In an increasing multipolar world order, it is multilateral forms of engagement that have begun headlining regional politics in a direct manner. Such plurilateral engagements have their roots in strong bilateral ties between member states. For instance, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (hereon Quad) – comprising India, Japan, US and Australia – has arguably emerged as one of the most crucial groupings defining the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region. To ensure continued growth of the Quad, it remains crucial that efforts between the Quad countries to keep bilateral ties strong do not wane. With the Quadʼs like-mindednessʼ stemming from their continued commitment to building a ʻfree, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercionʼ Indo-Pacific region, ties between the oldest (US) and the largest (India) democracies of the grouping take on added significance. In the aftermath of a successful Quad Leadership Summit (QLS), how can the India-US partnership be further strengthened especially with respect to the Quad?
Evolution of India-US Relationship
Post its revival in 2017, the grouping has only grown in caliber resultant of active efforts amongst constituent powers to improve bilateral equations between themselves. Today, even India and Australia – often referenced in strategic circles as the least developed bilateral within the Quad – have upgraded ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Moreover, the recently held QLS, which has produced Quadʼs first ever joint statement despite multiple senior official and ministerial meetings over the past four years, highlights the growing evolution of the mechanism, with its united politicization coming at a pivotal time amidst Chinaʼs assertive actions.
President Joe Bidenʼs focus on making America ʻlead againʼ by rebuilding strong ties with ʻallies and partnersʼ has reflected quickly in his first few months in office. Aside from the first US-Japan 2+2 under Biden, the recent visit of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to meet with Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh and Bidenʼs telephonic conversation with Australian PM Scott Morrison has shown a quick reversal of Bidenʼs foreign policy overtures from that of his predecessor5. Amidst such an outlook, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby has termed India a “critical partner6” especially vis-à-vis “challenges in the Indo-Pacific”.