TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Review of India’s Asian Strategy
Nations which have an important role to play in shaping international relations have restructured their foreign policies, both with respect to defence and economy, as per the needs of the evolving geopolitics. Countries such as the U.S., China and Russia have responded well to this evolution but India still does not have a clear strategy with which it can take advantage of the basket of opportunities arising in Asia.
Almost three centuries ago India was the richest country dominating the world economy with textile exports. However, lapses in our policies and certain decisions in those years allowed the British to rule upon us. As a result of the colonisation, India was exploited for the benefit of countries progressing as a result of the Industrial Revolution.
As a result of the above, India has never been able to secure a similar global standing as it did three centuries ago. Chinese economy is now five times that of India and soon to be the largest in the world. India has all the capabilities and the demography to overtake China by 2050. However, the same can be achieved with sound policies, national and international, and channelizing the resources in the best way in the right direction.
- India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has not helped India with material gains other than agreements including the sale of coastal patrolling vessel to Vietnam.
- On the west, India is parking high stakes in the Chabahar port. However, India suffers a major constraint in terms finances when compared to China.
- Even though India has made huge investments in Afghanistan, still global groupings have kept India out of the political discussions in Afghanistan.
- In South Asia, Bhutan is probably the only nation which is exclusively under India’s sphere of influence.
- NITI Aayog has not developed any roadmap for India to become a $10- trillion economy by 2032.
- India is also lacking a clear national viewpoint on the uncertainties, challenges and opportunities in terms of technological innovation reshaping global politics, economy and society.
- There has been an excessive and constant emphasis on the military strategies in dealing with other countries and blaming Pakistan for terrorism. This energy needs to be devoted towards trade and economic strategies.
- India is also isolated with respect to its approach towards the OBOR. India is the only nation in continental Asia which has not agreed to be a part of the OBOR.
Emergence of China
- The re-emergence of China has limited the ability of the U.S. in setting the global agenda and preventing the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank by asking Europe to keep out.
- China is making huge investment in infrastructure creation as seen in the case of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The amount of resources China is devoting has led to almost nations in continental Asia agreeing to be a part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
- Chinese investment has also attracted nations such as Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
- Russia and Central Asian nations are also linking their infrastructure development to the OBOR thus getting the much needed access to warm water ports.
- China is focussing on connectivity, the OBOR, infrastructure, new institutions and integrated markets. The massive investment has given a vision of shared prosperity.
Changes in USA Policy
- In the post World War 2 era, U.S. dominated global geopolitics on three rules with coercive power:
- Global trade with dispute settlement;
- Global security system resting on alliances; and
- Deliberations in the United Nations based on a division between donors and recipients.
- USA has now realised the need for change in policy from confrontation to creation of spheres of influence. The chances of confrontation with respect to economy and trade are very less now. There is a greater need for integration of economies.
- US, Russia and China relations are expected to get better since digital flows are now adding more wealth to the global economy.
- The upcoming president in USA also recognises the need for building military superiority based on technological leadership. As a result, it is expected to recognise the growth and leadership potential of China.
- With the focus on spheres of influence, USA has also brought about changes in its policy. It has recognised India as a major defence partner and also provided Pakistan with nearly $1 billion in military assistance on conditional basis.
Action Steps for India
- India needs to focus on GDP growth and economic development rather than other challenges such as NSG membership and Pakistan. These problems will be resolved with economic progress.
- India should also cooperate rather than confront and integrate with the OBOR initiative.
- India should add a ‘Digital Sustainable Asia’ component to OBOR. This is one area where India’s leadership potential can be tapped. OBOR should also be seen as a chance to strengthen democracy.
- India has to balance cross-border terrorism with cross-border water flows and focus on greater reliance on endogenous cyber security and missiles.
Connecting the dots
- India has failed to make the best of the advantages it enjoyed over the past few decades. Discuss the reasons for India’s failure in capitalising on its own potential. Also discuss a strategy in terms of Asian geopolitics that India needs to adopt to become a regional leader.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Traditional Solutions to solve water crisis
- If water is not managed well now, by 2030, global demand for water is expected to exceed sustainable resources by 40%.
- The World Bank estimates that water scarcity will be further worsened by climate change and by 2050 it could cause a 6% decline in the GDP of some countries.
- Thus, water scarcity provides greatest cause for a paradigm shift in the global economy in how natural resources are used.
- In the world, Asia is the real epicentre of this accelerating water crisis where the per capita availability of fresh water is 2,816 cubic meters, less than half the global average of 6,079 cubic meters.
India and water
- Though it is surrounded by water on three sides, it is facing acute water shortages in majority of its regions throughout the year barring monsoon season (if the rains are good).
- The hot climate is drying up lakes and rivers, while rapid urbanisation and water pollution are putting enormous pressure on the quantity and quality of surface and ground water.
- Inspite of modern technologies available, the agricultural system still depends primarily on rainfall. It has been recently observed how a bad monsoon season can wreck havoc on the national economy.
Hence, it is now needed to revisit the past where water management was community led and water stress was never translated into water scarcity, despite lack of rainfall.
Turning to traditional water management systems
- India had a rich heritage of elaborate traditional technologies and modes of social organisation that ensured adequate and reliable supply of water even in arid regions.
- Here, dire water scarcity did not lead to fierce competition, but rather in having most intense and creative forms of cooperation.
- This further led to give three dimensional result — sustained eco-systems, creation of sustainable local economies and support to social norms and technical skills.
- But today, many of these old community-based systems of watershed management and storage have declined as water is transformed from a sacred gift to just a ‘resource’ that could be privatised and/or controlled by governments.
Basis of water management
- Storing every drop of rain water where it falls in ways that sustain the larger eco-system instead of building economic systems that depend on exogenous waters for either survival or economic growth.
- Creating water management systems as per the inherent dynamic of the specific ecosystem.
- Cultivation of social norms and cultural practices rather than state policies enforced through policing. This will ensure sustainable agriculture and production systems across generations.
But today, the traditional systems are considered ‘incompatible’ with the modern society because it could support only subsistence economies and are not conducive to ‘growth’. However, these have been untrue arguments as water scarcity brought innovation in preserving water and not water-fights.
Some well known traditional water management techniques are:
- Jhalara- they are stepwells which collect the subterranean seepage of an upstream reservoir or a lake.
- Talab/Bandi- Natural or manmade reservoirs that store water for household consumption and drinking purposes
- Taanka- it is a store water for household consumption and drinking purposes where rainwater from rooftops, courtyards or artificially prepared catchments flows into underground pit.
- Johads- are small earthen check dams that capture and store rainwater.
- Kunds- saucer-shaped catchment area that gently slope towards the central circular underground well.
- Baoli- secular stepwell structures from which everyone could draw water. Baolis on trade routes were often frequented as resting places.
- Kuhls- Surface water channels found in the mountainous regions where they carry glacial waters from rivers and streams into the fields.
- Bamboo drip irrigation- an ingenious system of efficient water management that has been practised for over two centuries in northeast India. Here, water from perennial springs is diverted to the terrace fields using varying sizes and shapes of bamboo pipes.
- Eri (Tank) system- Eri acts as flood-control system, prevent soil erosion and wastage of runoff during periods of heavy rainfall, and also recharge the groundwater.
These methods are tried and tested, simple and eco-friendly for most part and still currently used by many communities in different parts of India.
Though local watershed management is supported by government policy, it tends to be overwhelmed by large projects that add more directly to GDP growth. This should however not deter water soldiers to stop waging war against water-misusers. Over the last quarter of a century, a wide variety of civil society and academic interventions in India have attempted to revive the traditional systems on which premodern societies based their relationship with water.
Policies and laws must ensure that the public and private sectors together map the wider impacts of water use on the environment. Policy should be built upon the findings of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report on how to “decouple” water and GDP growth. This means that ways should be found for economy to grow without a corresponding increase in pressure on environment.
Government, private sector, civil societies and local communities must work together through a participatory decision making method to nurture a futuristic systems of water management where water is an equitable shared entity despite is scarce nature. The traditional water management system provide means to secure water in ever looming threat of water crisis, which can be modified as per existing environment.
Connecting the dots:
- Water conservation is another name for conservation of ecosystem. In light of the statement, critically examine if traditional water management systems can be used in modern times.
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