The recently concluded third annual United States-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue has amplified the ongoing conversation in India on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), the Indo-Pacific, the threat from China, and, the United States as a potential ‘alliance’ partner. No strategic vision has captivated India’s foreign policy mandarins and strategic community in recent times as have the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.
The international community has once again decided to court New Delhi to play a decisive role in shaping the region’s strategic future. While during the mid-2000s the world expected India to be an economic powerhouse, a decade later, those expectations remain modest, at best. The expectation this time is more strategic and military, to lead the charge against China from within the region. Will India, and can India, fulfil these expectations?
The concepts, the differences
The Indo-Pacific is a grand politico-economic vision while the Quad is a forum for strategic and military consultations among India, the U.S., Australia and Japan. Depending on how one wishes to view it, they could be seen as conceptually interlinked or as separate visions.
Their similarity comes from the fact that the Quad members are also major States in the Indo-Pacific region, and both the Quad and the Indo-Pacific constructs are focused on China. More so, they are also in some ways centred around India’s geographic location and its policies.
Put differently, if you take China out of the equation, they would have little rationale for existence. And if you take India out of the picture, their ability to sustain as geopolitical constructs would drastically diminish.