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2024 JUN 21

Mains   > International relations   >   Strategic Groupings   >   International groupings


GS 2 > International relations  >   Strategic Groupings   >  International groupings


  • Recently, The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) released a report titled "Two Decades of the Quad: Diplomacy and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific" to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad. The Quad, comprising the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, was initially formed in response to the humanitarian crisis following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.


  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the Quad, is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
  • Objectives of the Quad:
    • One of the primary objectives of the Quad is to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
  • According to the Spirit of the Quad (shared commitment and vision of the Quad), the group’s primary objectives include maritime security, addressing the risks of climate change, combating the Covid-19 crisis, especially vis-à-vis vaccine diplomacy,  creating an ecosystem for investment in the region and boosting technological innovation.
  • Though not stated explicitly, one of the major bases for the grouping is to check China’s growing influence in Indo-Pacific region.


  • The Quad is formed by Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, to coordinate relief efforts after the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
  • The first Quad officials’ meeting takes place and focuses on shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Australia withdraws from the Quad over concerns of antagonizing China, however Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan later calls for a revival of the partnership in 2012. He proposed the "Democratic Security Diamond" concept, involving Australia, India, Japan, and the US to ensure maritime security across the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
  • The Quad was revived in 2017 with a meeting of Joint Secretary-rank officials of the four countries.
  • In 2020, the Malabar naval exercises, originally between India, the US, and Japan, expanded to include Australia. This significant event marked the first joint military exercises among the Quad nations.
  • March 2021 was the first time the leaders of the four nations met virtually for an official Quad summit, releasing for the first time a set of objectives for the grouping in a joint statement called ‘The Spirit of the Quad’.
  • The Quad now includes joint military exercises, six working groups, and an investors network, among other initiatives.
  • Annual Quad Leaders’ Summits have provided high level guidance through joint statements on shared goals and principles.


  • Health Security Partnership: 
    • The Quad, through its Vaccine Partnership (later renamed the Quad Health Security Partnership), significantly enhanced health security by distributing vaccines across the Indo-Pacific during the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative leveraged the manufacturing capabilities of India, financial support from Japan, vaccine development expertise from the United States, and logistical support from Australia. By 2023, the Quad had delivered over 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses across the Indo-Pacific. (Source: ORF)
  • Climate Action and Clean Energy: 
    • Demonstrating a robust commitment to climate initiatives, the Quad introduced the Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP) in 2022 and issued the Statement of Principles on Clean Energy Supply Chains in 2023, focusing on emission reduction, renewable technology advancement, and enhancing climate resilience.
  • Critical and Emerging Technologies: 
    • In 2021, the Quad initiated the Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative, aiming to secure and diversify supply chains for essential technology components, which has fostered global cooperation in fields like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G network deployment.
  • Maritime Security and Domain Awareness: 
    • Launched in 2022, the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness has bolstered regional maritime security by enhancing capabilities to monitor illegal fishing and shipping activities across the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean.
  • Counterterrorism: 
    • The Quad Counterterrorism Working Group, established in 2023, has been instrumental in strengthening collective capabilities to counter terrorism through enhanced intelligence sharing, tabletop exercises, and strategic policy coordination.
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: 
    • Since its establishment in 2022, the Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief has coordinated effective responses to natural disasters, facilitating swift and efficient relief efforts in the Indo-Pacific through regular exercises and biannual meetings.
  • Sustainable and Transparent Lending Practices: 
    • The Quad Investors Network, established in 2023, has contributed over USD 48 billion in infrastructure financing from 2015 to 2021, promoting sustainable, transparent lending practices as a democratic alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative, enhancing regional economic prosperity and stability.


  • Support to strategically countering China:
    • The Quad provides a platform to India to seek cooperation from like-minded countries on various issues such as ensuring respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • For example, as there is a rise in the Chinese hostilities on its borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter it. Also, support of Quad partners can be used to counter Chinese strategy of surrounding India through String of Pearls.
  • India is working with Quad partners to offer alternatives to the China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a project that undermines India’s territorial sovereignty and regional primacy.
    • For example, as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Quad nations agreed to extend more than $50 billion of assistance to the Indo-Pacific region over the next five years to bridge the infrastructure gaps.
  • Strengthen India’s role in Indo Pacific region:
    • India has strengthened its naval ties with each of the other Quad countries, and there have been more interactions, formal and informal at the official, political and military levels.
    • This benefits India’s position as a net security provider in the Indian ocean region. 
  • Free and Open Indo-Pacific:
    • India supports a rules-based, balanced and stable trade environment in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • QUAD has a shared commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the importance of upholding the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • Strengthen Act East Policy of India:
    • QUAD provides India with a powerful platform to advance and further strengthen its Act East policy.
  • Enhance strategic partnerships and defence capabilities:
    • Quad has offered an opportunity to strengthen partnership with the like-minded countries through military exercises, joint patrols, exchange of strategic information, strategic dialogues, technical agreements and coordinated activities etc.
    • For example, all four members of the Quad have been participating in the Malabar exercise since 2020.
  • Converging interests:
    • India has converging interests with other Quad members on a variety of issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; reform of multilateral institutions, etc.
    • Support from Quad members on these issues would help India to realize its strategic and economic goals.
  • For example, in Quad leaders’ summit at Tokyo 2022 , Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), Quad’s Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains, Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) etc., were launched.


  • Economic relations between Quad countries and China:
    • Though Quad is countering the growing influence of China, all Quad countries have complex economic relations with China.
    • China is either the first or the second largest trading partner, or a key import/export partner for all of the Quad countries.
  • The formation of AUKUS:
    • Australia, the UK and the US has created AUKUS to take up security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Though US said that AUKUS and the Quad would complement each other, AUKUS will definitely affect the strategic choices of Japan and India.
    • Japan, India and Australia were nominally equal partners of the US under the Quad framework. But the US offered special treatment to Australia through formation of AUKUS. This will negatively impact the Quad.
  • Lacks institutional structure:
    • The Quad is not structured like a typical multilateral organisation and lacks a secretariat and any permanent decision-making body.
  • India’s stand in Russia-Ukraine conflict:
    • Three members — US, Japan and Australia — have taken a stand against Russia’s aggression, while India’s position has been one of studied neutrality that calls for respect of territorial sovereignty and integrity and the UN charter, but does not criticise Russia. India’s separateness on the issue may affect the Quad.
  • Differing views on Chinese threat:
    • Each members of Quad views the Chinese threat differently.
    • For the US, it is about trade and Taiwan and for Australia too, trade was the biggest issue until the recent establishment of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands brought a new dimension.
    • Japan and India are closest to China, and both face belligerent Chinese claims to territory.
  • Unfavourable history:
    • Historically, Cold War military alliances in South and Southeast Asia- such as SEATO, CENTO, ANZUS – were all failures because of the unwillingness of regional powers to cooperate. Even today, nation states value their diplomatic manoeuvrability than ceding their interests to a revisionist group.
  • Nuclear threat:
    • Almost 6 countries possessing nuclear weapon lies in the Indo-Pacific (including North Korea) and even a small trigger can have grave consequences for peace and stability of the region.


  • Expand the partnership
    • Quad members have indicated a willingness to expand the partnership through a so-called Quad Plus that would include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam amongst others.
  • Expand cooperation:
    • Quad will only succeed if it serves a more substantive purpose. So the Quad should focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Cyber-security, energy security, and regional capacity-building. Initiatives like Q-CHAMP and IPMDA, launched at the Tokyo summit 2022, support this broader scope.
  • Prepare strategy for China:
    • If the countries are to go ahead with Quad, they need to develop both individual and collective strategies in dealing with China — with whom they all will, and should, continue to engage.
  • Foster mutual trust:
    • Just one defection to a softer line on China could easily spell doom for the Quad all over again. To prevent this, members must engage in regular discussions and alleviate the lack of trust among the members.
  • Cooperation with ASEAN:
    • The Quad should seek to harness consensus with ASEAN as a whole, promoting cooperation in the shared interests among the two.


Q. "The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) has evolved significantly over the past two decades." Discuss how the Quad has contributed to regional stability and prosperity from India's perspective. What challenges does the Quad face, and what are the possible ways forward to strengthen this strategic partnership? (15 marks, 250 words)