue with the objective to ensure a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo Pacific.
    • Shared values between the nations are:
      • Political democracies
      • Market economies
      • Pluralistic societies
    • Timeline:
      • 2007: 
        • Japanese PM Shinzo Abe mooted the idea of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
        • It could not materialize due to the reluctance of Australia
      • December 2012: 
        • Shinzo Abe again initiated a concept of Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond, involving Australia, India, Japan and the US.
        • The aim was to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
      • November 2017: 
        • QUAD Coalition was finally given a present-day form with the active participation of India, the US, Australia and Japan.
        • The aim was to keep critical sea routes open and free for navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
        • Foreign ministers of the four countries held their first meeting under the ‘Quad’ framework in New York in September 2019.

    Significance of QUAD for India

    • Countering Chinese Influence: 
      • Recent stand-offs on the Indo-China Border and the reluctance of Russia to step in and build pressure is forcing India to look for alternatives.
    • Post-COVID Diplomacy: 
      • The disruption across the world and non-transparent systems of China pose an opportunity for India to take lead and become the World’s Manufacturing Hub.
      • India can leverage its expertise in the vaccine and pharma industry to increase its soft power.
      • Further, Japan and the US want to shift their manufacturing companies out of China in order to curb its imperialistic behavior.
    • India’s SAGAR initiative:
      • India under the SAGAR initiative wants to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean.
      • QUAD cooperation may give India access to multiple strategic locations for creating Naval bases.

    Multipolar World: 

    • India has supported a rule-based multipolar world and QUAD can help it in achieving its ambition of becoming a regional superpower.
    • Climate Change:
      • The climate crisis calls for urgency in action
      • Quad nations are already driving their efforts toward climate ambition, including working on the 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation, and deployment. 
      • The most commendable commitment is their focus on increasing the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience to climate change by improving critical climate information-sharing and disaster-resilient infrastructure.

    India & USA’s current positions at QUAD

    • About:
      • Since the turn of the century, India has viewed itself as a major power, first responder, and security actor in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
      • At the same time, the USA was keen to nurture India as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the region, opening the window for greater convergence of interests.
    • Conflicting positions:
      • India’s position on Ukraine war:
        • India’s muted criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 expectedly led to some frustration in the West, raising questions over India’s credibility as a security partner.
        • Even with converging Indo-US strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific, differences persist between Washington and New Delhi.
      • Position on Indo-Pacific region:
        • The US views the Indo-Pacific as a region where rules-based liberal international order needs to be preserved vis-à-vis China’s assertive rise and even the Russian threat
        • By contrast, India does not see the Indo-Pacific as an exclusive group of actors in a region that is against any country. 
          • New Delhi considers it an “inclusive” region and has, at times, even signalled the inclusion of China and Russia within its definition of the Indo-Pacific.
      • Threat of China:
        • The US is open about the threat China poses to its interest and is ready to deter and even fight if required. 
        • India, on the other hand, is wary of balancing China directly and prefers maintaining the competition-cooperation model in its ties with China. 
      • Views on “maritime order” and “freedom of navigation”:
        • India and the US have contrasting views on “maritime order” and “freedom of navigation.”
        • India has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) while the US has not, and both have distinct interpretations of the law 
        • In fact, India’s interpretation is closer to China’s understanding of the law. 
          • While Indian law is against freedom of navigation operation in its exclusive economic zone, these differences have been managed well at the diplomatic level.

    India’s Balancing Act

    • Multi-alignment:
      • India has been tilting towards the West for the last two decades, it continues to balance multiple partnerships, at times with countries at odds with each other. 
        • This is evident in India’s decision to cooperate with the US and its allies on the Quad and other arrangements while maintaining ties with China and Russia 
        • This also explains Indian silence on Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
      • The multi-alignment posture relates to India’s position regarding “strategic autonomy” and its legacy of not depending on any of the competing countries.
    • Non-involvement:
      • India will likely remain less involved or enthusiastic about overtly addressing Chinese actions in regions that do not directly impinge on its security interests (case in point, Taiwan or even Ukraine as visible in the present context).

    Way Ahead

    • Overall, India-US strategic and security ties are not perfect and are unlikely to be so in the coming future. 
    • The spectre of divergences will continue to exist within the role compatibility the two enjoy. 
      • This may also affect the orientation of the Quad from a security perspective.
    • However, the differences are unlikely to impede the incremental progress of their bilateral ties or engagement in a Quad arrangement. 

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] India-US strategic and security positions on issues of the Indo-Pacific region are not matching and are unlikely to be so in the coming future. Examine