SYNOPSIS [Day 8]: TLP 2020- UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)
Q 1. What is ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy? Explain the term in the light of China’s external diplomacy.
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the concept of wolf warrior diplomacy and its relevance in the context of China’s external diplomacy. Students should also write about impact in India.
Recently the Chinese foreign ministry has taken an increasingly strident tone against the United States, Hong Kong, India and Australia. This new approach dubbed as wolf-warrior diplomacy seems popular inside China.
Wolf warrior diplomacy:
- Wolf Warrior and Wolf Warrior II are Chinese action blockbusters that highlight agents of Chinese special operation forces. They have boosted national pride and patriotism among Chinese viewers.
- Wolf-warrior diplomacy named after these movies, describes offensives by Chinese diplomat to defend China’s national interests, often in confrontational ways.
- Use of comparatively new platform of Twitter by Chinese diplomats to hit back against external criticisms of China’s handling of the corona virus outbreak and the poor quality of exported Chinese medical equipment. E.g. Official diplomats expressed speculation that US army might have role in Wuhan outbreak.
- It reinforces a presumed transition of Chinese diplomacy from conservative, passive, and low-key to assertive, proactive, and high-profile.
Wolf warrior approach as china external diplomacy:
- Chinese have become more confident and China’s foreign policy has become more assertive, gradually departing from Deng Xiaoping’s ‘taoguang yanghui’ dictum (meaning- observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership) for foreign policy. As the Communist Party continues to promote ‘four confidences’— in our chosen path, in our political system, in our guiding theories, and in our culture — nationalism has been on the rise. “Wolf-warrior diplomacy” is an extension of soaring nationalism at home.
- Wolf-warrior diplomacy is evidenced not only in combative words but aggressive actions. For example, in early April, a Chinese coastguard ship allegedly sank a Vietnamese fishing trawler near the Paracel Islands. When Vietnam protested, the Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying Vietnam’s claims to the area are illegal.
- China’s image suffered during the crisis due to its bungled handling of the outbreak at the early stage. Many blame China for initially covering up the human-to-human transmission of the virus and not sharing complete information with the international community.
- Wolf-warrior diplomacy is part of the Chinese government’s endeavour to tell the China story. The latest diplomatic offensive is also part of the official effort to project China as a great power leading the global fight against the COVID-19.
Impact on India:
- China’s current belligerence on the LAC and increased physical tussles between Indian and Chinese soldiers rightly explained as reflection of wolf warrior strategy.
- It has consistently undermined India’s vital interests in international organizations, territorial sovereignty, border conflict, counter global terrorism, expanded maritime policies in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea and huge trade deficit.
- There are tensions within the Chinese leadership on issues like Taiwan, Hong Kong and South China Sea and how they are resolved will also impact the course of India-China relations.
However, it is too early to tell whether wolf-warrior diplomacy represents the culmination of Chinese diplomacy’s transition. As China faces growing external criticisms and demands for reparations over the corona virus, it is not inconceivable that Chinese leaders may rein in confrontational diplomacy to create an environment conducive to domestic reconstruction.
Even if there is a US retreat from its global role, itself a debatable proposition, China is not yet capable of stepping into its shoes. There is a cluster of major powers that are also expanding their profile in their own regions. Asia itself is a crowded and contested geopolitical space and India is a major player. China will have to learn to live with a multipolar Asia and a multipolar world rather than seek singular hegemony.
Q 2. What are the challenges posed by India’s federal polity in the formulation and implementation of a cohesive disaster response policy? Examine.
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the challenges posed by India’s federal polity in formulation and implementation of a cohesive disaster response policy in situations like current pandemic of COVID-19.
Responsiveness of government becomes evident in the manner in which it addresses the crucial task of ameliorating suffering and reducing losses. India’s handling of the present COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant challenges to implement cohesive disaster response.
The autonomy of states and the imperative of federal division of powers under constitutional obligations did not empower the center with authority or leverage to enforce compliance in disaster management.
Challenges posed by federalism in formulation and implementation of disaster response:
- Political bickering: Many states expressed dissatisfaction over extension of nationwide lockdown without consulting states in response to threat posed by COVID-19. However formulation of nationwide policy to deal with disaster remains domain of central government.
- Lack of preparation by many states: In the response stage, it consisted of emergency plans which included emergency support functions of procurement, hospital infrastructure, search and rescue teams, and communication networks. E.g. many states lie below the national level figure of 0.55 beds per 1000 population; these include Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam and Manipur.
- Overlapping Authority: Health is state subject, however, prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting men, animals or plants come under concurrent list.
- Siloed Approach: Country’s existing healthcare apparatus is highly regimented, with separate institutions in-charge of primary, secondary, and tertiary health care. Such a siloed approach is a serious impediment to the country’s efforts at tackling any epidemic such as the current COVID-19. The imperative is for the formulation of a seamless approach.
- Information asymmetry: Despite the governmental assurances and policy declarations, the vulnerability of migrant workers is unlikely to be taken care of due to the ensuing lack of communication and absence of information sharing between the Centre and the migrants sending and receiving States. Such lack of coordination is posing health as well as socio-economic insecurity for these millions of returnee migrants in their native States.
- Sub-national response: As the lockdown demanded the closing of the inter-State borders, the crisis has witnessed the rise of the salience of sub-national identities in many states. Such rise of the regional identities might spell an imminent crisis in the inter-State relations in the near future. Such a tussle can disrupt the response to disaster.
However, Indian response to pandemic of COVID-19 vindicates the flexible nature of Indian federalism coming handy in a crisis.
- In a first, several Indian states announced lockdown and sealed their borders announced even before the Central government took any decision.
- States have shown effective response in on ground management of administrative machinery and fiscal preparedness despite of significant loss of revenue.
- Both laws of Epidemic Disease act 1897 and National Disaster Management act of 2005 provides broad legal architecture to take a variety of emergency measures to contain the pandemic. It allows both the central and state governments to regulate the spread of epidemic diseases. While the Centre can take preventive emergency measures to control epidemic diseases at ports of entry and exit, states are constitutionally empowered to adopt preventive administrative and regulatory measures to check the epidemic.
- For a large federal country of a mind-boggling diversity, India’s ability to fight Covid-19 pandemic largely rests on how well it manages its Centre-state relation. When compared with other large federal countries such as the US, the country has done very well to minimize the frictions and provide a sense of direction to the states.
The pandemic and the prolonged lockdown has given rise to unprecedented policy challenges that warrants systematic and sincere cooperation and coordination both between Centre and the States as well as amongst the States. In this regard, the existing institutional mechanisms like Inter-State Council which has remained largely moribund can be rejuvenated during this crisis.
Along with the state specific responses to the pandemic of COVID-19, there is need of national plan with coordinated efforts. Uniformity in decision making is also critical in lifting lockdown and economic measures to be adopted in post lockdown situation.
Q 3. What do the latest GDP figures indicate about the economy? Do these figures accurately portray the current status of the economy? Critically examine.
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the current status of Indian economy based on the latest GDP figures. Students should also write critical analysis of GDP growth figures.
Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation released the data for the fourth quarter of the last financial year 2020 as well as the provisional estimates of the full-year GDP growth rate recently. India’s national income accounting has come in for sharp criticism in the past few years, some even suggesting that its credibility is going the China way.
Status of Indian Economy:
- The provisional figure, which is likely to be revised again by January next year when MoSPI releases the First Revised Estimates for FY20, states that the Indian economy grew by 4.2% in 2019-20.
- Sharp slowdown in the economic growth of last quarter to 3.1%.
- Fiscal deficit ballooned by a huge margin to 4.6 percent in fiscal year 2020 compared with the revised budget estimate of 3.8 percent.
- India’s growth scene was severely impacted even before Covid-19. In March, only the last week of the month was impacted by the lockdown (the nationwide lockdown began on March 25).
- Two key drivers of growth, private consumption and investment activity, have slowed down considerably even before the COVID-19 onslaught. What supported the growth story was growth in agriculture sector and continuing government spending.
- The growth in manufacturing sector and construction, two key segments from an employment perspective, were at zero and 1.3 percent in FY20 compared with a growth of 5.7 percent and 6.1 percent respectively in the previous year.
- The Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF), which is an indicator that shows investment activity on the ground, contracted by 2.8 percent in FY 2020 as against a growth of 9.8 percent in the previous fiscal year.
- The growth in eight core sectors contracted by 38 percent in April, giving us the first indication of the impact in the Q1 of Fiscal year 2021 economic activity.
The debate still continues over whether the revision of the previous quarter’s GDP growth numbers were justified or not.
- In the absence of much actual data, quarterly GDP estimates were based on more assumptions than ordinarily used. And this opened up the possibility of GDP estimates being inaccurate. As extensions were given for various statutory timelines for submitting the requisite financial returns due COVID-19 pandemic.
- Former Chief Statistician of India has gone on record to say that in the fourth quarter of the last financial year, the GDP is likely overestimated by as much as Rs 2 lakh crore that’s 1 per cent of India’s annual GDP.
- CSO has significantly revised the previous quarters’ growth rates (compared to Q3 release) which is quite puzzling and raises questions about data quality and remarkable volatility in the new series. Demand rose for methodological note from CSO explaining the frequent revisions.
- There might be the case that Indian economy is undergoing structural change, which CSO is not able to capture.
- GST data is not given in a disaggregated level which is also a major obstacle in getting accurate data.
On the other hand, member of the Advisory Committee on National Accounts Statistics (ACNAS) said that revision in previous quarter’s GDP numbers should not be a matter of concern as it is a routine process. Improving the quality of data is a work in progress.
Data credibility needs to be restored, as soon as possible. There would be significant revisions in both Quarterly as well as Annual numbers in August when the Q1 of FY21 data is released.
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