One Asia, two perspectives

GS Paper II

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

Mains: Areas of cooperation required by India and China for Asia’s rise.

What’s the News?

The world today is undergoing a fundamental transformation and there are several facets to the emerging uncertainty. This is a great opportunity for Asia to rise for which China and India needs cooperation to make the prediction of Asia’s rise a reality.

Background:

  • The two Asian giants, China and India, contributed close to 60% of the global manufacturing production and an even larger proportion of manufactured exports until around 1750.
  • However, over the next two centuries, the Industrial Revolution in Britain brought about a radical transformation of the situation that changed the profile completely, except for the outlier, Japan.
  • The economies of Asian countries excluding Japan were in dire poverty in the early part of the 20th century.
  • But in the middle of the century they became independent countries.
  • The poor countries became “underdeveloped” and development became the central idea in official and scholarly discourse.
  • The underdeveloped economies were caught in a “low-level equilibrium trap” — low incomes, low savings, low investment — and thus a built-in inability to grow.
  • The remedy was foreign aid accompanied by labour-intensive technologies.

Gunnar Myrdal – ‘Asian Drama’:

In 1968, Gunnar Myrdal made a comparison of “Western values” and “Asia Values” in his three-volume Asian Drama and propounded that because of different values Asian countries were caught in a poverty trap and depending on foreign aid will not help to come out of this low-level equilibrium trap.

  • Submission to authority and exploitation
  • Survival mindedness; irresponsiveness to opportunities for betterment;
  • Contempt for manual labour; unwillingness to work for others;
  • Superstitious beliefs and irrational outlook; low aptitude for cooperation.
  • Underdeveloped institutions for enterprise, employment and credit; imperfections in the authority of government agencies;
  • Low standards of efficiency and integrity in public administration.
  • Add to these the caste system and the joint or extended family, and Asia emerges substantially different from western nations.

Threats faced:

  • Traditional and non-traditional security threats (economic and military competition, climate change, piracy, radical ideology, cyber threats, drug and human trafficking, and energy and food security) have grown in magnitude.
  • Power, whether economic, political or military, is fractured. Trade and technology are at the heart of a new round of competition and contestation.
  • Nationalism and regionalism are on the rise. There is less multilateralism but greater multi-polarity. Hedging and multi-alignment are the order of the day.

World scenario:

  • The global economy is likely to grow at its slowest pace in a decade, at 3% in 2019.
  • The momentum in manufacturing activity has weakened to levels unseen since the global financial crises. Investor and business confidence even in emerging markets is at low ebb.
  • Low productivity growth and ageing demographics in advanced economies have further compounded the problem.
  • In the face of automation, countries are undertaking structural reforms and emphasising skills-training to raise productivity.
  • Development and adoption of green technology is also a priority.

Growing significance of Asia:

  • In the coming years, Asian economies will become larger than the rest of the world combined in PPP terms, for the first time since the 19th century.
  • As it becomes more integrated, Asia is growing richer.
  • More importantly, it is also coalescing as a constructive force for global governance.
  • A lack of leadership or consensus hampers the much-needed reform of global institutions such as the WTO, IMF and UN.
  • But meanwhile, Asia has become the locus for new multilateral initiatives.
  • This is evident in new trade pacts and institutions such as –
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

China and India- need cooperation:

  • Both India and China are expected to contribute to global economic growth in the future.
  • India and China needs to work together to strengthen the WTO.
  • The RCEP should have a wider ambit, including trade in services. China too should pro-actively work to ensure India’s membership.
  • China and India could explore the potential to work together on Asian infrastructure and connectivity development on the basis of equality and an open and transparent model under the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
  • China and India being the two of the world’s biggest importers of oil and gas should have a joint consultative mechanism to protect the interests of consumers.

Areas of cooperation:

  • Economically: China and India have huge complementarities given their strengths in manufacturing and services, respectively. IT is another promising area for collaboration as –
  • China is a leading investor in AI and quantum communications
  • India is a world-leader in software outsourcing and IT consulting
  • Tourism – Alongside the movement of goods and capital, flows of people are a vital component of Asia’s integration. While Inter-Asian tourism and talent flows are booming, cultural ties between China and India remain below the potential. Improving visa processes and creating programmes for talent and academic exchange could help in this regard.
  • Environmental protection – This is a potential and important area for long-term cooperation. As the most populous countries, joint efforts between China and India will be crucial to tackle environmental challenges like climate change.

In this regard, both the countries are inextricably linked through a shared atmosphere, water resources, and the Himalayan ecology.

Conclusion:

It must be remembered that Asia’s rise is predicated on peace and stability. It is a sad fact that stable regional security architecture has yet to emerge organically in Asia. It is the Asia of cooperation that will shape this century.

MAINS QUESTION:

‘’The world today is undergoing a fundamental transformation and there are several facets to the emerging uncertainty. This is a great opportunity for Asia to rise for which China and India needs cooperation to make the prediction of Asia’s rise a reality.’’ In the light of this statement analyse the threats faced by Asian countries and steps required to make 21st century as Asian century.

 


Choice and candidacy: On crime and politics

GS Paper II

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Mains: Criminalization of Politics

What’s the News?

On noting the “alarming increase” of those with a criminal background in the last four general elections, the top court has now come up with an additional requirement while hearing a contempt of court petition.

SC’s Rulings:

  • The Supreme Court ordered political parties to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections along with the reasons that goaded them to field suspected criminals over decent people.
  • The information should be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles.
  • It should mandatorily be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.                        

Criminalization of Politics:

  • It means that the criminals entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature.
  • Criminalisation of politics is the focus of public debate when discussion on electoral reforms takes place.

Factors responsible:

  • The use of muscle power along with money power is a weapon used by all political parties to maximize electoral gains.
  • The Representation of People Act specifies what can disqualify an individual from contesting an election. The law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting elections.
  • An individual punished with a jail term of more than two years cannot stand in an election for six years after the jail term has ended. With cases dragging in courts for years, a disqualification based on conviction becomes ineffective.

Steps taken by judiciary:

  • Directions to ensure the asset disclosure and criminal records of candidates,
  • The invalidation of a clause that protected sitting legislators from immediate disqualification after conviction.
  • Incorporation of ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option in 2003.
  • The Court has directed the establishment of special courts in all States for the quick disposal of cases involving elected representatives.

Challenges:

  • Limited power with election commission: Election Commission has limited powers to legislate on such laws. Public opinion too is not firm on the issue.
  • Lack of Inner-party democracy:
  • While political parties raise concern about candidates with a tainted background contesting elections, none of them come forward to set an example for others when it is time to act.
  • In the present criminal justice system it takes years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician.
  • Judicial delays: Those with political influence have taken full advantage by delaying hearings, obtaining repeated adjournments and filing innumerable interlocutory petitions to stall any progress.

Inter-relation of Politicization of Police and Criminalisation of politics:

  • Political parties engage in corruption and infect the bureaucracy and the police.
  • Police forces in India are not independent of political control and doubts hover over the autonomy of investigative agencies as well. This being so, perhaps it should not shock us that the proportion of politicians facing criminal charges is so high.
  • One in three police personnel in India has very frequently faced political pressure in the course of crime investigation, more so during the investigation of cases involving influential persons.
  • It gives impunity to political parties and it results into developing a nexus between political parties and police which leads to criminalisation of politics.
  • Without the effective implementation of the court’s order the police in India will never get out of the clutches of the venal political class.
  • The court’s seven directives in landmark Prakash Singh Vs Union of India case mandated the institution of state security commissions to ward off unwarranted political control, police establishment boards for transfers, postings promotions etc, police complaints authorities at the state and district levels and fixed tenures for officers on operational positions, among others.

Way Forward:

  • The latest order is in line with a series of judgments aimed at preserving the purity of the election process. However, it must be underscored that de-criminalisation of politics cannot be achieved by judicial orders alone.
  • Parties would probably justify their choice of candidates by pointing out that the law now bars only those convicted and not those facing charges, however serious they may be.
  • Besides, they are apt to dismiss all pending cases as “politically motivated”. So beyond steps by judiciary these reforms should be targeted-
  • Police Reforms: Police reforms are sorely needed. Until we have a law enforcement system that is demonstrably upright and just, parties can get away by telling voters that their candidates are victims of slander.
  • Sensitising the electorate about the role and responsibility of the elected representatives.
  • Political parties will have to be encouraged to have stronger inner party democracy to attract this new set of leaders to join the party.
  • Judicial system will have to be overhauled drastically to ensure that justice is dispensed swiftly in all cases.

MAINS QUESTION:

 ‘’The idea of removing the taint of criminality from electoral politics has been engaging the country for decades. Yet, whatever progress made in this regard has been through the initiative of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission.’’ Analyse the given statement. Also write the inter-relation between criminalisation of politics and politicisation of police in India.