IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Explained Ideas: In light of Quad, perspective on international alliances

7th October, 2020 International Relations

Context: India’s involvement in the Quad — the forum that also involves the US, Japan and Australia — has been criticised as a deviation from New Delhi’s traditional policy of non-alignment.

Historical trends:

  • Over the years, India has experimented with alliances of different kinds – during World War I, some nationalists aligned with imperial Germany to set up the first Indian government-in-exile in Kabul;
  • during World War II, Subhas Chandra Bose joined forces with imperial Japan to set up a provisional government in Port Blair; and
  • In independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who unveiled and championed non-alignment, signed security treaties with Bhutan, Nepal, and Sikkim.
  • Also, Nehru, who actively opposed American alliances in Asia, turned to the US for military support in 1962.

Is an alliance with the US on the cards?

  • Both countries, are interested in building issue-based coalitions in pursuit of shared interests.

Are alliances essentially instrumental in nature?

  • In the past, India’s treaties with Nepal, Bangladesh, and Russia were meant to address India’s security imperatives, while most of China’s alliances were fundamentally transactional in nature.
  • Democratic India cannot be as brutally transactional as communist China – however, New Delhi can learn a thing or two from the way Beijing has forged alliances.
  • “An India that puts its interests above the doctrine will find coalitions like the Quad critical for its international prospects,”