QUESTION: What are the factors influencing the India-U.S. ties? Suggest the pathway to address the issues that hamper the deepening of India-U.S. ties.”
Topic- A NEW DIRECTION FOR INDIA-U.S. TIES
- India-U.S. Bilateral relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As India-U.S. ties propels, the new model should be on how to structure common understanding with China factor in mind.
BACKGROUND OF INDIA-U.S.TIES
- Colonial times:
- The United States under the leadership of President F.D. Roosevelt once pressed Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill to free India and co-opt India as a formal ally in World War II, during the early 1940s.
- Democracy a common link:
- India after independence in 1947, declared its commitment to democracy, fundamental rights, free press and non-violence in a written Constitution which came into force on January 26, 1950.
- Membership in the UN:
- India appeared to the U.S. as worthy in the most important body of the United Nations, namely the Security Council, as a Permanent Member with a Veto.
- A study points out the then U.S. administration’s proposal for unseating China as a Permanent Member in the Security Council and of India being put in her place.
- However, India pressed for China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council.
- U.S.-China relations witnessed a turnaround:
- In the 1970s, the U.S. entered into “strategic partnership” and supported Communist People’s Republic of China, under the new leadership of reform-minded Deng Xiaoping.
- USA’s tilt towards Pakistan:
- In the 1950s, after India’s tilt to the Soviet Union and China in the Korean war, the U.S. turned to Pakistan as a possible counterweight in South Asia against the Soviet Union and China.
- The U.S. made Pakistan a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), and liberally gave aid and armaments.
- This made Pakistan dream of equality with India in the international domain, despite no match in military, economic development, and ancient and continuous culture that ensured democracy.
- As a consequence, India had to go to war with Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and 1999.
WHY THE U.S. MATTERS TO INDIA ?
- America remains the critical stabilizing force in Asia through its military and diplomatic power projection and commitments to the region.
- The twentieth century bore witness to a multi-generation U.S. efforts to prevent the emergence of any hostile hegemon on the Eurasian landmass, a function that the United States continues to fulfil today with the help of its Asian partners.
- China has chosen episodically to ignore global non-proliferation norms, a pattern of behaviour that the United States has assiduously sought to curtail. Though no nation can a priori prevent future Chinese proliferation activities, only a U.S.-led international effort has any chance of success.
- India will be better able to protect its national interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan in coordination with the United States.
- The United States will continue to be important for India’s economic success. India’s economy has been built around unleashing domestic consumption rather than relying on exports.
- The United States has also remained one of the top sources of foreign direct investment in India, bringing important managerial expertise, capital, and technology with it to the dynamic Indian market.
- The United States has a long-term commitment to maintain security and freedom of navigation on the high seas, something critical to India as a net energy importer.
- Washington retains unparalleled power and influence in global governance institutions.
- As India seeks a larger role in the UN Security Council and international monetary institutions, U.S. support for India will be critical to reforms that benefit New Delhi’s national interests.
India-USA: 5 Pillars of Strategic Partnership
- Strategic Issues
- Energy and Climate Change
- Science and Technology
- Health and Innovation
- Education and Development
BILATERAL RELATIONS :
- Political Relations:
The frequency of high-level visits and exchanges between India and the U.S. has gone up significantly of late. Delhi Declaration of Friendship is been adopted as Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. There is frequent interaction between the leadership of the two countries, including telephone calls and meetings on the sidelines of international summits.
- Strategic Consultations:
There have been regular contacts at political and official levels on bilateral, regional and global issues. There have been regular contacts at political and official levels on bilateral, regional and global issues. Foreign Office Consultations, at the level of Foreign Secretary of India and U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs, are an important part of the dialogue structure.
- Civil Nuclear Cooperation:
The bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement was finalized between both the countries. The two sides set up a Contact Group for advancing the full and timely implementation of the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and to resolve pending issues. Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the two sides have started the preparatory work on site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse. Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind.
- Defence Cooperation:
Contract of 6 Apache helicopters to Indian Army and MH-60 Romeo during Trumps visit to India. Defence relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India-U.S. strategic partnership with the signing of ‘New Framework for India-U.S. Defense Relations’, the resulting intensification in defence trade, joint exercises, personnel exchanges, collaboration and cooperation in maritime security and counter-piracy, and exchanges between each of the three services. The two countries now conduct more bilateral exercises with each other than they do with any other country.
- Counter-terrorism and internal security:
Cooperation in counter-terrorism has seen considerable progress with intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology and equipment. India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative was signed to expand collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity building. The two sides have agreed on a joint work plan to counter the threat of Improvised Explosives Device (IED). In order to further enhance the counter terrorism cooperation between India and the U.S., an arrangement is concluded to facilitate exchange of terrorist screening information through the designated contact points.
- Trade and Economic:
The United States seeks an expanded trade relationship that is reciprocal and fair. Bilateral trade in 2018 was $142 billion, a 12.6 percent increase from 2017. S. energy exports are an important area of growth in the trade relationship. In 2018 India purchased 48.2 million barrels of U.S. crude oil, a significant increase from 9.6 million in 2017. Last year, Indian students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities contributed over $7 billion to the U.S. economy. The total number of Indian students in the United States has more than doubled over the last decade, from 81,000 in 2008 to a record high of 196,000 in 2018.
- Energy and Climate Change:
- The U.S.-India Energy Dialogue was launched to promote trade and investment in the energy sector. There are six working groups in oil & gas, coal, power and energy efficiency, new technologies& renewable energy, civil nuclear co-operation and sustainable development under the Energy Dialogue.
- Investment by Indian companies like Reliance, Essar and GAIL in the U.S. natural gas market is ushering in a new era of India-U.S. energy partnership. The U.S. Department of Energy has so far given its approval for export of LNG from seven liquefaction terminals in the U.S., to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement (FTA).
- Learning from past mistakes: A new opportunity ahead:
- Give and take relationship – serving national interest:
o For example, India needs U.S. hardware military equipment for dealing with adversaries like China and Pakistan. On the other hand, the U.S. needs India to fight her enemies in India’s neighbourhood such as in Afghanistan.
o In cyberwarfare and counter terrorism: Also, India needs the support of the U.S. and its ally like Israel – in cyberwarfare, satellite mappings, intercepts of electronic communication, hard intelligence on terrorists, etc.
o Developing naval and air force bases:
- India needs the U.S. to completely develop the Andaman & Nicobar and the Lakshadweep Islands as a naval and air force base, which the U.S. can share along with its allies such as Indonesia and Japan.
- Also India-US can leverage QUAD ties for a peaceful Indo-Pacific.
o Technologies: India needs technologies such as thorium utilisation, desalination of seawater, and hydrogen fuel cells.
- Presidential polls ahead: The success of India’s new bonding with the U.S. will first depend on the outcome of the U.S. Presidential elections to be conducted soon.
- The Democratic party Presidential candidate has already flagged concerns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed by India’s Parliament.
- Defence and military engagements: India’s purchase from Russia of the S-400 air defence missile system and the refusal to send Indian troops to Afghanistan (request made by US government) concerns the U.S policymakers.
- Economic relations hampering India’s national interests: For example, free, indiscriminate flow of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) is not in India’s national interest.
- Both countries need to recognise each other’s concern and work towards the deepening of the ties for the mutual benefit and with a view to dealing with the challenges confronting both the countries.
WAY AHEAD :
- Strengthening economic ties:
o The U.S. must allow India’s exports of agricultural products including Bos indicus milk, which are of highly competitive prices in the world.
o FDI should be allowed into India selectively from the U.S., based on the economic theory of comparative advantage and not on subsidies and gratis.
o Tariffs of both India and the U.S. should be lowered.
- A trilateral commitment: In the long run, India – U.S. – China should form a trilateral commitment for world peace provided Chinese current international policies undergo a healthy change
QUESTION: Disaster preparedness is the first step in any disaster management process. Explain how hazard zonation mapping will help in disaster mitigation in the case of landslides.
Topic- BALANCING PRIORITIES
- Development and Environment
WHY IN NEWS?
- Landslide in Idukki district of Kerala has claimed 22 lives thus far and rendered several families homeless.
LANDSLIDES IN KERALA :
- Landslips or landslides have been a recurrent phenomenon in the Western Ghat state of Kerala.
- Data from the Geological Survey of India shows that Kerala has experienced 67 major landslide events and several minor ones from 1961-2013.
- In 2019, Wayanad district witnessed multiple landslides that claimed several lives and destroyed multiple hamlets.
- The National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM) programme of the Geological Survey of India notes that nearly 13 of the State’s 14 districts are prone to landslides.
- What made Kerala particularly vulnerable was the high population density of over 800 per square kilometre as compared to other States that also faced high landslide risk.
- A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting (a geomorphic process),” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.
- Several things can trigger landslides, including the slow weathering of rocks as well as soil erosion, earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Loss Due To Landslides:
- Based on Global Fatal Landslide database 2004-2016, globally in 4,862 distinct landslide events 55,997 fatalities were recorded (earthquake triggered landslide events were not taken in account in this study).
- Continent-wise, Asia suffers the maximum damages / losses due to landslides.
- Among the Asian countries, South Asian nations are the worst sufferers and India is one of the worst affected by landslides.
- As landslides are frequent and widespread, the annual cumulative losses worldwide amount to tens of billions of USD in terms of lost property, environmental damage, repair works, and the maintenance of defence measures.
- As per Geological Survey of India, the window of economic loss due to landslides may reach between 1-2% of the gross national product in many developing countries.
SUGGESTIONS TO FIX PROBLEM :
- Store Excess water in catchments areas to reduce the fury of flash floods, recharge the ground water and improve the environment.
- Dig runoff collection ponds in the catchments.
- Grow fuel / fodder trees in all of the common lands.
- Plantation in barren areas, especially on slopes, with grass cover is an important component of integrated watershed management programme.
- Grazing should be completely restricted. After the area is completely protected from grazing, better grasses can be planted.
- The grasses of industrial importance should also be planted so that there is some economic return to the farmers as well.
- Use the surface vegetative cover to protect the land from raindrop’s beating action, bind the soil particles and decrease the velocity of flowing water.
REASONS BEHIND LANDSLIDES IN KERALA :
- Heavy rainfall
- Topography: Given the hilly topography of the state, Kerala is prone to landslides.
- Climate change
- Developmental activities : Extensive deforestation for developmental work has led to an increased possibility of soil erosion + Given the hilly topography of Kerala, human activities like quarrying and the unscientific cutting of slopes for road construction have only increased the risk of soil erosion.
Landslides Hazard Zones:
- Landslide hazard zonation maps were prepared for selected pilgrim routes in the country. These zones are delineated based on geological, topological and anthropogenic factors. These factors include lithology, soil, slope, drainage, lineament, landuse, etc.
- At present these maps are available for pilgrim routes in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya.
- addition, event-based and seasonal landslide inventory is also carried out.
- The information on landslide inventory and hazard zones help the decision makers for better planning in these areas
How to zoning can help?
- Such information helps the decision makers for better planning and precautionary measures in these areas e.g.
- Diverting the vehicles / pilgrims and putting a halt on Mining activities during the rainy season.
- They can also keep the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and SDRF personnel on stand by in these areas.
- They can ban construction of new roads, dams and hotels.
- Limiting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes.
- Encourage terrace farming instead of Jhumming.
- Large-scale afforestation programmes and construction of bunds to reduce the flow of water.
ENVIRONMENTAL (PROTECTION) ACT OF 1986 :
- In the wake of the Bhopal Tragedy, the Government of India enacted the Environment Protection Act of 1986 under Article 253 of the Constitution
- Passed in March 1986, it came into force on 19 November 1986
- The Act is an “umbrella” for legislations designed to provide a framework for Central Government, coordination of the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous Acts, such as the Water Act and the Air Act.
- In this Act, main emphasis is given to “Environment”, defined to include water, air and land and the inter-relationships which exist among water, air and land and human beings and other
OBJECTIVE OF THE ACT :
- The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972, in so far as they relate to the protection and improvement of the human environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property
- Development goals must be pursue without breaching environment regulations.
WAY FORWARD :
- The strategy to counter the risk posed by landslides must be based on the four pillars of disaster management: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
- Methods of reducing the impact of landslides: Restriction of population from landslide-prone areas.
- Important preparatory strategies could involve monitoring and landslide prediction. The National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM) programme of the Geological Survey of India could help assess the vulnerability of the districts and this could allow the concerned states to plan accordingly.
- Ensuring medical service to the injured people and Providing emergency shelters for those who lost their homes.
- there is the need to ensure strict enforcement of environmental regulations and zoning laws. If necessary such laws must be made more stringent.