‘India building ‘Asian NATO’ through Quad?’ S Jaishankar answers
The emergence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which brings together India, Australia, Japan and the US, is an outcome of today’s multi-polar world, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Friday.
“It is very much in keeping with the times, and we will find increasingly in a multi-polar world, and a more fractured world...these ad hoc combinations of countries who will work together,” he said during an online interaction organised by the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI).
The four countries in the Quad had come together because they find it useful to consult on issues of mutual interest, such as maritime security, connectivity counter-terrorism, resilient supply chains and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Jaishankar said in response to a question on whether India is involved in building an “Asian NATO”.
The world has moved from the Cold War era, marked by two dominant blocs and non-alignment, to a time of greater multi-polarity, when more countries can shape and influence outcomes, he said. The West has become less collective, there has been a change in the power of the US and the world has also witnessed the rise of China, he added.
Earlier this month, Jaishankar participated in the second ministerial meeting of the Quad, where the four countries agreed to continue working for a free and open Indo-Pacific against the backdrop of China’s growing assertive behaviour. Next month, the navies of the four countries will participate in the Malabar exercise, with Australia recently accepting India’s invitation to join the drills.
Referring to the changing dynamics in global power equations, Jaishankar described the rise of China as a “big geo-political event of our lifetimes”. The multi-polar world will create its own logic, he said.
“The underlying idea is a consistent India. Independent India will express itself very differently and that is today in an example like Quad. Quad is not the only example where four countries have found it useful to consult on issues which are in their common interest,” he added.
As India grows, it may have similar arrangements with other countries as well, Jaishankar suggested. “Since we have so many agendas as we become bigger, we will have areas where we will work with other countries,” he said.
This wasn’t a dramatic shift, as India had also worked with other countries in the past, he said. “You had three countries who felt they had a common interest in working together to strengthen their hand vis-a-vis the West. The three countries were Russia, India and China. So before there was a Quad, there was a triangle,” he said.
The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific amid China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour has led to some quarters describing the Quad as a coalition with the aim of countering Beijing. Senior US officials have also spoken about the possibility of regularising and formalising the Quad.