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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 29th July ’20 | PDF Download

RIC, a triangle that is still important

  • June 23: (virtual) meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC)
  • Tensions on the Line of Actual Control
  • Chinese Minister: irony in his call for opposing bullying practices, rejecting power politics and supporting the rule of law in international relations.
  • Sergey Lavrov: criticised unilateral coercive measures to settle scores with geopolitical rivals and topple regimes.
  • S. Jaishankar: for a durable world order, major powers should respect international law and recognise the legitimate interest of partners.
  • Initial years of the RIC dialogue.
  • Upswing in India’s relations with Russia and China
  • India-Russia strategic partnership
  • Multi-sectoral surge in India-China relations
  • Transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
  • Being non-West rather than anti-West
  • Simultaneously, India-US relationship surged
    • Trade and investment
    • Landmark civil nuclear deal
    • Defence relationship
  • U.S. saw value in partnering with a democratic India in Asia
  • What China did?
    • Launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
    • Worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighbourhood
    • Expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean
  • U.S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014
  • Western campaign to isolate Russia pushed it closer to China.

Links in the grouping  

  • India is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is driven by Russia and China and includes four Central Asian countries.
  • Russia-China duopoly
    • Russia handles the politico-security issues in the region and China extends economic support
  • The ongoing India-Iran-Russia project for a sea/road/rail link from western India through Iran to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is an important initiative for achieving an effective Indian presence in Central Asia, alongside Russia and China.
  • We have to work bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of issues.

The Indo-Pacific issue

  • For India, it is a geographic space of economic and security importance, in which a cooperative order should prevent the dominance of any external power.
  • China sees our Indo-Pacific initiatives as part of a U.S.-led policy of containing China.
  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry sees the Indo-Pacific as an American ploy to draw India and Japan into a military alliance against China and Russia.

Autonomy of action

  • The current India-China stand-off has intensified calls for India to fast-track partnership with the U.S.
  • National security cannot be fully outsourced.

Digging deeper

  • Four months into FY2020-21, the Centre has finally managed to pay States the compensation due to them for the previous year under the GST regime.
  • Breather for States seeking finance
  • The last instalment of ₹13,806 crore for March 2020 was paid out recently, taking the total payments for the year to ₹1,65,302 crore.
  • States were guaranteed compensation from the Centre for the first five years.
  • 14% annual growth rate in a State’s revenue, with 2015-16 as the base year
  • To be paid out from a compensation cess levied on top of the specified GST rate on luxury and sin goods.
  • Compensation cess under GST last year was almost ₹70,000 crore less than the payments due to States.
  • This gap is likely to enlarge further this year.
  • People will spend less on luxury/sin goods and that will impact compensation cess.
  • Solution as suggested by officials: raise special loans against future GST cess accruals

The cost of haste

  • Do no harm’ is the driving principle of drug regulation
  • However, SARS-CoV-2, while mostly non-lethal, kills across demography and age-groups to confound sophisticated care systems.
  • This has sent a signal to drug companies, biomedical firms and governments to scramble for anything with even the slightest chance of success.
  • Regulators are under pressure to deliver.
  • This pressure is deviating them from weighing and dwelling on evidence of efficacy and safety.
  • India’s drug regulatory authority as well as the Department of Biotechnology, which also funds vaccine development and drug research, now collaborate on fast-tracking.
  • For drugs, those that have been proven to be safe for treating one disease may skip a fresh, large human trial, or a phase-3 trial.
  • Normally, each and every stage is scrutinised by regulators before giving its green signal.
  • Drugs and vaccine-development have historically been expensive because immunology is a complex, eternal struggle with disease, and with high failures.
  • There is a tendency to view COVID-19 vaccine development or a new drug as a ‘race’ in which only the first vaccine to be out matters.
  • Historically, vaccines, even those targeting the same disease, only get better over time.
  • Haste does not aid science.

Meeting China’s intransigence with air power

  • Why would a nation heading towards world power status gamble men, money and reputation for a few square kilometres of inhospitable terrain?
  • China has arrived on the world stage economically, now it wants to prove its military prowess.
  • China’s equipment is suspect, its military inexperienced, and the Chinese soldier a poor fighter.
  • China is building up to a ‘Gulf War++’ media spectacular to show that it has arrived as a military power not to be trifled with.

  • Our guard needs to stay up, led by Indian air power which would be the counter to any attempted ‘Gulf War++’.
  • In any present-day war, dominance in air is a pre-requisite.
  • Sections of the media are going overboard, as if the Rafale would be a panacea to the intransigence of the Chinese.
  • The forward posture adopted by the IAF (even sans Rafale), which does not necessarily mean forward deployment, is key to India’s capability to bargain at the diplomatic table.
  • The world, especially the neighbourhood, is watching how the elephant responds to the dragon in the coming months.
  • Next time, to honour mutual protocols of not using weapons, the Chinese will not field nail-studded batons and baseball bats. Indian troops may be met with ‘non-lethalweapons like tasers, laser dazzlers and ultra-sonic guns.

Protecting artists and the arts

  • The sheer diversity and excellence of fine arts, performance arts and crafts in India is mind-boggling.
  • But on paper the creative economy does not exist.
  • There are neither authoritative definitions nor data on the size or shape of it.
  • Social and economic policies are made without regard to their impact on the creative economy and those who depend on it.
  • Taking the Temperature’ report
    • MSMEs constitute 88% of the creative sector
    •  Of these businesses, 32% are facing a loss of roughly 50% of their annual income in the first quarter.
    • Fifty-three per cent of the events and entertainment management sector saw 90% of their events cancelled
    • 61% of organisations established between four and 10 years ago have stopped functioning.
  • This is a sector that struggles for the most part even in the best of times.
  • State support for arts and culture is abysmal.
  • A large section of artists and artisans are part of the informal economy.
  • FICCI has sent a list of recommendations to the Ministry of Culture that can go a long way in mitigating the damage.
    • releasing grants that are pending since 2017, despite being approved
    • diverting the budgets already allocated for state-sponsored cultural festivals to help artists in need
    • ensuring health coverage to artists under Ayushman Bharat or the Central Government Health Scheme
    • moratoriums on GST payments
    • investing in digital infrastructure that can help artists take their work online

The South Asian migrant crisis

  • In early July, the Kerala High Court issued notice to the Central and State governments on a petition seeking to set up a mechanism to assist NRIs who had lost their jobs abroad and had returned to India, to seek due compensation.
  • The petition exposes the precarious conditions of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • The South Asia-Gulf migration corridor is among the largest in the world.
  • South Asians account for nearly 15 million in the Gulf.
  • They have no safety net, social security protection, welfare mechanisms, or labour rights.
  • Thousands have returned home empty-handed from the host countries.
  • Vande Bharat Mission: The Indian government has repatriated over 7.88 lakh NRIs from various destinations.
  • Challenge of rehabilitating, reintegrating, and resettling these migrant workers.
  • Countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia have provided subsidies to private companies to prevent native lay-offs.
  • The need of the hour is a comprehensive migration management system for countries that send workers as well as those that receive them.
  • No South Asian country except Sri Lanka has an adequate migration policy.
  • The pandemic has given us an opportunity to voice the rights of South Asian migrants and to bring the South Asia-Gulf migration corridor within the ambit of SAARC, the ILO, and UN conventions.

NEWS

  • China says disengagement at most localities along LAC is ‘complete’
  • Rajasthan Cabinet seeks House session on July 31
  • Centre unable to pay States’ GST dues: official
  • At 2,967 tigers, India’s capacity at peak
  • Larvae in meals kill appetite of doctors
  • Delhi govt. rejects lawyers proposed by police
  • ‘Smell cards’ mooted to screen people

 

 

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