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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 22nd Sep, 2017

  • September 22, 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 – 22nd Sep 2017

Archives

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • India and its International 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.

India- Afghanistan ties

Background:

Afghanistan, counterterrorism and defence ties are expected to be the prime issues on the table during U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis’s visit to India next week. President Donald Trump announced the latest U.S. policy on Afghanistan on August 21.

Mr. Trump’s policy envisages:

  • more pressure on Pakistan.
  • No early U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Robust military action on counterterrorism.
  • A greater role for India.

Change in US’s stance:

It is for the first time that a U.S. President has been publicly so critical of Pakistan. In 2009, President Barack Obama had spoken of Pakistan’s lack of action, but not so strongly and harshly as his successor. Sharp words on Pakistan have been said at different levels by earlier U.S. administrations too. They were also codified in the form of conditions in various assistance laws, including the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill.
The U.S. strategy differs from the past in terms of addressing concerns regarding Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, particularly in view of a shift in Pakistan’s strategic priority towards China.

India-Afghanistan ties:

Indo-Afghan relations are unique.

Just after Independence, on January 4, 1950, India signed a Treaty of Friendship with Afghanistan which also permitted opening of consulates in each other’s country. More recently, in October 2011, India was the first country Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement with.

  • The basic tenets of India’s aims, policy and approach towards Afghanistan in respect of bilateral and regional cooperation remain unchanged. India has always wanted a democratic, stable and strong Afghanistan able to decide its own future.
  • India is in favour of a reconciliation process which has overall Afghan support and is based on internationally accepted redlines. India supports the Afghan quest for peace and reconciliation.
  • India has a close strategic partnership with Afghanistan covering a broad spectrum of areas which include political, security, trade and economic cooperation as well as capacity development.
  • India’s assistance in the defence sector has been modest and based on specific requests by the government of Afghanistan.
  • The cumulative level of committed Indian assistance to Afghanistan amounts to $2 billion. New Delhi is always ready for more intensive bilateral relations. It has been at the forefront in respect of assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and can be expected to do more in different sectors.

Perception for India in Afghanistan:

  • Surveys conducted by various Afghan and foreign news agencies over the years show that the Afghan people ranked Indian assistance as the most suitable because of the positive role India played in the development programme of Afghanistan.
  • Furthermore, India is considered as non-threatening with its democratic traditions upheld as a model.
  • The Afghans also appreciate that India had never interfered in their internal affairs.

What needs to be done?

  • Speedy augmentation, training and supply of equipment for the Afghan National Security Forces is important to enable Afghanistan to protect its interests and maintain peace in the country. The Afghans want more help, for instance, at present for their air force.
  • India could assist Afghanistan in training as per their requirement and supplying much-needed spare parts and such equipment as is possible without deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan.
  • Asia is a region of energy and resources stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia to Siberia and Russia’s Far East. The energy basket needs to be exploited for the benefit of Afghanistan and the surrounding region. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline is one example.
  • SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) should help in encouraging regional economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.
  • Expeditious action on completion of the Chabahar port will help in increasing Afghanistan’s contacts with India and the outside world.

Ensuring there is no outside interference:

It is essential that there is no outside interference in Afghanistan.

  • To enable this, the infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled.
  • It is important to deny sanctuary and support to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network, as terrorism and insurgency cannot end without action taken against them.
  • For any effective counterterrorism policy, all major terrorist groups operating in the area should be considered a single group. President Trump has stated in his policy statement that “Pakistan gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”. The elimination of terror outfits will bring peace to Afghanistan.
  • It is also imperative to redouble counter-narcotics efforts as Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium accounting for 90% of the world’s supply. Success in this field will have a positive effect on its neighbours.
  • For regional security there must be closer involvement of regional powers in international efforts to ensure non-interference and a stable Afghanistan; this also requires involvement of the Central Asian Republics, which border Afghanistan. It is important for India to coordinate its efforts with those of Russia and Iran to ensure success.

Conclusion:

The root cause of the Afghan problem has been clearly stated in President Trump’s policy statement of August 21 and also mentioned in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 19. Now Afghanistan, and the region, await to see how it is implemented.

Connecting the dots:

  • India and Afghanistan share a unique relationship. Comment. Also, in the light of latest S. policy on Afghanistan, discuss why India needs to strengthen its role in Afghanistan and how it can be done.

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General studies 2:

  • 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

Reforming United Nations

Background:

The Trump administration is leading a high-profile effort this year for UN reforms. In his remarks at a UN “Management, Security and Development” meeting convened by UN secretary general António Guterres, the US President said that “in recent years, the UN has not reached its full potential due to bureaucracy and mismanagement”.
Trump had also earlier accused the UN of causing problems than solving them. “When do you see the UN solving problems? They don’t. They cause problems,” he said. “So, if it lives up to the potential, it’s a great thing. And if it doesn’t, it’s a waste of time and money.”
Reforming the UN is big on the Trump administration’s agenda and this reforms agenda is largely based on two principles: sovereignty and accountability.

The principle of sovereignty:

In his main speech to the UN General Assembly, Trump underscored the centrality of sovereign states which worked for the betterment of their citizens. Trump’s vision is anchored in his “America First” approach with national sovereignty as the main pillar of the internal system.

The principle of accountability:

The US is also keen that the management of the UN becomes more accountable and transparent as it remains the largest contributor to the UN budget, in-line with its position as the world’s largest economy.
It pays 25% of the UN’s regular operating budget and over 28% of the separate peacekeeping budget. The Trump administration has been critical of the UN’s overreliance on the US and wants a more equitable sharing of burden. It has been instrumental in the $600-million cut to the UN peacekeeping budget this year.

Challenge:

The challenge remains of how to operationalize these reforms.
The UN is structured in such a way that the decision-making process is distributed among a wide range of countries and constituencies with often competing and contradictory views and interests. Russia and China, for example, did not attend the UN meeting on reforms.

India’s stand:

  • India has suggested that the UN reforms need to be “broad-based and all-encompassing” and the changes should not be restricted to its secretariat only.
  • India’s permanent representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, has made it clear that reforms cannot sidestep issues related to the governance of UN bodies.
  • India has extended its support to Trump’s efforts at UN reforms, saying it should include the expansion of the world body’s permanent and non-permanent members to keep pace with the changed times.
  • Since the end of the Cold War, India has been spearheading a move for reforms at the UN to make the world body more representative of the changing global realities while enhancing its credibility and effectiveness.
  • New Delhi has been concerned about the post-Cold War international acceptance of the UN’s questionable “right to intervene” where it believed it to be necessary, allowing the UN to act with little debate.

India- Largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations:

India remains one of the largest contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations, providing almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades.

  • The nature of the military operations increased both in number and complexity over an extremely short timescale.
  • Additionally, the UN peacekeepers were deployed to environments in which the belligerent parties were not entirely on board with the deployment, thus seriously threatening the safety of the troops under the UN flag. India has repeatedly underlined the dangers inherent in such a rapid transformation from traditional UN missions to these new operations.

Inadequate efforts towards reform:

Since the cessation of the Cold War there have been attempts to reform the international legal system to reflect the rights of the individual over and above those of the state.
But India, along with other largely non-Western nations, has remained sceptical of these attempts at reforms, believing that any such reforms would afford the privileged few with the means to intervene, the moral justification to do so.
Therefore, the Trump administration’s focus on “sovereignty” as the defining feature of UN reforms will be welcomed by New Delhi.

Conclusion:

As India continues to expend its diplomatic capital on finding a seat at the UN Security Council, it will also have to articulate new ways of how the UN can be made more effective and efficient. There is a need to create a new balance between India’s pursuit of its narrow national interest and its responsibility as a rising power to maintain global peace and stability.

Connecting the dots:

  • The UN reforms are long overdue. With India aspiring to be a regional power, its time the diplomatic capital is expended to see that the UN is made more efficient and effective. Discuss.

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