In response to a question, Sanjay Verma speaking at the foreign correspondents club of Japan said, “No conflict between the concept of Indo Pacific and the Asia Pacific, which is an old concept. In Fact, Indo Pacific has become the new currency, as compared to the old currency which used to be Asia pacific. Indo pacific replaces the Asia Pacific”
He explained that the Indo pacific vision is shared by “many countries” and groupings like ASEAN and “many countries beyond Asia which also share” the vision like the US and Australia. Indo Pacific is a region seen from the eastern shores of Africa to the western coast of the US and a region driving the world’s economy and hosting a large portion of the world’s population.
Asked about Quad, and India aligning itself to specific groups, Verma highlighted that “Quad doesn’t force us to leave or give up our Independent foreign policy. It is autonomous and complete Independence. It doesn’t preclude the convergence of principles.”
Adding, “Quad has certain principles which have convergence and reverberance with the Indian foreign policy ethos and that is very much there”
Earlier this year saw the first-ever Quad leadership summit virtually in which leaders of all 4 member countries participated. Later this year could see, first-ever in-person summit. While the Quad’s history goes back to the aftermath of the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami when these 4 countries worked together, but it is only in the last few years that has seen an increased pace of regular engagement.
“In Quad, the countries which have come together follow these principles” like democracy, envoy pointed out, saying “there is dialogue and deliverables coming out of quad” and “I don’t see quad going against the philosophy and principle of having an independent foreign policy by a country”
The emergence of groupings like Quad and Indo pacific vision comes at a time when the world and Asia have seen an increase in Chinese aggressiveness. China has been aggressive with all 4 quad countries–with India, it has been creating trouble at LAC in Eastern Ladakh, with Japan over Senkaku islands, with Australia there have been trade issues and with the US, from trade to Taiwan.
The Indian envoy also spoke on Tokyo Olympics which Japan will be hosting next month, saying “our athletes are early waiting to come and join the event and try to do the best they can in the sporting event.” The Olympics were to take place last year but got postponed due to the covid crisis. This year, the Olympics are taking place amid heightened protocols to deal with the covid virus.
Verma said, “The Olympics should generally be held on time so that athletes who would participate in it, they do not get disappointed”, elaborating that “It is a global event, its an event for which the world waits for 4 years and therefore our view is that, with safety as the paramount so that health issues are not compromised, neither for the athletes nor for other visitors nor for Japanese resident”
So far 140 Indian athletes are confirmed to go to Japan for the Olympics. The number can increase as many qualifying events remain.
Expressing confidence in smooth Olympics, the envoy said, “Olympics should go ahead with and I am sure given the precautions with the Japanese govt and Japanese Olympic committee…we do not foresee any difficulty in going ahead with Olympics”