India and The World

India and the World : Editorial Review

Since the end of the Cold War, India has deliberately taken a low profile in the international arena.
Reasons :

  • India’s foreign policy after the demise of Soviet Union and  end of Cold War.
  • Shambolic state of Indian economy after 1990 economic crisis .
  • Limited focus on narrowly defined self-interest
  • Continuing defensiveness on economic globalization.
  • Delhi was following advice that Deng Xiaoping gave China as it entered the era of reform and opening up at the end of 1970s to “keep a cool head, maintain a low profile and avoid taking the lead”.

Why should Delhi be more proactive?

  • India is today the seventh largest economy in nominal terms and the third in purchasing power parity . 40% of India’s GDP is linked to global trade.
  • Expectation that  we will take larger responsibilities to facilitate global economic revival and strengthen regional economic integration being world’s fastest growing economy,
  • Growing Demand That we Make More Contributions To The Maintenance Of Regional Order In Asia.
  • The traditional balance of power in the Eurasian landmass is being shaken by the assertiveness of Russia, the rise of China, the emerging American temptation for retrenchment, the chaos in Europe and the turmoil in the Middle East.

What lessons have been learnt from China?

Almost four decades after Deng’s reforms, China no longer maintains a low profile & is taking the lead in building new regional institutions and pressing for a reform of the global power structure. The idea of India as a leading power is probably the beginning of a similar phase in India’s international evolution.

What advantages does India have?

Unlike China’s assertiveness, the rise of a democratic India, with internal checks and balances, is viewed as a benign development

What have we been upto?

  • PM Modi’s central contribution to the conduct of the nation’s external relations has been the imagination of India as a “leading power” in the international system.
  • More proactive approach on global issues.
  • India moving away from being a reactive power to one that shapes regional and international outcomes. .

Practical outcome :

India’s efforts in the climate change summit at Paris last December and promote regional cooperation in the subcontinent.

The Way forward :

  • India must revert to ambitious foreign policy principles.
  • Modernizing its internal political and economic structures
  • International leadership is vital for India to accelerate its internal economic development and improve its national security environment.
  • Responding to the interconnected policy imperatives at home and abroad.

Hence, Delhi no longer has the luxury of thumbing its nose at the world. It must necessarily shape the world around it.
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India US Relations : An Analysis

India US Relations

India US Relations | Irritants

US Pakistan policy

  • Both aims at advancing regional security
  • US military aid to Pakistan in contravention of Kerry-Lugar legislation requiring Pakistan to act verifiably against terrorist groups on its soil to receive US aid.

Taliban

  • US does not consider Taliban as a terrorist organization.
  • US is engaged in an effort to accommodate Taliban politically in Afghanistan in a Pakistan-brokered deal, which is a risk to India’s security.
    • Test for counter-terrorism partnership between two.

 UNSC Reforms

US has not clearly defined position on expansion of UNSC.

Four export control regimes

India has been declared ready for Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as well as Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) membership; so far no tangible progress has occurred.

Indo-US Nuclear Deal

With India ratifying Convention on Supplementary Compensation, an international nuclear liability regime governed by IAEA, supply of six Westinghouse nuclear reactors to India seems plausible.


India US Relations | Economic Spikes

Totaliser agreement

NRIs staying in USA pay taxes but do not get requisite Social Security benefits.

WTO issues

Solar Wars (anti dumping), Disagreement on subsidies

IPR related issues

India continues to be under US Trade Representatives scanner for not complying with their Intellectual property Rights regime.


India US Relations | Strength with a rider

  • Apart from Defense Framework Agreement, US has become a large supplier of defense equipment to India.
  • Largest number of Indian joint military exercises are with US.
  • Less than expected progress in defense manufacturing under Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

India US Relations | The China Angle

  • India has longstanding disputes with China.
  • 2015 US-India Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region specifically addresses maritime territorial disputes involving China and, among other things, affirmed importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and freedom of air throughout region, especially in South China Sea.
  • US trade and financial relations with China are vast; India too seeks stable and economically productive ties with China.

Task ahead

  • Managing China threat by both engaging closely with US and reaching out to China.
  • Credibility of US rebalance to Asia and Pacific is yet to be tested.

India US Relations | Indo-Pacific Region

  • India-US to include Japan in bilateral India-US Malabar naval exercises.
  • Trilateral India-US-Japan political dialogue raised from official to Ministerial level.
  • India’s problems with China related to border disputes and China’s deepening relationship with Pakistan.
  • In both cases, India cannot count on US to take a position supportive of India.
  • Limit of strategic partnership – falls short of supporting India’s territorial sovereignty.

India US Relations | Economic Relations
Mixed progress

  • US businesses reluctant to invest in India – India not delivering on promises to ease doing business including taxation issues and general economic reforms.
  • IT sector brought knowledge economies of India and US closer but US is targeting this sector with higher visa costs and increased restrictions.

India US Relations | Future perspective
Collaborative economic agenda should include

  • Co-production and co-development of defense products under Make in India program,
  • Coal gasification technologies,
  • Issuance of a non-FTA country waiver for India to gain access to US fossil fuel reserves.
  • Partnerships in agricultural technology, civil aviation sector, life sciences, infrastructure financing and green financing.
  • NASA and ISRO joint projects/collaborations beyond NISAR, Mars Working Group and Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

Bilateral dialogues should address

  • Visa issues in IT/ITES (i.e. outsourcing services) sectors,
  • Focus on exporting synergies in biotech and pharmaceutical sectors,
  • Means to support university and other skill development exchanges.

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India – France Relations

India – France Relations | Strategic Partnership

Share same political vision:

  1. Deeply attached to national sovereignty and strategic autonomy.
  2. Want peace and security in world, as enshrined in UN Charter.
  3. Two countries consult each other on all major international issues.
  4. Spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust, and even support, by taking into account security interests.

Share numerous common values:

  1. Democracy, rule of law, individual freedom, respect of fundamental rights and human rights.
  2. Two countries are moving forward together in intense cooperation in sensitive areas, such as defence, civilian nuclear energy, space, security and counter-terrorism.

India – France | Defence & National Security Stratergy
Two imperatives of sovereignty had to be reconciled:

  1. Strategic autonomy and
  2. Financial sovereignty.

• National sovereignty depends on State’s autonomy of assessment, decision-making and action.
• This does not imply isolation or unilateralism.
• It is just the reverse.
• Intent to cooperate for world’s security.
• Respect for international law.
• Deterrence capacity protects from all State-led aggressions or threats against vital interests.
• It thus guarantees autonomy of action and decision-making, particularly countering blackmail attempts against vital interests.
• It is strictly defensive and its use would be conceivable only in extreme circumstances of legitimate defence.
• It is ultimate guarantee of security, protection and independence.
• It also contributes to security of Allies.
• Nuclear deterrence applies principle of strict sufficiency, and not participation in a nuclear arms race.
• Over and above the capabilities that we devote to constant protection of our territory, we are ready to be engaged in stabilization and crisis management missions in all their diversity.

India – France Relations | Priorities

Cyber defence:

  • Endowing ourselves with technical intelligence capabilities in this field to identify source of attacks, assess offensive capacities of potential adversaries, and be capable of countering them.
  • These capabilities for identification and offensive action are essential for counterattacks.
  • Earmarking considerable funds, with organisation of cyber defence integrated with armed forces, along with offensive and defensive capacities to prepare for and support military operations.

Intelligence:

  • Knowing and anticipating is a must for assessing situations for ourselves and taking informed decisions.
  • Develop space capabilities, whether national or shared, with regard to signals intelligence and imaging.
  • They should serve not only for preparation and conduct of military operations, but also for deterrence, as well as when confronted with ballistic threat, which necessitates early warning capabilities.
  • In background, we are, of course, reaffirming our industrial ambition.
  • It is an integral part of our strategic autonomy.
  • Priority in this area for decade to come will therefore be research and development.
  • It will also be competitiveness and strengthening of our industrial and technological base.
  • Equipping and modernizing our armed forces will contribute to this goal.
  • For this, technological monitoring and funding upstream studies are strategic.
  • Exports, of course, are an important aspect of this industrial strategy.

India – France Relations | Threats

  • Geography and history are such that India and France do not share same security contexts.
  • But globalization, technological progress, cross-cutting nature of current or impending threats are such that today we are more exposed to threats that are similar on several counts.
  • Further, Asia today is one of the most dynamic regions of world.
  • Its stability and growth have become essential to prosperity of Western economies.
  • Major French industrial groups have massively invested in Asia, especially India, where 350 companies hold a total investment stock of 18 billion dollars, accumulated over a few years.
  • This trend will continue.
  • Stability and security of one thus guarantee the same for the other.
  • But security and stability are not assured.
  • Structures of collective security are yet to attain maturity.

Three Major Types of Threats

Threat of strength:

  1. They are always present and assume new forms.
  2. Resurgence of conflicts between States remains plausible.
  3. In this regard, some States pursue a power policy, and their growing defence budgets are a good indicator.
  4. In Middle East region, currently undergoing great upheaval, there is a threat to stability and security of Gulf, and therefore for those of all countries depending on fossil fuel from this region.
  5. Most threatened States may use force to prevent this dangerous development, paving way for possibility of a large-scale crisis.
  6. Others will be tempted to embark on a nuclear arms guarantee race, which would trigger a grave proliferation crisis.
  7. France has entered into defence treaties with several Arab States of Gulf and established a permanent military base in Abu Dhabi with land, naval and air forces.
  8. It will fully contribute to the security of the Gulf if this region were threatened.
  9. India has major interests in Gulf and can play a very important role in this regard.

Threats of weakness of States:

  1. Some failing States can no longer discharge their responsibilities.
  2. This becomes a strategic phenomenon of a new magnitude.
  3. It is clear that terrorism becomes its first beneficiary.
  4. This is true of Africa.
  5. This would reinforce international terrorist network from West Africa to South Asia.
  6. High risks exist in other countries of Sahel region and entire geographic axis that runs from Pakistan to North Atlantic.
  7. This also holds for South Asia; especially Af-Pak region.

Threats linked to globalization: Cyber attacks and piracy attacks global commons.
These are the two extremities of spectrum:

  1. On one hand, criminal networks and powerful States controlling technologies that, in their hands, constitute threats for whole world.
  2. On the other, groups using rudimentary but effective means, which threaten, for example, security of sea routes that are essential for global economy.
  3. France and India are cooperating positively in this matter.

Security of cyberspace:

  1. Our States, our societies, our economies are today largely alive due to digital infrastructure.
  2. Often ill-protected, they are targets of hacking for spying purposes.
  3. Even more serious is the fact that these attacks now aim to destroy or manipulate through remote control.
  4. Infrastructure that is vital for functioning of our societies and our States – even that of weapons systems – can be targeted.
  5. States and criminal networks are behind these attacks.
  6. Cyberspace is now a full-fledged battleground.
  7. Information is methodically collected to make large-scale attacks possible in a situation of conflict.
  8. Attacks could paralyze entire sectors of a country’s activity or economy and lead to a disaster.
  9. Such attacks could hence constitute real acts of war.
  10. We must protect ourselves and be prepared to identify assailants and respond to them.
  11. Cooperation between close countries that share same values in this matter is necessary.
  12. New Indo-French dialogue on cyber security.

India – France Relations | Defence co-operation for Strategic Autonomy

  1. India’s economic emergence, and privileged bilateral relation, enshrined in strategic partnership established in 1998 enables us to cooperate in areas that involve major interests of two countries.
  2. In South Asian region, India appears as a factor of stability.
  3. France supports reform of UNSC that would make room for new permanent members, which would include India.
  4. Defence relations between two countries go well beyond 1998 strategic partnership, even if it constitutes current framework of defence relations, along with 2006 defence agreement.
  5. French soldiers in India shared their know-how, and fought alongside Indian princes, among others, against British in 18th and early 19th centuries. (Tipu Sultan, Scindias of Gwalior and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.)
  6. During World War I, thousands of Indian soldiers came to fight on European battlegrounds, particularly on French soil, for France’s freedom. On occasion of anniversary of War’s outbreak, France paid special tribute to these Indian soldiers in 2014.
  7. Since India’s independence, our defence cooperation took a new dimension.
  8. France was among first defence partners for both army and air force.
  9. In 1953 Dassault signed its maiden agreement with India for supplying Toofan/Ouragan aircraft.
  10. Today, we are pursuing a protean military cooperation.
  11. Its ambition is even greater as our mutual trust is very high, and we are two nations that wish to preserve their strategic autonomy while simultaneously desiring peace.
  12. Together, we regularly conduct land (Shakti), naval (Varuna), and air joint exercises (Garuda).
  13. Year after year, with exchange of officers between our military academies, our armed forces are learning to know each other, working in tandem, exchanging their skills.
  14. Exercises have become more substantive.
  15. A major aero-naval exercise be conducted in Indian Ocean, with nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and ships that Indian Navy would like to deploy.
  16. Industrial and technological cooperation are on right path.
  17. DCNS company is building six Scorpene submarines at Mazagaon Docks shipyard (MDL) in Mumbai, with complete transfer of technology and extremely important cooperation with Indian industry.
  18. French manufacturers are also working on upgrading Mirage 2000 fleet that India acquired in 1980.
  19. MMRCA project is priority.
  20. Beyond aircraft, an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation that has been commenced will be pursued between two countries.
  21. Another important project is SRSAM, a short-range missiles system that we are developing together between DRDO and the French company, MBDA.
  22. MMRCA, like SRSAM, show that our defence relation is soaring.
  23. It is in same spirit of co-development in which we take up other projects in India, at more or less advanced stages, be they light helicopters, artillery, PCS, submarines or other types or missiles.

To sum up, underlying principles of this defence cooperation can be defined as follows:

  • France and India have embarked on a long-termed partnership, which is strategic in nature.
  • Our defence dialogue between our armed forces are held – like strategic dialogue – in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust and support, taking into consideration our respective interests.
  • We have gone beyond client-supplier relation.
  • Our cooperation projects should further improve our respective industrial and technological bases in defence sector and contribute to strengthening security of both our countries.
  • In this perspective, France is prepared to initiate joint co-development and co-production projects, which once we decide on together, would include, in future, exporting equipment produced in third country markets.
  • Similarly, France is ready to share an increasing level of defence technology, in connection with development of joint projects.
  • In same logic of partnership, France assures India of continuity of supplies for acquired equipment.
  • Complying with our laws and national interests, we are prepared, when time comes, to encourage investments in defence sector, which companies concerned may desire to make.
  • France encourages India to come closer to international export control regimes, such as MTCR for missiles and Wassenaar Arrangement for Conventional Arms, with a view to adhering to these.
  • Strategic autonomy is at core of our defence policies and our diplomacies.

Iran Sanctions Lifted : Impact on India and World

The historic deal between P5 + 1 Nations and Iran has marked the beginning of gradually ending of the embargo which isolated Iran since its Islamic Revolution 35 years ago. Iran’s Sanctions which crippled it’s international market access and economy, once removed will unfetter its economy and potential unblocked.

Along with opening new horizons for Iran’s development the deal has the following implications for the world:

  1. Iran unleashing it’s oil in international market which is already over-whelmed will lead to even more cheaper oil. Oil dependent economies like Venezuela will face axe of oil prices
  2. Iran’s re-entry into the world financial system and its assets unfrozen will reinvigorate it’s related economies too with international trade on various fronts
  3. It can in future provide an alternate market to economically strapped Russia
  4. In the current political scenario it will give boost to US President Obama’s ratings back home as threat of the Islamic State (IS) looms large and Iran can serve as an important stabilizing force in the region to check IS’s advance
  5. Iran’s increased global presence will positively impact Syrian peace talks which are soon to be held

The repercussions of the deal for India are more positive ones but it carries some negative consequences with it too.

impact on india iran sanctions liftedIndia is world’s 4th largest oil importer and most of Indian oil refineries are designed for sweet crude oil found in Iran. The stagnation faced by India after 1979 will now be removed and Indian Oil refineries can harness their full potential. But too low prices due to increased availability can cause deflationary spiral in our markets which must be taken care of. Strategic oil reserves can be created to curb low pricing by imposing more excise, which will result into more profits for OMCs and thus easier migration to ‘Bharat 6’ emission standards.

American banking system still cannot be used in Iran which opens new opportunities for Indian Banking Sector there. It will further cut the cost of bilateral trade, business and retail transactions. Easing up of bilateral trade opens new prospects of an overseas market for Indian goods and services, further giving push to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ programmes.

The positive implications extend to strategic and political scenarios too. The ‘Chah-Bahar’ port gives us an access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The IPI pipeline may also start making progress serving dual benefits of energy, security and strategic ties for India.

But while nurturing relationships with Iran, India will have to be very vigil as it can adversely affect it’s ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Moreover the advantages will take some time to materialize and sanctions have only been suspended not terminated and investments still carry a risk factor.

On the whole, the deal might be considered as a step towards checking proliferation of nuclear weapons and thus towards global peace but the fact that the rights taken away from Iran are given to most of other NPT nations, is a beacon to strengthen third world solidarity too.

To listen to full debate on click below

Crop Insurance Scheme In Detail | Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna

Crop Insurance Scheme has been introduced by the central government after two successive drought years, under the name Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY). This is being represented as a Panacea to solve multitude of farmer’s issues and rejuvenating confidence in Indian agriculture sector.

The Crop Insurance Scheme PMFBY is the next step in enabling more farmers to avail insurance cover against crop loss on account of natural calamities, after the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme introduced by Mr. Chaturanan  Mishra in 1995. The design of the Crop Insurance Scheme includes reducing the horticulture premium from 25% to 5%, from 15% to 2% for Kharif crops and from 15 to 1.5% for Rabi crops, which has significantly reduced the farmer’s burden. The bottom-up approach of the Crop Insurance Scheme and widening of the term “disaster” will benefit the farmers by widening the protective base. The farmers will get full sum claims in a time bound manner which will prevent delays and worsening farmer’s distress. Along with these policy measures the use of modern techniques i.e. smart phones to access the real time damage is a laudable move which will help disbursement on time.

Crop Insurance Scheme (Criticism)

Despite presenting the scheme as a game changer union government is also getting criticism from various quarters due to huge dependence on private insurers rather than lending direct helping hand. Putting the fate of already distressed sector in private hands is supposed to pose challenges. As the problems with every scheme starts at implementation level and so is it with PMFBY. Another major issue is that the crops stored post harvest; under cold storage have not been covered under this, which is a major issue for farmers these days. Another implementation issue which might arise is the apathy on part of state governments who have to bear 50% of the cost of scheme but were not taken on board while formulating it.

To make the scheme beneficial for farmers at ground level, first step that is needed to be taken is creating awareness.

Till date only 23% of crops have been insured and majority of marginal farmers in villages don’t either have the confidence nor are they aware about the steps being taken. Cooperatives and Non-governmental organizations should be included in processes for creating awareness. To tackle bureaucratic apathy, rather than relying on manual reports solely, satellite reporting in real time manners will improve transparency and efficiency of the system.

Thus the PMFBY is a laudable step taken by government which can become a game changer with transparency and inclusive approach with which it will reform the most vulnerable part of Indian Agrarian sector.

To listen to the full debate on Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna @ RSTV

UPSC Mains – GS Paper 2 – 2015

UPSC MAINS – GS 2

UPSC Mains 3rd paper (GS 2) was conducted today. Below are the Questions which were asked by UPSC in the General Studies Paper 2

UPSC Instructions : All questions carry equal marks. Answer the questions in not more than 200 words. Each Question is 12.5 Marks

  1. Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for it’s citizens a Uniform Civil Code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy
  2. The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasing emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings
  3. In absence of a well educated and organised Local level government system, ‘Panchayats’ and ‘Samitis’ have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instruments of governance. Critically discuss
  4. Khap Panchayats have been in the news for functioning as extra-constitutional authorities, often delivering pronouncements amounting to human rights violations. Discuss critically the actions taken by the legislative, executive and Judiciary to set the things right in this regard
  5. Restoring to ordinances has always raised concern on violation of the spirit of separation of powers doctrine. While noting the rationales justifying the power to promulgate ordinances, analyse whether the decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue have further facilitated resorting to this power. Should the power to promulgate ordinances be repealed?
  6. What are the major changes brought in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 through the recent Ordinance promulgated by the president? How far will it improve India’s dispute resolution mechanism? Discuss
  7. Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulations on burning crackers during Diwali? Discuss in the light of Article 21 of Indian Constitution and judgement(s) of the Apex court in this regard
  8. Examine critically the recent changes in the rules governing foreign funding of NGOs under the foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 1976
  9. The Self-Help group (SHG) Bank Linkage Programme (SBLP) which is India’s own innovation, has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programmes. Elucidate
  10. How can the role of NGOs be strengthened in India for development works relating to protection of the environment? Discus throwing light on the major constraints
  11. The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss
  12. Public Health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What are the viable alternatives would you suggest?
  13. Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicated reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators
  14. In the light of the Satyam Scandal (2009), discuss the changes brought in corporate governance to ensure transparency, accountability
  15. “If Amendment Bill to the Whistleblowers Act 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect”. Critically evaluate
  16. “For achieving the desired objectives, it is necessary to ensure that the regulatory Institutions remain independent and autonomous”. Discuss in the light of the experiences in recent past.
  17. Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine
  18. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council.
  19. Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with neighbours. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss
  20. Terrorist activities and mutual distrust have clouded India-Pakistan relations. To what extent the use of soft power like sports and cultural exchanges could help generate goodwill between the two countries? Discuss with suitable examples

The above are the questions which were asked in the UPSC Mains examination today. We suggest that in your preparation for the UPSC Mains you all make your answers and post them in the comments section below. We will be posting the model answers for the UPSC Mains question in the coming days.

To download the Exam paper : Click Here (pdf) – Direct Link

Judiciary – Reaching Out or Over-reaching

Judiciary – In the mix

JudiciaryIn a significant remark on judiciary’s intervention in CBI investigations, a parliamentary committee stated that the Supreme Court and High Court have started performing the functions of the lowest rung of criminal justice system, taking over the role of a magistrate. This observation has come at a time when all the high profile cases like 2G scam , Sharda scam etc are big ticket CBI cases, being either regularly heard or monitored by the Supreme Court.

So the big question is the whether the judiciary is over stepping its basic function ?

The most important lineup is “What compelled the committee to  make such observations and under what circumstances”?

A senior committee member says that in India on one hand there is a need for fair investigation against high and mighty; on the other hand this system of monitoring brings in certain problems as well. It tends to infringe on the right of trial of the accused.  For e.g., if the apex courts starts monitoring a case under trial; then how can one expect the magistrate or other trial judge to maintain complete independence . Hence under the pressure of apex courts; the judiciary, somewhere down the line, fails  to give the presumption of innocence to the accused to which he is entitled by the constitution. Hence rather than rectifying the same system there is a need  to find an institutional   answer to this issue.

Parliamentary committee after studying the pros and cons of the system have come up with an institutional solution to the issue. As per the committee LOKPAL seems to be the answer for all these issues in hand. Lokpal should monitor investigations without influencing the trials and in accordance  with the fundamental principles of jurisprudence that you are presumed to be innocent till you are proven to be guilty.

The committee backs up their claim with a case study from USA. They have a different kind of approach to solve these issues i.e Independent Council Act. For eg when Bill Clinton was charged with certain kind of allegations, federal court appointed independent council; who became in-charge of the investigation as well as prosecution with requisite funds for the purpose of investigation. The case was resolved within 10 days as the council was allowed to use it’s own methods to prove it’s side of the story and without any monitoring. Hence; proving the need for the existence of an independent institution for the same in India  for faster and accurate  case trials.

A senior judge of High Court justifies Judicial System by saying that Indian constitutional arrangement as of now allows Supreme Court to monitor such probes because there is no other apex agency to do the same as per the constitution. He also mentions that how successful these probes have been after the Supreme Court intervention. (e.g. all the high profile cases like 2G scam, coal gate could only see light of the day because of Supreme Court intervening the cases) He further states that  monitoring such cases is the statutory power given to the apex court by the constitution and it cannot be abridged away. The Judge suggested that daily monitoring should be checked so that the courts can devote time to other pending cases.

Though both the sides seems to be accurate from their own point of view; there is one more paradigm which needs immediate attention:

What makes a court intervene a probe, when this should be the core responsibility of the executive.

na769ej1jvq8ua854spnThis situation has arisen because it has been found that investigations have been interfered by the political classes (the high and mighty of Indian executive system) either directly or indirectly by influencing the police system in the country. Thus arises the need of an independent  agency like Lokpal to relinquish the role of all the unwanted actors in the system.

Committee also takes a stand for Lokpal by suggesting that high profile cases, partisan investigations are regular facets of criminal law. (Will SC start taking the role of police station as well?) If SC is police station; and the charge sheet is first approved by the SC; fate of those accused remains uncertain? Thereby solidifying their claim for Lokpal.

Lokpal should have its  own investigation wing,  then the need for monitoring by SC will not be so extensive. Also, since courts are overburdened these days they should delegate some of its non-core functions to an independent and reliable institution like the Lokpal.

Though Lokpal seems to be the savior in such a situation but is the authenticity of Lokpal guaranteed in every circumstance? It cannot be denied that appointment of Lokpal is controlled by the political class directly or indirectly by the Lokpal Act. Hence first of all there is a need to be more transparent in the appointment of Lokpal. Also, for the genuine functioning of the Lokpal it should be vested with certain important powers, e.g all the investigating agencies like CBI and CVC should come under their ambit  to give the office more credibility and power.

Here lies the ultimate question that  in a country like India which stands second in population graph of the world; do the agencies have enough resources to cater all the citizens individually and then again have overlapping functions creating more hassles in the judicial system.

The answer lies in the discussion there in; an independent and strong Lokpal should be the first step, and as it proceeds; with the analysis of its pros and cons we should come up with a stringent framework for monitoring all the probes.

But in a country like India where constitution is supreme, nothing can abridge the power of SC to monitor cases . All we need is the perfect balance between legislature, executive and judiciary; so that judiciary should only bird watch the cases and rest shall be done by appropriate agencies.

To listen to this in the Debate : Click below

To read more articles on Judicial Activism : Click Here

India – Japan Relations

India – Japan 

India – Japan relations have taken a new turn with the Japan visiting India this month. This is what the Head of the Delegation and the host India had to say about each other.

No partner has played such a decisive role in India’s economic transformation as Japan. No friend will matter more in realizing India’s economic dreams than Japan.”….Modi

“Strong India is good for Japan and a strong Japan is good for India”…. Abe

Shinzo Abe’s India visit came in less than two years of Japanese Emperor’s visit in 2013- highlighting the importance that India – Japan relations and what it means to India.

Context: Very strategic – Both India and Japan face severe challenges from China, which makes India – Japan relations a high priority to both the countries

  • India-China boundary dispute and Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute in East China Sea
  • Heightened maritime challenges at South China Sea (China’s land reclamation activities) and Indian Ocean Region (String of Pearls, China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative).

To counter-balance growing China: Pledge to uphold

  • Sovereignty and territorial integrity;
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes;
  • Democracy, human rights and rule of law;
  • Open global trade regime; and
  • Freedom of navigation and over flight.

Significance Diversification from Economic centric to defence and security ties:

Economics:

  • $15 billion high-speed Japanese Shinkansen bullet train deal connecting Mumbai- Ahmadabad – Japan offers $12 billion soft loan at 0.1 per cent interest rate with repayment over 50 years and 15 years moratorium. (Indian bid: Japan ousted China)
  • “Make in India”: Japan pledged $12 billion to fund the initiative and build industrial townships in India strengthening the India – Japan relations
  • Collaboration for Smart City Projects

Civil-nuclear energy agreement:

  • Boost India’s economic growth as this will quadruple India’s present 5,000 megawatts of nuclear power to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 – satisfying energy demands for economic outgrowth.

Defence and security ties:

  • Japan now an official partner in India-US Malabar Exercises (To counter maritime challenges in Indo-Pacific and countering China’s increasing unilateral moves in South China Sea, an important Sea lane of Communication (SLOC) along the Straits of Malacca).
  • Transfer of defence equipment and technology and exchange of other security measures for protection of classified military information (strengthening strategic ties further).
  • Moreover, collaboration in fields of infrastructure, manufacturing and high technology, including advanced transportation systems, solar power generation, space, biotechnology, rare earths and advanced materials are other highlights of the India – Japan relations

Cultural quotient:

  • Ganga Arti at Varanasi
  • Spiritual connect that India – Japan envisage over Buddhism

OVER-VIEW OF GROWING PARTNERSHIP

  • From bilateral to qualitative: Vajpayee – Koizumi Agreement (2001) on “India – Japan Global Partnership”- aiming at meeting global challenges.
  • “Special Strategic Global Partnership” in 2014 between India – Japan
  • A new high of “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” in 2015.

To read the news story about India – Japan relations : Click Here

 

India's Foreign Policy : Priorities and Challenges

India’s Foreign Policy is formulated keeping in mind the safeguards and national interest first; along with the economic development of the country as a parallel process. Though based on traditional ethics India’s foreign policy is not rigid, rather it works with proactive approach and hence has shifted its cornerstone from non-alignment of post independence to “inclusive growth” in the present time; after witnessing continuous challenges at different instances.

Recalibrating India’s foreign policy the present government focused on basic five changes:-

  1. Certainty to economic and traditional development
  2. National as well as military power
  3. Stress on power but efficient actions
  4. Reduction in self imposed constraints
  5. Orientation of the policies to increase the Diaspora in the world

Above changes have been made in the foreign policy taking in consideration the changing geo-political environment of the world, shifting of power in Asia-Pacific, restriction on unilateralism and competitive prospective

Priorities:

  1. Neighbourhood: – Taking a look at last one year of Government policies indications are that the consolidation of neighborhood is a priority since it involves many cautions and sensitivities. Prime Minister’s recent visits to Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal has shown this vision of prioritising nation for mutuality, economic growth, tourism, soft power and people contact with neighbouring countries. (Strong stand can be there if required)
  2. Strategic Partnership:- Japan, US and Russia are among the Global strategic partners. Japan and India the two largest democracies shares common interest and Japan has emerged as an investment source. Russia though affected by the closeness of India-US relations continues to be a strategic partner. It is starting new joint production of various equipments in India, but now it’s not the main supplier of defence equipments. Indo-US relations have grown significantly with the convergence of interest and occurred as a partner in economic, technological and security perspective.
  3. Co-operation and competition:- Pakistan and China both work out as cooperative and competitive neighbours for India and finally India has accepted this fact. India’s policy focuses on development with or without Pakistan but not as it’s anti-hostage but giving competition to it. Also China is a major economy in the world and India needs to co-operate with it but to complete as well as in the distributed matters

Challenges faced by the Government

  1. Complexity due to intensified engagement with major and emerging powers
  2. Volatility in relations due to uncertainty in dealing with two Anti-nations
  3. Challenge to sustain the energized economic and development diplomacy
  4. To develop the domestic policy as to counterpart to foreign policy
  5. Check the short and long-term outcomes of policy

Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

UNIFORM CIVIL CODE : WHATS THE BLUEPRINT?

123Uniform civil code in India is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen. These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.

The issue has come into limelight as the Union law Minister has stated that NDA govt will start consultation to evolve a uniform civil code. The reason being that BJP in it’s manifesto had pledged for Uniform civil code.

In general, whenever the discussion to implement it comes up it should be about having a uniform set of laws for all the citizens but the discussion usually deviates from its original course because of two issues.

  1. Majority population in India is Hindu , therefore the dilemma that whether a Uniform Civil Code would mean imposing Hindu code on everybody or amending the personal code of all religions.
  2. India is a country of diverse cultures and religions. But it is seen more as Hindu Muslim issue (these two being most dominated communities) . All other religions are usually ignored. for eg. Certain laws like Hindu marriage act does not govern Hindu-Jain or Sikh-Hindu marriage issues. Therefore Uniform Civil Code shall a go long way in addressing all the other religions.

Historically, In 1946 it was discussed in length and the house of the day rejected it and decided to put it under the DPSPs. No serious attempt has been made so far to make a Uniform Civil Code for the country. Shah Bano case had the door opened and then closed. Shah Bano case sidelined personal law over common good .
On one hand there is a need of Uniform Civil Code for the country whereas on the other it cannot be denied that since independence we have been living with diverse cultures and different legal set-ups for different religions. There are various issues in every personal law. For example Christian laws are the legacy of the British i.e. Portuguese colonial civil code. Therefore every personal law including Hindu law needs internal reforms.
One more important paradigm is that; it would be a women’s dominated case as the various acts and laws (e.g. Hindu act, Muslim act, Parsi marriage act) ; suffer gender related issues . From divorce to separation to inheritance, there should not be any discrimination i.e. Uniform civil code should include article 14, 15 (laws related to equality)  . Hence broad based approach has to be adopted while designing the draft of the code.
Therefore it should be a Consensual civil code adopted by Consulting all stakeholders. Since as per article 44 it is the responsibility of the state; it requires a parliamentary discussion as Parliament represents collective will of the country.
But there are certain issues on global level that have to be dealt with. For eg. Muslim marriage laws abide Holy kuran world over. Therefore it would be absurd to get it under Hindu marriage act. Hence such decisions will have to be rhetoric and acceptable categorically.
Finally there could be two approaches to the whole issue:

  1. It could be dealt with in a way, that it is the Internal matter of all the communities. Since there are different personal laws to different religions; every law as per the respective religion could be reformed internally; or
  2. We should have a contemporary approach that as the country moves on, so does the constitution. As it is open to amendments and not closed, we should have a “Non partisan all religion committee” which should come up with the code . But since Article 44 of the Directive Principles in India sets its implementation as duty of the State. Therefore a broad consultative mechanism has to be developed by the state. Also the motives have to be social and not political.

Finally there is a thin line between Uniform civil code being divisive and not unifying; therefore all India needs now is a concrete code (blue print) depending on the rhetoric consensus of all.

To know more on this listen to the debate on Uniform Civil Code below :

This is a news article from The Indian Express which talks a bit more on the topic of UCC : There’s total confusion, why can’t it be done, SC asks govt