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[ Day 25 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2022 – International Relations & Ethics

 

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


International Relations


Q1. Discuss the significance of BIMSTEC for India. Examine what the grouping can learn from the constraints and failures of SAARC. 10M

Introduction

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) constitutes a contiguous regional unity of 7 member states lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal. This came into being on 6th June 1997 through the Bangkok declaration

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Fig: Member countries of BIMSTEC

 

Significance of BIMSTEC

  1. Geographical importance:
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute roughly 22% of the global population.
  • It is a gateway block for India’s “Act East Policy”
  1. Economic importance:
  • They have a combined GDP of close to $2.7 trillion.
  • The Bay of Bengal is the route for about 25% of global trade.
  • It gives the necessary push India’s goal for $5 Trillion economy as one-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay every year.
  1. Maritime Security:
  • Provide comprehensive solutionfor its maritime security, as diplomatic engagement with littoral nations, will help nations in curbing the problems of :
    • Piracy and Trafficking of Drugs and Weapons
    • Illegal fishing, irregular migration etc.
  1. Connectivity:
  • Around 45 million people,who live in landlocked Northeastern states, will have the opportunity to connect via the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Crucial for the development of India’s North-east.
  1. Strategic:
  • India’s engagement with BIMSTEC countries will help in countering China’s Belt and Road initiative.
  • China is challenging India’s hegemony in the region through its Hambantota port project and China-Pakistan economic corridor(CPEC)

Learn from the constraints and failures of SAARC

  1. The asymmetry between India and other member countries
  • In terms of geography, economy, and military strength makes the smaller countries are apprehensive and have been reluctant to implement various agreements under SAARC.
  • BIMSTEC’s major strength comes from the fact that it includes two influential regional powers: Thailand and India. This adds to the comfort of smaller neighbors by reducing the fear of dominance by one big power.
  1. Disputes or mediating conflicts.
  • Disputes among the member countries often hamper consensus building, thus slowing down the decision-making process. SAARC’s inability in this regard has been detrimental to its growth.
  • ASEAN region has developed a mechanism for conflict resolution. But SAARC has failed to develop any such mechanism. BIMSTEC should emphasize on regional connectivity and security, so this gave ways to solve the  many  bilateral issues
  1. Priority to bilateralism
  • Bilateralism decreases the countries’ dependence on SAARC to achieve their objectives.
  • In case of BIMSTEC, just five summits have been held in 25 years. Therefore, the states have to emphasize on multilateral cooperation involving the Member States.
  1. Shortage of resources
  • SAARC faces a shortage of resources, and countries have been reluctant to increase their contributions.
  • BIMSTEC’s decision to establish Development Fund and additional financial and human resources have enhanced its role to coordinate, monitor, and facilitate the grouping’s activities
  1. Lack of Strong Infrastructure:
  • South Asian countries share some common features like cheap labour, low incomes, low value-added commodities, and comparative advantage in the same commodities like tea and garments etc.
  • The intra-regional trade cannot be successful in such conditions where the trade and economic structure and industrial infrastructure are similar.

Conclusion

With a political crisis in Srilanka and Myanmar, and a Bangladesh-Myanmar dispute over the Rohingya refugee crisis BIMSTEC has to find a way to resolve disputes and strengthen the inter-regional markets. This can only be successful if all nations interact peacefully with each other.

 

Q2.Sri Lankan economic crisis has created social and political turmoil. How does this impact India and what can we learn from such crisis? (10M)

INTRODUCTION

For the first Srilanka defaulted on the debt of USD 51 billion in 2022. This is indicative of the crisis in Srilanka. The country of 2.2 crore population is facing significant fuel and gas shortages, and high inflation in essential goods.

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The economic crisis created social turmoil as its Inflation rose by 55% in June and protestor’s occupied the Presidential palace.

  • Health
    • Sri Lanka imports more than 80% of its medical supplies. Now almost 200 medical items are in shortage, including 76 essential, life-saving drugs

Lessons for India:

What led to such a crisis?

  •  High dependence on imports- The foreign exchange crisis
    •  The country’s heavy dependence on imports for essential goods like sugar, pharmaceuticals, fuel, pulses, and cereals worsened the crisis due to a fall in the tourism industry by as much as 70%.
  • Policies without consultations and lack of foresight – Sudden shift to ‘Organic Farming’
    • The government’s 100% ban on chemical fertilizers and becoming a fully organic country overnight backfired as the productivity declined by half leading to food shortages.
  • Lack of diversification of Industries – Low Industrial production
    • Srilankan economy is heavily dependent on tea exports, tourism and Garment factories, as Covid-19 raged these could not function. For instance, tourism contributes to 10% of Srilanka’s GDP.
  • Political populism- Welfare schemes.
    •  After coming to power in 2019 the new government lowered the tax rates, which reduced the revenue of the government to 9% of the GDP.
  • Linguistic disenfranchisement
    • The Tamils were alienated which led to a civil war, which held back investments, and significant Tamils with technical expertise left the country. Identity politics between social groups is a recipe for economic disaster.

Impacting on India

  • Challenges:
    • Economic
    • Sri Lanka’s share in India’s total exports has declined from 2.16% in FY15 to just 1.3% in FY22.
  • Refugee:
    • The state of Tamil Nadu has already started feeling the impact of the crisis with the reported arrival of 16 persons from Sri Lanka through illegal means (Palk strait and Gulf of Munnar.
  • Trade disruptions:
    • Disruptions to port operations due to political turmoil would be detrimental to India’s interests. The Colombo port handles over 30% of India’s container traffic and 60% of its trans-shipment.
  • Increase in Chinese-owned assets:
    • China has already leased the Hambantota port due to the inability of Srilanka to service its debt. In the case of the Port City of Colombo project, Beijing received over 100 hectares in exchange for a $1.4 billion investment. If the economic crisis worsens in Sri Lanka, the country could lose control of its land in other port cities as well.
  • Risk to Indian investments:
    • India is among the top investors in Sri Lanka with cumulative investments of close to USD 1.7 billion since 2005 in areas including real estate, manufacturing, and petroleum refining. They all might be adversely affected if the crisis continued.
  • Opportunities:
    • Tea Market:
      • India could strengthen its footprint in Iran as well as new markets such as Turkey, and Iraq.
    • Apparel Market:
      • Many apparel orders from the United Kingdom, European Union, and Latin American countries are now being diverted to India.

 India recently extended a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka to assist the island nation through its worst foreign exchange balance of payment (BOP) crisis and enable it to procure food, medicines, and other essential items.

 Conclusion

 The government may be able to quell the current crisis at hand with international assistance and loans in short term, but the situation in long term requires meticulous planning and handling for long-term economic stability and welfare of the state.

 


Ethics:


  1. Q) “Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable”- Swami Vivekananda. What do you understand by this statement in the present-day scenario? 10M

Introduction

The quote highlights the importance of having an open mind in accepting various realities of life and also if one really wants to find the truth, one must not cling to comfort. Individuals must drop all their desires and self-esteem to find out the real truth of life and happiness.

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The above quote by Swami Vivekananda can be understood in different ways in present-day scenarios.

  • Social issues – Present India is facing a lot of social issues like mob lynching, communalism, regionalism, etc. Religion has become one of the main root causes of these issues. But individuals need to understand that “Truth” is manifested by every religion to resolve such issues.
  • According to the Bible, true religion is a devotion to God, demonstrated by love and compassion for fellowmen, coupled with unworldliness. It has been emphasized by all religious books.
  • Even though an extremist may find comfort in propelling his own religion by trampling others, the truth is that every religion can peacefully co-exist,
  • Administration – Sacrifice is necessary for an individual to find the real truth of life. Public Servants need to be aware that comfort, pleasant ambiance, and easy life are materialistic, they are not sustainable.
  • They need to uphold the real ‘truth’ of their position – i.e, uphold public service values, compassion, humanity to the poor, etc. that involves sacrificing self-interest. This minimizes red-tapism, a bureaucratic attitude which is prevailing in the country. 
  • Courage vs cowardice – One needs to be courageous in life, rather than dying every minute by fearing, an individual needs to be bold in his/her decisions.
  • In the present scenario, where unethical practices like corruption, nepotism, and favouritism are growing in every sphere, individuals need to stand against these unethical practices. Eg – The anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, ultimately led to the constitution of Lokpal in India.
  • Peace – Countries need to uphold the sovereignty of each other. Each country needs to recognize and respect human rights, the universal truth – the oneness of the entire human race. This ‘truth’ ensures avoid war instances like the Russia-Ukraine war and peace in the whole world. Even though India and Pakistan have centuries of combined history, the leaders of the national movement and the Indian public had to accept the bitter truth of partition.
  • Climate change – Climate change is mainly caused by industrialized countries but it has impacted other developing countries. Developing countries are focusing more on their growth by neglecting the interest of small developing and developed countries. Thus they need to accept responsibility apart from being in a comfortable zone. The truth is that the world has to fight as one family.

Conclusion

When individuals find out the real ‘truth’ of life in every sphere then there will be an awakening of the spirit, the disappearance of all meanness, practicality in work, a new vigor in body and mind, and the power to uplift others.