QUAD : AND INDIA’S RESPONSE
As India moves toward being fifth largest economic power in the world, it is important for her to protect this standing with robust military projection beyond it’s shore. No country has ever made a strong economy unless it has a powerful military to it’s support. Even Japan has now started feeling the necessity of having it’s own military despite a full support of the US military through agreements after WWII. Thus, India needs a major policy shift. However, projection of the military power in blue waters is not new, as we have had a strong overseas influence during the Chola’s period 300 BC – 1279 CE.
Lately, South China sea has become a major bone of contention among many stakeholders. Besides, many EU countries, though not directly affected with this conflict, but have also thrown their hat in the ring, and have backed US led initiative to contain China. Recent statement made by Russia condemning any such agreements to target/isolate one country assumes a great significance As they have emphasised on bilateral solutions to all matters, including Sino- India issues.
These developments in SCS, presents a golden opportunity to India to be an active participant in global strategic issue due it’s geo-political location. It’s central presence in Indo – Pacific makes it poised for any military confrontation. Besides, India enjoys a fair
amount of dominance on China’s over stretched blue water energy supply lines.
The dilemma with India over the QUAD are as follows:-
1.Contradicts our long standing stated non – aligned policy. Our stated position has been the resolution of disputes through bi lateral talks with neighbouring states. Therefore, India finds it difficult to openly support QUAD MILITARY COOPERATION. Though in respect to Pak, we have deviated to this many a times and external entities have played their roles as a part of Track II diplomacy to bring normalcy in relations.
- Can we rely on US as our ally in the times of need without any heavy favours in return?? Our past experiences have not been Though lately, the two largest democracies in the world are having best of the relations.
- Our position against A long – term ally and an important player in the need of any mediation with China?? It dilutes our participation in triad of RIC.
- Would India like to antagonize a powerful China or would like to save deteriorating it’s relations??? The 1962 conflict has left many mysteries?? As to why China retreated despite a free hand to grab his to occupy territory up to his purportedly claim line?? But what is their actual claim line?? Do they want India to keep us guessing to keep the pot boiling always?? Or do we need to go back in history prior to British era to understand our boundaries with China???
- Any such strong QUAD dilutes our relation with our time-tested ally i.e. Russia. We still feel as Russia would play a major role in resolving Sino – Indian conflict, if situation arises. Thus, making our stand firm likely to foreclose this option, and would draw China further closer to Russia. Our relation today are evenly poised.
- The QUAD cooperation comes with the specific and altogether unrelated needs of the four And hope to get fulfilled if they succeed to contain the China’s expansionism. A repeat to NATO of cold war era in SCS?? But yet Russia held out and projected itself where ever needed during that period.?? Therefore, what happens if China willing to address some of the QUAD member nation’s issues?? Will this QUAD remain as strong in that scenario, till all the contentious issues concerning the QUAD members are addressed?? Or economic compulsion would then tilt toward dilution in cooperation?? Still remains a matter of debate?? How much this cooperation would address specific issues which India faces with China??
- India’s being perceived as playing US And therefore hesitation to go against an Asian giant, a neighbour, and possibly the next super power No 1.
However, the China’s Salami slicing tactics to gradually grab land along the LAC, it’s tough position on CEPC, keeping claims alive for Arunachal Pradesh, and vetoing our legitimate demands in UN/international forums has a set trend. It seems they want India to constantly remain under pressure. Despite our many attempts, they have never agreed for any serious talks to resolve border issues. It considers India a weak nation, who does not have a strong will to defend it’s position diplomatically or militarily.
The Galwan retaliation was the first time when India openly confronted and opposed their nefarious design. And India was well supported globally. And this has been taken note by China. An Assertive India!!!!
So what India can do to this fine balance: –
- Leverage on it’s geo – political location and set need-based terms with US on Mutually benefitting all the countries. Set the objectives clear for QUAD. QUAD should not be an association just to get a resolution on nation specific issues with China.
- Strengthen the air & ground military along LAC to stop any further land slicing by China at all costs. The naval supremacy of QUAD would counter China’s navy in any such eventualities. However, the ground battles have to be fought all along the LAC without any QUAD support. Need to shift focus to strengthen ground & air strike forces.
- Renew engagements with Russia to state our position and compulsions to join Alternatively leverage track II diplomacy and involve Russia, to solve our all-outstanding issues with China.
- Actively participate in QUAD military exercise, dominate and project itself as a power to reckon with in Indo – Pacific. As it rightly belongs to India, if SCS belongs to China.
- Shift focus on COK (China Occupied Kashmir), POK & question legality of CEPC, emphasis on 1914 border settlement and Mc-Mahon line as IB, raise Tibet issue periodically to keep pot boiling against China in international forums. Increase QUAD economic cooperation to reduce dependence on Our active support to Taiwan, Philippines etc will act to counterbalance China to quite an extent.
Today the nations have a complex web of international cooperation due to their economic, political, military & strategic compulsions. These have become a necessity.
This forms a multifaceted network of relations & understanding. And it is accepted & respected by all. Recently middle East countries have witnessed this shift, wherein their responses have been more flexible while dealing with their adversaries. We need to overcome the rigid dynamics of response of erst while cold war blocks.