Underlining the unprecedented scale of challenge from China in Ladakh, security and foreign experts Saturday suggested India must adopt a more aggressive demeanour to forge issue-based geo-strategic multilateral partnerships like QUAD to leverage India’s full potential in checking China.
The views were expressed by a group of panelists, including former Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba (Retd) during the second day of Military Literature Festival.
Sharing his thoughts during the discussion, noted defence commentator and director of Institute of South Asian Studies National University of Singapore C Raja Mohan said Delhi must learn from the past in not letting the academic debates about alliances tar its judgments about extraordinary economic and security challenges staring at India.
“India faces growing threats and it needs more partnerships than it has ever needed before globally,” Raja Mohan said. He pointed out India’s traditional reluctance to be an active QUAD partner due to fear of being perceived as taking a side.
Underlining the changed global scenario where India cannot remain neutral anymore, as has been our policy till now, he said that we have to move on much faster on multiple fronts while strengthening QUAD, and enhancing other regional mechanisms.
“The way China threatens us today requires us to dynamically improve national economic capacity, not only the military capability, in partnerships with intensive international coalitions for which QUAD could be the central fulcrum for the time being,” Raja Mohan said.
Moderating the discussion, Admiral Sunil Lanba expounded on the genesis of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad as a club of four nations comprising India, US, Japan and Australia which was mooted by the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. Forged in the wake of coordination amongst these four democracies during the 2004 Tsunami, the ambitious grouping went into limbo owing to Australia’s reluctance to antagonise China then. Its prominence in 2017 has been a response to China’s assertiveness in the region, he said.
Former Ambassador Shyam Saran, who was the foreign secretary during 2004 when tsunami had struck Indian shores, recalled great acknowledgment India had received from foreign nations for its swift action by our naval forces.
Dissecting the real reason for QUAD’s retreating into limbo after 2007, Saran revealed that it was the US which, in fact, had wanted to play down group’s significance because it did not want to lose out on China and Russia’s support for pushing Iran Nuclear Deal.
Marking out reasons for revival of QUAD, he said the challenge posed by assertive China to India and other countries, including Japan and Australia, has rightfully reinvigorated the grouping. Besides, the security relationships between these four countries are much equal, he added.
Echoing the sentiment that QUAD is not just a naval alliance, Vice-Admiral Pradeep Chauhan said China considers India as one of its targets of military assertion, a challenge our establishment has so far not been familiar and comfortable dealing with it. “We need to have a nimble asymmetric strategy and must maneouver our strengths to best of our capabilities in thwarting China,” he said.
Pointing out that China has been weaponising its economic prominence to saddle other countries, he said India can’t be choosy while entering alliances. The decision of India to stay out of RCEP is not in line with keeping the high ambitions to match geo-strategic goals. “We need bold steps across the board to counter rising China,” he added.
Cautioning against singling out China, he said it would be in the best interest of China to be a part of the alliance as capabilities of all four nations have the potential to act as a counterweight to China.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines