(Mains GS 2 : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.)
- The announcement of the new Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) and the outcome of the recent Quad summit indicate that AUKUS will go on to form a key security arrangement of the Indo-Pacific region.
- This might force the Quad to struggle for attention, political will, and resources.
- AUKUS is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region.
- Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
- Experts said that it is designed to counter the influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The pact will focus on military capability, separating it from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance that also includes New Zealand and Canada.
- AUKUS may not replace the Quad as AUKUS has the military domain while Quas lacks the desire to give itself any military role.
- The recent Washington summit on challenges ranging from COVID-19 to climate shows that the Quad is unlikely to take a security-dominated turn.
- However, Quad might lose its stream as it neither has a secretariat or a charter, nor a clear set of activities such as AUKUS.
Problems Quad faces:
- The Quad faces the danger of becoming a talk shop as all the Quad members have security/military considerations in mind vis-à-vis China.
- However, not any member is willing to frame it in such a manner.
- There is little interest in properly institutionalising the Quad nor has the objective for ‘Quad Plus’ been purposefully pursued.
Hesitations of India:
- According to India “there is no link between the AUKUS and the Quad”.
- However both groups share a larger vision about the Indo-Pacific, i.e., addressing the challenge from China, and the desire for an open and free Indo-Pacific.
- So while they are not technically related to each other, there is a broader reality that unites them all.
Importance of Indo-pacific:
- The Indo-Pacific is of great importance to India for various reasons.
- The continental challenges of India along with new developments in Afghanistan needs a shift of attention to the maritime sphere.
- The growing global interest in the Indo-Pacific gives India an opportunity which it must make use of for its own security and prosperity.
- It is also a major way of bringing together like-minded states to check Chinese hegemony in the region.
Engagement of India:
- India’s hesitation about joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership weakened its economic influence in the region.
- The trade relations with the Indo-Pacific countries rival those of China is also not so influential.
- Thus the country has become part of a security arrangement which can take care of its regional defence/security concerns.
Hesitations of india:
- It is evident that India is traditionally reluctant about military alliances and believes in maintaining strategic autonomy.
- Thus India does not want militarising the Quad as it could undo this jealously guarded tradition.
- However It is possible that India will explore military utility for the Quad without making it a formal military alliance.
- As the global scenario gets more complex and India’s ambitions increase, a cohesive strategic vision would give substance and drive to India’s pursuit of its interests over the long term.