Chinese troops tried to change status quo: India

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

In a statement on Tuesday night, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the violence that claimed Indian soldiers’ lives in the Galwan valley, including that of a Commanding Officer of Colonel rank, had come despite a series of ground-level discussions on de-escalation of the month-long standoff between the two armies.

Key Details:

  • At least five points in Ladakh including the Galwan Valley patrolling points, Hot springs area and Pangong Tso (lake) have been identified as flash points.
  • India’s demands had included a return to status quo ante, and the retreat of Chinese troops occupying Indian patrol areas, along with tents, vehicles and equipment.
  • Accusing the Chinese troops of “attempting to unilaterally change the status quo in the Galwan valley, the Ministry of External Affairs said the casualties could have been avoided had agreements made by military commanders over the past week been followed by the Chinese side.

Background:

  • The alignment of the LAC has never been agreed upon, and it has neither been delineated nor demarcated.
  • There is no official map in the public domain that depicts the LAC. The current understanding of the LAC reflects the territories that are, at present, under the control of each side, pending a resolution of the boundary dispute.
  • For the most part, in the western sector, the LAC broadly corresponds with the border as China sees it. However, India and China do not agree on the alignment of the LAC everywhere.
  • Differences in perception, particularly in 13 spots in the western, middle and eastern sectors of the border, often lead to what are called “face offs”, when patrols encounter each other in these grey zones that lie in between the different alignments. Some of these areas are Chumar, Demchok and the north bank of the Pangong lake in the western sector, Barahoti in the middle sector, and Sumdorong Chu in the east.

Failure of protocols and agreements:

  • Both India and China have agreed to protocols in 2005 and 2013that describe the rules of engagement to handle border stand-offs, but as the current stand-off at Pangong Tso reminds us, they haven’t always been followed.
  • India and China signed the landmark Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA) in 1993, the first legal agreement that recognised the LAC. However, this landmark agreement too did not precisely demarcate the LAC.
  • Both the 1993 BPTA agreement and the subsequent agreement on confidence-building measures in 1996 acknowledged that both sides would ultimately clarify the LAC. That process has, however, stalled since 2002, when China walked away from exchanging maps in the western sector.

Unintended consequences:

  • The unqualified reference to the LACcreated the unintended side effect of further incentivising the forward creep to the line by the Chinese military, a consequence that both sides are currently dealing with at multiple points on the LAC.

Chinese tactics:

  • China has in several territorial disputes, intentionally left its claims ambiguous.
  • The Chinese haven’t stuck to their previously agreed positions. China’s alignments of the LAC have kept changing.
  • The border skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control seem to be indicative of the Chinese approach to use the border problem to pressurize India on other issues.
  • Given the current circumstances, India should strategize an action plan aimed towards protecting its sovereign interests.
  • India needs to be prepared, continue to build roads and improve the infrastructure along the border, to keep itself ready to deal with any contingency.
  • To counter China India must look for options beyond LAC.
  • The South China Sea/Indian Ocean Regionmaritime domain presents India with the best options where the regional geopolitical context is favourable.
  • India should demonstrate that it is willing and capable of influencing the maritime balance in East Asia, where China faces off a combination of the United States, Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia and sometimes Malaysia and the Philippines as well.
  • China perceives a vulnerability in the Malacca straitgiven its marked dependence on the sea lines of communication for its vast trade and energy imports.

Going global:

  • India should go global to defend against China. India’s counter to Chinese power in the Himalayas should be to assume a more global role of its own.
  • In Asia and Africa, debt-traps induced by the BRI are gradually stoking discontent. If India focuses on leveraging its advantages as a development partner, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era, it can use its newfound influence as a bargaining chip against Chinese interests in these countries.

Building alliances:

  • India must build power-balancing alliances.
  • Many countries are seeking leadership from other quarters to counter-balance Chinese influence. In Southeast Asia, countries are pushing back against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
  • This provides an opportunity to build partnerships with such countries to balance China’s growing influence.
  • India can give itself leverage against China by improving its bilateral relationships with other countries that are similarly worried about China’s growing influence — such as Australia, Vietnam, Japan, and even the U.K.

Aligning with the United States:

  • A closer alignment with the U.S. represents India’s opportunity to counter China, while efforts to foster regional partnerships and cultivate domestic military capabilities, although insufficient by themselves, could play a complementary role.
  • Moving into a closer partnership with the US would allow India an opportunity to rebalance the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India could choose to leverage the sensitivity of the Chinese to the one-China policyand other vulnerabilities like Tibet issue and Hongkong protests, to force a change in China’s attitude.
  • This would allow India to signal to China that it has options, and that China would be wise not to escalate these situations too far.

Indian doctors express cautious endorsement for dexamethasone for COVID-19

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

Indian doctors have said the reported success of dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid that retails for less than ₹10 for 10 ml and is made by several Indian manufacturers at curing COVID-19 patients on ventilators is good news for India.

Key Details:

  • Indian doctors have said the dexamethasone is an inexpensive steroid that retails for less than ₹10 for 10 ml and is made by several Indian manufacturers.
  • Scientists administering the WHO-administered RECOVERY trial (the largest global clinical trial that is checking the ability of several repurposed drugs to treat COVID-19) reported that dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.
  • However, there was no benefit among those patients who did not require respiratory support.
  • It is a cheaper option than tocilizumab.
  • Tocilizumab is also being tested as part of the RECOVERY trial and is an injectible.
  • Dexamethasone and tocilizumab are not anti­virals but work to modulate the immune response of the body when confronted by a viral infection such as COVID­-19.

India expects to sail through UNSC vote

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • India expects to sail through as the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) votes for contenders to five non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council for 2021-22.
  • India is standing unopposed as the nominee for the Asia-Pacific seat, and needs two-thirds of UNGA members, or 129 votes, to be confirmed.
  • Mexico is also unopposed in its bid for the Latin American and Caribbean seat, while there is a straight contest between Kenya and late entrant Djibouti for the African seat.

Key Details:

In its own campaign brochure, India had highlighted its commitment to multilateralism, demand for transparency in mandates for UN peacekeeping missions, push for the Indian-led Comprehensive Convention for International Terrorism (CCIT) and joint efforts for UN reform and the expansion of the UNSC.

India’s membership:

  • India is guaranteed a place in the UNSC as it is the sole candidate for Asia-Pacific (55-nation grouping) and is also expected to sail through with the 129 votes (two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly) required for the seat.
  • This will be the eighth time India will occupy a non-permanent UNSC seat, with its last stint in 2011-2012.

India’s agenda:

  • India will highlight international terrorism, United Nations reforms and Security Council expansion, streamlining the world body’s peacekeeping operations and technology initiatives during its upcoming tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2021-22.
  • India’s overall objective during this tenure in the UN Security Council will be the achievement of R.M.S: A New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral Systemto set right the challenge of “Unreformed and under-representative” global institutions.

Background:

UNSC:

  • The Security Council consists of five permanent members (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America) and 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years.

Election procedure:

  • The General Assembly elects each year, five non-permanent members of the Security Council.
  • The non-permanent members of the Council should be elected according to the following pattern:
  • Five from African and Asian States;
  • One from Eastern European States;
  • Two from Latin American States;
  • Two from Western European and other States.

A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election. The election is held by secret ballot and there are no nominations. The non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected by a two-thirds majority. 


Move fast to ease liquidity: RBI’s Das

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

With economic growth expected to be in the negative territory for the current financial year, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das emphasised on the need for going full throttle to revive consumption and investment.

Issues & Challenges:

  • With spending patterns having altered drastically away from the discretionary to the essential items, private consumption is bound to be affected negatively. Private consumption expenditure accounts for a large share of the GDP for India.
  • A key challenge would be to resuscitate domestic demand to avoid any harmful effect on income and employment in the short run and potential growth over the medium term, and for strengthening domestic demand, it is important to revive consumer and business confidence.

Steps taken:

  • Given the huge collapse in demand, the need is to ease financing conditionsfurther so as to revive consumption and revitalise investment.
  • After cutting interest rates by 75 basis points (bps) in March, RBI has further brought down the repo rate by 40 bps to 4% in May in a bid to revive demand amid a slowing economy.
  • The MPC has decided to remain accommodative as long as it is necessary, to revive growth and mitigate the fallout of COVID-19.
  • Monetary policy can inspire confidence among households and businessesto break the vortex of public preference for deposits over spending and banks’ aversion to lend and invest.

RBI creates Rs.500 cr. fund to boost payment infra

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

  • Given the high cost of merchant acquisition and merchant terminalisation, most of the Points of Sale (POS) terminals in India are concentrated in tier 1 and 2 cities and towns and other regions have been left out of the increasing digital payment ecosystem.
  • To provide a fillip to the digitisation of payment systems, it is necessary to give impetus to acceptance infrastructure across the country, more so, in under-served areas.

Key Details:

  • The RBI has created a Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) to encourage acquirers to deploy Points of Sale (PoS) infrastructure — both physical and digital modes — in tier-3 to tier-6 centres and north eastern states.
  • The PIDF will be governed through an Advisory Council and managed and administered by RBI.
  • RBI will make an initial contribution of Rs. 250 crores to the PIDF, while the remaining contribution will be from card-issuing banks and card networks operating in the country.