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The Hindu Analysis | Free PDF Download

Date: 21 October 2019
  • Extremely rare
  • Fewer than 5 thousand cases per year (India)
  • Treatable by a medical professional
  • Spreads by animals or insects
  • Requires a medical diagnosis
  • Lab tests or imaging often required
  • Short-term: resolves within days to weeks
  • Critical: needs emergency care
  • Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterium. It mainly affects animals. Humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhaling spores.
  • Symptoms depend on the route of infection. They can range from a skin ulcer with a dark scab to difficulty breathing.
  •  Antibiotic treatment cures most infections. Inhaled anthrax is harder to treat and can be fatal.

Two panels set up to revamp ‘British-era’ IPC

  • The Home Ministry is all set to overhaul the Indian Penal Code designed by the British. A senior government official said rebooting the code introduced by the British in 1860 was necessary as it is primarily based on the spirit of “master and servant”.
  • On September 28, Home Minister Amit Shah while speaking at a function in Delhi had said that the Bureau of Police Research and Development should work on a proposal to amend various sections of the IPC and the Code of Criminal Procedure after seeking suggestions from people across the country.
  • Recently the Ministry wrote to all States and Union Territories seeking suggestions to amend various sections of the IPC. Two committees comprising legal luminaries have also been constituted by the Ministry.
  • South Asian University (SAU) is an International University sponsored by the eight Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The eight countries are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asian University started admitting students in 2010, at a temporary campus at Akbar Bhawan, India. Its permanent campus will be at Maidan Garhi in South Delhi, India, next to Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
  • First academic session of the university started in August 2010 with two post-graduate academic programmes, in economics and computer sciences. As of 2014 SAU offered Master's and MPhil/PhD programs in applied mathematics, biotechnology, computer science, development economics, international relations, law and sociology.
  • The degrees of the university are recognized by all the member nations of the SAARC according to an intergovernmental agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the 8 countries.
  • South Asian University attracts students predominantly from all the eight SAARC countries, although students from other continents also attend. There is a country quota system for admission of students. Every year SAU conducts admission test at multiple centers in all the 8 countries.
  • The founding President of the university, G. K. Chadha, died on 1 March 2014. Prior to joining South Asian University, first as the CEO while SAU was at a project stage and subsequently as the President, he was the economic adviser to the prime minister of India. He also had a stint as the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. On 3 November 2014, Dr. Kavita Sharma took charge as the President of the university.
  • With the recent improvement in relations, India and the Maldives will take forward several pending measures to promote defence cooperation in the next few months, diplomatic sources said.
  •  These include lease of a Dornier aircraft, bringing the Maldives under India’s coastal radar chain network and a broad-based humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise.
  •  “The agreement for lease of a Dornier aircraft for maritime surveillance is being finalised. It should be done in the next few months, at the latest by early next year,” diplomatic sources told The Hindu, adding the Maldives was looking to transform its military in a big way, and the cooperation would be beneficial to the island nation.
  • New Delhi sent a Letter of Exchange for a two-year lease of the Dornier at the request of Male a few years ago. But the deal was not finalised by the Maldives owing to the friction in the relationship. In this context, sources pointed out that the two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) given by India were of “great service”.  They were flying round the clock for medical evacuation and search and rescue.
  • India gifted the Maldives two ALHs in 2013 and each was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy. However, a controversy broke out last year after the previous Maldives government refused to extend the visas of Indian military personnel and asked India to take back the helicopters.

Radar links

  • Work on the radar stations to plug the Maldives into India’s coastal radar chain is progressing fast. “Two of the stations are functional and the third is in an advanced stage.
  • It should be fully linked by January,” the sources added.
  • In the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India began setting up the coastal radar chain network to monitor the movement of traffic on the high seas. Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been part of the network.
  •  At the Goa Maritime Conclave, hosted recently by the Navy for Indian Ocean littoral states, the major focus was on information-sharing. India offered to share real-time movement of maritime traffic. Of late, the Navy has stepped up cooperation with the countries in the region. Terrorism is a major threat to the Maldives, and maritime security is the top-most concern, diplomatic sources said.
  •  It’s a deal Britain might avoid a no-deal exit, but it will have to grapple with the costs of leaving the EU
  • Despite the euphoric reception to the fresh terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU agreed on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to seek an extension to the October 31 exit deadline. His predicament is due in part to the arrangement, wherein Northern Ireland would be governed by EU regulation even as it legally remains within the U.K. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Tories’ partner in Westminster, has opposed Thursday’s agreement — that it would undermine the constitutional integrity of the U.K. It is however true that the new deal would avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea, one that would have separated the north and south of the island of Ireland, thus endangering the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Moreover, Belfast would have the best of both worlds under a Johnson accord: reaping the benefits of membership of the EU and retaining its status within Great Britain. The logic behind the differential treatment that Brexit on these terms would imply for Belfast and Edinburgh could renew momentum for a second vote on Scottish independence. Meanwhile, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have demanded that the deal be put to a confirmatory referendum.
  • As Brexit draws near, its economic implications look all the more inescapable. A think-tank says Britons would be poorer under a Johnson deal compared to the thrice-rejected deal negotiated by his predecessor, while they would fare much better than in a no-deal. It is apt that the rebel Tories and the opposition are anxious to plug every loophole that hard-line eurosceptics can potentially exploit to crash out of the bloc on October 31. That is a threat they had held out even after legislation was passed to prevent a no-deal exit, mandating the government to seek an extension if needed. Saturday’s Letwin amendment withholds approval for Mr. Johnson’s deal until ratification of the enabling legislation. The Johnson deal still stands a chance as several MPs seem well disposed to its terms, despite DUP opposition. The time gained after Saturday’s amendment will ensure that the exit bill will be put to scrutiny.
  • Describing India-China summits as marking a “new era” in bilateral relations follows a predictable pattern, and both sides are guilty. Rarely have such summits deserved these high sounding labels. There are exceptions. The Vajpayee-Hu Jintao summit in 2003 established the Special Representatives mechanism to seek a political settlement to the boundary issue. China acknowledged Sikkim as part of the Indian Union. The Manmohan Singh-Wen Jiabao summit in 2005 had more significant outcomes. India and China were able to conclude the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India China Boundary Question.
  • This document is important in that it conceded two very important principles from the Indian perspective.
  1. One, it accepted that prominent geographical features would be a basis for determining the border. For India this means the Himalayan watershed.
  2. Two, there was an acknowledgement that interests of “settled populations” must be taken into account while arriving at a border settlement. This was a code phrase for the status of Tawang which China claims.
  • During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in April 2005, the Chinese side shared official maps showing Sikkim in the same colour wash as the rest of India.

Guiding Principles

  • The two leaders, Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao, arrived at a consensus on four key points which would henceforth guide India-China relations:
  1. One, India is not a threat to China and China is not a threat to India;
  2. Two, there is enough room in Asia and the world for both a resurgent India and China;
  3. Three, India-China relations have now acquired a strategic and global dimension and their cooperation is critical to tackling a host of global challenges such as Climate Change; and
  4. Four, India and China should seek an early settlement of the border issue within this larger perspective so as to better work together on the strategic dimension of their relations.
  • In private conversations, Wen Jiabao also conveyed to his Indian counterpart that China welcomed a more active participation by India in the United Nations and was not opposed to India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

 Two different settings

  • This positive turn in relations had as its backdrop the deepening relationship between India and the United States and the prospect that these would be further cemented by the proposed India U.S. civil nuclear deal.
  • India was also emerging as a rapidly growing emerging economy registering GDP growth of 8-9% per annum and globalising its economy further through a slew of trade agreements. It was seen as the next China in terms of commercial and investment opportunities. It was anticipated that India would continue to narrow the gap in GDP terms with China given its faster rate of growth. The phrase, Chindia, reflected this perception. China recognised India’s convening power and leadership role among developing countries, whether on global trade, public health or climate change.
  • The setting for the second informal summit (October 11-12, 2019) between India and China at Mamallapuram, off Chennai, could not have been more different. India’s $3-trillion economy looks modest against China’s $14-trillion. India’s economy has been slowing and is now barely keeping up with China’s 6% growth rate.
  • China does have an interest in the Indian market where its companies have already emerged as major players in the mobile and smartphone market and in the fast expanding digital space — in particular, digital payments and social media.
  • India is the largest market for TikTok, the Chinese owned video sharing platform. India is critical to the global success of 5G, where China’s Huawei is the leader. This is one important leverage India has and it appears to have persuaded the Chinese to address India’s concerns over access to the Chinese market and on the yawning trade deficit. The agreement to set up a high-level ministerial mechanism to deliberate on this issue is an important take-away from the summit.
  • Summit and China’s strategy
  • Like the earlier Wuhan informal summit, Mamallapuram was more of a holding operation, aimed at keeping bilateral relations on an even keel in the aftermath of serious differences threatening to derail them. It was the Doklam stand-off which was defused by Wuhan; at Mamallapuram, “differences” over Jammu and Kashmir and over Indian military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh were prevented from becoming “disputes”.
  • Neither summit was expected to address or resolve any of the outstanding issues. But they conveyed the message that the leaders were keen to maintain high level and cordial engagement and dialogue, and project to the world that they are mature enough to manage differences.
  • China’s strategy towards India may be characterised as “neutralisation”, that is to inhibit India from pursuing policies inimical to Chinese interests even while accepting no constraint on its own policies which undermine India’s interests or are insensitive to India’s security concerns.
  • The calculated display of bonhomie and cordiality which accompany such summits do inhibit India from seeking stronger countervailing arrangements with other major powers which could constrain China. China displays no such restraint as was apparent during the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s India visit this month as well as Mr. Xi’s visit to Nepal soon after. This is the dynamic unleashed by the power asymmetry between the two countries. The Mamallapuram summit, while a useful and positive development, should not be over-interpreted.

Growth, foreign links are key

  • Given the reality of asymmetry, what are the options available to India? In the medium to long term, India can only tackle this asymmetry through a return to sustained and accelerated economic growth which alone can generate resources comparable to China’s. India must be seen as shrinking the power gap with China in order to enjoy credibility as a countervailing power.
  • This is the lesson to be drawn from the 2003-2007 experience, when despite the gap in their volumes of GDP, India was growing faster than China and expected to catch up with it or even surpass it. China treated India as a serious contender in geopolitical contention and was more sensitive to India’s concerns.
  • This phase began to fade after the global financial and economic crisis of 2007-08, from which China emerged as a more powerful and confident country. India needs to engage in careful and nuanced balancing, seeking closer partnerships with other major powers which share India’s concerns over the Chinese penchant for unilateral assertion of its new found power. The upgradation of the Quad, a consultative forum of India, Australia, Japan and the United States, to the ministerial level is a good move. Bringing in Australia into the annual ‘Malabar’ exercises should be a logical next step. This should be accompanied by a significant transfer of resources to the Indian Navy to enable India to retain its current edge in the Indian Ocean.
  • Safeguarding its immediate neighbourhood must be India’s primary foreign policy focus. And this must translate into more regular and high-level political engagement, a renewed and vigorous push for enhanced physical connectivity and economic integration and leveraging the size of India’s economy to become the engine of growth for the entire subcontinent. The perennial problem of poor delivery on projects should no longer be tolerated.
  • India is the only country which has the potential to match China in comprehensive national power. Realising this potential requires making difficult choices. The current political leadership has the ability to mobilise national opinion to make sacrifices today which may enable a more hopeful future. If India does not wish to live in a China-dominated global order, it must make the difficult choices now.

Confidence building measure

  • It was in 1972 that the LoC between India and Pakistan was thought of as a part of the Shimla Agreement. Though the LoC was almost always an issue of contention, it was 33 years later that the two governments decided to take a giant leap. On April 7, 2005, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged the first cross-LoC bus, called ‘Karwaan-e-Aman’, from the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar towards Muzaffarabad. This Confidence Building Measure (CBM) came as a humanitarian reform reuniting divided families and friends.
  • In 2008, a significant year, the two governments decided to further exploit the potential of existing transport routes by establishing trade. In May that year, the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan decided to finalise the modalities of intra-Kashmir trade and truck service. Cross-LoC trade, following barter system, thus began in October that year, across Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot, for a list of 21 mutually agreed tradeable items. Given the underlying conditions, trade was seen as a ray of hope to establishing peace. This measure was aimed at converting social interconnectedness into commercial interdependence of the two similar yet separate sides of the LoC, rightfully presuming that trade would flourish on the basis of the emotional capital of the people living on either side. The LoC gave rise to hope in the virtuous cycle between trade, trust and people-to-people connect.
  • Cross-LoC trade would have failed in its infancy had it not been for the sentiments of the people attached to it. It was much more than a mere commodity exchange. The whole concept of exchange across this border was not coined as isolated economic activity but, instead, to open a new chapter of building bridges and (re)connecting communities. And cross-LoC trade did manage to connect the two divided sides of Jammu and Kashmir, thereby creating a constituency of peace in an otherwise tense region.

 Steps for a revival

  • Given the present situation in J&K, it is imperative that India plans an outreach connecting all stakeholders from across the spectrum including the ecosystem of cross-LoC trade. However, there is need for a revised strategy towards re-initiation of cross-LoC trade. Concerns around transparency have negatively impacted this trade over the last decade. The lack of transparency needs to be addressed in the complete ecosystem which includes the standard operating procedure, invoicing, Goods and Services Tax (GST) norms, and trader registration. Other steps such as clarifications on harmonised system codes to avoid misrepresentation of commodities, rules of origin to avoid third country goods, GST rates and inter-State taxation rules to avoid tax evasions, and a trader registration policy to ensure credible traders are involved in this trade, are needed to address long-standing concerns around cross-LoC trade.
  • Digitisation of systems and procedures at the trade facilitation centres at Uri and Poonch is another important step to help take LoC trade to the next level. Globally, when we look at trade facilitation — international as well as domestic — digitisation of procedures and lower human intervention are the two major pillars that drive trade across borders. And today, more than ever before, there is increasing focus on improving India’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking. Hence, similar steps are needed with respect to cross-LoC trade. Digital platforms to monitor invoicing, traders’ records, balancing and truck details will ensure real time checks by the authorities, leaving lesser room for misuse.
  • The current suspension of LoC trade could be seen as a window of opportunity to address these issues and revive this trade in a stronger and more organised manner.
  • As talks begin for a revival of normalcy in J&K, strengthened and more transparent cross-LoC trade mechanisms could be put on the table as a part of the economic package. Cross-LoC trade in its new avatar could continue to prove the value of a peace-through-trade policy, and one that has stood the test of time globally.