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9 PM for Main examination
- Importance of the Persian Gulf
- India –China relations – Win-win or zero sum game
- Need to shift from subsidies to Cash Transfers to double farmers income.
- Private Sector – Non-participation in combating Pandemic
- Solving the Human-animal conflict
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.Importance of the Persian Gulf
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Context: Analyzing the geopolitical significance of the Persian Gulf which is characterized by the political relations.
- It is a shallow marginal sea of Indian Ocean that lies between the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Iran.
- Shared by: Eight countries (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).
- Geo-political importance: They are the major producers of crude oil and natural gas.
History of the region:
- Prior to 1970:
- This body was a closely guarded British lake for eight decades which was administered by imperial civil servants from India.
- After 1970:
- Regional players started asserting themselves. According to US State Department report (1973) the main problem is the Saudi-Iranian cooperation is being undercut by psychological, nationalistic and prestige factors.
- American Hegemony: It was ensured by Nixon and the Carter Doctrines.
- Collective Security:It was attempted in a conference in Muscat in 1975 which was thwarted by Baathist Iraq.
- The Iranian Revolution (1979): It put an end to the Twin Pillar approach and disturbed the strategic balance.
- The Iraq-Iran War: It enhanced U.S. interests and role.
- Security Council through Resolution 598 (1987): It has to explore ‘measures to enhance the security and stability in the region’.
Contemporary situation in Persian Gulf:
- The fault lines between the GCC and the US:
- Containing Iran: The US has been cooperated by the Arab states of the region (except Iraq) to contain Iran.
- Aggravation of geopolitical factors: The other conflicts in the West Asian region — Yemen, Syria, Libya has aggravated global and regional relationships and hampered the relations between the U.S.-Iran. It was based on the multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme agreed to by western powers and the Obama Administration.
- Armed conflict: The region has been subject to armed conflict due to changed policies of the Trump administrations. Such as cancelling nuclear agreement with Iran.
- Changing priorities: The US commitment to sub regional security has declined which have caused disquiet in some members of the GCC. As the GCC security concern is based on an American insurance to deter it.
- An evolving transformation in GCC:
- Common Threat Perception:
- It has been hampered by the emergence of conflicting tactical and strategic interests of different nations. Such as the problems in the OPEC and the decline in oil prices.
- Emerging shape of the region:
- Saudi Arabia is a fading power, UAE, Qatar and Iran are emerging as the new regional leaders and Oman and Iraq will have to struggle to retain their independent identities.
- Individual arrangements:
- Pragmatic approach: Oman has lines of communication with Iran openly; Kuwait and Qatar had done same and now the UAE has initiated pragmatic arrangements.
- Costly alternatives: The Record has shown that the alternative of exclusive security arrangements promotes armament drives, enhances insecurity and aggravates regional tensions.
All framework for the region should aims at ensuring:
- Conditions of peace and stability in individual littoral states.
- Freedom to all states of the Gulf littoral to exploit their hydrocarbon and other natural resources and export them.
- Freedom of commercial shipping in international waters of the Persian Gulf.
- Freedom of access to, and outlet from, Gulf waters through the Strait of Hormuz.
India’s Relation with the Persian Gulf:
- Geographical and historical:
- The governments in the Gulf are India-friendly.
- Trade: The bilateral trade between India and GCC is of around $121 billion and remittances of $49 billion from a workforce of over nine million.
- Import for India: GCC suppliers account for around 34% of our crude imports and national oil companies in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are partners in a $44 billion investment in the giant Ratnagiri oil refinery.
- Saudi Aramco is reported to take a 20% stake in Reliance oil-to-chemicals business.
- Importance of Iran:
- Complex India-Iran relationship:Particularly due to overt American pressure.
- Resources: Iran neighbours Turkey and some countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region. Its size, politico-technological potential and economic resources can be useful for India.
Indian interests lie in the totality, peace and regional stability and access to the region’s markets in terms of trade, technology and manpower resources.
2.India –China relations – Win-win or zero sum game
Source – The Indian Express
Syllabus – GS 2 – Bilateral Relations
Context – Recently Chinese soldiers have moved into Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
India-China border is divided into three sectors:
- Western Sector– The LAC in the western sector falls in the union territory of Ladakh and is 1570 km long
- Middle sector– The middle sector of 545 km length falls in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- Eastern sector– The 1325 km long eastern sector falls in the states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
The middle sector is the least disputed sector, while the western sector witnesses the highest transgressions between the two sides.
Line of Actual control
- LAC is only a concept– The border is not fully demarcated and the LAC is neither clarified nor confirmed by the two countries. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
- Patrolling based on perception-This has led to different perceptions of the LAC for the two sides, and soldiers from either side try to patrol the area up to their perception of the LAC.
- Chinese assertiveness– A higher number of transgressions indicates that the Chinese soldiers are coming to the Indian side more often, and their movements are being observed and recorded by the Indian soldiers. This can be seen as an indicator of increased Chinese assertiveness.
Reasons for large scale movement by China :
- Infrastructure building by India– China is responding to India’s efforts to bolster border infrastructure in Ladakh after the completion of the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road (near the confluence of Shyok and Galwan rivers).
- Pre-emptive step– Chinese army is physically changing the ground position and preventing our troops from undertaking regular patrolling in the area.
- Diverting attention– The need for China to show strength amid the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, which has harmed the Chinese economy and worsened relations with many countries. The ongoing transgressions will shift world’s attention from this to border issue.
- Discouraging Investment in India– Due to disruption in supply-chain amid the COVID pandemic and the flight of MNC’s from China has increased possibility of these companies to settle in India. Such border disruptions usually discourage the investors as there will be lack of stability and peace in country
Implications of the transgressions
- Updation in Standard Operating Procedure– The established SOPs and drills have not worked this time and new drills will be required as the situation on the ground has changed.
- Unreasonable concessions by India– Due to increased Chinese pressure, India might resolve the border issue by going soft on China in international institutions like World Health Assembly.
Way Forward – The Panchsheel principle holds the key to resolve the current crisis. When followed in spirit and letter it will pave way for settled border dispute and amicable ties between the two.
3.Need to shift from subsidies to Cash Transfers to double farmers income.
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3-Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Context: Analysing the road to the government’s ambitious plan to double the farmers income by 2022-23.
Importance of Agriculture for India:
- During 2019-20: The gross value added (GVA) in agriculture and allied sectors registered a growth of 4 % whereas the growth of overall GVA of the economy is only at 3.9 % and overall GDP (including net taxes) at 4.2 per cent.
- Expectation during COVID-19: In 2020-21, due to impact of COVID-19, the GDP may register a negative growth of as high as -5 per cent, agriculture may still surprise with a positive growth of 2.5 per cent. (as per CRISIL’s recent forecast).
- Labour force: Almost 44 % is engaged in agriculture.
Comparison with China:
|Growth rate||Low growth rate||High growth (about 4.5 % over the last 40 years)|
|Productivity||Low productivity||High productivity|
|Migration||Due to “push” factor because agriculture cannot support a large percentage of the working population.||Due to “demand-pull” to higher productivity sectors with better skills.|
To tackle the issues in agriculture and tackling the effects of COVID-19, the government introduced some changes under Atma Nirbhar package.
Reforms on the Agri-Marketing: Liberalizing the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), APMC Act and contract farming through the ordinance route.
Issue with amended ECA:
- Clause for stocking limits in case of extraordinary price rise: This is being defined as a 100 % increase in the price of perishables and a 50 % increase for non-perishables over a 12-month period. It has been done to attract private investment in storage.
- The stocking limits are to be imposed in case of natural calamity, famine, wars, etc. In other case it is only for rent-seeking by the “inspector raj”.
To improve the conditions of farmers, government formed Ashok Dalwai committee to double farmers’ incomes. It talked about the real income and it required a growth rate of 10.4 % per annum till 2022-23.
Author’s Reservations about Doubling farmers income:
- Comparing the data of NSO And NABARD surveys on farmers’ incomes in 2002-03, 2012-13, and 2015-16 with Agri-GDP growth over the same period, the trends in Agri-GDP and farmers’ incomes follow each other very closely (about 3.6 to 3.7 % per annum).
- The base year growth rate in 2015-16 was meagre (0.6 per cent) and the average annual growth of Agri-GDP during the next four years (2016-17 to 2019-20) was 4.8 per cent.
- In 2020-21, CRISIL forecasts GVA in agriculture at 2.5 % and even if one assumes Agri-growth to be around 4 % per annum for the next two years, the annual Agri-GVA growth for the seven-year period (from 2016-17 to 2022-23) is around 4.2 %. This cannot double the income of farmers by 2022-23.
Suggestions by author to achieve the target:
- The shortfall from the target can be filled by adding the direct income transfers under PM-Kisan.
- The government can convert food and fertilizer subsidies into direct cash transfers.
There is a need to have paradigm shifts and to transfer real prices on farmers’ produce by improving marketing efficiencies and Agri-logistics.
4.Private Sector – Non-participation in combating Pandemic
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 3 – Mobilisation of Resources
Context – The pandemic offers a chance to policy makers to bring in structural changes in the health sector and rejuvenate private partnerships.
Current Status of Private Sector in tackling Pandemic
- Lack of policy – No clear policy guidelines to use private sector resources that could complement public sector efforts, and how the payments for their services made.
Policy options to leverage private sector resources
- Extending Laboratory services – Given the size of Indian population, government needs to scale up the testing services. This can be done by:
- Engaging in PPP – An accredited private laboratory can be contracted to be co-located in a public health facility preferably in tier-II/tier-III public hospitals. The government may procure test kits and the private sector could charge a service fee from the government.
- Issuing E-vouchers – Suspect cases can be issued vouchers for testing at any empanelled private laboratories. E-vouchers generated by tele-health call centres can subsequently be reimbursed by the government.
- Purchase contract – A mobile sample collection and testing facility can be operated by a private entity in high density clusters. The cost of tests, key performance indicators and payment system should be worked out in the purchase contract.
- Up scaling hospital infrastructure – The dilapidated public hospitals, especially in tier II and tier III cities need to be complemented with services of private sector by:
- Preparing ICU-A private contractor could be hired to refurbish an existing ward in a public hospital into an intensive care unit (ICU) ward with additional beds and equipment and handover the refurbished ward to the public authority.
- Utilising PMJAY – The government can refer patients to empanelled private COVID-19 hospitals, at a fixed package rate under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
- Central intelligence system (CIA)– An IT system with artificial intelligence capability should be the backbone of supporting all public and private sector efforts in combating COVID.
The intelligence system should seamlessly help in:
Figure 1 – Importance of Digital Central Intelligence System
Way Forward – Private sector has the needed potential to combat COVID along with government. All it needs is policy guidelines which also balances interest of private sector.
5.Solving the Human-animal conflict
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-3- Environment
Context: The recent death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala has caused outrage on social media. The explosive laden pineapple which killed the elephant was a trap for wild boars.
Brief Overview of Wildlife Protection in India
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: The aim of the Act is to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India.
- Protected Areas: It contains provisions for setting up and managing national parks, sanctuaries and other protected areas
- Scheduled Species: It also consists of 6 schedules which provide a varying degree of protection to animals. Animals listed under Schedule V are called vermin which can be hunted. Example: Rats
In this editorial, the author points out certain issues regarding human-animal conflict and provides solutions for the same:
|Modern conservation aims to separate human and wildlife spaces as overlap leads to conflict. However, this does not hold true for India. In India, most of the animal range is outside protected areas. For example, in case of elephants only about 25% of their range is within protected areas.||It is important to reorient the forest department to do away with the wildlife-territorial dichotomy of management that currently exists. Humans and animals have always coexisted and mostly peacefully interacted in India.
|Due to habitat fragmentation and shrinking of habitat due to encroachment in forest lands, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food.
|Addressing habitat loss, destruction and fragmentation to provide long-term solution to conflict|
|With the absence of large predators outside forests and the huge availability of easily accessible food crops, deer, monkeys, boar occupy fringe areas. These animals lead to huge destruction of croplands.
|Farmers should be empowered and subsidized to better protect their land and not entirely depend on compensation after damage is done.
|In other countries, vermin are kept in control, so they don’t destroy large crop areas. However, in India, though government has the provision to declare overabundant animals’ “vermin”, and cull them under the Wildlife Protection Act, it very rarely does this.
|It is important to control the population of wild boar to minimize the impact they have on farmers. However, it should be ensured that there is no over-hunting and local extinction in some areas that have governance or enforcement problems.|
Conclusion: Education and training activities at different levels should be taken up for disseminating innovative techniques, building local capacity in conflict resolution and increasing public understanding of man-animal conflicts
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