THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 01 October 2020 On the Quad, define the idea, chart a path (The Hindu)

On the Quad, define the idea, chart a path (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2:International Relations 
Prelims level: Quad group 
Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests


  • It is reported that the second Ministerial meeting of the four countries under the Quad will be held in Japan.
  • Sadly, the person who conceived this idea, Shinzō Abe, has stepped down as the Prime Minister of Japan. Mr. Abe was a strategic thinker who thought beyond the limited timeframe of Japanese revolving-door politics.
  • In 2007, the Quad (the United States, Japan, India, and Australia) was an idea whose time had not yet come. That was a different world.

An evolution:

  • The global financial crisis was still lurking in the shadows as America continued to enjoy its ‘unipolar moment’.
  • The American establishment still believed that it could, somehow, persuade China to become a ‘responsible stake-holder’.
  • And, in any case, required Chinese goodwill in dealing with America’s priorities — the nuclear issue with North Korea and Iran, and the War on Terror.
  • Japan and Australia were riding the China Boom to prosperity.
  • If India was ambivalent at the time, it was because this mirrored the uncertainties of others.
  • China’s shrill reaction to the idea of four like-minded countries establishing a plurilateral platform(QUAD) was, prima facie, intriguing.
  • The idea was barely on the table; there was no clearly enunciated concept or proposed structures, much less joint understandings.
  • The Chinese, however, labelled it as an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • It became evident years later that the real reason for China’s hyperreaction was out of concern that such a grouping would “out” China’s plans for naval expansion by focusing on the Indo-Pacific maritime space.
  • China was hoping that its naval build-up might slip under the radar because the Americans were distracted by continental challenges including Russia, Afghanistan and Iran, and would not look sea-ward.
  • Once the idea of Quad 1.0 had died down, China gained in confidence to reveal its hand.
  • It advanced a new claim — the Nine-Dash Line — in the South China Sea; it undertook the rapid kind of warship building activity reminiscentof Wilhelmine Germany before 1914.
  • Cyina built its first overseas base in Djibouti; and it started systematically to explore the surface and sub-surface environment in the Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits.
  • This entire activity was coordinated by a Central Leading Small Group for Protecting Maritime Rights and Interests, established in 2012.
  • China’s dismissal of the Arbitral Award in the dispute with the Philippines on the South China Sea and its brazenmilitarisation of the islands after its President had publicly pronounced to the contrary raised concerns.
  • Such events has once again brought the four countries onto the same page and given a second chance to the Quad.

A Plurilateral mechanism:

  • The Chinese are skilled at obfuscation.
  • They will, perhaps, endeavourto conflatethe Quad with the Indo-Pacific vision, and link both to the so-called China Containment Theory.
  • The Quad nations need to better explain that the Indo-Pacific Vision is an overarching framework that is being discussed in a transparent manner, with the objective of advancing everyone’s economic and security interests.
  • The Quad, on the other hand, is a plurilateral mechanism between countries that share interest on specific matters. There are other such mechanisms in the region.
  • In 2016, China itself established a Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan and, more recently earlier this year, another one with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal.
  • The Quad is no exception.

The world today:

  • This time around, the four countries are navigating through more turbulent waters.
  • The global pandemic and the faltering global economy are taking a toll on the region’s growth and prosperity.
  • The two major Pacific powers (China and America), are moving into a more adversarial phase of their relationship.
  • Public opinion about China in all four countries is different from what it used to be in 2007.
  • The fact of the meeting itself will signal to China that assertive or aggressive behaviour is not going to derail this mechanism.
  • The forthcoming Ministerial meeting will be an opportunity to define the idea and chart a future path.
  • Needless provocation of China should be avoided. There is no gain in actions that anger the Chinese with no commensuratebenefit to the others.

Reaching out:

  • In a recent address to the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) on August 31, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, spoke about making sure that all the countries were moving at the same speed.
  • This is an important statement because a plurilateral mechanism should also serve national interest.
  • He also suggested that other countries might be invited to join in the future. This too is welcome; India has many other partners in the Indo-Pacific.
  • A positive agenda built around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities.
  • Such agenda will re-assure the littoralStates that the Quad will be a factor for regional benefit, and a far cry from Chinese allegations that it is some sort of a military alliance.


  • An outreach to the Indian Ocean littoral states is especially important since there are motivated reports from some quarters suggesting that India is, somehow, seeking to deny access, or to create infrastructure that impedesthe legitimate movement of some extra-regional countries through the Indian Ocean.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs), consider the following statements:

1. Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs) are contracts whose value is derived from only one interest rate.
2. The Reserve Bank of India proposed allowing foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives (IRDs) transactions subject to an overall ceiling of ₹5,000 crore.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1)What is Quad grouping? What is the significance of Quad grouping?