Issue :   
December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


Why India should keep away from the Quad

Rajeev Sharma

The 15th India-ASEAN Summit was held in Manila on 14 November, 2017 which also coincided as the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN relations. An important highlight of this multilateral event involving the 10- nation Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the ten leaders of the ASEAN member countries for a commemorative summit that will be held on 25th of January 2018 and these ASEAN nations would also be the Chief Guests for India's Republic Day celebrations on 26th January 2018 – an unprecedented diplomatic event in the annals of India's post-independence history as so many foreign leaders have never been invited as chief guests for the Republic Day.

However, yet another important multilateral event took a rebirth on the sidelines of the Manila summit – revival of the four-nation Strategic Quadrilateral, known simply as the Quadrilateral or the Quad, involving the US, Japan, Australia and India. The Quad was relaunched at senior officials' level on the sidelines of the Manila summit which, strategically speaking, eclipsed the main events like the India-ASEAN Summit.
The Quad 2.0 is a completely different ball game. It is much different from the original Quad involving the same powers in 2007 which was eventually aborted the same year by Australia at the behest of China. The irony is that this time Australia seems to be in a somewhat repentant mode and Japan and the US are as pro-active about the concept as they were a decade ago, but this time around India doesn't seem to be as much enthused.
Australia tried its best a few months ago to get entry into the Malabar exercises this year in which India, US and Japan participated. However, India put it's foot down and kept Australia shut out.
The result is too evident. One,

Narendra Modi at ASEAN Moreover, India has been quite wary of its involvement with the Quad powers, largely because it doesn't want the Quad play out as a zero sum game to keep China at bay. India doesn't want to annoy its giant contiguous neighbour for obvious reasons.
India has been acting as a virtual outlier and not sharing data and communication systems of its overall military and most of its Russian-made ships and warplanes with the Quad powers.
India has been conducting virtually all of its naval exercises with foreign powers through voice and text commands with rudimentary SMSstyle data exchange. The defence communications during these wargames are done mostly through voice transmission without any satellite link that would allow the two navies to access information and share monitor displays in on-board command centres.
Most significantly, India sends its Russian-acquired Sukhoi jets to the drills with their radars and jammers turned off. This is to prevent the US and other powers from getting access to India's encrypted communications equipment and systems.
It's not for nothing, after all, that India had last year signed a military logistics pact with the United States after a decade of wrangling, but two other agreements were stonewalled. These were: the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, which would set a framework through which the US could share sensitive data to aid targeting and navigation with India.
New Delhi is concerned that agreeing to the CISMOA would open up its military communications to the United States, and even allow it to listen in on operations where Indian and US interests may not coincide - such as against arch-rival Pakistan.
The Quad may be good for the American and Japanese national security interests, but not necessarily for India. New Delhi would do well to keep away from the Quad till the other three involved powers give specific reasons to India of its relevance for India. And that hasn't happened yet!