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Revisiting Quad: Time for India to mend fences with China

Revisiting Quad: Time for India to mend fences with China
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Highlights

It was only a month back when the heads of state of the QUAD countries met virtually and released a joint statement. One of the main programme of action agreed upon was to assist Indian company based out of Hyderabad, Biological E.Ltd, in production of a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

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It was only a month back when the heads of state of the QUAD countries met virtually and released a joint statement. One of the main programme of action agreed upon was to assist Indian company based out of Hyderabad, Biological E.Ltd, in production of a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Funding is to come from Japan and USA, and logistical support for distribution will be provided by Australia. However, Brahma Chellany, a strategic affairs expert, commented that the Quad vaccine initiative just demonstrated how with media help a PR gimmick can be spun into a summit success since the summit initiative in no way added to the already existing production capacity of Biological Evans to produce a billion vaccine doses per year. In any case the funding requirements were already tied up.

A month later India is grappling with the second wave of coronavirus which is devastating the country. Serum Institute has the capacity to produce critically needed vaccine in large quantities but is constrained by its inability to access important inputs which are available only in USA. All requests for the same fell on deaf ears, and America has put forward this perverted logic that it is essential to vaccinate everyone in USA for the world to remain safe and refused to lift the ban. One of the worst public health crises facing India has just shown how insensitive and narrow-minded USA can be when there is greater need for cooperation and understanding.

Till now the theme that is floated by USA and the west is that China is an unreliable clog in global supply chain and there is a need for China plus one policy. But, when the crucial test came in a crisis situation world is realising that more than China plus one policy the world today needs USA and the west plus one policy.

Only a week back the seventh fleet not only crossed into our exclusive economic zone, but thought it fit to publicise it through an unusual press report. These actions of America raise a serious question how far India should go with the Quad initiative of the USA.

Underlying presumption of Quad is that China is expansionist by nature and there is a need for a group of nations to contain it. But, when there is a crisis how reliable are these partners is a big question mark. Any such defence cooperation not backed up by economic cooperation of preferential access to the Western markets has no great relevance for India. It may serve the purpose of America in strategically containing China, but may not be of great relevance to India.

It is time India really looks for an alternative to this in terms of an improved relationship with China. If serious attempt can be made on both the sides the border problem is not unsurmountable, and once both nations put this problem behind them it opens up new avenues for cooperation in different fields in a mutually advantageous manner. A possible Russia-China-India partnership can offer to the world multipolarity which is suffering from unipolarity since the collapse of USSR.

All the three Nations can take serious initiative to bring long-term peace and stability in that part of the world which is most unstable -- Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is also crucial for all the three countries in terms of securing their supply chains and encouraging commerce and trade. On trade side there are definitely going to be issues since cheap Chinese imports can wreak havoc on the manufacturing sector in our country. While concentrating on ways of safeguarding our industry from this onslaught, we can meaningfully co-operate with China along with Russia on all other fronts.

There is no way for a long time we can come anywhere near China as an economic power. China's crude steel production is 1000 million tonnes per year as against India's 100 million tonnes. The sooner we realize the better for us.

(The writer is former Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh.Views expressed are personal)

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