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Aadhaar biometric data cannot be used for crime investigations, UIDAI clarifies

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Basics of cyber security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar Act

Mains level: Various issues related to data security and privacy in connection with Aadhar


News

Only identification is permissible via Aadhar

  1. The biometric data collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) cannot be used for any other purpose except for generating Aadhaar and authenticating the identity of cardholders
  2. Invoking section 29 of the Act, the UIDAI issued a statement after reports emerged about the purported use of Aadhaar biometric data for the purpose of investigating a crime

Exceptions to this clause

  1. The section 33 of the Aadhaar Act allows a very limited exception and permits the use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security after pre-authorisation by an oversight committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary
  2. This is also the consistent stand taken by the Union of India in the ongoing Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court

Section 29 of the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016

  1. No core biometric information, collected or created under this Act, shall be—(a) shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever; or (b) used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication under this Act.
  2. The identity information, other than core biometric information, collected or created under this Act may be shared only in accordance with the provisions of this Act and in such manner as may be specified by regulations
  3. No identity information available with a requesting entity shall be—(a) used for any purpose, other than that specified to the individual at the time of submitting any identity information for authentication; or (b) disclosed further, except with the prior consent of the individual to whom such information relates
  4. No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations
Aadhaar Card Issues

Nasa unveils program to defend Earth from asteroid attack

Image result for international asteroid warning network

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Asteroid Warning Network, Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission

Mains level: Threat posed by Near-Earth objects and scientific measures to counter it


News

Countering NEOs

  1. The US and other nations have long sought to track “near-earth objects,” or NEOs, coordinating efforts through the International Asteroid Warning Network and the United Nations
  2. The Trump Administration now wants to enhance those efforts to detect and track potential planet killers and to develop more capable means to deflect any that appear to be on a collision course
  3. The government unveiled new goals this week for Nasa’s work on countering NEOs over the next decade

NEO threat

  1. Nasa has documented roughly 96% of the objects large enough to cause a global catastrophe since work began in 1998
  2. More than 300,000 objects larger than 40 meters (131 feet) wide orbit the sun as NEOs, according to Nasa estimates
  3. Many of these were difficult to detect more than a few days in advance
  4. Forty meters is about the average size an object must be to make it through the atmosphere without burning up

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission

  1. The goal of this mission is to impact the smaller “moonlet” of a binary asteroid called Didymos, to learn how well we may be able to alter the course of a future killer rock
  2. It is expected to be complete by 2021-2022

Back2Basics

International Asteroid Warning Network

  1. The International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) was established in 2014 to address the recommendations for an international response to the near-Earth Object impact threat
  2. It was endorsed by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of
    Outer Space and the General Assembly resolution 68/75
  3. It forms an international association of institutions involved in detecting, tracking, and characterizing NEOs (Near Earth Objects) to provide the best information available on the NEO hazard and any impact threat
  4. The IAWN is also tasked to use well-defined communication
    plans and protocols to assist Governments in the analysis of asteroid impact
    consequences and to support the planning of mitigation responses
  5. IAWN serves the global community as the authoritative source of accurate and up-to-date information on near-Earth objects and NEO impact risks. Information is freely available to all interested parties
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

India to teach satellite tech to students from abroad

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life, Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSSP, UNISPACE+50

Mains level: The newscard highlights the prestige of India at the global level for its unique satellite building methodology.


 News

ISRO to teach foreign students

  1. India has thrown open its satellite-building expertise to engineering graduates chosen from other countries.
  2. Starting this year, and for three years, a total of 90 qualifying engineers from various countries will be taught to build and test three small satellites each year.
  3. ISRO’s Bengaluru-based U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) — until recently known as ISAC — will train the overseas students in November and December this year through 2020.
  4. India is also ready to launch the small satellites built during the programme if they are good.

Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme

  1. Indian start-ups and participants at the meeting shared the details of the training proposal, called the Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme (UNSSP).
  2. The capacity-building programme was India’s contribution to the world in response to a request that the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs had made to space-faring nations last year.
  3. The countries are marking the 50th year of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space — called UNISPACE+50.
  4. Three such conferences held earlier recognized the potential of space and laid the guidelines for human activities and international cooperation related to outer space.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Anti-profiteering under GST: A leap of faith for consumers and industry

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Anti Profiteering Provisions under GST

Mains level:  Businesses in various sectors have received notices under anti-profiteering for non-compliance. This is due to unclear guidelines on records. The newscard suggests measures to counter such incidences.


News

Inflationary Effect of the GST

  1. Historically, many countries who introduced GST or value-added tax found to it to have an inflationary effect in the initial years.
  2. This inflationary effect has largely been attributed to the benefit accruing due to GST was not being passed on through the transaction chain to the ultimate customer.

GST anti-profiteering provisions

  1. Anti-profiteering provisions have been enacted under the GST regime to curb undue profiteering by businesses and ensure that the benefits by way of a reduction in the price of the goods/services are passed on to the consumer.
  2. The provisions require businesses to pass on the benefit arising on account of
  • reduction in the rate of GST
  • increase in input tax credit, to the consumer.

National Anti-Profiteering Authority

  1. A National Anti-Profiteering Authority has been constituted for the efficient administration of these provisions
  2. Any consumer can approach the Authority with documentary evidence against any supplier who has not passed on the specified benefit.
  3. The Authority is entrusted with the power to determine whether the benefit of GST is passed on:
  • to identify persons who have not passed on the benefit;
  • to order reduction of prices;
  • to repay the customer an amount which is not passed on along with interest/imposition of penalty on the supplier;
  • cancellation of registration etc.

Ambiguities in Anti Profiteering provisions

Various challenges are being faced by the business community in complying with anti-profiteering rules:

  1. The anti-profiteering provisions do not prescribe the specific guidelines on records or documentation to be maintained to prove compliance with the rules.
  2. A definite method for computing the benefit on implementing GST has also not been prescribed.
  3. Absence of clear guidelines could lead to ambiguity and businesses will be constrained in proving the compliance with these provisions.
  4. Absence of specific time limit with respect to operation makes it unclear for the industry as to how long the specified benefits need to be passed on.
  5. Businesses are very dynamic and pricing is determined based on the market forces in most of the cases.
  6. Even though the regular price increase does not come under the purview of anti-profiteering, justifying the same could become a difficult task for the businesses.

Dilemma of Business community

  1. Under the anti-profiteering provisions, businesses are required to pass on the benefit of reduction in tax rate and increase in input tax credit on any supply of goods or services.
  2. This implies that benefit needs to be passed on at each supply level and not at the entity level.
  3. If an entity is engaged in supplying more than one product or service then for each such supply the benefits, if any, needs to be computed and passed on to the recipient.
  4. There could be cases where losses are incurred in certain products, even in such cases the benefit may have to be passed on if applying GST has resulted in a reduction in losses.
  5. In the recent past, businesses in various sectors have received notices under anti-profiteering provisions.

The Way Forward

  1. Businesses should consider evaluating the likely impact of the anti-profiteering clause and review its pricing policy for the product and/or services.
  2. Even where there is no benefit accruing to the company, the same has to be properly documented so that it can be explained to the authorities if the need arises.
  3. Anti-profiteering provisions are a positive step towards protecting consumer interests and rein in undue profiteering so that GST does not add to inflation in the economy.
  4. However, GST is a new and evolving law, hence, there’s still a sense of confusion and lack of clarity on many aspects.
  5. One step may be to adopt a soft approach vis-à-vis the businesses where there is no prima facie mala fide intent. This would go a long way in building the confidence and trust among the businesses.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)

[op-ed snap] Tighter is better

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Current account deficit, Fiscal profligacy

Mains level: Risks associated with India’s CAD and factors affecting it


Context

Sudden reversal of capital flows

  1. Since April, emerging markets (EMs) have been rudely shocked by the sudden reversal of capital flows without any apparent change in economic fundamentals
  2. Financial buffers in EM are much stronger today than they were before the 2013 taper tantrum

Which economies are under pressure?

  1. The ones with large current account deficits and, in turn, high foreign borrowing
  2. Why? There has been a steady decline in policy space because of loose fiscal and, in some cases, monetary policy
  3. Without adequate policy space, the buffers have turned ineffective

Factors influencing Capital inflows

  1. The growth differential with developed markets (DM)
  2. The strength of the US dollar
  • Higher EM-DM growth differential increases inflow, a stronger US dollar lowers it
  • Why? Investing in EM is riskier, higher growth will compensate the risk
  • A stronger dollar raises the cost of funding and therefore investors scale back investment

What happened in April 2018?

  1. Incoming data from the Euro Area and Japan pointed to growth disappointment, but above par growth in the US
  2. The altered dynamics forced the market to reprice US interest rates and the dollar
  3. The consequent tightening of global financial conditions caught investors off guard
  4. Capital outflows from EM ensued and their currencies depreciated

Why are economies struggling even after having buffers?

  1. Along with buffers, Foreign exchange liabilities have also risen and there are limits to the use of reserves
  2. In several, if not all, vulnerable economies, the current account deficit is rising because of growing fiscal and quasi-fiscal deficits
  3. Fiscal profligacy is restraining the space for the economies to grow without increasing foreign borrowing

What needs to be done?

  1. If an EM economy is to maintain or widen the growth differential with DM, it needs to grow faster, requiring more funding
  2. If the government does not reduce its deficit to provide the additional funds, the private sector is forced to borrow more externally, that is, the current account deficit has to widen
  3. The way out is to tighten fiscal policy, even when it might not have been part of the problem so that the private sector has the domestic space to grow

Risks for India

  1. India’s overall fiscal deficit (Centre plus state) has remained virtually constant, around 7 percent of GDP since 2013-14
  2. This year also, both the Centre and state deficits are likely to be under pressure with GST collections running below the budgeted run rate
  3. A continued decline in private investment in last 4 years provided the excess domestic savings needed to keep the current account deficit (foreign borrowing) contained at around 1 percent
  4. With the higher budgeted fiscal deficit, even the hint of a recovery in private investment is raising fears of the current account deficit rising sharply

Way forward

  1. Loose fiscal and monetary policies pushed India to the brink of crisis in 2013
  2. If India doesn’t tighten fiscal and monetary policies early and sufficiently, then it too could be heading down the path of its peers
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

[op-ed snap] The seeds of sustainability

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Zero Budget Natural Farming

Mains level: ZBNF and its advantages


Context

Andhra, first to implement ZBNF Policy

  1. Andhra Pradesh will fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), a chemical-free method that would cover all farmers by 2024.
  2. Even though this revolution has been in the works for several years, this is still a momentous occasion and highlights the way to improve the welfare of farmers, reduce the cost of farm inputs, cut toxins in food, and improve soils.
  3. By 2021-22, the programme is to be implemented in every panchayat, with full coverage by 2024.
  4. More encouraging is that the programme is having a positive effect on many of the sustainable development goals through improvements in soil, biodiversity, livelihoods, water, reduction in chemicals, climate resilience, health, women’s empowerment and nutrition.

Natural farming

  1. Natural farming is “do nothing farming”
  2. It promotes no-till, no chemical use in farming along with the dispersal of clay seed balls to propagate plants.
  3. It is important to apply nature’s principles in farming and developed a deep-rooted philosophy around the process.

Zero Budget Natural Farming

  1. Subhash Palekar, a farmer in the distressed Vidarbha region developed the ZBNF.
  2. He identified some aspects that are now integral to his process and which require locally available materials:
  • seeds treated with cow dung and urine;
  • soil rejuvenated with cow dung,
  • cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes;
  • cover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus;
  • and soil aeration for favorable soil conditions.

These methods are combined with natural insect management methods when required.

 Benefits of ZBNF

  1. In ZBNF, yields of various cash and food crops have been found to be significantly higher when compared with chemical farming.
  2. Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used.
  3. Profits in most areas under ZBNF were from higher yield and lower inputs.
  4. Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding, which are big concerns with regard to climate change.
  5. The planting of multiple crops and border crops on the same field has provided varied income and nutrient sources.
  6. As a result of these changes, there is reduced use of water and electricity, improved health of farmers, flourishing of local ecosystems and biodiversity and no toxic chemical residues in the environment.

Model for other States

  1. Andhra Pradesh is one of the top five States in terms of farmer suicides.
  2. The changes taking place in AP are a systematic scaling up of farming practices based on agro-ecological principles in opposition to the dominant chemical agriculture.
  3. Changes at this scale require many different elements to come together, but open-minded enlightened political leaders and administrators are fundamental.
  4. As ZBNF is applied in India’s various agro-ecological zones, making farmers the innovators is essential.
  5. Resilient food systems are the need of the day given the variability of the monsoons due to global warming and declining groundwater in large parts of India.
  6. The drought-prone Rayalaseema region (Andhra Pradesh) is reportedly seeing promising changes already in farms with the ZBNF.

The Way Forward- Listen to our Farmers

  1. ZBNF is a technology of the future with a traditional idiom.
  2. Agricultural scientists in India have to rework their entire strategy so that farming is in consonance with nature.
  3. The dominant paradigm of chemical-based agriculture has failed and regenerative agriculture is the emerging new science.
  4. The world is at critical junctures on many planetary boundaries, and establishing a system that shows promise in improving them while supporting people sustainably is surely one worth pursuing.
Organic Farming – Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY), NPOF etc.

Govt plans ‘Pariwartan’ scheme for power sector revival

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SAMADHAN, Pariwartan Schemes

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Stressed Power Projects

  1. Stressed projects have drawn bids for around Rs 1-2 crore per MW under the insolvency and bankruptcy code, a fraction of the Rs 5 crore per MW needed to build them.
  2. Issues faced by the stressed projects include a paucity of funds, lack of power purchase agreements and fuel shortages.

Plan for PARIWARTAN

  1. The government plans to warehouse stressed power projects totaling 25,000 MW under an asset management firm to protect the value of the assets (Similar to SAMADHAN Scheme)
  2. This will prevent their distress sale under the insolvency and bankruptcy code until the demand for power picks up.
  3. State-run Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd (REC) has identified projects with a total debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion as part of the scheme, which is under government consideration
  4. It has been tentatively named Power Asset Revival through Warehousing and Rehabilitation, or ‘Pariwartan’.
  5. The ‘Pariwartan’ scheme is inspired by the Troubled Asset Relief Programme, or TARP, which was introduced in the US during the 2008 financial crisis.
  6. The proposed plan also aims to stem the rise in bad loans in the power sector.

Key Propositions

  1. These stressed power projects will be housed under an asset management and rehabilitation company (AMRC) that will be owned by financial institutions.
  2. While the promoter’s equity will be reduced to facilitate a transfer of management control to the financial institutions, the lenders will convert their debt into equity.
  3. The AMRC will manage the projects and may ask utilities such as NTPC Ltd to operate and maintain them. The AMRC will charge a fee and help complete projects that are stranded for lack of funds.
  4. These projects will be transferred to the AMRC at net book value, wherein it will own a 51% stake in the projects and the balance 49% will be held by the lenders,” said the government official cited above.

Back2Basics

Scheme of Asset Management and Debt Change Structure (SAMADHAN)

  1. Under Samadhan, the bankers’ consortium shortlisted 11 power plants with an overall capacity of over 12 gigawatts, which are either complete or nearing completion.
  2. The debt order will be reduced to a manageable level and converted into equities which are held by banks.
  3. That equity would be bid out to any players who want to buy those assets.
Policy Wise: India’s Power Sector

Govt may scrap trials for some IVD devices

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) Devices, DTAB, Medical Devices Rule

Mains level: New rules seek to remove regulatory bottlenecks to Make in India while ensuring availability of better medical devices.


News

Clinical Trials of Medical Devices

  1. Medical devices under local rules are classified based on associated risks, into Class A (low risk), Class B (low moderate risk), Class C (moderate high risk) and Class D (high risk).
  2. The manufacturers of medical devices are required to meet risk proportionate regulatory requirements that have been specified in the rules and are based on best international practices.
  3. As of now, all medical devices that fall under regulation have to undergo single or multiple clinical trials to prove their performance and quality in comparison to products currently available in the market.
  4. Conduct of clinical investigations while following the international practices is conducted in a manner that ensures objectives of patient safety and welfare and discovery of new medical devices.

Proposed Amendment in Medical Devices Rules

  1. IVDs include all blood testing techniques, tests that can detect diseases, conditions or infections for major conditions such as HIV, HBV (Hepatitis B), HCV (Hepatitis C).
  2. The government has proposed to do away with clinical trials for in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices with the aim of speeding up availability of such devices in India.
  3. The Union health ministry will now release a notification to this effect, after a meeting of the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) at which the board agreed to the proposal to amend the provisions of the Medical Devices Rules

What are the amendments?

  1. The board deliberated the matter and agreed to the proposal to amend the provisions in Rule 64 making it identical for waiver of clinical performance evaluation of in-vitro diagnostic medical devices.
  2. This is in line with a waiver given for medical devices under Rule 63 of the Medical Device Rules.

What are the benefits of doing so?

  1. The new rules seek to remove regulatory bottlenecks to make in India, facilitate ease of doing business while ensuring availability of better medical devices for patient care and safety.
  2. Medical device experts believe that the move will help importers to a large extent as the exemption of trials would also mean accelerating approval of state-of-the-art devices.

But it raises few questions as well

  1. The question is whether the US, Japan and EU (European Union) will give a similar reciprocal advantage to Indian exporters and waive off the need for clinical evaluation if such devices are sold in India.
  2. Regulation is not only about patient’s safety. It is also about parity.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Dairy in Doldrums: Turning milk crisis into an international ‘gift’ opportunity

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Transport & marketing of agricultural produce & issues & related constraints

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: White Revolution, National Dairy Development Board

Mains level: Declining prices og milk and other agri commodities and measures required to arrest the slide in prices


Context

Recent incidents of milk spilling

  1. Early this month, the media was awash with images of farmers throwing vegetables and pouring milk on the roads
  2. The primary motivation behind them was falling producer realizations

White Revolution

  1. The White Revolution in India happened thanks to a fundamental technological innovation in 1956
  2. That was when Amul, for the first time in the world, manufactured powder from buffalo milk
  3. The breakthrough enabled the dairy cooperative in Gujarat’s Kaira district to accept all the milk that its farmer-members poured, especially during the ‘flush’ winter months when production by buffaloes rose one-and-a-half times or more
  4. The powder plant guaranteed that all the milk poured by farmers got procured, making dairying a sustainable income-generating activity

Effect on industry

  1. Technological and processing innovations such as the above, along with organized procurement and marketing of milk, gave an impetus to India’s dairy industry
  2. Milk production rose from 20 million tonnes (mt) in 1960-61 to 53.9 mt by 1990-91
  3. It has grown even more after liberalization, reaching 165.4 mt in 2016-17
  4. Milk is today the country’s biggest agricultural ‘crop’, with its output value in 2014-15 even exceeding that of all cereals and pulses put together

Why a slowdown in recent years?

  1. The last 3-4 years have seen India reel under a skimmed milk powder (SMP) glut
  2. In the pre-powder days, the problem was of a seasonal surplus of milk with farmers
  3. Now, it is of a structural surplus of the powder itself with the dairies
  4. The collapse of exports has to do with global prices
  5. After peaking at $ 5,000-$ 5,200 per tonne in April 2013, international SMP prices have fallen to $ 1,800-$ 2,000 levels (Almost one third)

Factors responsible for the global crash

  1. A bursting of the Chinese import bubble in 2013, after whey protein concentrate consignments from the New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra tested positive for Clostridium botulinum bacteria
  2. The Russian embargo on western food imports as a retaliation to sanctions that followed tensions in Ukraine in 2014
  3. The European Union dismantling a three-decade-old milk production quota regime in 2015

Risks this year and beyond

  1. Every year of not exporting one lakh tonnes of SMP has  meant the accumulation of stocks with dairies, forcing them, in turn, to slash both milk procurement and prices paid to farmers
  2. The situation will be more serious after October when the next flush season starts
  3. The very innovation that triggered the White Revolution — milk powder production — is ironically threatening to burn the barn down

Possible solutions

  1. A subsidy of up to 20 percent on SMP exports can be given
  2. The government can also procure SMP stocks from our dairies at a subsidized  price and “gift” these to low-income, milk-deficit nations, thereby spreading goodwill and cementing India’s international relations
  3. This job can be entrusted to the National Dairy Development Board, which can also provide the technical assistance to establish dairy plants and procurement infrastructure in these countries

Impact of these measures

  1. A programme on the above lines will cost Rs 2,000 crore-2,500 crore annually, which is a pittance compared to the Centre’s budgeted food subsidy of Rs 169,323 crore for 2018-19
  2. By providing an external market for our surplus powder, it will help arrest the current slide in prices and incomes of dairy farmers here
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

U.S. pulls out of United Nations Human Rights Council

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: United Nations Human Rights Council

Mains level: Impact of ‘America First’ policy on various international institutions and their members


News

Another US withdrawal

  1. The United States has announced that it was leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council
  2. It was the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution
  3. The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy

Reason given for withdrawal

  1. There has been longstanding U.S. complaint that the 47-member council is biased against Israel
  2. The U.S. is Israel’s biggest defender at other U.N. organizations

Special mention of Israel at UNHRC

  1. Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under “Item 7” on the agenda
  2. Item 7 on “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” has been part of the council’s regular business almost as long as it has existed

Other major withdrawals

  1. Since January 2017, U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the U.N. educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal

Ripple effects on China

  1. At the rights council, the United States has recently been the most unabashed critic of rights abuses in China

Back2Basics

United Nations Human Rights Council

  1. UNHRC is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world
  2. The UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis
  3. The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006
  4. The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland
  5. The members of the General Assembly elect the members who occupy the UNHRC’s 47 seats. The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms
  6. The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership
  7. The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities
Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] The imperative to offer refuge

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various declarations for protecting refugees mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: The newscard emphasizes the need to codify a bill for Asylum Seekers in the ambit of global Compact on Refugees.


 News

India over the ‘Refuge culture’

  1. India is host to over 200,000 refugees like her who have been forced to flee conflict and persecution in their home countries.
  2. On World Refugee Day (June 20), there is a need to reassess India’s approach to refugee protection, particularly in light of the regional refugee crisis after the mass exodus of the Rohingya from Myanmar.
  3. Traditionally, India has hosted several persecuted groups such as Tibetans and Sri Lankans.
  4. While it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no domestic asylum law, it has reiterated its commitment towards the protection of refugees at various international fora, including the UN General Assembly.
  5. One of the most significant affirmations of this commitment was demonstrated by India becoming a signatory to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was adopted by 193 countries in September 2016.

Indian context

  1. India iterates that protecting refugees and supporting the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities that must be borne more equitably.
  2. Although India has hosted refugees of varying nationalities for decades, the country has done little beyond providing asylum. There have been some attempts to introduce a refugee law in the country, the latest being the Asylum Bill 2015, introduced as a private member’s bill by Shashi Tharoor.
  3. Given that most refugees have been unable to return to their countries, leading to protracted refugee situations, there is an urgent need for the government to develop a uniform framework for their management during their stay in India.

The global move to handle Refugees – the GCR

  1. The NY Declaration sets the stage for a new framework for refugee protection — the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).
  2. The Compact is a coordinated effort to strengthen international response to protracted refugee situations and comprehensively addresses all stages of refugee protection, from reception to long-term solutions.
  3. Two of its key objectives are to ease pressures on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance.
  4. The GCR recognises that certain refugee situations can last for decades and acknowledges that the burden is borne largely by developing countries, that now host over 80% of the refugee population in the world.
  5. It also seeks to establish forums to enable expertise-sharing to promote economic opportunities, decent work and job creation not just for refugees but also for the host community.

UNHCR to intervene

  1. Since the Declaration was adopted, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been engaging with member states, UN bodies, and non-governmental organizations to develop a plan for its practical implementation.
  2. This will be finalized by the end of 2018.

Problems faced by Refugees

  1. Due to their unclear legal status and lack of uniform documentation, refugees have limited access to essential services and almost no avenues for livelihood.
  2. While some refugees have been able to generate income by working in the informal sector, many of them are at the mercy of touts and traffickers even within their own community.
  3. At best, they are forced to rely on income from odd jobs which is an unsustainable livelihood option that often leaves them exposed to exploitation.

Solutions for Refugees Problem

  1. The solution to this may lie within the GCR, which calls for States to identify gaps and opportunities for employment and income generation for refugees in a bid to enhance their self-reliance.
  2. Moreover, it specifies the need to include the host community in enabling mapping skills, vocational training and capacity-building among refugee populations, thereby fostering understanding and cooperation among the communities and paving the way for a socially cohesive approach.

Way Forward

  1. India’s commitment to refugee protection under the GCR is evident in its active participation in ongoing GCR consultations, where it has emphasized the need for a clear mechanism for the refugee response regime.
  2. Therefore this is an opportune time for India to reassess the need for a national asylum policy which is compliant with the principles laid down in the GCR.
  3. This will not only re-establish India’s place as a democratic regional power committed to core humanitarian principles but will also provide refugees such as Nargis a chance to give back to the country that has adopted her.
Rohingya Conflict

[op-ed snap] Growth in the machine

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Applications of AI

Mains level: This editorial talks about the “still emerging” AI technology which has so unique advantages for India compared to other countries. This raises attention for India to harness AI for boosting growth.


 Context

Getting the ‘Developed’ tag

  1. India has perhaps now only a limited window of a decade to get into the developed country tag or stay perpetually in the emerging group of economies.
  2. To get to the developed country status, this is one factor that has to change dramatically.
  3. This begs the question: How do we get India’s productivity to spike in 10 years?

India is trailing behind US and China in AI

  1. AI — the simulation of human intelligence and learning by machines — has been talked about by many as the productivity booster we have all been waiting for.
  2. While India is expected to be a player, it is far from being among the leading actors in AI.
  3. According to PwC, of the $15.7 trillion increase in global GDP in 2030 attributable to AI, $7 trillion will be in China, $3.7 trillion will be in the US and Canada.
  4. Accenture pegs the number for India to be below 1 trillion in 2035.Without question, the race for AI dominance is between the US and China.

AI-relevant advantages unique to India.

Three are particularly worth noting and give me reason for hope. It is hard to find another country ready with these many deep value-creating AI applications.

(A) Versatile platform:

  • With a billion-plus people populating the unique-ID system, Aadhaar, and the India Stack of digitally enabled offerings built on top of Aadhaar, the country has a platform for growth unlike any other in the world.
  • It can, in principle, catalyse innovative applications, nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate a massive amount of data that can train algorithms and help develop more intelligence — the “I” in AI.
  • To be sure, there are plenty of challenges to overcome: Getting the right participants, stakeholders and talent base to come together, providing capital and ensuring privacy, security and usability of the data.

(B) Key actors:

  • The good news is that India has an early start here.
  • The global AI majors are active in India and view it as one of the world’s most promising digital growth markets. This puts India in a clear third place behind the US and China and ahead of Europe.
  • Europe’s more stringent data protection rules and regulations and slowing digital momentum will further constrain the interests of innovative companies.
  • With economies of scale working in India’s favour, this could create a virtuous cycle of private sector AI investment and innovation activity.

(C) Abundant applications:

  • The technology can address long-standing societal and human development problems of the kind that abound in India.
  • Think of tackling dengue and Chikungunya, two of the more formidable mosquito-borne public health crises. It is essential to get data on its incidence early and predict its path.
  • Project Premonition, for example, an AI project of Microsoft, uses mosquitoes themselves as data collection devices.
  • AI can be used for myriad other purposes stretching across farming, transport, infrastructure, education and crime prevention — all productivity-boosting and job-creating applications ready and waiting across India.

India moving Forward on AI

  1. The budget for Digital India was doubled; the IT ministry has formed four AI committees; the government’s think tank, the Niti Aayog, is tasked with coordination across AI initiatives.
  2. The Niti Aayog, for its part, has just announced an AI partnership with Google and has released a white paper, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.
  3. If done right, it can spike productivity, save lives and produce new livelihoods — jobs that the country’s youth desperately need.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Rajya Sabha fault lines clear for Deputy Chairman poll

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Election process for VC of Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Importance and special powers of Rajya Sabha


News

Election for VC of Rajya Sabha

  1. Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu has set in motion the process of election of Deputy Chairman of the Upper House

The process of election

  1. Under the procedure prescribed, any member may give notice in writing addressed to the Secretary-General, before noon on the day before the election date, of a motion that another member may be chosen as Deputy Chairman
  2. This notice shall be accompanied by a statement by the member whose name is proposed in the notice that he is willing to serve as Deputy Chairman if elected
  3. The motions which have been moved and duly seconded will be put one by one in the order in which they have been moved and decided if necessary by division

India launches its first National Healthcare Facility Registry

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Registry and other stakeholders involved, National Health Profile

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

National Health Resource Repository (NHRR)

  1. The Union ministry of health and family welfare has launched the first ever registry in the country registry of authentic, standardised and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare.
  2. Objective: “to create a reliable, unified registry of country’s healthcare resources showing the distribution pattern of health facilities and services between cities and rural areas”
  3. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the project technology partner for providing data security.
  4. It will now be possible to provide comprehensive data on all private and public health establishments and other resources, including Railways, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), defense and petroleum healthcare establishments.
  5. Under the Collection of Statistics Act 2008, more than 20 lakh healthcare establishments such as hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and nursing homes would be enumerated under this census, which will capture data on more than 1,400 variables.
  6. The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) has looped in key stakeholders, including leading associations, allied ministries, and several private healthcare service providers.

What is it going to provide?

  1. This resource repository shall enable advanced research towards ongoing and forthcoming healthcare challenges arising from other determinants of health such as disease and the environment.
  2. Approximately 4,000 trained professionals are working with dedication to approach every healthcare establishment to collect information.
  3. It shall also enhance the coordination between central and state government for optimisation of health resources, making ‘live’ and realistic state project implementation plans (PIPs) and improving accessibility of data at all levels, including state heads of departments, and thus decentralise the decision making at district and state level.
  4. Additionally, it shall generate real-world intelligence to identify gaps in health and service ratios, and ensure judicious health resource allocation and management.
  5. It shall identify key areas of improvement by upgrading existing health facilities or establishing new health facilities keeping in view the population density, geographic nature, health condition, distance,” he said.
  6. The NHRR project aims to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizens and provider-centric services by creating a robust, standardised and secured Information Technology (IT)-enabled repository of India’s healthcare resources.

National Health Profile (NHP)-2018

  1. The health minister also released the National Health Profile (NHP)-2018, prepared by CBHI.
  2. The National Health Profile covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, along with comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

How to make affordable housing more attractive

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMAY, Floor Space Index, PMAY

Mains level: Measures for increasing affordability of Housing for all initiative


News

Carpet (floor) Area has been increased by 33% to qualify for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Subsidies

  1. The initiative, ‘Housing for All by 2022’ is the central pivot around which the government’s efforts are concentrated. This, in turn, covers different aspects like rental and affordable housing.
  2. Roping in the private sector under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model is the key solution.

What more is needed to increase affordability?

Among other initiatives, the government needs:

  • to grant infrastructure status to the entire real estate industry making long-term financing easy for the industry
  • fix GST rate for all types of housing at 6%
  • revise carpet area to 60 sq. mt including in metro cities (to qualify for subsidy)
  • make land available at subsidized rates in metros and tier 1 cities so that the projects can be viable
  • reduce premium on additional FSI (floor space index) to encourage affordable housing within metro cities and
  • also reduce time taken and cost of permissions and clearances.

Permitting higher Floor Space Index

  1. Land in metros forms a significant proportion of the project cost and renders such projects unviable for the affordable segment.
  2. Policies should be formulated wherein land can be provided at rates that make the affordable projects viable.
  3. Land can be provided to develop composite projects where one segment, say, LIG (lower income group) is cross-subsidised by the revenues earned from the other segment, say HIG (higher income group).
  4. If such corridors allow for high density development, a higher FSI can be permitted, with an incremental benefit of FSI being applied towards affordable housing.
  5. The government should provide incentives to private players who use technology to deliver quality product.
  6. Such standardisation may further improve efficiency and make construction of homes like a manufacturing set-up.

Rewarding developers for last mile connect

  1. Availability of land in cities at affordable pricing is one of the major challenges.
  2. The government could facilitate the development of affordable housing by making surplus land held by PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) available for affordable housing projects.
  3. Land is a state subject and that adds another layer of complexity.
  4. The central government should guide the states on programmes to allocate and incentivise the usage of land for affordable housing, while also incentivising state governments to facilitate engagement and implementation.
  5. It is also recommended to incentivise developers for infrastructure and last mile connectivity development in semi-urban centres.

Allotting land parcels at subsidized costs

  1. The recent move to raise the carpet area and the RBI’s revision of housing loan limits for priority sector lending (PSL) eligibility will help bring most of the under-construction dwelling units in urban India under the purview of the CLSS.
  2. This will not only bolster homebuyer sentiments, but also further propel construction activity in the affordable housing sector. However, the next steps for the government should be:
  • Look at the benefits for developers. Elements like reduction in construction inputs should now be a priority.
  • To make optimum use of the initiative from a consumer’s standpoint, the land allotment should be at better locations and subsidized costs.
  • Focus should be on building a holistic environment that incorporates infrastructure and social facilities. Access to holistic livelihood facilities will be key in determining the success of the initiative
Housing for all – PMAY, etc.

Indian plant seed could bring clean water to millions

plant--agencies

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Moringa oleifera plant, F-sand

Mains level: Innovative methods to deal with water pollution


News

Plant to purify water

  1. Proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant can help effectively purify water in developing nations at a low cost
  2. The plant – commonly known as the drumstick tree – is cultivated for food and natural oils, and the seeds are already used for a type of rudimentary water purification
  3. The Moringa oleifera plant tree is native to India and grows well in tropical and subtropical climates

F-sand

  1. Sand and plant materials have been to create a cheap and effective water filtration medium, termed “f-sand”
  2. F-sand was created by extracting the seed proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, and adhering them to the surface of silica particles, the principal component of sand
  3. It kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity, adhering to particulate and organic matter
New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Govt. teams up with Google for flood warning

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Water Commission (CWC), India Meteorological Department, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, geospatial mapping,

Mains level: Flood management in India and need of better practices to ensure minimal loss of life and property


News

Better flood warning

  1. Union Water Resources Ministry has teamed up with Google to generate flood warnings
  2. If there are signs of an imminent flood, a Google Maps user will be able to see what regions are likely to see water logging first and if their neighborhood is under threat
  3. Google will provide a visualization via Google Maps and people will be able to see water levels build up in a region

Technology sharing

  1. CWC and Google will share technical expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, geospatial mapping and analysis of hydrological observation data to improve flood prediction systems, provide location-targeted, actionable flood warnings
  2. Google Earth Engine will be used to help visualize and improve flood management and initiate a cultural project to build online exhibitions on the ‘Rivers of India’

Present system of warning

  1. Currently, the Central Water Commission (CWC) warns of floods based on the rising water levels in reservoirs and if these are nearing a dam’s ‘danger marks’
  2. Last year, it began a trial programme to give 3-day flood forecasts
  3. The India Meteorological Department now provides inputs to the CWC on whether heavy rainfall is likely and if this could translate into large amounts of rainwater overflowing from river banks or catchments
Urban Floods

Aadhaar virtual IDs becoming a real problem for NBFCs

Image result for aadhar virtual id

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Aadhaar Virtual ID, AUA (Authentication User Agencies) Types

Mains level: Issues created due to the implementation of aadhaar


News

Virtual IDs for eKYC

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI’s) plan to make non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) use Aadhaar Virtual IDs to authenticate customers from 1 July has put these firms in a fix.
  2. The government introduced 16-digit virtual IDs in a bid to address privacy concerns around sharing Aadhaar numbers at the time of authentication.
  3. Earlier, the Aadhaar data of all customers were synced with credit bureaus, which allowed NBFCs to do eKYC without the need for physical verification, said a digital strategy officer of a top NBFC.

Lending is difficult due to Virtual IDs

  1. NBFCs pointed out that using virtual IDs will give them access to limited details about the customers, which may make lending more difficult.
  2. Since virtual IDs mask the Aadhaar number, NBFCs believe the cost of customer acquisition will rise as they have to do additional physical checks.
  3. NBFCs also point out that many customers are not fully aware of Aadhaar virtual IDs as UIDAI is yet to publicize this new system.
  4. These firms are concerned that it would be left to them to push customers to register for virtual IDs, increasing the cost of customer acquisition.

Problem with UIDAI’s AUA Classification

  1. UIDAI has recently classified entities as global AUAs (authentication user agencies) and local AUAs, depending on their access to Aadhaar data for customer verification.
  2. Banks and life insurers have been categorized as global AUAs and allowed to use Aadhaar numbers to do an eKYC verification.
  3. On the other hand, NBFCs, home financiers, prepaid instrument issuers and telecom companies have been classified as local AUAs and must use Aadhaar virtual ID to perform a one-time-password-based customer authentication.
Aadhaar Card Issues

In a first, WHO recommends quadrivalent influenza vaccine

Image result for influenza

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Influenza Strain Types,  H#N# Subtypes

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Quadrivalent vaccine approved

  1. Sanofi Pasteur’s injectable influenza vaccine (FluQuadri) containing two A virus strains — H1N1 and H3N2 — and two B virus strains — Victoria and Yamagata — for active immunisation of adults of age 18 to 64 years was approved in May last year by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  2. The application for the paediatric indication is under review by the DCGI and final approval is expected by the end of this month.
  3. Sanofi’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine was licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013; it is licensed in 26 countries.

Why Quadrivalent vaccine?

  1. While a trivalent influenza vaccine contains both A subtype viruses, it has only one of the B subtype virus, the quadrivalent vaccine offers a greater breadth of protection as it includes both B subtype viruses.
  2. It is because of a greater breadth of protection that a few other companies too have shifted from a trivalent to a quadrivalent vaccine.
  3. Since the vast majority of influenza vaccines manufactured were trivalent till recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) used to recommend two A subtypes and one B subtype, plus an optional fourth strain (the other B virus strain).

Benefits of Quadrivalent Vaccine

  1. The quadrivalent vaccine will contain four influenza virus strains (two A subtypes and two B subtypes — H1N1 and H3N2, and Victoria and Yamagata respectively).
  2. The viruses used in the vaccine are killed and this eliminates the possibility of the virus in the vaccine itself causing infection.
  3. In India, the vaccine will be available as a single dose pre-filled syringe
  4. Eventually, it will be available in a vial for public health use.

Incidences of different Strains

  1. In the case of H1N1, there are two strains — California and Michigan — that cause influenza. In India, the Michigan strain was earlier circulating and has been replaced by the California strain.
  2. For 2018, the WHO has recommended the Michigan strain for the southern hemisphere, including India.
  3. Each year, the vaccine changes to reflect the different strains in circulation.
  4. Year-round, scientists across the globe track, analyze and classify the viral strains causing illness.

 Indian context

  1. Despite the high number of infections and mortality each year, India does not have in place a national policy for influenza immunization.
  2. Pregnant mothers, children aged below five and young people with asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are at a greater risk of infection and death.
  3. The Ministry of Health issues only H1N1 vaccination guidelines for different vulnerable groups including healthcare workers.
  4. If we want to reduce the influenza burden in adults, then we must target children as they act as reservoirs.

Back2Basics

Influenza

Influenza is a virus that actually has hundreds of different strains. The virus mutates frequently, but the strains are classified into one of three main categories—A, B, or C.

Influenza A is the group that most commonly causes illness in humans.

  1. All influenza A viruses are further broken down into H and N subtypes. So, any influenza virus that is described as “H#N#” (such as H1N1) is an influenza A virus.
  2. There are 16 H subtypes and nine N subtypes, but only three combinations have actually caused highly contagious illness in humans.
  3. Other combinations have been found to infect other species (such as birds and pigs), but they have not caused widespread human infections.
  4. The three combinations that cause almost all outbreaks of the flu in humans are H1N1, H2N2 and H3N2.
  5. Even in these subtypes, the influenza virus can mutate and change each year. For this reason, influenza viruses are also named using:
  • The host of origin (swine, chicken, etc., or no host if it is of human origin)
  • The geographical location of origin (Hong Kong, Alberta, etc.)
  • Strain number
  • Year of discovery (or isolation)

Influenza B

  1. Influenza B is less common but still causes outbreaks of seasonal flu.
  2. One or two strains of influenza B are included in the seasonal flu vaccine every year to protect people from the strain(s) that researchers believe are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season.
  3. The quadrivalent flu vaccine contains two strains of influenza B but the traditional trivalent flu vaccine only contains one.
  4. Influenza B is not broken down into subtypes like influenza A is, but it is broken down into individual strains.
  5. Typically, two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B are included in the seasonal flu vaccine. Quadrivalent flu vaccines contain two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.
  6. Influenza B can cause outbreaks of seasonal flu but they occur less frequently than outbreaks of influenza A.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[op-ed snap] Countering China in the Indo-Pacific

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shangri-La Dialogue, Malabar exercises, Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises, two-plus-two dialogue, Guam, Martabali port, Sonadia port, Trincomalee port, Malacca Straits, Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)

Mains level: Indo Pacific cooperation and its importance for India


Context

Shangri-La Dialogue

  1. At the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Modi and the defense ministers of Japan, the US and Australia reiterated their shared commitment to the Indo-Pacific region
  2. It was closely followed by Japan-India-US Malabar exercises in Guam
  3. Japan, India, the US and Australia will also join Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises commencing on 27 June
  4. India and the US are planning to hold the first two-plus-two dialogue (between their foreign and defense ministers) in Washington

Turning cooperation into a “counter China strategy”

There are three possible ways

First, we should focus on the link between Indo-China border area and the East China Sea

  • If India cooperates with Japan and the US, it will not need to deal with all the Chinese fighter jets at once, because China is likely to keep some of its fighter jets to defend its eastern front.
  • Japan and the US are willing to support India’s efforts to modernize its defence in the Indo-China border area

Second, there is a high possibility that in the near future India will be the most influential sea power in the Indian Ocean Region

  • Japan, the US and Australia will then be able to deploy more military force in the East China Sea and the South China Sea to maintain the military balance against China
  • Therefore, these three countries should share the know-how related with anti-submarine capabilities and enhance India’s military preparedness
  • Developing infrastructure in countries of the region is useful, too
  • Bangladesh has already chosen Japan’s Martabali port project instead of China’s Sonadia port project
  • If the Trincomalee port project involving Japanese assistance in Sri Lanka succeeds, then the importance of China’s Hambantota port will decline
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a result of Indo-Japanese cooperation, will also counter China’s growing influence in Africa

Third, Japan, India, the US and Australia can collaborate to support South-East Asian countries in the South China Sea

  • The South-East Asian countries need to beef up their military power
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important
  • These islands are near the Malacca Straits, providing an excellent location for tracking China’s submarine activities
  • Japanese investment in India’s strategic road project in the latter’s North-East region will help increase India-South-East Asia trade
  • Growing India-South-East Asia trade could reduce China’s influence in South-East Asia

Way Forward

  1. Further security cooperation among Japan, India, the US and Australia is increasingly plausible
  2. The time has come to proactively further this cooperation to ensure prosperity and stability in the whole of Indo-Pacific
Foreign Policy Watch: India-APEC