The Time Press

India must be less NAM, more Quad

Last week’s Quad foreign ministers’ meet underscored the group’s commitment to ensuring an open and free Indo-Pacific. The apparent strengthening of the Russia-China partnership makes the focus on delivering on the Covid vaccine promise, as well as sharing of intelligence, particularly important. As the sole developing country member, India must take on a more proactive role, to ensure that the concerns of other countries of the region are not overlooked.

The Quad’s commitment to delivering Covid vaccines in the first half of this year is important. Addressing the vaccine gap is critical to ensuring an open and free Indo-Pacific. The rollout has, so far, been marked by inequity and has the potential to undermine the multilateral system. The Quad made clear its commitment to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime security, counterterrorism, countering disinformation and cybersecurity. Traces of India’s old Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) can’t apply here.

India’s position on issues will attract greater attention. Silence on critical events would be interpreted as divergence from the group. It is critical that India focuses on presenting its perspective both within the group and outside. It must shed its defensive approach with the world, particularly on issues understood to be vital to open societies and liberal democracies. New Delhi has refrained from highlighting human rights abuses, the ill treatment of religious minorities and the subversion of basic rights by Beijing. Historically, India has avoided taking positions on these issues. That has strengthened the false narrative that seeks to present India as illiberal and majoritarian. India must smartly be vocal about its stands to be more effective.

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