News & Editorial Analysis 13 May 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – India Maldives Relations:
With the laying of the cornerstone for the Coast Guard’s “Ekatha Harbour” in the Uthuru Thila Falhu atoll, India and the Maldives have reached a significant turning point in their defence relations.
Regarding the project:
to enhance the Maldivian Coast Guard’s capabilities and support regional efforts for disaster relief and humanitarian aid.
The project, one of the largest Indian grant-in-aid projects in the Maldives, represents a significant development in the expanding defence partnership between India and the Maldives.
The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) received a second landing craft from India. Previously, India had given the Maldives a Dornier aircraft, a patrol boat, and a coastal radar system.
In response to claims that the project was a front for Indian military presence in the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, the head of the opposition, launched the “India Out” campaign.
Maldives’ significance to India:
long-standing relationships with the Maldives, a strategic location in the Indian Ocean, advantages for India and other countries in the area with shared marine interests, and the backdrop of growing Chinese efforts to increase their influence in the region.
Different Aspects of India-Maldives Relations:
The history of the Maldives and India are entwined, and the northern atolls of the Maldives were conquered by Rajaraja Chola’s Chola dynasty. Political instability happened after it became a British colony and earned independence in 1965.
Joint Exercises: “Operation Shield,” “Ekuverin,” “Dosti,” and “Ekatha” (started in 2021). The Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) receives the majority of its training chances from India, which fulfils about 70% of their needs in this area.
The Maldives play a significant role in India’s concept of “Neighbourhood First” and “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
The Maldives’ second-largest trading relationship is India. An agreement for the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) was inked by the Indian business Afcons.
Project for the development of the Hanimaadhoo International Airport funded by an Indian credit line. The Indian External Affairs Minister launched the National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) in 2022.
A 100 million Rufiyaa (the local currency of the Maldives) grant has been made for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) programme.
Athletics and academics:
construction of a sports centre in Gahdhoo and academic cooperation between Cochin University of Science & Technology and the Maldives National University.
Centre for Rehabilitation:
With Indian aid, a drug detox and rehabilitation facility was constructed at Addu.
The China Factor:
The strategic footprint of China in the region surrounding India has grown. A significant “pearl” in China’s “String of Pearls” strategy in South Asia has emerged as the Maldives. The strategic presence of China in the Maldives continues to be of concern given the shaky dynamics of Sino-Indian relations.
India-Maldives relations’ difficulties:
Political instability: For instance, India’s relationship with the Maldives was strained as a result of Mohamed Nasheed, the opposition leader indicted in 2015, and the ensuing political turmoil.
Radicalization: India is concerned about the growing trend of Maldivians joining terrorist organisations like the Islamic State (IS) and jihadist organisations with bases in Pakistan.
China’s Strategic Presence: India faces a challenge due to China’s growing strategic presence in the Maldives. For India’s security, the Maldives have grown to be a significant “pearl” in China’s “String of Pearls” scheme in South Asia.
China’s dominance: In 2018, the Maldives reneged on a deal with India to establish a significant naval facility on the island of Marao. This action was viewed as a result of China’s expanding influence in the Maldives.
Political moves: In 2012, the Maldives terminated a $511 million contract for the development of Male International Airport that had been given to the Indian business GMR. This soured relations between the two nations.
Domestic politics: The Maldives’ “India Out” campaign aims to incite anti-Indian feelings among its population.
India must actively participate in the Indo-Pacific security area to ensure regional security in South Asia and along the region’s maritime borders. To prevent any changes in the domestic political situation in the Maldives, it is crucial to effectively communicate with the population and persuade them of India’s intentions behind its programmes on the island nation.
Source à The Hindu
2 – All about Buddhism:
Key members of the international Buddhist community, including the Dalai Lama, attended a recent conference on Buddhism held in India’s capital city of New Delhi.
What is diplomatic soft power?
The capacity to influence others without using force or money is known as soft power. Soft power diplomacy, as opposed to depending primarily on military or economic coercion, refers to the use of cultural, social, and economic tools to influence the attitudes and actions of other countries. Joseph Nye first used the term “soft power” in the 1990s.
Cultural exchanges, educational initiatives, humanitarian aid, and public diplomacy campaigns are a few examples of soft power diplomacy.
Buddhism’s significance for India’s soft power diplomacy
Cultural and Historical Connections:
The country’s soft power diplomacy with Buddhist nations like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam can be strengthened by India’s cultural and historical ties to Buddhism.
Promoting Religious Harmony As the birthplace of Buddhism, India may connect with nations like China, which has a sizable Buddhist population, using its Buddhist past and teachings to foster communication and understanding between the two countries.
Seven of the eight most important Buddhist sites in the world are currently located in India. A tourist route that links them is being developed by the Indian government. It is called the Buddhist Circuit.
Asia is home to 97% of the world’s Buddhists, and a number of nations including Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka view Buddhism as integral to their national identities and values.
Projecting Soft Power:
India can strengthen ties with Southeast Asian nations and expand its influence in the region by utilising its Buddhist cultural diplomacy.
India has made an effort to present a morally-based alternative to contentious international politics.
“Sanskriti Evam Sabhyata,” which translates to “cultural and civilizational links,” is one of India’s Panchamrit principles.
Comparison of China’s and India’s methods for soft diplomacy with Buddhism:
Since the 1950s, India has used Buddhism as a soft power strategy.For more than 20 years, China has used Buddhism, notably in Southeast Asia and other regions of the world, as a tool of soft power diplomacy.
to defend India’s cultural heritage and oppose China’s expanding influence.to spread Chinese culture and China’s influence throughout the world.
India has prioritised the preservation of historic Buddhist sites, the construction of new ones, the aid of academics and monks, and the promotion of Buddhism through intercultural dialogue.China successfully engaged with its neighbours during the Cold War with Buddhist diplomacy, and it is still using this strategy to support its Belt and Road Initiative.
China has also made significant investments in the construction of Chinese Buddhist temples and monasteries abroad.
China, with its influence over Hollywood, has entirely dominated the narrative around Buddhism in film, preventing India from making effective use of this field.
Examples of actions:
the first global Buddhist summit, the restoration of the historic Nalanda University, and the promotion of Buddhist circuit tourism in India.
The World Buddhist Forum was founded in China and brings together Buddhist leaders from all over the world. Encourage the repair of historic Buddhist sites, including Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
India confronts a number of obstacles in its efforts to use Buddhism to project soft power, including:
It is difficult to draw visitors and develop Buddhist tourism because many of India’s historic Buddhist sites are in poor condition.
Competing with other nations:
Despite having a number of significant Buddhist sites, like Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar, India has had difficulty luring Buddhist visitors, who typically favour Thailand and Cambodia.
Buddhist community divided:
It is difficult to develop a coherent strategy for promoting Buddhism because the Indian Buddhist community is fractured and divided along sectarian lines.
India’s economic and political clout can overshadow its soft power, which prevents its cultural influence—including Buddhism—from always being acknowledged on a global scale.
It is necessary to foster ties with other Buddhist schools of thought, like Nagarjuna Buddhism, which receives little attention in scholarly research. Additionally, emphasise how important it is for the Buddhist Circuit Project to successfully implement the Nalanda University project and manage tourism attractions.
Source à The Hindu
3 – ESCAP Study on Natural Disasters:
Environmental Conservation related issues
The majority of Asia-Pacific (AP) nations are underprepared to handle the growing problems of extreme weather events and natural disasters, according to a recent report by the ESCAP.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) study’s highlights include:
More than half of the GHGs in the world are produced in the AP region.
Temperatures in the AP region have risen more quickly than the global mean over the past 60 years.
Extreme, erratic weather conditions as well as natural disasters (such as tropical cyclones, heat waves, floods, and droughts) have increased in frequency and severity.
damage to people’s health, significant death toll, and eviction.
Here, economies are suffering, society are crumbling, and food systems are being upended.
leading factor in poverty and inequality in the area since it disproportionately affects marginalised and poorer communities.
In the worst-case climatic scenario, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation are predicted to sustain the largest losses.
With a substantial share of the world’s population, the AP area is one of the world’s most quickly developing regions.
The majority of the world’s low-lying cities and fragile small island republics are found in this region.
Development in AP is becoming more and more threatened by the overlapping crises of climate change and climate-induced disasters.
challenging development advancements.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are imperilled.
lack of resources to assist adaptation and mitigation activities as well as the essential data.
In order to invest in climate action in the region and keep global warming below 1.5°C, the current financing is insufficient.
There is a need to close the emissions gap in three crucial industries: energy, transportation, and international trade and investment.
a quick rise in renewable energy through modernising national energy infrastructure, developing new technical capabilities, etc.
the requirement for international electricity systems to boost renewable energy usage.
To reduce carbon footprint in the building industry, energy efficiency rules must be in line with net-zero objectives.
energy systems that are climate-proof.
The transportation sector needs to transition to a low-carbon pathway by cutting back on travel distances through integrated land use, planning, switching to sustainable modes of transportation, and increasing vehicle and fuel economy.
Be sure to include climate issues in regional trade deals.
Climate-smart trade is necessary.
The private sector needs to be pushed to take steps towards a low-carbon future, and business practises need to incorporate sustainability.
Best practises include:
One of the five regional commissions under the control of the UN Economic and Social Council is the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (est. 1947; HQ: Bangkok).
Source à The Hindu
4 – EU’s Carbon Border Tax:
Environmental Conservation related issues
The European Parliament, the EU’s legislative body with 27 members, came to a political agreement on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), a carbon border tax.
The European Green Deal, which acts as a roadmap for both tax and non-tax policy efforts in the EU to meet its ambitious goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, first introduced CBAM.
As part of the “Fit for 55” policy package, which aims to cut GHG by at least 55% by 2030 from levels in 1990, there was a proposal for a regulation on CBAM in 2021.
The CBAM is what?
A set of imports with a high carbon footprint will be subject to a tariff or import duty that must be paid by EU importers and businesses that send these products to EU nations.
Desire for CBAM:
In order to stop “carbon leakage”:
When businesses move the production or manufacturing of carbon-intensive products to nations with less restrictive climate legislation, this is known as carbon leakage.
They do this to dodge domestic carbon emission regulations.
To encourage a change in behaviour:
According to WB, the Paris Agreement’s proposed carbon price regimes presently apply to fewer than 4% of global emissions.
The majority of taxes are too low to actually alter polluter conduct.
It will level the playing field for companies inside and outside the bloc by fixing the price for the carbon content of goods regardless of where they are produced.
Why is India and poor nations opposed to CBAM?
The measure has been opposed by the BRICS, who see it as a unilateral, protectionist trade weapon that would distort the market.
For instance, India claims that the CBAM will result in a 20–35% tariff on its exports, which are currently subject to an MFN tax of less than 3%.
Shock to the economy for nations dependent on one or more of the targeted industries.
For instance, Mozambique’s GDP would decrease by around 1.5% as a result of the export taxes on aluminium.
Steel, iron, and aluminium exports from India total $8.2 billion, with 27% going to the EU.
The proceeds from the selling of the CBAM levy can be used to finance climate change initiatives in less developed nations. This will ensure that carbon emission objectives are met while also ensuring climate justice.
Source à The Hindu
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
ISSUES WITH INDIA’S MULTI ALIGNMENT STAND:
India’s approach to conflict resolution has once again been under the spotlight as a result of China’s recent mediation efforts to address the Ukraine situation.
The stark difference:
To increase its appeal as a soft power player, India has increasingly exploited a variety of symbolic weapons of influence. India is being portrayed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the “mother of democracies” and as a “moral force” enforcing world peace.
Since the Russian invasion, India’s Prime Minister has spoken to Mr. Zelenskyy numerous times and has expressed India’s solidarity with Ukraine while extending support for peace efforts. This is in stark contrast to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initial outreach to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month.
Our Prime Minister had publicly reprimanded Moscow by saying that “today’s era is not of war” in front of Mr. Putin.
India’s several alignment strategies:
In order to achieve security, economic fairness, and the eradication of existential threats like terrorism, multi-alignment is characterised as a series of parallel ties that reinforce multilateral collaborations.
Despite western criticism of India’s continued energy imports from Russia and export of excess refined Russian fuel to the European market, it may be argued that India’s regular interactions with Ukraine highlight its rising stature and recognition of its unique position in the emerging global order.
The Indian state has always been impacted by nationalist ideologies, which has helped them spread farther throughout society and the polity. The Modi government’s nationalist foreign policy narrative is at the centre of it, hence the selection of the “Vishwaguru” is not arbitrary.
The relevance of the Vishwa Guru image today is to draw attention to how unique the nation’s cultural ethos and civilizational ideals are, as well as how’soft power’ differs from other forms of influence in discussions of foreign policy.
Soft power is acknowledged as significant yet limited in its influence on policy, and it is both universal and ambiguous.
Hard power is lacking in India. Such an incident—the Ukraine War—would not have been brought to the attention of the world if India had been sufficiently powerful. This story implies that a strong Indian civilizational state will stand for stability and peace on a global scale.
India has voiced its opposition to the conflict in Ukraine, although it has refrained from taking a firm stance in numerous UN resolutions. This ambiguity is not appropriate for a country that hopes to join the UNSC permanently, which includes a willingness to speak out against human rights abuses and territorial aggression on a global scale.
Furthermore, it is impossible for the normative tenets of the democratic, self-assured, and morally superior Vishwa Guru identity to be the same as those underlying the cynical hegemon that seeks to maximise its power at all costs, morals be damned.
While India’s ambiguous stance on the Ukraine war highlights both India’s historical discomfort with viewing its national interests in binary terms and the importance of Russia from a military and geopolitical standpoint for India’s military readiness, the majority of India’s political elite do not share Russia’s justifications for its military actions in Ukraine.
India’s ideas on sovereignty align with a widely accepted Westphalian concept and hence fundamentally oppose the’might is right’ political tenet of communist China.
However, the Ukraine conflict alone is unable to dismantle India’s historical relations with Russia, which are founded on both the military reliance of New Delhi on Moscow and the anti-colonial tenet of India’s strategic autonomy policy.
The government must therefore take care to prevent the perception that India is supporting Moscow by not denouncing Russian aggression and continuing to acquire more Russian fuel.
While India’s relations with Russia are probably on the decline, the piecemeal separation from Russia will take some time as New Delhi tries to find some room to manoeuvre amid the burgeoning China-Russia nexus.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
ROLE OF GOVERNOR:
The Uddhav Thackeray government cannot be reconstituted because there was no floor test conducted and a voluntary resignation was made, according to the most recent Supreme Court decision on the roles of the governor and speaker in Maharashtra.
Important aspects of the decision:
Because the MLAs’ resolution letter did not explicitly state that they wanted to leave the government, the Governor did not have enough unbiased material evidence. His request for a floor test was therefore unlawful.
Additionally, the Council of Ministers must be consulted in order for the Governor to utilise his or her right to summon the House under Article 174 of the Constitution. It is prohibited and against the law to exercise it without the assistance.
It is impossible to settle party disagreements by a floor vote.
the speaker’s role:
In accordance with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, the Speaker is only required to recognise the whip that the political party has appointed.
As a result, the Speaker’s action in recognising the whip based on the decision of the opposing faction within the party was illegitimate since he did so without checking to see if the decision was made by the political party as a whole, not only the legislative party.
Additionally, the disqualification petitions of 16 dissident MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly must be decided by the Speaker “within a reasonable period.” This case has been waiting before the Speaker since last year.
Election Commission’s Functions:
The Tenth Schedule gives the Election Commission and the Speaker the authority to decide on petitions that are brought before them while simultaneously determining whether political party is involved.
Why the opposition MLAs are still in the House:
According to the Nabam Rebia ruling from 2016, the assembly speaker cannot move on with a request for the disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice requesting his removal is still pending before the House.
The renegade MLAs were able to stay in the assembly thanks to the judgement, which benefited the faction commanded by Mr. Shinde.
Real Shiv Sena, according to the Election Commission’s judgement:
The Eknath Shinde faction has been given the party name “Shiv Sena” and its bow and arrow emblem by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The Election Commission’s decision took into account a number of factors and was based on the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
Key justifications for the judgement include
The ECI took into account the party constitution’s goals and objectives. The Uddhav faction was accused by the Eknath Shinde faction of deviating from the party’s “aims and objects” by forging a partnership with groups with opposing views, which included the main cause of dissatisfaction and discontent among the party’s rank and file.
Despite being requested, the Election Commission should have been informed of the revision to the party constitution that Uddhav Thackeray made in 2018 and the process of doing so. The Shiv Sena’s 1989 registration requirements, which the party’s new constitution violates, were filed to the Election Commission.
The Representation of People’s Act of 1951’s Section 29 A and the current Election Commission recommendations on the registration of political parties, which include complying to internal democracy, have been incorporated into Eknath Shinde’s 2018 party constitution.
The ‘test of the majority’ in the legislative wing, which was discovered to be with the Shinde faction, was once again the only option available to the ECI under the circumstances.
In the 2019 State Assembly elections, the 40 MLAs who supported Ekanth Shinde received 76% of the votes cast in favour of the 55 winning MLAs.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the 13 MPs backing Eknath Shinde received 73% of the votes cast in favour of 18 MPs.
Basic Clauses of the Constitution:
The 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act added it to the Constitution in 1985. It outlines the procedure through which a legislator’s defection by the presiding officer of a legislature may result in their disqualification. Both the Parliament and state legislatures are subject to the statute.
Ineligibility under the Tenth Schedule:
if a political party member who sits in a House.
gives up his political party membership voluntarily.
votes against or abstains from voting in that House in accordance with any directive given by his political party without first receiving that party’s consent, and that action has not received the party’s blessing within 15 days.
if an independent candidate changes their party affiliation following the election.
six months after being elected to the legislature, a nominated member joins a party.
Lawful deviations from the rule:
if a party merges with another party and a member leaves that party as a result. When two-thirds of the party’s members approve a merger, it becomes official.
if a member re-joins his party after resigning as the house’s presiding officer or willingly leaves it after being elected to that position.
The Presiding Officer’s Decision is Open to Judicial Review:
The Supreme Court ruled in the Kihoto Hollohan case (1993) that the presiding officer should act as a tribunal while deciding a case under the 10th Schedule.
Therefore, his or her decision was open to judicial review on the grounds of mala fides, perversity, etc., just like the decision of any other tribunal.
The Presiding Officer has the following discretion:
According to the statute, the Presiding Officers have no time constraint in which to decide whether to accept a petition for disqualification.
The petitioner’s only choice is to wait until the officer makes a decision because the courts cannot interfere until after that.
In a number of instances, the courts have voiced their displeasure with the unnecessarily long time it takes to decide these petitions.
According to a recent ruling by the SC, disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule shall be considered by Speakers within three months, barring “exceptional circumstances.”
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