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October 2019

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[oped of the day] India needs to pay close attention to deepening of Nepal-China cooperation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : China security; India-Nepal

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Xi Jinping’s visit to Kathamandu was defined by the determination to accelerate the development of an ambitious trans-Himalayan corridor between China’s Tibet and Nepal. 

Chinese security diplomacy 

    • It has emerged as a major element of China’s international relations in all geographies.
    • Reasons :
      • Globalisation and digitalisation of the Chinese economy
      • the growing movement of people across Chinese borders
      • expanding capital and human assets beyond borders
    • Need for cooperation – This has made law enforcement cooperation with the rest of the world a major priority for China. 
    • Security issues – The range of issues involved in security diplomacy include
      • tracking down fugitives from Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign
      • criminals seeking safe haven in other countries
      • countering terrorism
      • preventing drug trafficking
      • assisting Chinese citizens and tourists abroad
      • reining in political dissidents active in other countries
    • Neighbors – Across neighborhood, security diplomacy has added dimensions due to interaction between internal political stability and the situation across the frontiers.
      • Xinjiang – three Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan share a border with the province. 
      • Tibet – India and Nepal
      • Yunnan – Myanmar
    • Far flung provinces – China’s far flung provinces with significant religious and ethnic minorities has been a priority for the People’s Republic of China with neighbouring countries. 
    • Trouble within or across the borders of Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan has demanded greater cooperation with the neighbouring states.
    • Xi’s emphasis on internal security was evident in his remarks: “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones”. 
    • He also warned other countries against interfering in the internal affairs of China. 
    • The protests in Hong Kong that have taken a violent turn in recent days. The CPC is angry with attempts in the US to link trade negotiations with the situation in Hong Kong

China – Nepal security relations

    • Security cooperation – India needs to pay attention to the deepening of bilateral security cooperation between Nepal and China. 
    • Increasing engagement – This is seen in the expanding engagement between the police forces, intelligence agencies, border management organisations and law-enforcement authorities of the two nations. 
    • China’s sees “security diplomacy” as separate from “defence diplomacy”.
    • 4 of the 20 documents signed in Kathmandu relate to law enforcement – on border management, supply of border security equipment, mutual legal assistance, and collaboration between Nepal’s Attorney General and China’s “Supreme People’s Procurator”.

Nepal – China

    • Border – Nepal’s northern border with China is entirely with Tibet. 
    • People’s movement – China sees security cooperation with Kathmandu as critical in controlling the movement of people across this frontier. 
    • Tibetan refugees – Nepal was once hospitable to Tibetan refugees fleeing China. It now supports Chinese law enforcement agencies in tracking and deporting them. 
    • Cooperation on Tibet – Growing friendship between Chinese and Nepalese political leaders has provided a more permissive environment for this cooperation. 
    • Access to Nepalese side of border – Chinese security agencies have gained effective access to border areas on the Nepali side in dealing with Tibetan exiles.
  • Joint statement – to “respect and accommodate each other’s concerns and core interests”. 
    • Nepal “reiterated its firm commitment to One-China policy” and acknowledged that Tibetan matters “are China’s internal affairs”. 
    • It also promised not to allow “any anti-China activities on its soil”. 
    • China declared its firm support to Nepal in upholding the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    • It also assured its firm support to Nepal’s social system and development path chosen in the light of Nepal’s national conditions. 
    • Signing of the “Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and hoped for an early conclusion of the Treaty on Extradition.” 
    • China has promised to enhance the capacities of Nepal’s law enforcement agencies.

Chinese efforts at security – Steps taken

    • Massive modernisation of internal administrative structures
    • Significant investments in new technologies
    • Effective integration of law enforcement into China’s foreign policy
    • Spread across all geographies – from developed countries in North America and Europe to the developing world in Asia and Africa. 
    • International rules – China is also participating in the development of new international rules on law enforcement and seeking leadership positions in multilateral organisations dealing with law enforcement. 


Like the other great powers that preceded it, China sees security diplomacy and law enforcement cooperation as important tools of statecraft.

Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] Nobel for poverty warriors


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nobel in Economics

Mains level : New approach to Poverty


So far, development economics has treated the poor either as lifeless objects that could be moved around or seen as unable to make the best of opportunities that governments offered them. 

Novel approach

    • The three development economists who have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics have overturned that status quo. 
    • They have redeveloped the field of development economics with the aid of new experimental methods that put researchers in direct contact with the poor. 
    • This was started by Angus Deaton, who won the Economics Nobel in 2015 for his work on the consumption choices of the poor as well as how to accurately measure poverty

Vanguards of change

    • From the view of poor – Development challenges are now viewed through an appropriate lens, the lives of the poor rather than large statistical models, with a special focus on how incentives, information, and constraints shape actual choices. 
    • RCTs – Their use of randomized control trials has lent credibility to poverty research and helped solve old riddles of causality. 
    • Evidence-based – Their expertise has led to the formulation of policies that go by evidence, not assumptions.


    • Huge insights – The result has been a burst of insights and fresh answers to good questions. 
    • Few examples
      • Does microfinance actually boost entrepreneurship among the poor? 
      • Why do the poor spend so much on entertainment? 
      • How does subsidized healthcare impact the investment that have-nots make in their own health? 


    • Universality – Some argue that the findings may not be universally applicable. 
    • Policy maker’s challenge – Tracing the causal links of one phenomenon to another could baffle those who frame policy. It really doesn’t help knowing if today’s farm investments in technology depend on whether the area’s land tenure system was based on zamindari or ryotwari a hundred years ago.
    • Field trials – Field trials tend to miss the big structural changes that influence the political economy of a country.

The  big lesson – Developing Economies

    • They published a 2005 paper Growth Theory through the Lens of Development Economics
    • They argue that people and firms in developing economies are unable to adopt modern tools and make the most of all that’s available.
    • They are held back by things such as government failure, lack of access to credit, behavioral snags and factors beyond their control. 
    • Aim of development policy – It should be to identify these constraints and figure out how to ease them. 


Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer have shifted the spotlight from grand plans to actual poverty as a lived reality in all its microscopic detail.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Annual Ganges River Dolphin Census


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gangetic Dolphin

Mains level : Conservation of Gangetic Dolphin

  • The annual Ganges river dolphin census site has begun.

Annual Ganges River Dolphin Census

  • It is undertaken by World Wide Fund for Nature-India in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
  • It is being held along the 250-km-long riverine stretch of Upper Ganga between Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary and Narora Ramsar.
  • Unlike previous years, when direct counting method was used, this year the tandem boat survey method is being used.

What is Tandem Boat Survey Method?

  • Here the officials use two inflated boats which move in tandem to count the dolphins.
  • After collating the data, statistical tools are employed to arrive at the final count.
  • The method is developed by the renowned river and marine ecologist Gill Braulik, provides a more accurate count of the endangered species.
  • This new method is likely to yield more accurate count of the endangered species


Gangetic Dolphin

  • Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Gangetic river species found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal is almost completely blind.
  • It finds its way and prey using echoes with a peculiar ‘su-su’ sound being everything for them to navigate, feed, escape danger, find mates, breed, nurse babies and play.
  • Like bats, they produce high-frequency sounds which help them ‘see’ objects when the sound waves bounce off them.

Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

Economics Nobel Prize 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nobel Prize

Mains level : Poverty eradication strategies and its success

  • The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded jointly to Indian origin Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Why Nobel?

  • As a direct result of one of their studies, more than five million Indian children have benefitted from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools.
  • It was also successfully implemented in introducing heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare in many countries.

About the theory

  • Both Banerjee and Duflo have written a noted book titled “Poor Economics”, are associated with the MIT while Kremer is with the Harvard University.
  • The laureates applied themselves to problems of development economics, especially poverty alleviation.
  • The approach, which transformed the development economics field, involves dividing the issue into smaller, more manageable, questions.
  • They chose to break down some of the most intractable issues into smaller parts and tried to understand what policy worked and what did not.

Ex. School-going children aren’t learning enough

  • What Banerjee did was to break this issue down to understanding whether providing more inputs, such as textbooks, helps matters.
  • They found, merely giving more books doesn’t help unless the schools were also provided with complimentary reforms.
  • The approach thus was to conduct field experiments and understand whether a small policy initiative works or doesn’t and if it doesn’t and why doesn’t it.
  • Tackling the problem this way helped researchers across the world better understand why some policies have worked and what policies need to be discarded.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] Local Treatment of Urban Sewage for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LOTUS-HR project

Mains level : Wastewater management in India

  • The launch of the second phase of the Local Treatment of Urban Sewage streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR) program was recently held.

LOTUS-HR project

  • The LOTUS-HR project is jointly supported by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
  • The project was initiated in July 2017 and aims to demonstrate a novel holistic (waste) water management approaches that will produce clean water which can be reused for various purposes.
  • The innovative pilot scale modular plant will treat 10,000 L sewage water per day and will showcase a self-sustaining model for the end user.
  • Location: The Barapullah drain systems, New Delhi

Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN – 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN – 2019

Mains level : Significance of the exercise

  • The Joint Military Exercise Dharma Guardian-2019 between India and Japan will be conducted to share experience gained during various Counter-Terrorism Operations in respective countries.


  • It is an annual training event which is being conducted in India since 2018.
  • This exercise is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both the nations in the backdrop of global terrorism.
  • The scope of this exercise covers platoon level joint training on counter terrorism operations in jungle and urban scenario.
  • It will enhance the level of defence co-operation between Indian Army and Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces (JGSDF) which in turn will further foster the bilateral relations between the two nations.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] SARAS Aajeevika Mela


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SARAS Aajeevika Mela

Mains level : Impact of DAY-NRLM

SARAS Aajeevika Mela

  • It is an initiative by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
  • Its objective is to bring the rural women SHGs formed with support of DAY-NRLM, under one platform to show-case their skills, sell their products and help them build linkages with bulk buyers.
  • Through participation in SARAS Aajeevika Mela, these rural SHG women get vital national level exposure to understand the demand and taste of urban customers.
  • The Mela acts as an integrated approach towards women empowerment.
  • It is organised by the marketing arm of the Ministry, Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART).