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It is in keeping with times: Jaishankar on Quad


NEW DELHI: The coming together of India, Japan, the US and Australia under the “Quad” or Quadrilateral coalition was very much in keeping with changing times, and a reflection of the evolving landscape of a multipolar world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar suggested on Friday.

Jaishankar said every landscape and phase in geo-political balance of power produces its own thinking and strategy, and an independent India will express itself differently to different situations while maintaining its consistency in overall approach.

“It is very much in keeping with times, and we will find increasingly in a multipolar world, and a more fractured world I would say, these ad hoc combinations of countries who will work together,” he said replying to questions on ‘Quad’ in an online conference organised by Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI).

Talking about changing dynamics in the global power equation in the last few decades, including the Cold War period as well as the phase of Western dominance, Jaishankar called the rise of China a big geo-political event.

“The world is moving towards a more multipolar world. It means there are many more countries who have the ability to influence and shape outcomes and part of it is that there has been a relative change in the position and power of the United States. The rise of China is the big geo-political event of our lifetimes,” he said.

The external affairs minister said a multi-polar world would create its own logic.

“The underlying idea is a consistent India. Independent India will express itself very differently and that is today in an example like Quad. Quad is not the only example where four countries have found it useful to consult on issues which are in the common interests,” the Jaishankar said.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

In the midst of growing global concern over China’s expansionist behaviour, the foreign ministers of the Quad member nations met in Tokyo on October 6 and reaffirmed their collective vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

The foreign minister of the four countries held their first meeting under the ‘Quad’ framework in New York in September 2019.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s increasing military muscle flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers. The US has been favouring making Quad a security architecture to check China’s growing assertiveness.

In his address, Jaishankar also suggested that as India grows, it may have similar arrangements with other countries as well.

“Since we have so many agendas as we become bigger, we will have areas where we will work with other countries. If you look 20 years ago, this was a time when the West was very, very dominant,” he said.

“You had three countries who felt they had a common interest in working together to strengthen their hand vis-a-vis the west. The three countries were Russia, India and China. So before there was a quad, there was a triangle,” he said referring to the grouping of Russia-India-China (RIC).

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