IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th October, 2015
TOPIC: General Studies 2
Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
UN missions: Bedrock of India’s military engagement and assistance to Africa
India’s participation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) is probably without parallel; it has been one of the largest contributors of peacekeepers and has suffered the most casualties in the process.
Eighty per cent of India’s peacekeepers are presently serving in Africa, and 70 per cent of all casualties have been sustained there.
UN missions serve as the bedrock of India’s military engagement and assistance to Africa.
However, there is growing debate on the efficacy of these missions, and benefits for India from its continued participation.
In more ways than one, India and Africa are at a crossroads on this issue.
Both need to move beyond and engage in a serious dialogue on India’s role in the future security architecture in Africa.
An historic background of India’s role :
Historically, India has participated in nearly all UNPKO in Africa.
Most famously, India helped set the trend in “peace enforcement missions” by deploying a sizeable contingent in Congo from 1960 to 1963.
The end of the Cold War led to a pronounced increase in UNPKO in Africa.
India has been an active contributor in almost all missions.
It is presently engaged in 12 of the 15 active peacekeeping missions.
Why a need for dialogue on this has surfaced?
Recently, however, there has been debate about India’s continued role.
Many question the benefits accruing to India from its considerable investment of manpower and military resources.
In addition, critics cite the bad publicity generated due to instances of sexual misconduct and corruption allegedly committed by some Indian peacekeepers, and allegations that India failed to adequately protect civilians.
These criticisms should not be brushed aside and instead provide an opportunity to debate the future of UN peacekeeping and India’s role in Africa.
The crux of the issue lies here:
African Union (AU), a 54-country group comprising all African states except Morocco, has deployed around 64,000 peacekeepers since 2004 in numerous missions on the continent.
However, these missions are funded almost entirely by donors like the UN, EU or the US, and only 2.3 per cent of the AU peacekeeping budget comes from its member states.
On the one hand, therefore, are the wealthy Western countries that fund but do not commit troops.
They are increasingly unhappy with the rising costs of UN peacekeeping — its current budget of $9 billion is the largest ever.
In addition, they have raised questions on the ability and commitment of peacekeepers to saving civilian lives.
On the other hand, troop-contributing non-African countries, mainly from the developing world, however, argue that they are not adequately consulted when the missions are being formulated.
African countries, which constitute the bulk manpower, are caught in the middle — financially dependent upon “developed” countries while requiring additional manpower, resources and support from “developing” countries to bolster their capabilities.
What needs to be done in future?
There are three measures that can be taken to spur the debate and enhance India-Africa security relations.
India and Africa need to embark on a serious discussion on the future of UNPKO in Africa.
Criticisms like the failure to protect civilians or allegations of misbehaviour and corruption need to be tackled head on.
Discussions should focus on steps to increase the overall effectiveness of peacekeeping missions.
India should consider scaling up its security assistance to African countries.
In the previous Africa-India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in 2011, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a contribution of $2 million towards peace keeping missions.
This should be increased by a considerable degree, especially since this mission is involved in intense combat operations.
In addition, India should enhance its military training teams in Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho and the Seychelles, and also work towards including other countries who express an interest.
India and Africa should shed their perceived shyness to discuss security issues and establish a high-level defence dialogue.
In the long run, the historical model of peacekeeping in Africa funded by the West and manned largely by Asian countries is unsustainable.
India’s efforts in peacekeeping have thus far been remarkable, but it is now perhaps time to transition to an African owned-African led solution.
Gradually reducing its peacekeeping responsibilities may therefore be for the best and might have the added advantage of eventually enhancing India-Africa relations.
United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) : A peacekeeping operation is led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) of the united nations , and work to create the conditions for lasting peace in a country torn by conflict.
A peacekeeping operation consists of military, police and civilian personnel, who work to deliver security, political and early peace building support.
There are currently 16 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission – the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
India and United Nations Peacekeeping Operations:
As one of the founding members of the UN, India’s contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security has been second to none.
India started off its support in United Nations mission with the operations in Korea in 1950.
The current deployment of 7864 personnel as on 31 October 2013 reflects the commitment of troops, military observers and staff officers and civilian police from India in nine of the 16 current UN operations.
India’s spontaneous and unreserved participation in UN peacekeeping operations over the years has been a clear demonstration of the country’s commitment to the objectives set out in the UN Charter.
Connecting the dots:
UN missions serve as the bedrock of India’s military engagement and assistance to Africa. Critically examine the above statement in light of third India Africa summit.
Critically examine the measures taken by India as a part of South -South cooperation with special focus on its initiatives in Africa.
Critically examine the importance of Africa in securing India a permanent seat in UNSC.
General Studies 2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector; Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
General Studies 3:Indian Economy and issuesInclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Reforms need to reach the needy: The Welfare Approach
India met with an economic crisis (BoP Crisis) in 1991 and it was further compounded by rising prices of essential goods, low level of growth and investment in social schemes that failed to generate substantial returns.
Before 1991, development had largely been State-driven; greatly commanding the key sectors of the economy, keeping a check on private players via licenses and controls, controls on price fixation, quantitative restriction on imports, etc.
The 1991’s wave of change marked a departure from excessive controls of the State to the stable land of opportunities:
Dismantled quantitative restrictions on imports and many more
This also marked the brand new role of the State- as a regulator and as a provider for public goods and services. Post-1991 changes led India to an arena where there is an increased competition and this fierce competition can be calmed down only by an improved efficiency of the policies and a robust economic mechanism in place.
There exists a direct relationship between efficiency and growth; higher the level of efficiency, higher the level of growth and development. This growth can then be leveraged to a point where expenditures on social sector initiatives can be utilized to provide better social security nets.
The eradication of poverty has been a favourite slogan for many decades to garner votes but when seen on the ground, there might be some changes in the figures but considering the importance of the issue, not much concentrated efforts have been translated into reality. Thus, behaviour of the poverty ratio becomes the most important determinant in the story of India’s reforms and changes.
Economic growth, today, is not anymore the rate of growth but the composition of growth which determines the pace of ‘trickle down’ effect of growth. In short, if one has to receive the benefits, he/she also has the capacity to respond to this growth stimuli.
Major poverty alleviation programmes like ‘Rural Works’, ‘Self-employment’ and ‘Food Subsidy’ are in place but this has to be taken forward in a sustainable manner. The rhetoric level at which the expenditure and policies are involved, have been ineffective due to meagre government spending (not on paper but in reality), lack of employment opportunities, ignorance towards the consequences of some economic decisions (health & environmental issues) as well as administrative inefficiency.
Total subsidies should be fixed and accounted for and that should be computed as a proportion of GDP
Should be targeted and directed only towards the deserving vulnerable groups
The Delivery system should be taken care of (Conditional Cash Transfer-JAM Trinity)
Expenditures of the government should start adopting the strategy of investment more
Public investment along with scientific research and development plays a crucial role in improving the agricultural productivity.
Also, inputs (fertilizers & finance), food processing, marketing products and export oriented policies needs to be re-visited
Process of consensus building (Land Acquisition)and proper institutional & legislative arrangements need to be developed to exploit our maximum potential under the emerging globalisation
The reforms should evolve as a means of serving people and nature together and thus, economic progress should become a ‘moral progress’ more while ensuring proper handling of the requirements of sustainable development paradigm (environment sensibilities and vulnerabilities)
The impacts on environment should be internalised and be included in the costs of production, to truly promote sustainable production systems and efficiency in the utilization of natural resources be taken care of
Investment should take place in the development of technologies that are sustainable, creates green jobs and satisfies the needs of the locals
Incentives should be provided in the reduction of critical and scarcer source such as soil, water and fossil fuel use through technological innovation
Building Transparency + Accountability + Participation:
Transformation in governance structures is needed to enable and sustain the desired transformative changes (maximising benefits) in social and economic systems
Speedy clearances and completion of projects+ A just and a transparent governance system
Awareness generation and grassroots advocacy through knowledge sharing consultations and media consultation for building a dynamic knowledge system that both urban and rural India can benefit from on a whole
The country’s choices must give way to the new triad: quality of life, human solidarity, and ecological sensibility and the poorest and most marginalised must benefit from the gains of economic growth with expansion in their access to social services
A sustainable human settlement makes life richer, promotes social capital building, and regenerates natural capital while augmenting economic capital.
In these times of rapid change, reforms are not sufficient alone ad therefore, it is necessary that dynamic and systemic planning guidelines should set the rules of the game.
Maybe then, the errors can be corrected and the country can move on to the high growth path.
Connecting the Dots:
The disparate growth has been a key feature of Indian economy since independence. Discuss
Summarise the importance of sustainable methods of production and sustainable consumption patterns in being critical steps towards transition of the economy into a developed economy.
“Ultimately an economy has to be evaluated interms of what happens to the poorest and the dispossessed. Everything else, such as nation’s income growth rate is of instrumental value”. Do you agree?
The frozen ties between India and Pakistan can be thawed out not by government, but by citizens and civil society organisations on both sides
Why dominant castes want Other Backward Classes status- Ground surveys have found Marathas, Jats and Patels, for instance, are in economic conditions quite similar to that of peer communities with the advantage of quotas