Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Consolidation of quad reflects India’s political will


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Five eyes

Mains level: Paper 2- Quad and its future

Quad as new feature of Indo-Pacific

  • Australia’s participation in the Malabar exercises marks the emergence of the Quad as a new feature of the Indo-Pacific geopolitics.
  • The question is India’s ability to take full advantage of the possibilities after the US elections to construct a wide range of new international coalitions.
  • Likely changes could envelop a range of old institutions like the Five Eyes and the G-7 grouping that coordinates Western policies on global economic management.
  • We could also see the creation of a new League of Democracies that will addres issues like including the defence of shared values, commerce, corruption, taxation, climate change and digital governance.

Phases of India’s international aspiration

  • The consolidation of the Quad reflects the political will in Delhi to break free from old shibboleths and respond to security imperatives.
  • The post-Quad era opens a new phase in which India, for the first time, can help shape global institutions.
  • First phase: Idealism was the hallmark of India’s internationalism in the 1950s, the harsh politics of the Cold War quickly dampened it.
  • Second phase: In the 1970s, India embraced the radical agenda of a New International Economic Order, as the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77. The results were meagre.
  • Third phase began with the end of the Cold War.
  • And as India’s own economic model collapsed, India had to focus on economic reform and prevent the world from intruding too much into its internal affairs.
  • The fear of the US activism on Kashmir and nuclear issues saw Delhi turn to Russia and China in search of a “multipolar world” that could constrain American power.
  • The BRICS forum with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa became emblematic of this strategy.
  • Delhi also figured out that it was not possible for BRICS to constrain Beijing, since China was so much bigger than the other four members put together.
  • Fourth phase in India’s multilateralism is marked by three features — the relative rise in Delhi’s international standing, the breakdown of the great power consensus on economic globalisation, and the breakout of the US-China rivalry.

Efforts to tackle China

  • The Trump administration has already sought to imagine the Quad’s possibilities beyond the defence domain.
  • The invitation to India to join a Five Eyes meeting came amidst the bipartisan calls in the US Congress for the expansion of the forum and the inclusion of India.
  • The “Quad Plus” dialogue has variously drawn in Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam for consultations with the Quad members on coordinating the responses to the pandemic.
  • India is also engaged with Japan and Australia in developing resilient supply chains to reduce the reliance on China.
  • President Trump has proposed the expansion of G-7 grouping to include Australia, India, Russia and South Korea.
  • The last few months has seen the Trump administration promote a “Clean Network” that eliminates untrustworthy vendors from telecom systems, digital apps, trans-oceanic cables and cloud infrastructure.
  • Clean Network is now a broader effort to build secure technology ecosystems among like-minded countries.
  • Britain is said to be developing plans to convene a coalition of 10 democracies, including India, that can contribute to the construction of secure 5G networks and reduce the current dependence on China.
  • France and Canada have invited India to join the Global Partnership on artificial intelligence that now includes 15 countries.
  • The objective is to promote responsible development of AI that is consistent with shared democratic values.


Delhi’s participation in the sweeping rearrangement of the global structures will have major consequences for India’s economic prosperity and technological future. Unlike in the past, Delhi now has the resources, leverage and political will to make a difference to the global order

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