India as a Quad-led biomanufacturing hub

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, Regional forums(QUAD, NATO, East Asia Summit etc)
  • Mains GS Paper II: Significance of US’ Indo-Pacific strategy, Indo-Pacific Region,Free and open Indo-Pacific, International organizations.


  • In 2021, the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) set up a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group to facilitate cooperation, monitor trends.
    • scout for opportunities related to developments in critical and emerging technologies, that included biotechnology.



Quadrilateral Security Dialogue(QUAD):

  • It is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
  • In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).
  • Spirit of the Quad”(2021) joint statement promoting a free, open rules-border, rooted in international law to advance security and combat threats both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
  • Unlike NATO, the Quad does not include provisions for collective defense, instead choosing to conduct joint military exercises as a show of unity and diplomatic cohesion.
  • Willingness to expand the partnership through a so-called Quad Plus that would include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam amongst others.
  • Cooperation identified during the QUAD summit in 2021, including climate change, critical and emerging technologies, counter-terrorism, infrastructure, Humanitarian-Assistance and Disaster-Relief (HADR) and maritime domain awareness.
  • The QUAD is pursuing work on 5G technology and vendor diversification to maintain a diverse, open and interoperable telecommunication ecosystem through collaboration with like-minded partners.
  • 3C strategy of QUAD


Quad and bio manufacturing:

  • The Potential for Quad cooperation in biotechnology remains insufficiently tapped.
  • The establishment of a Quad-led biomanufacturing hub in India will give the necessary fillip to enhance this cooperation.
  • Biomanufacturing uses living systems, particularly microorganisms and cell cultures, to produce molecules and materials on a commercial scale.
  • It has the potential to transform the global industrial system, with up to 60% of physical inputs to the global economy expected to be producible using this technology.
  • The United States and China, recognise the need to optimize this ecosystem and have designed specific policies to shape their bio-economies.


The Quad bio manufacturing and India:

  • India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy envisions the country as a “Global Biomanufacturing Hub” by 2025.
    • It sets a target of $100 billion for the hub.
  • Quad should establish a biomanufacturing hub in India to benefit from the country’s economic potential and address supply-chain vulnerabilities.
  • Quad nations have complementary strengths that can be leveraged to create this hub.
  • The U.S. has significant funding capability, while all three (Japan, Australia and the U.S.) also possess advanced biotechnology innovation ecosystems and intellectual property.
  • India has skilled manpower and the potential to provide affordable scale.
  • India is the ideal choice to host the biomanufacturing hub because of existing infrastructure, pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise, and the available workforce.
  • According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute: India is among the top performers in the field of biomanufacturing in both the quality of research output and in the share among research publications.
  • India has significant potential in low-cost biomanufacturing, particularly in the production of enzymes, reagents, research materials, and equipment.
  • Analysis: The cost of manufacturing in India is around 33% lower when compared to that in the U.S.
    • However, India still requires significant capability and capacity uplifts to become a world leader.


Physical infrastructure around bio manufacturing in India and China:

  • India aims to become a leading bio manufacturing hub with plans to increase fermentation capacity tenfold to 10 million liters in the next three to five years.
  • China has expressed its intention to capture this market.
    • It is already dominating small-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
  • The concerns about China’s dominance in APIs pushed India to launch a production-linked incentive scheme.
    • It allocated $2 billion to the pharmaceutical sector to make biopharmaceuticals, APIs, key starting materials, and related products.


Way Forward

  • India’s ambitions require external support, particularly through its Quad partners, to enable its initial development
  • Dependence in the biomanufacturing sector will be detrimental to both India and the Quad.
  • The proposed hub can help facilitate technology transfer, connect investors, and establish a biomanufacturing fund that is administered through the Quad, to support India’s efforts to reduce dependency on China.
  • To scale up the biomanufacturing sector, India needs to uplift its workforce quality.
    • Life science professionals in the country lack access to cutting-edge technology and training.
    • Permanent training facilities can be established in universities around the Quad hub, with experts from other Quad countries providing the training.
  • Recent policy changes in India allow the establishment of foreign universities and can encourage scholar exchange programmes.
  • Training should also focus on commercializing research and development, a common challenge for non-U.S. countries in the Quad.
  • Cross-Quad collaboration: The biomanufacturing hub can house all current bilateral government efforts and establish a research collaboration office for this purpose.
    • The hub can harmonize language, regulations, and data-sharing regarding biomanufacturing to secure supply chains for Quad nations and facilitate international collaboration.
  • The streamlining will boost collaboration efforts within the Quad and create opportunities for collaboration with nations outside the Quad as well.
  • The proposed hub in India can capitalize on the economic potential of the biomanufacturing industry and address existing and potential vulnerabilities in the global system.
  • India can become a leading player in the field of biomanufacturing and help the Quad to compete in this key area.



The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain.(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

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