India and its international relations, Foreign Policy
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India and Australia ties
India and Australia ties and importance of Indo-Pacific region
India and Australia have several commonalities, which serve as a foundation for closer cooperation and multi-faceted interaction, on lines similar to what India has developed with other Western countries.
The relationship has grown in strength and importance since India’s economic reforms in the nineties and has made rapid strides in all areas – trade, energy and mining, science & technology, information technology, education and defence.
With India being the emerging democratic superpower of Asia and Australia with its matured economy, gives more scope for the relationship between India and Australia to be developed and strengthened further.
Deepening ties with Australia:
The shared history with Australia, coupled with the shared democratic values and a strong interest in a secure Indo-Pacific region, provides India with a firm foundation upon which we can confidently pursue future engagement activities in support of joint interests.
India is Australia’s ninth largest trading partner, with boundless potential for growth.
Indian-origin residents are the fourth largest group of overseas-born Australians, representing close to 2% of our total population. They make a strong contribution to our country across all fields — business, science and medicine, education, arts and culture and sports.
Strong naval ties: Australia-India Exercise (AUSINDEX) was conducted for the second time, this time off Australia’s west coast.
The existing post-World War II (rules-based) order has formed the basis for the extraordinary economic growth we have seen in many parts of the world, and more recently in Indo-Pacific region.
Democratic principles and practices where leaders are accountable and the rights of citizens are respected, sound foreign affairs and engagement between nations – are essence of this international rules-based system.
However now this rules-based order is under pressure. Strategic competition is leading to unilateral action. Rising nationalism is leading to a narrower conception of national interests, and a more transactional approach to negotiations.
Both India and Australia view that there is a need to build and strengthen international institutions that promote cooperation and manage competing interests in fair and transparent ways, in order to maintain regional and global stability.
Both the countries are determined to strengthen regional prosperity by maintaining an open, integrated regional economy, underpinned by liberalised trade and investment.
Strategic aspects of Indo Pacific region :
Economic growth is transforming the Indo-Pacific region, which is becoming the global strategic and economic centre of gravity.
By 2030, the Indo-Pacific region is expected to account for 21 of the top 25 sea and air trade routes; around two-thirds of global oil shipments; and one third of the world’s bulk cargo movements.
Reports predict that by 2050, half of the world’s top 20 economies will be in the Indo-Pacific.
With the region being very important, improving security will be crucial. Under these circumstances the two countries should focus on a greater defence engagement.
India and Australia need to increase our bilateral cooperation and our collective efforts with other like-minded countries. Together we can shape a future region in which strong and effective rules and open markets deliver lasting peace and prosperity — free markets and free people.
As Asia emerging as a pivotal point for global countries in 21st century, both the countries hope to develop a broad-based strategic partnership which covers the economic, political and security dimensions and to achieve this it is prerequisite for both countries to move beyond their comfort zone and learn how to work with each other in new and different ways.
Connecting the dots:
A greater engagement between India and Australia is required to maintain peace in indo pacific region. Critically analyse.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
Role of civil services in a democracy.
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability and institutional and other measures.
Civil Services reforms: The need for lateral entry
Good governance is basic to all reforms and changes in society. Given the significance of the bureaucracy in India’s development, some of the major changes need to be incorporated in order to improve the bureaucracy’s efficiency and performance.
The PMO has instructed the department of personnel and training to prepare a proposal for middle-rung lateral entry in ministries dealing with the economy and infrastructure.
In 2005, the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended an institutionalized, transparent process for lateral entry at both the Central and state levels.
Stagnation in bureaucracy means the civil services as they exist today—most crucially, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS)—are unsuited to the country’s political economy in many ways.
Many young IAS officers often fall prey to the incompetency of the framework. Once inducted, postings and training seem to turn them into generalists rather than specialists. The training does not appear to focus on domain expertise and the knowledge required by jobs in today’s context.
However, political interference poses a constant threat to bureaucratic functioning. Historical data suggests there is a 53% chance that an IAS officer is transferred in any given year. As a result, political loyalty rather than professional qualifications often represents an alternative path to success.
Bureaucracy in India is governed by outmoded personnel procedures.
A newly independent India had pressing concerns about the need for socioeconomic development, the demands of Central planning and the imperative of holding together a new nation subject to internal political pressures. The Constituent Assembly debates make it clear that the civil services were seen as a tool—by Vallabhbhai Patel, for instance—for achieving these objectives. Their creation and functioning thus gave rise to a tribe of generalist administrators whose economic effectiveness was sometimes subordinate to other concerns.
Seven decades later, those dynamics have changed. Some concerns, such as the need for having bureaucrats act as binding agents, no longer exist. Others, such as socioeconomic development, have transmuted to the point where the state’s methods of addressing them are coming in for a rethink.
And new concerns have arisen, such as the shift from the uniformity of centrally planned economic policy to the diverse demands of competitive federalism. The importance of economic effectiveness has risen concurrently.
Need for lateral entry:
In a 21st century economy, a quarter century after liberalization, that means the need for specialized skills and knowledge to inform policy-making and administration is more important than ever.
The first ARC had pointed out the need for specialization as far back as in 1965.
The Surinder Nath Committee and the Hota Committee followed suit in 2003 and 2004, respectively, as did the second ARC.
While there is a higher chance of junior officers who have acquired specialized knowledge and skills gaining much-prized Central government postings, there is no correlation between the postings and their area of specialization. That correlation comes into existence only at a late-career stage. Political interference and the use of transfers as carrot and stick further complicate the picture, often making it difficult for bureaucrats to stay in a posting long enough to gain relevant expertise. Thus the need for lateral entry.
Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands and the US identify specific senior positions that are open to appointments from a wider pool of civil servants as well as private-sector executives with relevant domain experience. Lateral entrants bring their own work culture, and this enables renewal and adaptation in government organisations.
Lateral entrants could also induce competition within the system. When civil servants are made to compete with outside talent, the lethargic attitude will diminish. So the prospects of lateral entry will always propel overall efficiency.
Civil servants should also be encouraged to move out and work for different sectors on a short-term basis to enrich their knowledge and enhance their motivation and efficiency. Therefore, lateral exit is as important as lateral entry.
Benefits of lateral entry:
It is both a workaround for the civil services’ structural failings and an antidote to the complacency that can set in a career-based service.
The second ARC report points out that it is both possible and desirable to incorporate elements of a position-based system where lateral entry and specialization are common.
The advent of big data provides a natural opportunity to use metrics on officers’ performance in the field to inform promotion and retention decisions. Seniority, after all, is a blunt instrument for deciding who gets promoted and who does not.
The government should consider the proposal that officers deemed unfit for further service at specified career benchmarks be compulsorily retired through a transparent, uniform system of performance review.
Third, the government might contemplate allowing IAS officers to work more closely with their home states. Although India’s founders chafed at the prospect that officers be too closely linked with their state of origin for fear of elite capture, this issue could be revisited for further consideration.
Finally, it is imperative that the Central and state governments institute safeguards to protect against arbitrary, politically motivated transfers and postings of civil servants. Despite judicial prodding, most states have stalled on such moves.
India’s civil services need reform. There is little argument about this. Internal reforms—such as insulation from political pressure and career paths linked to specialization—and external reforms such as lateral entry are complementary, addressing the same deficiencies from different angles. In order to bring in the reforms, there are some supporting conditions that are necessary: First, political commitment for the reforms is essential. Second, the involvement of IAS officers in the change process from the very beginning can accelerate the process.
Connecting the dots:
The Indian bureaucracy requires urgent reforms. Critically analyze.
The Prime Minister’s Office has recently instructed DoPT to prepare a proposal for later entry into ministries dealing with economy and infrastructure. Discuss the need of lateral entry and the benefits it may have on the overall administrative system of India.