- Belt and Road is China’s most ambitious initiative in history. Popularly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), this infrastructure project of gigantic proportions attempts to bring under its sway more than 60 countries, from the Scandinavian world to the South Pacific Islands, in its land and maritime versions.
- The ancient Silk Route is said to be the inspiration for this initiative launched in 2013.
Long term benefits of OBOR:-
- This is singularly the biggest constellation of nations in the 21st century.
- When completed, the rail, road and maritime routes of this project are expected to boost bilateral and multilateral trade in a big way.
- The economic importance of participating in OBOR cannot be understated as it could provide business and new investments opportunities for countries eyeing foreign investments.
- According to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia will require approximately US$8.2 trillion (RM35.6 trillion) to finance infrastructure development from 2010 to 2020.
- The economies along the routes account for about 63 per cent of the world’s population and 29 per cent of global GDP.
- According to an HSBC estimate, the “Belt and Road Initiative” will generate roughly 300 billion yuan to 500 billion yuan in railway investment, financing more than 15,000km in high-speed rail links along the route.
- The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to bridge the ‘infrastructure gap’ and thus accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area and Central and Eastern Europe:
- Benefits to China:
- Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, are able to go global and export their spare capacity in building infrastructure projects to the world.
- Chinese firms are able to offer competitive pricing and their prices are usually lower than US or EU companies. Chinese firms are also winning lucrative service contracts, once the domain of US, European and Japanese firms, to run those completed infrastructure.
- China can even spread its manufacturing across countries as manufacturing costs such as power and wages in China are going up. If OBOR becomes a reality, it can help China create a vast economic empire in Asia and Africa.
- Benefits to other countries:
- Less-developed countries along the new Silk Road stand are among the big winners of investment as China revives ancient land and maritime trade routes, according to estimates by a top bank.
- The inclusion of the Middle East and Central Asia could contribute to peace and prosperity in these currently dramatically turbulent regions.
- As China puts conditions on every beneficiary of the trade plan to get rid of corruption, Pakistan and other South Asian countries must gear up to liberate themselves from vicious chains of corruption.
- The trade plan undoubtedly will have a deep impact in alleviating poverty plaguing South Asia, home to 1.7 billion people.
- International rise of China:
- With US following an isolationist approach China will yield greater global influence.
Criticism of India’s policy:-
- The moot point remains that India is not able to carry any of the big powers, including the US, and especially its neighbors along on the vital question of Westphalian sovereignty as in the Chinese conveners summit 29 countries participated and showed interest.
- Critics say India was “isolated” even in the South Asian region since all neighbouring countries except Bhutan chose to attend despite India’s boycott.
- By boycotting the summit rather than showing up and making its voice heard loud and clear in the comity of nations, India has in fact sent out a message that it will make proforma noise on this issue but actually acquiesce to the fait accompli.What this lack of dexterity does is allow the Chinese embrace of Pakistan to get even tighter.
- Thefact remains that India would have to deal with Pakistani and Chinese navies jointly patrolling the Arabian Sea off India’s western seaboard and directly threatening India’s energy and resource supply lines.
- With Hambantota also being developed as a Chinese resourced port in Sri Lanka, the Gwadar-Hamabantota axis may end up emerging as an access denial area in India’s home waters.
Genuine Concerns of India:-
- India’s Achilles’ heel is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, popularly known as CPEC. The CPEC is seen as a part of the Belt and Road initiative .India had vociferously objected to it on the very question of sovereignty.
- A major security concern is CPEC giving China control of Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Add to that OBOR boosting the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. OBOR will turn China’s old ‘string of pearls’ policy to encircle India into a reality.
- Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located just east of the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians, the Arab population that hails from the land Israel now controls, refer to the territory as Palestine, and want to establish a state by that name on all or part of the same land.
- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled
History of Israel Palestine conflict:-
- It is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century.
- The history of this conflict began with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
- With millions of Jews being displaced during the Holocaust, the United Nations was looking for a good place to establish a Jewish state.
- At the time, Palestine was actually a British colony, and the UN figured that Palestine (which included Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish faith) was the best place to establish the new Jewish state of Israel. So, in late November, 1947, the UN passed Resolution 181, which divided the Palestinian territory into Jewish and Arab states.
- After this Israel declared independence which led to Israel Arab war.The 1948 war uprooted 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating a refugee crisis that is still not resolved. Palestinians call this mass eviction the Nakba Arabic for “catastrophe” and its legacy remains one of the most intractable issues in ongoing peace negotiations.
- Today there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees, defined as people displaced in 1948 and their descendants. A core Palestinian demand in peace negotiations is some kind of justice for these refugees, most commonly in the form of the “right of return” to the homes their families abandoned in 1948.
- Israel can’t accept the right of return without abandoning either its Jewish or democratic identity. Adding 7 million Arabs to Israel’s population would make Jews a minority .
- One of the core problems in negotiations, then, is how to find a way to get justice for the refugees that both the Israeli and Palestinian people can accept. Ideas proposed so far include financial compensation and limited settlement by Israel , but no two leaders have ever agreed on the details of how these would work.
- West Bank:
- The West Bank is a chunk of land east of Israel. It’s home to 2.6 million Palestinians, and would make up the heart of any Palestinian state. Israel took control of it in 1967 and has allowed Jewish settlers to move in, but Palestinians (and most of the international community) consider it illegally occupied Palestinian land
- There are about 500,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, many of whom live near the border with Israel proper. In a two-state deal, some of these settlers would have to leave the West Bank, while some border settlements would become Israeli land. In exchange, Israel would give over some of its territory to Palestine. These would be called “land swaps.” No set of Israeli and Palestinian leaders has agreed on precisely where to draw the border.
- Jerusalem is a city that straddles the border between Israel and the West Bank. It’s home to some of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam, and so both Israel and Palestine want to make it their capital. How to split the city fairly remains one of the fundamental issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians.
- Gaza is a densely populated strip of land that is mostly surrounded by Israel and peopled almost exclusively by Palestinians. Israel used to have a military presence, but withdrew unilaterally in 2005. It’s currently under Israeli blockade.
- Hamas’s takeover of Gaza prompted an Israeli blockade of commercial goods into Gaza, on the grounds that Hamas could use those goods to make weapons to be used against Israel. Israel has eased the blockade over time, but the cutoff of basic supplies like fuel still does significant humanitarian harm by cutting off access to electricity ,food and medicine.
- Settlements are communities of Jews that have been moving to the West Bank since it came under Israeli occupation in 1967.Most international lawyers believe settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of population into occupied territories. Israel disputes that.
Yes,there are signs of fundamental shift :-
- Its different this time because this time, the two are at war just as the surrounding Middle East descends into total turmoil. And when everything abates, the two sides will end up even further from an agreement than they have been for years.
- The entire region is so troubled that no one, not even the U.S., can give the Israeli-Palestine conflict the attention it once demanded. And American officials can no longer argue that a settlement would ripple positively across the Middle East.
- Relations within the Palestinian community have become more complicated. During the last two wars, in 2009 and 2012, Palestinian governance was split between the extremist faction, Hamas, in Gaza, and the more moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
- The two factions have been uneasily allied in a power-sharing government. Which has pulled the Palestinian Authority more directly into the conflict, despite its minimal presence in Gaza. At the same time, the United States can’t deal directly with the Palestinians because we’ve labeled Hamas a terrorist group.
- The priorities and alliances of the surrounding region have also shifted. Most consequential: Egypt, at peace with Israel since the 1979 Camp David Accords, no longer has the same clout to negotiate with the Palestinians (especially with Hamas). The new Egyptian President el-Sisi has outlawed the Brotherhood as a terrorist group which makes Egypt pretty much absent this time around..
- Iran, a long-time Hamas supporter, has reversed its position . Not long ago, Iran’s Shia leaders had removed support for Hamas because of Hamas’s allegiance to Sunni Syrian rebels.
- Israel’s parliament voted on a bill that expropriates private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
- The passage of legislation by Israel that would legalise nearly 4,000 Jewish settler homes on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank flies in the face of international law and norms.
- That the vote comes weeks after the UN Security Council demanded that Israel stop all settlement activity in the Occupied Territories, and an international conference attended by more than 70 countries urged both sides in the conflict to resume talks, shows Israel’s disregard for international opinion and institutions.
The world has to take strong measures to establish world peace and strong actions against violence.Also the UN has to step and provide justice to Palestine.
Personal laws must be subordinate to fundamental rights:-
- The Centre’s categorical stand that personal laws should be in conformity with the Constitution will be of immense assistance to the Supreme Court in determining the validity of practices such as triple talaq and polygamy. By arguing that such practices impact adversely on the right of women to a life of dignity, the Centre has raised the question whether constitutional protection given to religious practices should extend even to those that are not in compliance with fundamental rights.
- From the point of view of the fundamental rights of those affected, mostly women, there is a strong case for these practices to be invalidated.
- The idea that personal laws of religions should be beyond the scope of judicial review, and that they are not subject to the Constitution, is inherently abhorrent. The affidavit in which the All India Muslim Personal Law Board sought to defend triple talaq and polygamy is but an execrable summary of the patriarchal notions entrenched in conservative sections of society.
- Entry 5 list III,schedule VII read with article 246 grants the State power to abolish discriminatory personal laws
- Many unanswered questions still remain like whether personal law is law under Article 13 of the Constitution.Article 13 lays down that all laws should conform to the fundamental rights.
- In a number of cases, it has been held that personal laws are not subject to Part III of the Constitution that deals with fundamental rights and hence, they cannot be challenged for violating rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 and 21.
- In Krishna Singh Vs Mathura Ahir, 1980, the top court held that “Part III of the Constitution does not touch upon the personal laws of the parties.”
- The Bombay High Court held that subjecting personal laws to fundamental rights would imply automatic invalidation of practices like untouchability,thereby not explaining the introduction of Article 17.
- Agricultural land in many states notoriously is often not held by the daughters of the community. They have only recently seen an agitation in Nagaland for the inclusion of women in municipal councils that failed. The demand was resisted on the ground that legislation could not interfere with tribal customs.
- Personal laws can be challenged, it will have far reaching consequences for all women regardless of the religion they belong to and advance the goal of gender justice for all.The existence of Article 44 implies that the drafters placed upon the Parliament the onus of eradicating such discriminatory religious practices by enacting a Uniform Civil Code.