Throughout the Covid pandemic, the Western media publications have never missed a chance to defame, discredit India and its efforts to handle it. The latest to indulge in yet another anti-India diatribe is the UK-based news outlet Financial Times, which has now termed India as the “weakest link” in the Quad alliance.
In its latest piece, the Financial Times has declared India as the “weakest link” in the Quad alliance, an informal strategic alliance of four democracies – United States, India, Australia and Japan to take on China. According to the controversial publication, India’s second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic not only battered its ambitions to become the “pharmacy of the world” but has also undermined the US plan for New Delhi to play a leading role in countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The piece written by Amy Kazmin and Demetri Sevastopulo claims that the coronavirus crisis that stuck India this year and the subsequent vaccine export ban imposed by the Indian government in response to the pandemic has overshadowed Quad’s intentions to be an alternative to China in the region. Instead, India’s failure has created an opportunity that China is exploiting, claims the report.
For the uninitiated, Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is an informal strategic alliance between four major democracies – India, United States, Japan and Australia in response to aggressive rise of Communist China.
Quoting a few dubious experts and self-proclaimed foreign policy experts, FT declared that India was the weakest link of the informal alliance as it had failed to provide necessary vaccines to the nations as it had agreed to in the Quad summit that held in March.
“The pandemic is a reality check — there is no way around it — and it has laid bare the structural deficiencies of the Indian state in the crudest way we have ever seen,” FT quoted an ‘expert’ named Constantino Xavier to shame India on the global platform. Similarly, another ‘expert’ Avinash Paliwal, said the crisis had exposed “the differential between the idea of India as a rising power” and its ability to deliver on commitments.
“India’s image has been running ahead of itself. But the world is coming to realise the limits of India as a rising power. Even Indians misread their own capabilities,” the so-called expert said.
FT claims India did not deliver on its promise of providing vaccines
As per FT, Prime Minister Modi had agreed to deliver vaccines to different countries in the region on behalf of the Quad. However, with India facing a major crisis with the advent of the second wave, the country had to deviate its resources to save lives back home and slowed down on the international commitments it had made.
The Indian government’s focus to save more lives within the country is now being looked at as the country’s inability to fulfil its commitments to the Quad alliance. The FT article claims that India’s international standing as a reliable vaccine supplier and a regional foil to China is in tatters after the Modi government allegedly failed to secure enough vaccines for its own people.
The Financial Times falsely claims that New Delhi failed to provide vaccines to its smaller neighbours such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, where New Delhi is vying with China for influence.
Quoting another ‘expert’, Ashley Tellis at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the FT wrote, “The hype outran the reality” .
Interestingly, FT also quoted Lisa Curtis, another strategic affairs expert, who said, “Right now, there won’t be a great deal of focus on what the Quad will do on tech or security because India will be distracted. It is just a hiccup that we have to attribute to the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus.”
Based on a few misleading assertions by self-proclaimed experts, The Financial Times declared that the Quad idea is not going anywhere, and doubts linger about India’s potential as a regional powerhouse. The FT, raising questions on India’s ability, asked whether India can deliver on its promise.
As FT cited experts to push its usual anti-India agenda, it turns out that one of the experts who was quoted by the publication disagreed with the views. Lisa Curtis, who FT quoted as discrediting India for not delivering on the promises on vaccines, has denied making any such assertions and accused Financial Times of wrongly attributing statements to her.
In fact, Curtis had stated that the pandemic was just an aberration and a ‘hiccup’ in the alliance. However, FT twisted her statements to project that India’s was a weak link in the Quad.
Taking to Twitter, Lisa Curtis clarified that she was misquoted by the Financial Times in their latest publication targeting India. She said she completely disagreed with the premise that Covid-19 showed India’s inability to be the strong strategic partner for the United States. She called the FT piece a “wrongheaded assertion”.
So why is Financial Times desperate to put all the blame on India and discredit India’s commitment to the Quad initiative?
Financial Times inability to digest India’s rise as a global power
The answer lies in the fact that the publication such as Financial Times seems to have not yet accepted that India is a global power today and part of a high table responsible for managing global affairs. The British media outlet seems to be still in a colonial hangover and perhaps thinks that they can run down India just like they did in the past.
Well, it is not easy as they think. Let’s analyse India’s contribution to the world during the pandemic and compare it with the rest of the Quad members to see whether India is a fragile link in the alliance.
As they say, alliances are made based on shared values and shared commitments. Similarly, there are no leaders or weak links in an alliance as every nation is deemed equal in global alliances, especially in small but significant collectives such as Quad. The alliances are made up of collective interests and each partner has a definitive role to play in it.
Perhaps, the Financial Times, which is busy doing propaganda rather than serious journalism, does not comprehend how alliances and diplomacy work. Even though this is not the first time that the global publications have questioned India’s commitment to alliances such as Quad, however, this is the first time that any publication is questioning India’s capacity to deliver on the promises made.
If one does an honest analysis of the recent activities and commitments fulfilled by all the four nations in the Quad, one can safely assume that India is not the weakest link, if not at least the leader of the pack. It is worth mentioning that ever since the Wuhan virus pandemic hit the world, it was India that came to the world’s rescue by supplying essential drugs, PPE kits, masks etc., to the world, while the rest of the world sat silently.
The USA, the apparent “strongest link” in the Quad, was the severely hit country globally as more than 600,000 people died due to the Wuhan virus. It is a known fact today that the USA, the leader of the free world, closed its doors for the rest of the world and hoarded all the medical supplies even as the rest of the world suffered. Perhaps, FT seems to have forgotten the fact that it was India that supplied essential drugs to the US when it needed the most.
The idea of Quad, an informal strategic alliance to take on China, only came to fruition in March this year, when all the four countries collectively in a 2021 joint statement announced that they shared vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and a “rules-based maritime order in the Indo-Pacific. During the meeting, the Quad pledged to expand the global vaccine supply by enhancing the vaccination capacity of India, which was already delivering vaccines to most of the world under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative.
However, the advent of the second wave of the pandemic altered the plans, with India focussing more inwards to vaccinate its own population, which was one of the most affected in the world during the latest onslaught of the Chinese pandemic. India imposed a ban on the export of vaccines to cater to the Indian population but promised to deliver on the promise of vaccine exports soon.
Based on India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines to the world during the last few months, the Financial Times declares that India is a “weak link” in the entire alliance as it does not have the capability to supply such vaccines. As Financial Times blames India for its failure to keep its promise, it does not talk about the commitments of three other partners in the alliance – Australia, the US and Japan.
India – the strongest link in the Quad
Well, it is not an unknown fact that the United States of America has utterly failed to stand up for the rest of the world, both in terms of tackling the pandemic in the first place and its response to shape the post-Covid world. When India stood up to supply 664 million doses of vaccines to over 95 countries under its Vaccine Maitri initiative, the United States of America hoarded all the vaccines for itself.
Not just it, it even banned the export of vaccine raw materials to India when the vaccine manufacturers in the country needed it the most. It is important to note that Quad members had agreed to create a vaccine coalition and supply vaccine raw materials to India to step up the production of 1 billion vaccine doses by the end of the year. It looks like the US completely failed on its promise. However, the Financial Times does not have the courage to call the United States the weak link.
Further, when it comes to the other two partners Australia and Japan, their efforts and commitments to the ongoing global war against the Wuhan virus is almost negligible. However, western media has no temerity to call out the inability of Japan and Australia to step up on behalf of the Quad, as these countries are considered as the first-world countries, while India is depicted as poor, third-world country by the western press.
The fact is, India is the only member nation in the Quad that has been pushing vocally for enhanced international cooperation and global effort to fight the pandemic. India is the only country in the Quad that has sent vaccines, medical supplies and other help to dozens of small countries struggling in the pandemic. India has not only helped its sown neighbours, like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but it has also stood resolute beside struggling small nations all over the world, even in the Caribbean, the USA’ own neighbourhood.
The Quad needs India, not vice-versa
The western media that jumps every time to depict India in a poor light should understand that it is the world and the Quad that needs India to tackle China and not the other way around.
In fact, India is the only nation in the Quad that is engaged in a direct military conflict with China in recent years. Moreover, even as the Western media delivers myopic judgements, India has thousands of soldiers standing in an eye-ball to eye-ball situation with China’s PLA in Eastern Ladakh. India is also the only Quad nation that shares a border, a very large border at that, with China. Any assumptions thath India is “not doing enough”, is therefore foolish.
In fact, the fundamental idea behind any anti-China coalition, including Quad is weaved keeping India as the focal point as it is the only democratic global power in the region that shares a maritime and land border with China. There is no power in the world that can face China eye-to-eye other than India, and the world clearly understands it because India has been doing it for decades.
Someday, the West has to accept the eternal truth, which it is reluctant to do: With or without Quad, India can and has taken the fight to China. India does not need any favour from the free world to stand up against the Chinese belligerence.