D.C. PATHAK | 06 Jun, 2022
At the core of India's foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi
is the mandate that bilateral relations with all would be based on
mutual security and economic interests, and that this principle would
also be extended to multi-lateral cooperation wherever required --
provided that all such pacts would be in consonance with the cause of
Sequentially, security will always come
before economic interest but what Modi's approach to international
relations has achieved is to establish that economic development
inherently served the security agenda as well.
world given to ruthless politics of one-upmanship, it can be said that
Prime Minister Modi has been able to strike the chord of Indian
philosophy of 'Sarvajan Hitaya, Sarvajan Sukhaya' while handling the
affairs of the nation. This can come only from a leader of personal
integrity, total devotion to public cause and a nurtural outlook.
good news is that the merit of India's policy is already showing up on
various fronts -- India-US relations marking the natural friendship
between the two largest democracies of the world, India's crucial stand
of positive non-alignment on Ukraine-Russia military confrontation based
on an understanding of the national concerns on both sides, and the
prominent role of Modi at the recent Quad summit in Tokyo where the
concept of security-development interface - rather than security and
economic growth as separate dimensions - became centre stage at the
global level for the first time.
Prime Minister Modi
always projected Quad as an instrument for promoting 'rules based order'
in the Indo-Pacific and as a forum for enhancing mutual cooperation
among the countries of the region - even as India joined this powerful
group of democratic nations of the world to oppose the aggressive
designs of China in that maritime zone.
point of view, this was also like establishing an early barrier to any
hostile activity of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean. India, however,
wanted the security cooperation under Quad to be reinforced by a more
effective economic participation among the countries of the region to
counter the Chinese attempt to dominate them.
signing of the agreement on May 24 in Tokyo in the presence of US
President Joe Biden for launching the Indo Pacific Economic Framework
(IPEF) involving nine other countries of the region besides the Quad
members, is an affirmation of the Indian approach to the pathway of
economic friendships for global peace and development and an answer of
the democratic world to the dictatorships of the times.
unusually strong denunciation by China of this US-led move for
strengthening economic cooperation in the Indo- Pacific is an admission
by the former that this development would effectively stall the Chinese
strategy of using the economic route to achieving a political sway here.
Minister Modi underscored the positive character of the all-embracing
Indian strategy when he emphasised that 'despite the adverse situation
of Covid-19, we have increased our coordination for vaccine delivery,
climate action, supply chain resilience, disaster response, economic
cooperation and other areas'. This according to him 'had helped to
establish peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific'.
is remarkable that the Tokyo summit did not allow the Ukraine-Russia
military conflict to cast its shadow on Quad's primary mission of
countering an expansionist China in the Indo- Pacific. The joint
statement of the leaders, issued after the summit on May 24, reiterated
their steadfast resolve to work for a free and open Indo-Pacific that
was inclusive and resilient but it also enlarged the forum's ambit by
declaring that 'Quad is a force for good committed to bringing tangible
benefits for the region' and keeping the latter free from 'all forms of
military, economic and political coercion'.
the participants were 'responding in their own ways' to the conflict in
Ukraine and the ongoing humanitarian crisis there, the statement
revealed that the impact of these events on Indo- Pacific was assessed
and that the leaders were all in favour of giving priority to
maintenance of peace and stability in the region.
Tokyo summit expanded the scope of economic cooperation in the region by
defining the future strategy on issues ranging from economic recovery
in individual countries to the collaboration on development of critical
The leaders even gave thought to the ways
and means of strengthening the capacities of the countries in the region
to cope with the debt issue and appreciated the meetings held by
development finance institutions and agencies of the Quad partners to
better connect the Indo- Pacific.
The summit planned to
work for deepening collaboration in identified areas such as regional
and digital connectivity, clean energy and climate including disaster
resilience in energy related facilities, in the interest of sustainable
and inclusive growth in the region.
It took note of how
the digital world is getting exposed to sophisticated cyber threats and
laid emphasis on a collective approach to enhance cyber security.
Quad partners decided to coordinate capacity building programmes in the
Indo-Pacific under the Quad Cybersecurity Partnership. They pledged to
focus on harnessing emerging technologies for the prosperity and
security of the region.
Cooperation on 5G supplier
diversification was highlighted and joint efforts to leverage
complementary strengths to raise a competitive market for semiconductors
and other critical technologies were stressed upon.
short, the Quad summit has taken the joint endeavour in economic and
security spheres of Indo- Pacific to a new level, in line with India's
The summit declaration echoed the
Indian stand that at the centre of international order is the
international law, including the UN Charter, that respect for
sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states has to be maintained
and that all countries must seek peaceful resolution of disputes in
accordance with international law.
The stamp of India
was clearly visible in the unequivocal castigation of terrorism and
violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, denunciation of
the use of terrorist proxies and a categorical condemnation of the 26/11
terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the Pathankot airbase attack in 2016.
statement demanded that the Afghan territory must never be used again
to threaten or attack any country or to shelter and train terrorists. A
total India-US convergence on terrorism was in evidence in Tokyo.
leaders also recorded their appreciation of the pioneering role of
India in production and distribution of Covid vaccine under the Quad
The importance of economic
development besides security cooperation was highlighted through the
specific mention of 'shared effort to build infrastructure that was
essential for driving productivity and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific
Quad is apparently adopting a strategy to
counter the Chinese game plan of building its hold on the region through
The Tokyo summit became a new landmark
in Indo-US relations. President Biden seemed to have put the focus back
on China amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict when he emphasised that 'Quad
is not just a passing fad but it means business'.
attacked Russia for its invasion of Ukraine - saying it is trying to
extinguish a culture - and made out that Ukraine was not just a European
issue but a global one but without making any India specific comment,
urged the group to make a greater effort 'to stop Vladimir Putin's
Biden, in fact, was extremely enthusiastic
about meeting Prime Minister Modi 'again in person' - he remarked that
Indo-US friendship had entered a new chapter and that Indo-US ties will
be among 'the closest on the earth'.
India's relationship with the US as 'truly a partnership of trust' and
said he is confident that this friendship will continue to be a force
promoting global peace and stability.
profusely praised India's democratic functioning and bracketed India
with the US in providing leadership to the democratic world against the
menace of dictatorships and autocracies.
Modi's handling of international relations is working exceptionally
well for India. It will add to the standing and prestige of India if it
offers the services of interlocutors in mediating for peaceful
negotiations between Ukraine and Russia under the auspices of the UN.
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)