IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th May 2019
TOPIC: General studies 2
- International Relations
- India and the World
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
Setting up of Indo-Pacific wing in the MEA
The Indo-Pacific wing was set up in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in April 2019. This wing will provide a strategic coherence to the Prime Minister’s Indo-Pacific vision, integrating the IORA, the ASEAN region and the Quad to the Indo-Pacific dynamic.
Given that the term Indo-Pacific has been gaining currency and how major regional actors are articulating their regional visions, it was becoming imperative for India to operationalise its Indo-Pacific policy.
India’s Act East policy remains the bedrock of the national Indo-Pacific vision and the centrality of ASEAN is embedded in the Indian narrative.
- India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), in ASEAN-led frameworks like the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, the ASEAN Regional Forum as well as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation and the Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor.
- India has also been convening the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, in which the navies of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) participate.
- India has boosted its engagements with Australia and New Zealand and has deepened its cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
- Through the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation, India is stepping up its interactions with the Pacific Island countries.
- India’s growing partnership with Africa can be seen through the convening of mechanisms like the India-Africa Forum Summits.
- India’s multi-layered engagement with China as well as strategic partnership with Russia underlines its commitment to ensuring a stable, open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
India’s notion of Indo-Pacific:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2018 underscored that for India the geography of the Indo-Pacific stretches from the eastern coast of Africa to Oceania (from the shores of Africa to that of the Americas) which also includes in its fold the Pacific Island countries.
India views the Indo-Pacific as a geographic and strategic expanse, with the 10 ASEAN countries connecting the two great oceans. Inclusiveness, openness, and ASEAN centrality and unity, therefore, lie at the heart of the Indian notion of Indo-Pacific.
The term Indo-Pacific is gaining currency:
- The renaming of the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command as well as the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act in December 2018 showcase Washington’s more serious engagement with the Indo-Pacific.
- The Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept was unveiled by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016.
- Australia released its Foreign Policy White Paper in 2017, which details Australia’s Indo-Pacific vision centred around security, openness and prosperity.
India’s bureaucratic shift is an important move to articulate its regional policy more coherently and with a renewed sense of purpose. There are still challenges for India, especially:
- Integrating the Quadrilateral initiative which got revived in 2017 with its larger Indo-Pacific approach.
- The new MEA division to move beyond security and political issues and articulate a more comprehensive policy towards the region.
- Commerce and connectivity in particular will have to be prioritised if India is to take advantage of a new opening for its regional engagement.
- While India has been consistently emphasising “inclusiveness” in the Indo-Pacific framework, it will be challenging to maintain a balance between the interests of all stakeholders. There are differences between India’s vision and the U.S.’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific even as countries like China and Russia view the Indo-Pacific with suspicion.
Security in the region must be maintained through dialogue, a common rules-based order, freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
More connectivity initiatives impinging on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, consultation, good governance, transparency, viability and sustainability should be promoted.
As geopolitical tensions rise between China and the U.S., the MEA’s new division will have its task cut out if India’s long-term political and economic interests in the region are to be preserved.
A bureaucratic change was indeed needed, but going forward the challenge would be to see how effectively this change manifests itself in managing India’s growing diplomatic footprint in the Indo-Pacific.
Connecting the dots:
- The Indo-Pacific wing set up in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) recently was much needed. There are challenges which it needs to tackle. Comment.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Need to find a sustainable model of economic growth
- Recent data from private sources on automobile sales and consumer durable sales suggest a worsening of the demand crisis despite some signs of inflation inching up.
- It is unlikely that the long spell of rural distress is going to end in the near future.
- The other issue of unemployment, particularly among the youth, is real and again requires an immediate response.
The challenge is not just the need to respond to these immediate problems but also to find a sustainable model of economic growth and development for the country. The Indian economic model remains a model of crisis-driven responses rather than a coherent model based on a concrete assessment of the needs of a fast-changing economy.
- The green revolution was an urgent intervention to tackle national food crisis in the mid-1960s.
- The 1991 reforms, which were a response to a fiscal and balance-of-payments crisis.
- The pro-poor economic strategy adopted after 2004, which was seen as a response to the rural crisis and farmer suicides between 1998 and 2004.
Emanating rural crisis:
- The government as well as the opposition have proposed solutions of loan waivers and cash transfers. While these may provide some temporary relief, they are unlikely to prevent another crisis in the near future.
- The pressure to do something would involve bearing a large fiscal cost, which will have an impact on long-term investments and the sustainability of farming in the economy.
The recurrence of social and political unrest among disadvantaged and excluded groups may force some immediate relief measures from the government, but is unlikely to force a rethink of the economic model itself.
- Political parties are unlikely to think long-term, with elections held almost every year at the state level.
- Institutions such as the NITI Aayog and Reserve Bank of India have failed to act as independent watchdogs. There is unlikely to be any independent assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the economy if these institutions also start working at the behest of ruling political establishments.
- The statistical system also has come under criticism for compromising on its independence.
- Whatever be the outcome of the general elections, the challenge for the new government is not just to restore the economy to its path of growth and development, but also plan for the long-term sustainability of the growth process in a just and inclusive manner.
- A necessary condition for that is to restore the credibility of the existing institutions crucial to policymaking, and create new ones to cater to the needs of the new economy.
Connecting the dots:
- The Indian economic model remains a model of crisis-driven responses rather than a coherent model based on a concrete assessment of the needs of a fast-changing economy. Comment.
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The unpeople of India
The new Supreme Court definition of merit is confusing
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