India's vaccine initiatives to take centre stage at Quad meet today

ANI
·5-min read
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Representative Image

New Delhi [India], March 12 (ANI): As the world remains in the grip of Covid-19, economic recovery and quick vaccine production will be the focal point of discussion among leaders of four large democracies -- India, the US, Japan, and Australia -- who are scheduled to meet at the first-ever Quad meet today.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), is a strategic forum comprising India, the US, Japan, and Australia.

Sources familiar with the development told ANI, "The most significant among the deliverables envisaged for the summit is the vaccine initiative. COVID vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India, financed by Japan and the US, and supported by Australia. The vaccine initiative will allow new manufacturing capacity to be added in India for exports to the Indo-Pacific region. It will not impinge on our existing manufacturing capacities."

"Traditionally the Quad did not have definite areas of cooperation. It discussed principles and shared strategic approaches. The summit offers an opportunity for evolution. In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, India stands united with its Quad partners in fostering a quick global economic recovery," added the source.

This pooling of individual capacities and strengths by Quad countries is aimed at expediting global vaccine delivery. It will help meet the demand-supply gap, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region. It will add momentum to ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic.

"India's role in the Quad vaccine initiative will project and re-enforce India's credentials as a trusted, reliable manufacturer and supplier of quality vaccines. It will appreciably expand our Vaccine Maitri effort. It will strengthen India's standing as the 'pharmacy of the world', as a critical node in global health supply chains, and as a selfless contributor to global health security," the source said.

Leaders of the Quad countries will meet today in a virtual summit. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will participate, along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga, and President of US Joseph R Biden, in the historic summit, the first leadership-level engagement for Quad.

Incidentally, this is among President Biden's earliest plurilateral Summits - preceded only by a meeting of the G7 leaders - and is being held less than two months after he took office.

Freedom of Navigation in the Indo-Pacific region is also another key area of interest for the quad leaders. Another source told ANI, "For India, the Summit is of importance as it builds crucial partnerships to address challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. This region is home to our neighbours and key partners, and consistent with the centrality of ASEAN. Securing the maritime domain is important."

The Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) is a dialogue platform of like-minded countries (India, USA, Australia and Japan) that share certain attributes (democracy, pluralism and market-based economy) and have growing convergences in strategic and security perceptions, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. While there is no institutionalised secretariat, discussions are focused on emerging global challenges and geopolitical issues.

According to sources, "The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary issues such as post-pandemic recovery, resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change."

"In the evolving geopolitical landscape, the impact of the Quad vaccine initiative on overcoming the pandemic will be noteworthy. Quad's model of enlightened, humanitarian collective action through the supply of Covid19 vaccines will also offer a template for peace, cooperation and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region," a source familiar with developments added.

The genesis of the Quad lies in 2004 when the four countries formed a "core group" for a joint response to the Indian Ocean tsunami to undertake rescue and relief operations. The response to the 2004 tsunami remains a standout example of India-Australia-Japan-US operational coordination on disaster relief. In many senses, that pioneering effort still determines the core identity of Quad and the instinct for collective welfare and security for the people of the Indo-Pacific.

The salience of the Quad has run in parallel with the emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a key strategic region. With a growing similarity of assessments about geopolitical dynamics in the region, in 2017, the Quad dialogue resumed at the official level after a decade.

India's approach to the Indo-Pacific was enunciated in the Prime Minister's speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018. Inclusiveness, openness, and ASEAN centrality and unity lie at the heart of India's Indo-Pacific vision. The strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific was also acknowledged by the US in 2018 when it renamed the US Pacific Command (PACOM) as INDO-PACOM. Several European countries too have published their Indo-Pacific strategies, in recognition of the political and economic weight of the region. The first Foreign Ministerial meeting of Quad countries was held in New York on 26 September 2019 on the sidelines of the UNGA.

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar participated in the second Quad Foreign Ministerial meeting in Tokyo on 6 October 2020, in the midst of the global Covid19 pandemic. The third Quad Foreign Ministerial meeting, held virtually on 18 February 2021, was the first such meeting under the Biden Administration, with the participation of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The meeting took place within a month of the new administration assuming office. Earlier this year, for the first time the four countries appointed Sherpas to coordinate Quad-related issues. Foreign Secretary is our Sherpa.

The Biden Administration acknowledged the significance of the Indo-Pacific region in its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance document (released on 3 March 2021) and emphasised the commitment to Quad engagement. To this effect, an Indo-Pacific Coordinator has been appointed in the US National Security Council to coordinate their Indo-Pacific strategy. (ANI)