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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Our larger China picture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-China relations

Context

  • After the skirmish at the border, Beijing started to concentrate troops, armoured vehicles and munitions opposite our posts in Aksai China at Galwan.

2 interpretations of China’s move

  • First believes that the Chinese exercise was a territorial snatch in Aksai Chin, which they believe is entirely theirs.
  • The move was accompanied by a “lesson” to the Indians on aggressive Indian behaviour in not conceding Aksai Chin.
  • The second school of thought in India believes that territory has nothing to do with it.
  • They believe that, due to growing economic power, Beijing will lay down the rules of world governance.

How it matters for India

  • India contest China’s entire southern border, refuse to join the Belt and Road initiative, create an anti-China maritime coalition, compete with them for influence in South East Asia and Africa.
  • India is also unsupportive of their crackdown on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang and move ever closer to the United States.
  • When China assumes hegemonic power after 2030, India is going to get a nasty surprise.
  • Secularism, democracy and the rights of man will play no part in Chinese foreign policy.
  • China will overturn every international, financial, trade, diplomatic, arms control and nuclear agreement that the world has put together in seven decades.

Way forward

  • We in India need to conduct a large and vociferous debate on Chinese intentions.
  • If the Chinese intention is to “teach us a lesson” we need a new national strategy, combining diplomatic and military means.
  •  If our national goal is to concentrate on the creation of wealth and growing GDP, let us proclaim it, tighten our belt, look down and avoid conflict.

Conclusion

What China wants is Indian acceptance of Beijing’s benign superiority, and that is a purely Chinese trait, not to be confused with the known rules of international diplomacy. Talking from a position of inferiority will not lead to an equitable solution. But first, a national debate.

Languages and Eighth Schedule

Nationalism and the crisis of federalism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Reorganisation of States

Mains level : Paper 2- Federalism in India

The article analyses the challenges federalism in India faces and the important role played by the division of states based on the languages.

Three conceptions of nationalism in India

  • Following three conceptions of nationalism were prevalent in India before independence.
  • The first, the idea that a community with a strongly unified culture must have a single state of its own.
  • The second saw the nation as defined by a common culture whose adherents must have a state of their own.
  • But this common culture was not ethno-religious.
  •  It conceives common culture in terms of a strong idea of unity that marginalises or excludes other particular identities.
  • A third nationalism accepts that communities nourished by distinct, territorially concentrated regional cultures have the capacity to design states of their own as also educational, legal, economic, and other institutions.
  • This may be called a coalescent nationalism consistent with a fairly strong linguistic federalism.
  • The central state associated with it is not multi-national.
  • At best, it is a multi-national state without labels, one that does not call itself so; a self-effacing multi-national state.

Suspicion of linguistic identities

  • After Partition, the Indian ruling class began to view with suspicion the political expression of even linguistic identities.
  •  It was feared that federation structured along ethno-linguistic lines might tempt politicians to mobilise permanently on the basis of language.
  • The second fear was about an increase in the likelihood of inter-ethnic violence, encourage separatism and eventually lead to India’s break up.
  • Thus, when the Constitution came into force in 1950, India adopted unitary, civic nationalism as its official ideology.

Formation of states on linguistic basis and its implications

  • A unitary mindset shaped by the experience of a centralised colonial state was resurrected.
  • The second tier of government was justified in functional terms, not on ethical grounds of the recognition of group cultures.
  • Following the Committee’s recommendations, States were reorganised in 1956.
  • India slowly became a coalescent nation-state, moving from the ‘holding together’ variety to what is called the ‘coming together’ form of (linguistic) federalism.
  • This meant that regional parties were stronger than earlier in their own regions and at the centre.
  • This let to more durable centre because it was grounded more on the consent and participation of regional groups that, at another level, were also self-governing.
  • Indian federalism also attempted to remove its rigidities by incorporating asymmetries in the relation between the Centre and different States.
  • Treating all States as equals required the acknowledgement of their specific needs and according them differential treatment.

Conclusion

Coalescent nationalism has served India well, benefiting several groups in India. True, it has not worked as well in India’s border areas such as the North-east and Kashmir. But their problems can only be resolved by deepening not abandoning coalescent nationalism.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Agricultural reform bills introduced in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : APMC reforms

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against three ordinances promulgated by the Centre back in June this year.  After the Monsoon Session of Parliament began this week, the government has introduced three Bills to replace these ordinances.

Try this PYQ:

The economic cost of food grains to the Food Corporation of India is Minimum Support Price and bonus (if any) paid to the farmers plus:

(a) Transportation cost only

(b) Interest cost only

(c) Procurement incidentals and distribution cost

(d) Procurement incidentals and charges for godowns

What are these ordinances?

The ordinances included:

  • The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020;
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (It is the Bill replacing the third that has been passed in Lok Sabha)

The cause of discontent

  • While farmers are protesting against all three ordinances, their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first.
  • Their concerns are mainly about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance.

What is a ‘trade area’, as mentioned in the Bill?

  • Section 2(m) of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 defines “trade area” as any area or location, place of production, collection and aggregation.
  • It includes (a) farm gates; (b) factory premises; (c) warehouses; (d) silos; (e) cold storages; or (f) any other structures or places, from where the trade of farmers’ produce may be undertaken in the territory of India.
  • In effect, existing mandis established under APMC Acts have been excluded from the definition of trade area under the new legislation.
  • The government says the creation of an additional trade area outside of mandis will provide farmers with the freedom of choice to conduct trade in their produce.

Why are farmers protesting?

  • The protesters say this provision will confine APMC mandis to their physical boundaries and give a free hand to big corporate buyers.
  • The APMC mandi system has developed very well as every mandi caters to 200-300 villages.
  • But the new ordinance has confined the mandis to their physical boundaries.

What is ‘trader’ and how is it linked to the protests?

  • Section 2(n) of the first ordinance defines a “trader” as “a person who buys farmers’ produce by way of inter-State trade or intra-State trade or a combination thereof.
  • Thus, it includes processor, exporter, wholesaler, miller, and retailer.
  • According to the Ministry of the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, “Any trader with a PAN card can buy the farmers’ produce in the trade area.”
  • In the present mandi system, arhatiyas (commission agents) have to get a licence to trade in a mandi.
  • The protesters say arhatiyas have credibility as their financial status is verified during the licence approval process.

Why does the provision on ‘market fee’ worry protesters?

  • Section 6 states that no market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied in a trade area.
  • Government officials say this provision will reduce the cost of the transaction and will benefit both the farmers and the traders.
  • Under the existing system, such charges in states like Punjab come to around 8.5% — a market fee of 3%, a rural development charge of 3% and the arhatiya’s commission of about 2.5%.
  • By removing the fee on trade, the government is indirectly incentivizing big corporates.

Indian Ocean Power Competition

India joins Djibouti Code of Conduct

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Agreement

Mains level : Maritime Security of India

India has joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA) as Observer, following the high-level virtual meeting.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Djibouti Code of Conduct is related to:

(a) International trade in precious stones (b) Maritime Security (c) Data sharing on Terrorism related activities (d) Data Localization

Djibouti Code of Conduct

  • DCOC/JA is a grouping on maritime matters comprising 18 member states adjoining the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, the East coast of Africa and Island countries in the IOR.
  • The DCOC, established in January 2009, is aimed at the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Provisions of the code

  • The Code provides a framework for capacity building in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean to combat the threat of piracy.
  • It is a partnership of the willing and continues to both deliver against its aims as well as attract increasing membership.
  • The Code was signed on January 29 by the representatives of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.
  • Since the meeting, further countries have signed bringing the total to 18 countries from the 21 eligible.

Significance for India

  • India joins Japan, Norway, the UK and the US as Observers to the DCOC/JA.
  • As an Observer at the DCOC/JA, India looks forward to working together with DCOC/JA member states towards coordinating and contributing to enhanced maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Delhi has been steadily increasing its strategic footprints in Western and Eastern Indian Ocean besides Eastern African coastal states.

Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What are Supplementary Grants?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 115, 116

Mains level : Supplementary Grants

Finance Minister has tabled the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for this financial year in the Lok Sabha.

Supplementary Demand for Grants

  • Article 115 of the constitution provides for Supplementary, additional or excess grants. (Note: Article 116 provides for Votes on account, votes of credit and exceptional grants.)
  • They are additional grants which are required to meet the expenditure of the government
  • Their demand is presented when the authorized amounts are insufficient and need for additional expenditure has arisen.

Why need supplementary grants?

  • When actual expenditure incurred exceeds the approved grants of the Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Railways presents a Demand for Excess Grant.
  • It is needed for government expenditure over and above the amount for which Parliamentary approval was already obtained during the Budget session.
  • When grants, authorised by the Parliament, fall short of the required expenditure, an estimate is presented before the Parliament for Supplementary or Additional grants.
  • These grants are presented and passed by the Parliament before the end of the financial year.

Who notices such grants?

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India bring such excesses to the notice of the Parliament.
  • The Public Accounts Committee examines these excesses and gives recommendations to the Parliament.

What are other grants?

  • Excess Grant: It is the grant in excess of the approved grants for meeting the requisite expenses of the government.
  • Additional Grant: It is granted when a need has arisen during the current financial year for supplementary or additional expenditure upon some new service not contemplated in the Budget for that year.
  • Token Grant: When funds to meet proposed expenditure on a new service can be made available by re-appropriation, demand for the grant of a token sum may be submitted to the vote of the House and, if the House assents to the demand, funds may be so made available.

Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Hispanic Heritage Month

Mains level : NA

The National Hispanic Heritage Month has begun in the US.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The event National Hispanic Heritage Month recently seen in news is primarily celebrated in which of the following countries?

(a) US (b) Spain (c) Mexico (d) Cuba

National Hispanic Heritage Month

  • The annual event honours the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • It is marked every year from September 15 to October 15.
  • The observation was started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was extended to an entire month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the year it was enacted into law.

Hispanics in the US

  • With a population of over 5.7 crores, Hispanic Americans are currently the largest minority group in the US, making up a fifth of the total US population.
  • More than half– 3.5 crore– are of Mexican origin, followed by Puerto Rican (53 lakh), and about 10 lakh each of Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians.
  • The community is referred to as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx– terms that refer to a person’s origin or culture, without considering their race.

Housing for all – PMAY, etc.

[pib] Swamih Investment Fund

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SWAMIH Investment Fund

Mains level : Not Much

In order to give relief to homebuyers of stalled projects, a Special Window for Completion of Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH investment fund) has been created for funding stalled projects.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SWAMIH Fund recently seen in news is related to:

(a) Higher Education (b) MSMEs (c) Housing (d) Highways

SWAMIH Investment Fund

  • SWAMIH investment fund is an alternative investment fund which aims to provide last-mile funding to the stressed affordable and middle-income housing projects in the country.
  • It is expected to fund the projects which are net-worth positive, including those projects that have been declared as NPAs or are pending proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal under the IBC.

Why need such funds?

  • Several real estate projects have suffered due to a combined effect of two changes in the real estate sector.
  • On one hand, incremental launches and slow sales have increased unsold inventory in each project.
  • While the effect has then got compounded by the fact that consumer preference is now towards completed projects rather than under-construction projects.
  • This preference has developed as consumers are largely avoiding taking project completion risk and instead are more inclined to completed projects.