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1. What is the Qatar crisis the world is facing today? Why is Qatar important to India? How would this crisis affect India and the world? Substantiate. (GS 2) Link-1 | Link-2 | Indian Express Qatar crisis :-

  • The 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisisbegan when several countries abruptly cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017. These countries included Saudi Arabia,UAE,Egypt and Bahrain.The severing of relations included withdrawing ambassadors, and imposing trade and travel bans.
  • The Saudi-led coalition cited Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism as the main reason for their actions, insisting Qatar has violated a 2014 agreement with members of the
  • Saudi Arabia and other countries have criticized Al Jazeera and Qatar’s relations with Iran.
  • The reality is that the Saudis have long resented Qatar’s successful efforts to strut the international stage as an independent actor something symbolised by the country’s sponsorship of Al Jazeera, which has provided a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group detested by the Saudis. Saudi Arabia also believes Qatar has got far too close to Iran.

Why is Qatar important to India :-

  • Diaspora:
  • There are around seven million people of Indian origin working in the Middle East.
  • Security and stability in the region is hence of paramount importance for India.
  • About 30,000 Indian students study there in 14 schools affiliated to the CBSE curriculum.
  • Economic :-
    • Remittances :-
      • Further, the Indian diaspora in the region remits around $40 billion a year.
      • These funds are immensely valuable as they help India manage its current account deficit.
    • Energy is another critical area of engagement. A fifth of India’s oil, and about 65 per cent of gas imports, comes from countries of the Middle East including Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and others.
    • India is the third largest export destination for gas from Qatar .Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for over 65 per cent of India’s global import and 15 per cent of Qatar’s export of LNG.
    • The size of the annual bilateral trade between the two countries is as much as $18 billion
    • India also imports ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and polyethylene from Qatar, making it the third largest export destination for Qatar, after Japan and South Korea.
    • Several Indian business like Punj Lyod, Voltas, Wipro and HCL have offices in Qatar, while banks like ICICI and SBI have branches there.

How would the crisis impact India :- Negative :-

  • Difficulties will, however, be experienced by Indians resident in Qatar and wishing to travel to other Gulf countries or those resident in other Gulf nations wanting to visit Qatar.
  • In case the crisis gets prolonged, prices of food items and essential commodities in Qatar could increase and affect the lives of 650-to-700,000 Indians.
  • This could also affect remittances. A prolonged crisis could result in increased insecurity, reduced economic activity and stress on the 50 per cent or so of the total inward remittances that India receives from the Gulf.

Not much:-

  • Indian external affairs ministry asserted that this is an intra-GCC affair and will not have a significant impact on India or on Indians resident in that country or in the region.
  • Travel for Indians to Qatar is unlikely to be affected as flights from India take the Persian Gulf route to Doha.
  • The limits placed on air space access by the Saudi-led grouping will therefore not have any significant impact over the Persian Gulf.

Impact on the World :-

  • Economic:
    • Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.The Qatar Investment Authority holds large stakes in important western companies such as Volkswagen and Barclays and has also invested its petrobillions in trophy assets around the world, including the Shard, London’s tallest building, and Harrods department store.
  • The Qataris are also due to host the football World Cup in 2022.
  • International :-
    • One ironic consequence of the blockade of Qatar is that it could force the country to get closer to Iran.
    • Qatar is a major exporter of gas, supplying just under a third of the UK’s imports, but the Gulf crisis could cause transport disruptions.
    • The diplomatic rift between Qatar and its Arab Gulf neighbours may cost them billions of dollars by slowing trade and investment and making it more expensive for the region to borrow money as it grapples with low oil prices.
  • Impact on Qatar and Gulf countries :
    • Qatar imports roughly 40% of its food overland through Saudi Arabia, and most of the rest via shipping routes that pass through the UAE ports of Dubai and Fujairah to refuel.
    • Likewise, the UAE gets roughly a third of its natural gas from Qatar via the Dolphin Energy pipeline. In 2015, the value of Qatar’s trade flows totalled over $2 billion with Saudi Arabia.
    • The Saudi banking sector’s exposure to Qatar is estimated to be around $30 billion.
    • The long-term economic implications of the blockade is likely to be costly to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. This will arrive in the form of lost business opportunities, revenues from tourism, and reduced investments from Qatar.
    • It will not be easy for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to find alternative clients in the Gulf region for lost sales from products and services that they provide to Qatar.
    • Even more crucial is the possibility that multinational businesses may hesitate to invest or locate their hubs in countries that place political considerations above business concerns.
  • Impact on China:
    • China has particularly high stakes in the outcome of the Qatar crisis.
    • Officials in Beijing are focused on how this rift within the Sunni Arab world will impact their country’s geo-economic development with regard to China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative.
    • China’s ambitious plan is to connect various regions, including the Middle East, through economic corridors stretching from China to the Mediterranean..

India enjoys good relations with all countries of the region. That should facilitate India playing a more agile and vigorous role in the region.


2. What is Project Jal Sanchay? Discuss why water conservation is not upto the mark in India ? What measures should the government take to ensure conservation of water, in the light of being a water scarce nation.(GS 2) India Today Project Jal Sanchay :-

  • Project Jal Sanchay’ is a water conservation model which is successfully adopted in Nalanda district of south-central Bihar.
  • It has been chosen for the national award for excellence in the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee programme (MGNREGP) by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It was launched under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGP) to offset the water crisis in the district.
  • Under the project, check dams and traditional Aahar-Pyne irrigation systems were created.
  • In addition, traditional water bodies were desilted and renovated.
  • Campaigns about the usefulness of rainwater harvesting were also carried out.

  • The project was a mix of modern day techniques and technologies with traditional knowledge and got evolved into a holistic program to conserve water.
  • As a result of the implementation of the project, availability of water got improved drastically which positively impacted the farm production in the district.

Reasons why water conservation is not a priority in India :-

  • India has long been a water-stressed country. It has two percent of the world’s land, 16 percent of its population, but only four percent of its renewable water resources.
  • Because of over-consumption, pollution and inefficient use. Severe pollution is another common problem for both countries.
  • The Ganges River is one of the most polluted in the world.
  • The lack of sanitation in much of India has severely polluted its groundwater as 80 percent of all sewage flows directly into Indian rivers untreated.
  • Inefficient water use is a common problem as well.
  • In India, non-revenue water is 41 percent on a national average, compared to 21 percent in China.
  • Agriculture consumes 90 percent of India’s fresh water, aggravated by a policy of subsidising fuel for irrigation pumps, which is rapidly depleting India’s groundwater.
  • In India, dam-building has been a much more difficult undertaking for a variety of reasons.
  • Water is a state subject and not a Central subject. State governments do not have the same capacity engineering, financial, administrative and the political will to undertake massive dam-building projects. In addition, inter-state conflicts in a federal system discourage cooperation
  • Maharashtra and parts of the Deccan peninsula exemplify the distorting effects of crop subsidies and a skewed agricultural produce market that rewards farmers who cultivate unsuitably water-intensive crops such as sugarcane and other cash crops

Measures needed are :-

  • In India, a water governance framework should include an overhaul of the legal regulation of water, efficient use of water for agriculture use, increasing green belts to raise the groundwater table and public-private partnerships for urban water supply and sewage treatment.
  • Water tariffs for domestic and industrial use are set by state governments and municipalities in India.. Under the circumstances, the Central government should invest in capacity-building for state and city governments so that these sub-national governments can regulate and collect sustainable tariffs.
  • The present government has earmarked $3 billion for Ganga rejuvenation for the next five years, with plans to manage waste effluents, industrial pollution and revival of aqua life.
  • The government should encourage growth of crops that are less water-intensive so that groundwater over-exploitation can be arrested.
  • In this year’s Budget, the government has provided subsidies for drip-irrigation in the hope of reducing dependence on groundwater. This year, the government is planning to pump in $6 billion to increase the country’s forest cover.
  • Indeed the way forward may be for India to not rely only on large dams, interlinked rivers, and borewell drilling, but also supplant these extraction-focussed projects with more effective and widespread water conservation, storage and groundwater recharge.
  • Establishing this harmony between water extraction and restoration could help us avoid a bleak future ravaged by endless cycles of floods and droughts.

Facts:-

  • World Bank report says that countries can lose up to six percent of their GDP due to water scarcity that is caused by climate change.

3. Do you think that majoritarian sentiments are being pushed on minorities in India today?Is Gorkhaland agitation an offshoot of this thinking? Give your opinion.(GS 1) Link

  • Indian society is distinctly majoritarian and though its Constitution is secular, its daily lives and popular cultures aren’t.
  • Food has a complex history in India, one that is intricately tied to notions of caste purity and pollution notice the “pure” tag to vegetarian-only restaurants across the country.
  • As a result, we have often shown our majoritarian tendencies as a society through imposition of dietary practices .

    • Shutting down cities during Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali, where streets and public spaces are turned into areas of religious rejoice.
    • Meat is expressly banned during several Hindu festivals and entire cities are cordoned off as vegetarian-only zones because of their religious importance.
    • Celebrations become community events and one can’t opt out, even if one “chooses.
  • When a ban goes against the minority, they must respect the sentiments of the majority and submit, but when the majority is aggrieved by a ban, the sentiment of the minority cannot be allowed to dictate policy.
  • Instilling awe and fright among minorities and Dalits Since 2010, 28 people have been killed in ‘cow-related violence’ and 63 other cases of violence have been registered in total.
  • This rise in majoritarian, xenophobic politics is not exclusive to the Subcontinent alone. The last few years have demonstrated the growing appeal of right-wing majoritarianism in countries around the world with race, ethnicity and religion all being used as a means of creating fear and distrust between communities as a means of gaining political mileage.
  • It has also achieved complete acquiescence of minorities, including Muslims, to the majoritarian caprice and diktats through undemocratic and coercive means.
  • Lynching, intimidation and browbeating are most conspicuous among these.

No :-

  • Article 48 of the Constitution is a pivotal section here. It does not ban slaughter of cows which have become useless. In order to protect and promote the cattle wealth of the country, it only says that the state shall endeavour to prohibit the “slaughter of the cows and calves and other milch and drought cattle”.
  • One of the important duties is to develop a scientific temper, humanism and a spirit of inquiry and reform.

Is Gorkhaland agitation an offshoot of this thinking :- Yes:

  • The recent instance of government suddenly declaring that Bengali, as the language of West Bengal, was to be made compulsory in all schools.
  • Government took up the policy of setting up development boards for various minority groups in the hills such as the Lepchas, which the GJM opposed. This was seen as an attempt to split the people of the region along ethnic lines.
  • The government ordered a special audit of the GTA.
  • State emblems being solely in Bengali without any regards for other culture
  • After all, it was an issue of concern not only for the Nepali speaking Gorkhas, but all other linguistic minority groups like the Santhals, who had struggled for long for the right to be educated in Santhali and the al chiki

No:-

  • Other than the majoritarian pressure there have been some historical and ethnic factors which lead to gorkhaland agitation today like.
    • Even after creation of Gorkha Territorial area (GTA) the region have not been given proper administration autonomy.
    • The demand has been there since 1929.They do not identify themselves with the Bengali community and want a separate identity for themselves.

Therefore by ensuring development, removing the insecurities in the minds of the people,enhancing employment opportunities and ensuring good governance Gorkhaland issue can be resolved a bit.

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