DMPQ- What is QUAD ? What are the implications of including Australia in MALABAR 2020 under QUAD ?

Quad is an informal strategic forum among the like-minded democracies across the Indian and the Pacific Ocean aimed to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. It comprises of the USA, India, Japan and Australia.

Dubbed the Asian NATO, the Quad has a rocky past and has only recently developed a greater vigour through a more encouraging response from India and a more vocal Australia. The inclusion of Australia marks a shift in New Delhi’s position to steer clear of antagonising Beijing. While the mandate of the grouping remains quite broad, covering maritime security, connectivity counter-terrorism, resilient supply chains and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the rationale and driver for the Quad’s resurgence continue to stem from an increasingly assertive China. This in turn has led to greater efforts by ‘like-minded’ countries to consolidate across a range of platforms, together with a stronger focus on articulating shared interests.

However, for the Quad, it remains early days and unless this new momentum is sustained it will not only fail to find relevance but also serve to bolster interventionist forces. The Quad is also (still) in an informal grouping and, therefore, requires form and functionality in addition to consistent stewardship and clear direction (for it to become effective).

While China’s containment is, and will, continue to be the major driver, it is also imperative for the grouping to explore and cultivate other areas of cooperation to strengthen the scope and nature of the arrangement as envisaged by the four Quad countries. Understood from this perspective, the participation of Australia in this year’s Malabar exercise along with the three other participants elevates the geo strategic significance of the exercise and marks an additional sphere of engagement in the already many-tiered network of alliances that the Indo-Pacific has given rise to.

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