By Maj Gen Rajan Kochar (Retd)
In the past eighteen months, there have been several significant developments in the new world order which indicate a paradigm shift in the way major superpowers like the USA, China, Russia, France and others will see each other and dictate the course of events in the Eastern part of the World.
Though the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) came into being in 2017, with the four nations viz, United States, Japan, Australia and India coming together and forming an informal strategic dialogue, the movement did not pick up any momentum earlier but has now emerged from its shadows to form an important alliance and become a countervailing force to the increased belligerence and hegemony of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Therefore QUAD 3.0 has now become a necessity to combine the political, economic and military might of these four nations to send a strong message to Beijing to re-evolve its military doctrines and foreign policy and shed its wolf warrior diplomacy and coercive methods for overall collective world peace.
Dimensions of QUAD
For the QUAD to become a potent force a structure must be put in place with a definite road map for the future. The dimensions in which the QUAD could emerge would largely relate to political, economic and military. The ultimate value of QUAD would be to create a better economic model than China and possess a collective military strength with its suitable presence in proximity to the South China Sea to act as deterrence to any kind of misadventure the Chinese may plan.
The military value of QUAD would be faster and easier to evolve since the economic model has far too many imponderables wound around different economic regimes, trade pacts, tariff issues and the like and any reconciliation amongst the QUAD nations would need time and effort. Therefore, it would be more important to focus on the political and military aspects of the QUAD in the coming months.
It can safely be assumed that defence cooperation and arrangements generate economic linkages and therefore would lead to a greater understanding of existing differences between the QUAD nations. Given this backdrop, it was very heartening to see a QUAD Summit taking place a few days back which was followed by
a joint declaration towards the development and distribution of the vaccine to fight COVID 19.
Similarly, we would like to see a follow up of the summit with a QUAD defence ministers meet and formulate a military to military programme and exercises. Today such exercises do take place between the QUAD nations mostly in bi-lateral forms but they have to be concluded in the charter of QUAD and formalised in a manner that these become a regular feature. The other military issues which could get progressed could relate to intelligence sharing, technology exchange, logistics basing, communication protocols and perception management. Sharing of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and semiconductors and advanced computing and hypersonic realms could be another area that may be explored.
Defence Industrial Cooperation
Another area of significance could be defence industrial cooperation. Today our Indian defence industries are going in for strategic partnerships as outlined in our Atma Nirbharta Bharat campaign. This presents a wonderful opportunity for all QUAD countries to set a base in India with collaborations with our private industries. There is a huge scope for the private sector, considering India’s large and growing defence budget in general and the capital expenditure (most of which is spent on procurement of hardware) in particular. Assuming that nearly 80 per cent of the capital expenditure would be spent on capital procurement, the order of magnitude would be $300 billion. The defence industrial base would lay down the foundation for further economic activity in other areas of the industry. This aspect needs to be discussed in greater detail by QUAD nations.
It is quite evident now that the QUAD nations have come about in a state of convergence. The United States under the Biden administration is quite eager to push the agenda to contain the Chinese threat towards the Pacific. It is an idea whose time has come.
* Author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed here are personal.