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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 13th Sep, 2017

  • September 13, 2017
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Sep 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, International, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 13th Sep 2017

Archives

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • 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.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Checking China’s inroads in South Asia

Background:

China’s inroads into South Asia since the mid-2000s have eroded India’s traditional primacy in the region, from Afghanistan to Myanmar and also in the Indian Ocean.
As Beijing deploys its formidable financial resources and develops its strategic clout across the subcontinent, New Delhi faces capacity challenges to stem Chinese offensive in its own strategic backyard.

India’s policy:

Prime Minister Modi’s new ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, unveiled in 2014, has consequently focused on reaching out to other states to develop partnerships across the region.
This balancing strategy marks a departure from India’s unsustainable efforts to insulate South Asia as its exclusive sphere of influence and deny space to any extra-regional actors.
Officially, these unprecedented outreach efforts are implicitly referred to as a partnership with “like-minded” countries. According to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, in its quest for more “people-centric” connectivity projects and a “cooperative regional architecture,” India is “working closely with a number of other international players whose approach is similar.”

Examples of this new strategy:

  • With the US, India now conducts close consultations on smaller states such as Nepal, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka.
  • In 2015, following Japan’s permanent inclusion into the Malabar naval exercises, Tokyo and New Delhi developed a joint “Vision 2025” plan promising to “seek synergy… by closely coordinating, bilaterally and with other partners, for better regional integration and improved connectivity,” especially in the Bay of Bengal region.
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, announced in 2016, further highlights India’s willingness to work with Japan to develop alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • In 2014, India and Russia signed an unprecedented agreement to cooperate on developing nuclear power in third countries, with a focus on Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Year 2015 saw the first Australia-India Maritime Exercise (AUSINDEX) off India’s Eastern coast.
  • With the UK, India signed a statement of intent on “partnership for cooperation in third countries” with a focus on development assistance in South Asia, and held its first formal dialogue on regional affairs in 2016.
  • With Brussels, Paris, and Berlin, New Delhi has engaged in dialogues about maritime security and the Indian Ocean region, and shared intelligence to bolster regional counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Contrasting with its past reluctance to involve multilateral organisations, India has enthusiastically endorsed the Asian Development Bank’s South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) operational programme for 2016-25, focused on improving connectivity between the subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Expanding partnerships:

While many of these partnerships are still nascent, there are measures that will allow their expansion across three sequential levels.

  • Increase mutual consultation:
    New Delhi and extra-regional powers must invest in creating institutional mechanisms dedicated to sharing assessments on South Asia.
    Under existing consultations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or broader Asian strategic issues frequently overshadow Nepal or Sri Lanka.
  • Specific bilateral dialogues on three specific regional vectors is required:
    Political and strategic issues, with a focus on China, counter-terrorism, and maritime security.
    Economic issues, with a focus on connectivity, trade, and investment initiatives.
    Developmental issues, with a focus on aid projects and other economic assistance initiatives.
  • To increase the prospects for coordination, India and partners can identify bilateral areas for policy coordination across South Asia, agreeing to a division of labour that maximises each side’s advantage.
    In Bangladesh, for example, India has focused on political and capacity-building objectives, while Japan is concentrating its financial might in infrastructure projects.
  • In order to contain China and advance concrete cooperation across South Asia, India and its extra-regional partners should aspire to integrate efforts and implement joint projects.
    This will require expanding bilateral dialogues to include third countries, on the model of the India-US-Afghanistan trilateral.
    Such partnerships could focus on a variety of specific sectors to strengthen third countries in the region, including joint disbursement, implementation and monitoring of development assistance; establishment of dedicated funds to facilitate infrastructure development or acquisition of military equipment; capacity-building training for administrative and security personnel; democracy assistance to strengthen good governance and the rule of law; and joint military exercises, focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Challenges ahead:

While India and its extra-regional partners develop efforts to consult, coordinate, and cooperate across South Asia, they will also have to prepare for a variety of challenges.

  • Extra-regional partners will have to continue to recognise India’s predominant role in the region and defer to its security concerns, whether real or imagined.
    For example, by allowing India to “take the lead” and consolidate its role as a “first responder” to regional crises in recent years (such as the Nepal earthquake), the US has earned much goodwill in New Delhi.
  • As the region’s small states play an increasingly sophisticated balancing game, seeking to play off India and its partners against China, closer consultation and coordination will be key.
  • When it comes to the normative dimension of democracy and human rights, New Delhi and its like-minded friends will also face occasional tensions given their different priorities.
    For India, the focus is naturally on the short-term, with economic and security interests incentivising the pragmatic engagement of any regime type in its neighbourhood.
    While the West’s liberal interventionist impulse has receded, the US and European partners will, however, continue to privilege a value-based and long-term approach that emphasises pressure on authoritarian regimes.
    This last challenge is currently playing out in Myanmar, with clashing Indian and Western positions on the importance of the Rohingya refugee issue. Under rising international pressure, Naypyidaw is tilting back to China for support, further complicating India’s connectivity plans across the Bay of Bengal.
    Similar balancing dynamics can be observed in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives, which further highlight how critical India’s global outreach efforts are to its quest to remain influential in its own region.

Conclusion:

China is making inroads into Asia at a much faster pace. India needs to act on time. While the present government’s foreign policy is aligned with the need of the situation there is much more to be done. Above mentioned ways of expanding partnerships must thus be exploited.

Connecting the dots:

  • China’s inroads into South Asia since the mid-2000s have eroded India’s traditional primacy in the region, from Afghanistan to Myanmar and also in the Indian Ocean. Discuss. Also elaborate on challenges India faces in managing the region and what new strategies must be adopted to position India in South Asia.

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • 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.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Rohingya Issue- India caught in a difficult spot

Background:

The response by Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims in the nation to the 25 August terrorist attacks seems, by all accounts, excessive. In the past, India continued to engage neighbouring regimes and tried to influence their behaviour through quiet diplomacy rather than following the West’s knee-jerk approach of public lecturing on alleged human rights violations.

Why India did not criticize the conduct of Myanmar?

  • Myanmar helps India tackle insurgency threats in the latter’s northeastern states.
  • Myanmar is key to the success of India’s Act East policy.
  • A public condemnation of Myanmar will only push it closer to China.
    Myanmar is anyway dependent on Beijing’s veto in the UN Security Council should the Rohingyas issue reach there.
  • India is also aware of the possible role of Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba in the 25 August terrorist attacks by ARSA.
    There have been some reports suggesting that both India and Bangladesh had apprised Myanmar of possible terror strikes coinciding with the release of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission report on fostering a reconciliation between Rohingyas and other ethnic groups in the western state of Myanmar.

Modification in stand- Why?

India has now decided to modify its stand and acknowledge the concerns related to the outflow of refugees.
Burdened by the swarm of refugees Bangladesh finally decided to let its displeasure be known. And thus, India had to modify its stand because of following reasons:

  • Like Myanmar, Bangladesh too is important to India’s counter-insurgency efforts and Act East policy.
  • The massive rush of refugees has triggered a domestic backlash by the opposition against the Sheikh Hasina government, which is perceived to lean towards India.
    An unhelpful Indian attitude would only deplete Hasina’s position in Bangladesh and strengthen her rival Khaleda Zia, who is known for taking anti-India stands.
  • There has been a history of Hasina’s rivals—Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami—working with Pakistan’s rogue and anti-India intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

India- Caught in a difficult spot:

  • India is trying to balance the contradictory interests of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • A number of Rohingyas will also land up in Indian territory. Thus, fears radicalization of this group ensues.
  • They may alter Indian demography.
  • India has to do a tightrope walk.
    On the one hand, it has to keep Myanmar engaged in counter-terrorism while simultaneously working to contain the flow of refugees and then creating the ground conditions for repatriation of refugees already in Bangladesh and India.
    On the other, it has to keep Bangladesh reassured through the process and do so by making public statements. A perception of India’s unhelpful attitude should not become a reason for Zia upstaging Hasina in the 2018 elections.

Solution:

The solution to the problem lies in Myanmar itself. While India cannot let its guard down when it comes to counter-terrorism cooperation with Myanmar, this has to be done by simultaneously staunching the outflow of refugees.

  • The report by the Annan-led commission, which argues for a citizenship verification process—the Rohingyas have been stripped of citizenship under Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law—to increase the social and economic participation of the Rohingyas, may offer some useful suggestions.
  • Bangladesh and India can indeed give shelter to some refugees, but there are clear constraints that both the countries face in the form of the resulting burden on their economies, alteration in the demography and potential impact on national security.

Further any decision on the matter must be taken keeping in mind following aspects.

Legal aspect:

  • The Indian government, like any other in the world, is bound by customary international law to respect the principle of non-refoulement.
    No government, as per this law, can forcibly push back asylum-seekers to the country they have fled to escape violence, as it might endanger their very survival.
    Not being a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol is no excuse to abdicate India’s responsibility to provide much-needed succour to people under duress and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
  • Whether or not India chooses to ratify the 1951 convention, there are several Supreme Court verdicts which disallow the Indian government from arbitrarily and summarily deporting refugees from its territory.
    The courts in India have traditionally upheld the rights of refugees facing deportation or forced eviction in different contexts by taking recourse to what is called the “canon of construction” or a “shadow of refugee law”.
    For example, the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been so interpreted by the SC that it can be extended to anyone living in India irrespective of her nationality.

Moral aspect:

On a moral plane, the Indian government can hardly hope to defend its stand given the fact that the Rohingya face an imminent threat to their lives in the wake of the ongoing “ethnic-cleansing” drives in the Rakhine State, Myanmar.
The flight of nearly 3,00,000 Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh is a testimony to the wretchedness of their condition. Various reports — by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch etc — point to the Rohingya undergoing gross human rights violations at the hands of Myanmar’s armed forces in the name of counter-insurgency operations. These suggest a genocide.
The preference for silence by Asia’s most experienced democracy in the wake of a fast deteriorating humanitarian crisis does not bode well for the future of human rights in the region. It might only embolden the Myanmarese security forces to further intensify the crackdown on the hapless Rohingya.

Conclusion:

It is time India rises to the occasion by transcending the politics of pragmatism and embraces the Rohingya refugees.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the challenges being faced by India in the wake of refugee crisis from Myanmar. Indian needs to take a stand keeping the legal and more than that moral aspects in mind. Critically analyze.
  • India is in a challenging situation when it comes to handling Rohingya refugees. On one hand welcoming them would raise questions in Myanmar and would be a threat for the country in multiple ways, on the other not accepting them would result into international backlash. What should be the way out? Discuss.

Also read: Protecting the Rohingyas in India

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