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
India-South Korea: Expanding ties
Recent political developments between India and South Korea have created an opening for the two countries to share mutual security interests in Asia. President Moon Jae-in, who celebrated his administration’s 100th day in office two months ago with strong public support, has invited India into South Korea’s diplomatic domain. South Korea dispatched a special envoy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reinforce bilateral relations. The clear message is to place India on par with the US, Russia, China, and Japan.
Mutual strategic recalibration between India and South Korea:
Expanding ties between the two countries would produce substantial convergence of interest in planning global and regional strategic frameworks. The mutual strategic recalibration between India and South Korea is a modest effect of their growing partnership since 2010.
It has emphasised its desire for stronger security cooperation with India and in reinforcing strategic and military ties. Seoul’s strategic calculation appears to be in searching for a stronger diplomatic stand on imminent regional issues beyond the alliance system.
Balancing East Asia affairs:
The South Korean administration’s approach to India is an unambiguous gesture toward balancing East Asian affairs more broadly than before.
From Seoul’s perspective, the enduring regional tensions in South Asia — especially between India and China — create a common interest for India and South Korea to discuss a collaborative approach for regional stability.
South Korea’s key interest in managing their nuclear neighbour on the Korean Peninsula is similar to India’s considerations toward Pakistan. The provocation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and the premeditated launch of its nuclear-capable missiles continues to augment impending pressures on South Korea. The US alliance system, established with South Korea and Japan, puts pressure on North Korea to cap its nuclear programme; however, this long-lasting regional security dilemma is filled with continued verbal provocations and a conventional arms race among all actors.
Seoul continued to support New Delhi’s approach to nuclear nonproliferation with the civil nuclear pact in 2011. During negotiations, Seoul conveyed that it valued India’s clean NPT record more than its status of a non-NPT signatory. With this strong foothold, South Korea played a critical role in moderating opposing members in India’s application for the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group’s membership as a host country of a plenary meeting. Seoul’s move was bolder and more independent than that of any other US ally in Asia.
New Delhi too is in favour of Seoul-Delhi ties.
Containing North Korea:
Early this year, New Delhi started building an increasingly incompatible stance toward North Korea.
At Seoul’s request, the Modi government discontinued the provision of training courses to North Korean students in the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific, Dehradun, and suspended the training of North Korean soldiers in Indian languages in a Madhya Pradesh-based military school.
India also aligned with the UN to ban all trade with North Korea except for humanitarian aid.
India implemented a plan to launch a strategic initiative, ‘Korea Plus’ to facilitate Korean FDI and forge larger economic cooperation in pursuit of the Act Asia Policy.
Above moves is part of the strategy to downplay New Delhi’s political and economic ties with North Korea while reinforcing its bond with Seoul and its allied countries. Containing North Korea is beneficial to India’s economic and regional ambit in East Asia as well as its approach to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime as a responsible nuclear state.
Strong strategic and security ties:
Since 2010, New Delhi and Seoul have regularly conducted joint naval exercises and had official talks on combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In every summit meeting over the last decade, both sides have promised stronger strategic and security ties to enhance regional stability through the expansion of defence deal.
In response to the Special Strategic Partnership with South Korea in May 2015, New Delhi has agreed to get arms supplies from South Korea, a segment dominated by the US, Russia, Israel, France, and the UK.
Since early 2017, India has pushed three defence deals forward with South Korea. Many
New Delhi signed the MoU with Seoul for five joint fleet support ships worth $1.5 billion. India also invited South Korean corporation, Kangnam, for design consultation, and the technological assistance of 12 mine countermeasure vessels worth $5.5 billion.
The latest deal between India’s local defence-supplier, Larsen & Toubro, with Korean firm, Hanwha Techwin, over 100 self-propelled artillery guns worth $696 million made this bilateral relationship even more lucrative.
Globally, India-South Korea’s growing ties reinforce the US-Japan-led multilateral security frame in the Asia-Pacific region, primarily designed to compete with China and North Korea.
First, emerging political interests and motivations in Seoul and New Delhi still lag behind the regional and global demand.
Most official talks are repetitive, confirming the significance of strategic partnerships heavily weighing on economic cooperation.
Moderating the dissimilar style of diplomacy and communication under cultural differences is another challenge.
Thus, cultural and political differences could present a challenge to India and South Korea forging effective regional ties.
Overall, the strategic ties between Seoul and New Delhi present promise for mutual interest as well as regional stability. It is a critical time for both countries to explore the topic, the scope of the possibility, and the limits of the bilateral cooperation in different time periods. The above mentioned shortcomings needs to be resolved soon.
Connecting the dots:
The strategic ties between Seoul and New Delhi present promise for mutual interest as well as regional stability. In this light the two nations are mutually recalibrating their strategic ties. However, there are certain challenges that exists when it comes to dealing with each other. Discuss.
General Studies 1:
Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies
General Studies 2:
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Adopting landscape approach while tackling climate change
In 2015, India made a Bonn Challenge commitment to place into restoration 13 million hectares (Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030. India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have also pledged to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent additionally by 2030 through enhanced tree cover. Initial government estimates suggest that to achieve this, India will need to extend tree cover on at least 28-34 million hectares, outside of the existing forest cover.
An over-reliance on plantations:
As different States work to achieve the commitments, it appears that there is an over-reliance on plantations. In July this year, Madhya Pradesh planted 66 million trees in 12 hours to enter the record books, overtaking Uttar Pradesh’s record of planting 49.3 million trees in a day, in 2016. Other States are also expected to follow suit. Neither the Bonn Challenge nor the NDCs are about large-scale plantations alone.
Adopting landscape approach:
The Bonn Challenge lays emphasis on landscape approaches — a model aimed at improving the ecology of a landscape as a whole in order to benefit local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity. The NDC lays emphasis not only on carbon sequestration but also adaptation to climate change through a strengthened flow of benefits to local communities that are dependent on forests and agriculture for sustenance. India’s policy framework on forests also lays emphasis on a landscape approach to manage forest and tree cover, so that the flow of multiple ecosystem services — including food security, climate mitigation and adaptation, conservation of biological diversity and water supplies — is secured.
Issues arising due to over-reliance on plantations:
Large-scale plantation drives do not lay stress on-
The quality of planting materials or survival rates.
Does not recognise tenure and resource rights to ensure that the benefit flows to communities.
Operationalising a landscape approach:
We must protect healthy forest areas from deforestation, degradation and fragmentation. We must also creatively integrate trees into different land uses. India has numerous models that are suited for different regions and farm household sizes to draw upon, and must not rely on plantation drives alone to secure environmental and developmental outcomes. In India at least 35 types of agroforestry models are practiced. These combine different trees that provide timber, fruits, fodder, fuel and fertilizers with food crops. It diversifies income from farming, and improves land productivity.
Engaging farmers in natural regeneration:
Systems where farmers protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs that regenerate naturally in their fields from root stock or from seeds dispersed through animal manure can deliver several economic and ecosystem benefits.
In Niger, West Africa, farmers operating on 5 Mha of land added roughly 200 million on-farm trees in the past 30 years. This has sequestered 25-30 million tonnes of carbon and increased annual agricultural production by about 500,000 tonnes.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model is a good example of tree-based interventions which is proving to have great value in terms of cost-effectiveness as well as the range of benefits they deliver to communities.
It is a livelihood project launced by NABARD in Jhansi and Lalitpur districts of Uttar Pradesh. It aims at reducing the migration of tribal people to urban centres by providing them livelihood in the form of income and basic necessities like fuel wood, timber and cattle fodder. The programme will assist tribal families by giving assistance to develop orchards and related activities. It is actually a tree-based farming system that consists of fruit tree suitable to the area or a combination of trees with forestry species. Two or more tree crops are selected in Wadi model to minimise biological and marketing risks. In five years, a poor village of 100 families can get converted into an orchard of a 100-150 acre producing hundreds of tonnes of fruits.
Participatory approach- As we regenerate trees through different interventions, it is critical to ensure that owners have the right to manage and use these trees.
Determining the best method of landscape restoration- It is also critical to use scientific evidence-based methodology with a participatory approach to determine the right type of tree-based interventions most suitable to a certain land use. This can be done by rigorous analysis of spatial, legal and socio-economic data and draws on consultations with key stakeholders to determine the right type of interventions.
A performance monitoring system to quantify tree survival rates and the benefits to communities should be established. This can be achieved through a combination of remote sensing, crowd sourced, ground-level monitoring with support from communities and civil society organisations.
An important success factor in large-scale tree-based programmes is security of tenure and land rights. In several parts of the world, securing tenure over forests has been established as a cost-effective way of achieving climate sequestration. Considering this the land and tenancy legislation in the country needs to be reviewed.
India has the policy framework, the political will and financing to endorse landscape restoration. What we really need now is innovation and imagination to build replicable and scalable models with a participatory approach to achieve the country’s climate goals through landscape restoration.
Connecting the dots:
India needs to adopt a participatory and a landscape approach when it comes to handling climate change through extending tree or forest cover. Discuss.
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