SYNOPSIS [Day 4]: TLP 2020- UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)
1. India stands to benefit by deepening ties with France- a partner that shares its ideals of multilateralism, pluralism and a non-military, deterrence-based policy. Elucidate. (GS Paper 2, IR)
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the convergence of India-France bilateral relationship and cooperation at international forums along with mutual benefits shared by both countries.
India- France strategic partnership can be dubbed as new alliance as Indian Prime Minister explained INFRA- alliance between India and France in 21st century. India and France share a common trait of civilizational exceptionalism, and after the Cold War ended, both countries were quick to espouse the virtues of multipolarity.
Shared ideals between India-France:
- France is unique country with democracy, secularism and place in UNSC. Other democratic countries like UK carry historic baggage with significant pressure of Pakistani Diaspora and failure to curb anti-India activities whereas US refuses to see other strategic partners on equal footing.
- Despite of time tested friendship with Russia, increased harmony between Russia-China discomforts India.
- French discomfort with a unipolar system was clear when France described the US as a hyper puissance.
- Even before India’s nuclear tests in 1998, France declared that the India’s exclusion from the global nuclear order was an anomaly, and that needed rectification.
- France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations. France has provided consistent support to India’s candidature for the membership of Nuclear Supplier Group.
- A relationship with France is also unburdened of the domestic political pressures that come into play with other bilateral relationships, and French support for India has had bipartisan consensus since the establishment of the Strategic Partnership in 1998.
- India-France shares interpretation of what constitutes the region, both includes the Gulf of Aden in the West to Burma and Thailand in the East as the Indian Ocean.
- Visualising the changing geopolitics with focus shifting from Euro-Atlantic to Asia-Pacific, France and India see each other as preferred partner in the Indian Ocean.
Unique benefits of the deepening relationship between the two nations:
- The strength of this partnership was in evidence at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) when China sought to raise the subject of Kashmir in an informal, closed door session, originally convened to discuss the situation in Mali. France, supported by Russia and the United States (US) and other non-permanent members, led the move to block the Chinese initiative.
- Indian Ocean: The proposed Joint Patrols are also to be executed in the north-western Indian Ocean, which provides additional security for India. Furthermore, the talks for planned cooperation in the Persian Gulf in the event of an emergency also serve to assuage one of India’s key concerns.
- France is also uniquely placed to partner with India in matters of geospatial intelligence, as it has played a key role in the establishment of the EU CRIMARIO — The European Union Critical Maritime Routes in the Indian Ocean. This makes France an important member of the Information Fusion Centre set up last year in Gurugram.
- It becomes even more significant given the stalled talks for geospatial cooperation with the US through BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement). This would, therefore, lend greater weight to India’s strategy of SAGAR — Security and Growth for All in the Region.
- Defence cooperation: Purchase of Rafale aircraft and P-75 Scorpene project with agreement on technology transfer will prove vital for India’s defence architecture.
- India-France involved in joint military exercise between Navy, Air force and Army to increase interoperability.
- Space cooperation: India and France have a rich history of cooperation in the field of space going back to fifty years with ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES carrying on various joint research programmes and launch of satellites. India’s telecommunication satellite, GSAT30 was successfully launched from onboard Ariane-5 flight at the Kourou launch base in French Guiana recently.
France must continue to entrench itself into the politics of the Indo-Pacific and India can aid France in this endeavour. In doing so, the possibility of maximising strategic gains for both nations must be cultivated to its fullest, and can be done so jointly.
The test for a strategic partnership is not that there must be convergence on all issues; the test is that where there are differences, these are expressed in private and not publicly. This is where the India-France strategic partnership, nurtured over two decades, demonstrates its resilience.
2. There is a serious gap in global dialogue between nuclear weapons states — at bilateral and multilateral levels. Do you agree? Should this gap be a case of serious concern? Critically analyse. (GS Paper 3, IS)
Demand of the question:
It expects to students write about gap in global dialogue between nuclear weapon states at bilateral and multilateral levels along with concerns arising out of it and Indian stand in nuclear order.
A report published by the US State Department titled, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Non-proliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, raised concerns around China’s increasing activity at the Lop Nur test site in 2019.
Dialogue gap between nuclear weapon states:
- According to the report, China was conducting low-yield nuclear tests which violated the “zero yield” standard moratorium practiced by nuclear weapons states under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It is important to note that both the United States and China have signed the CTBT — but not ratified it. They have however, accepted the “zero yield” test ban.
- China rejected allegations and expressed commitment and responsible approach towards international agreements and treaties.
- China has maintained secrecy around its nuclear weapons and delivery systems. There has been concern around China’s nuclear arsenal being bigger than officially estimated and its implications on the stability of the global nuclear order. There have been several instances reported emphasising China’s focus on developing and improving its nuclear arsenal.
- On the other hand, there has also been a shift in US rhetoric with regard to future compliance with international nuclear agreements such as the CTBT. US renewed focus on the need to improve and modernise the US’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
- Withdrawal of Iran from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, North Korea being adamant on increasing ‘nuclear war deterrence’, China-Pakistan cooperation to develop solid fuel ballistic missiles for later as Indian custom officers detained the Chinese ship Dai Cui Yun, bound to Karachi for ‘dual use export control list’ item indicates inefficiency of global nuclear watchdogs.
- US have demanded the inclusion of China in the discussion on arms controls measures with Russia. The dialogue around new nuclear limitation agreements has been largely absent as Beijing and Moscow appear apprehensive and uninterested in the US’s requests.
Concerns for Nuclear order:
- The global nuclear order is witnessing a revival of overt animosities among key nuclear powers.
- With the demise of the INF treaty and the uncertainty around renewal of the new START, it is evident that the credibility of international treaties has diminished significantly.
- The deep mistrust between the US and China extends beyond the nuclear realm and into issues of trade and more recently, the COVID-19 crisis as well.
- There is lack of consensus on potential nuclear power of future like Iran might incentivise non-nuclear countries to start their own nuclear programme.
- Countries like Japan, South Korea, and Ukraine might rethink on acquiring nuclear weapon in the absence of rule based global commitment by nuclear powers.
- Increasing hostilities between the superpowers extend beyond the existing non-proliferation. This is likely to lead to an intense and costly nuclear weapons competition.
- Every country in the world including China aware that nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.
- Russia remains formally committed to work with all sides at the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It participated in a conference in New York on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.
- Russia believes in extending the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty) would be a sensible step to prevent a deterioration of today’s strategic security situation.
- Initiatives of formal talk between United States and North Korea are optimistic where as P5 in the JCPOA remains hopeful for revival of nuclear treaty commitments in near future.
India on Nuclear order:
- India maintains disarmament must be universal, non‑discriminatory and verifiable, and the process should be carried out in a time‑bound manner underwritten by a universal commitment.
- India extend support for the proposal to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the Conference on Disarmament — a long‑standing priority of the Non‑Aligned Movement and the international community.
- India, as a responsible nuclear‑weapon State, has followed a policy of maintaining a credible minimum deterrence and no first use. It remains committed to beginning negotiations on all three core issues in the Conference on Disarmament, as well as to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.
- India committed to proposal related to nuclear disarmament vis‑à‑vis negotiating a global agreement among States on no first use and a universal and legally binding agreement on their non‑use against non‑nuclear‑weapon States.
Looking at the aggressive shift in nuclear policy towards expansion and improvement of nuclear weapons, technologies, and their delivery systems along with the rapid deterioration of relations between the US and China, the nuclear order is witnessing a revival of nuclear ambitions and rivalries similar to those of the Cold War era.
3. What are the most potent threats to the mangrove ecosystem in Eastern India? Discuss. In what ways to cyclones like the recent Amphan affect the mangroves? Examine. (GS paper 3, Environment)
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the threats to the mangrove ecosystem in the eastern India and impacts of cyclones like Amphan on mangroves ecosystem.
Around one-third of the world’s mangrove delta – the Sunderban — has been damaged by Cyclone Amphan, according to a preliminary assessment of the West Bengal forest department. The mangroves do not just help to reduce the wind speed drastically when the storm moves through the delta but even helps to break the waves and the storm surge triggered.
Threat due to Natural hazards:
- Cyclones, typhoons and strong wave action, especially in the geographically vulnerable Andaman and Nicobar Islands and coast of Bengal and Odisha.
- Browsing and trampling by wildlife and livestock like goats, buffaloes and cows, which are often left to graze freely, especially in areas close to human habitation.
- Infestation by barnacles which attach to young seedlings, interfering with respiration and photosynthesis and delaying seedling growth.
- Damage by oysters to the young leaves and plumules of Rhizophora and Ceriops plants.
- Crabs, which attack young seedlings, girdle the root collars and eat the fleshy tissues of the propagules.
- Gastropods that eat young leaves and flowers of mangroves, a big problem.
- Insect pests such as wood borers, caterpillars (which eat the mangrove foliage and damage the wood as well) and beetles.
- Weeds such as Acrostichum aureum and Acanthus species, which often occupy deforested mangrove areas and restrict the regrowth of economic mangrove tree species.
- Drying and mortality of mangrove trees.
Threat caused by humans:
- Indiscriminate tree felling and lopping, mainly for fuel wood, fodder and timber, especially in areas close to human habitation.
- Indiscriminate conversion of mangroves on public lands for aquaculture e.g. shrimp culture on mangroves in eastern India, agriculture, mining, human habitation and industrial purposes.
- Encroachment on publicly owned mangrove forest lands, e.g. cultivation of paddy, which involved uprooting of natural and planted seedlings.
- Lack of interest of private landowners (village communities and individuals) in conserving and developing the mangroves on their lands.
- Illegal large-scale collection of mangrove fruits (Xylocarpus granatum, Xylocarpus moluecensis, Nypa fruticans and Heritiera littoralis), which hinders their natural regeneration. The fruits are probably used in production of medicine.
- Discharge of industrial pollutants into creeks, rivers and estuaries, which is a major problem.
- The traditional use of dragnets in fishing, which often hampers regeneration of mangroves because young seedlings get entangled in the nets and are uprooted.
- Movement of barges which give rise to strong waves that sometimes damage the young mangrove seedlings.
- Obstruction and diversion of water for culvert construction.
Impact of cyclones like Amphan on Mangroves Ecosystem:
- Sea water surge increase salinity of brackish water of mangroves ecosystem. It can increase tree mortality in the mangroves ecosystem.
- Strong winds destroyed around 1500 sq km of forest area and rest suffered massive damage in the cyclone.
- Death of wild animals: mangroves ecosystem which is also critical tiger habitat, so far there is no confirmation of deaths of tigers or other animals in the delta due to amphan cyclone but in the past cyclone alia killed significant number of wild boars.
- Injury to the mangrove canopy caused a significant decrease in overall photosynthesis, an increase in respiration and a reduced albedo from the underlying dark peat-based soils, altering radiative forcing impacting net exchange of CO2 over the years following the tropical cyclones in the past.
- Mangrove canopies that do survive a tropical cyclone would be expected to encounter different environmental conditions after the storm as sunlight, heat and humidity are also altered.
- Post cyclone regeneration takes significant time with its own challenges like tree mortality from repetitive cyclone strikes can lead to rapid decomposition and compaction of peats, or collapse and the increased standing water levels that result may stymie regeneration.
Mangroves provide coastal protection through surge and wind suppression during tropical cyclones, and yet are able to overcome wind effects and often recover unless some alternative environmental stress is at play.