QUESTION: “Recent geopolitical developments in India’s neighbourhood, requires a reset in India-Nepal relations.” Critically Analyse the statement in context of India-Nepal- China triangulation.
Topic- ISOLATING CHINA,AS PROPOSITION AND THE REALITY
- A strong economic hold of China
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The economic grip China exerts on the world protects it from the threat of isolation. This article examines this issue and its implications for India.
CHOOSING BETWEEN CHINA AND U.S.:
- As relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate, there has been the realignment of forces, with the U.S. and China leading opposite camps. Most countries have been hesitant to take sides.
- India’s attempt to isolate China would lead to a perception of India aligning with the U.S
CHINA’S AGGRESSION :
- Beijing’s virtual takeover of Hong Kong has only confirmed what had long been known about China’s intentions.
- In March-April this year, China further stepped up its aggressive actions, renaming almost 80 geographical features in the region as an index of Chinese sovereignty.
- Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Korea have all complained about China’s menacing postures in their vicinity.
HOW COUNTRIES ARE RESISTING CHINA:
- Hardly any country in Asia is willing to openly confront China, and side with the U.S.
- East Asian countries explain that China was always known to be over-protective of the South China Sea.
- And China consider South China Sea a natural shield against possible hostile intervention by outside forces inimical to it.
No U.S. assurance and Chinese aggression has been enough to make countries in the region openly side with the U.S. and against and China
CHINA’S ECONOMIC GRIP AND LESSIONS FOR INDIA:
- Despite a series of diktats from Washington to restrict economic and other relations, China remains unfazed.
- China seems confident that its stranglehold on the global economy ensures that it does not face any real challenge.
- It would be wise for India to recognise this.
- It is equally necessary to realise how fickle some of these countries can be when it comes to economic issues.
- At a recent meeting in Washington Australia (a member of the Quad) made it clear that China is important for Australia.
- Likewise, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, recently stated in its Parliament, that the U.K. wants a positive relationship with China.
It is evident that few nations across the world are willing to risk China’s ire because of strong economic concerns.
INDIA’S RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES : CONCERNS
- India’s relations with Nepal, meanwhile, have hit a roadblock over the Kalapani area.
- In Sri Lanka, the return of the Rajapaksas to power after the recent elections does not augur too well for India-Sri Lanka relations.
- The strain in India-Bangladesh relations is a real cause for concern since it can provide a beachhead against Chinese activities in the region.
GROWING CHINESE PRESENCE IN INDIA’S SPHERE OF INFLUENCE :
- In July, the Chinese Foreign Minister organised a virtual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- In this meeting, China proposed economic corridor plan with Nepal, styled as the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
- China has also made headway in Iran to an extent, again at India’s expense.
- Geo-balancing is not happening to China’s disadvantage. This lesson must be well understood when India plan its future strategy.
QUESTION : How much would it be correct to say that WHO is losing its relevancy taking decisions during present Covid-19 pandemic? Critically analyse.
Topic- THE WHO’S RELEVANCE IS FADING
- Criticisms of WHO during Covid-19
WHY IN NEWS?
- Coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 19 million people, claimed over 0.7 million lives and devastated economies. As the pandemic transcends geopolitical boundaries the role played by WHO is questioned.
CRITICISM OF ROLE PLAYED BY WHO AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
- Slow response:
o With the necessary arrangements of regional offices in six geographical regions and country offices across 150 countries, the WHO was expected to play the dual role of a think tank and oversee global responses to public health emergencies.
o The earliest COVID-19 positive case in China was reported in November 2019 but China informed the WHO about the disease only in January.
With the WHO country representative stationed in Beijing, it is unlikely that widespread transmission went unnoticed.
- Ignoring hints by other countries
o Even though confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S. in January 2020 the WHO continued to downplay the severity of the virus.
o WHO is also alleged to be ignoring Taiwan’s hints of human-to-human transmission and requests on sharing “relevant information”.
- No proactive role
o WHO has been reduced to a coordinating body, beholden to the interests of rich member states.
o The functional efficiency of WHO has been disadvantaged with
- Organisational lethargy,
- Absence of decisive leadership,
- Bureaucratic indolence,
- Underfunded programmes, and
- Inability to evolve to meet the needs of the 21st century.
o Role played by Director-General Tedros Adhanom has also been criticised for his leadership abilities during this pandemic.
- Favouring a donor-driven agenda:
o WHO is funded through assessed contributions made by the member states and voluntary contributions from member states and private donors.
o While assessed contributions can be spent as per the organisation’s priorities approved at the World Health Assembly, the irregular voluntary contributions are allocated in consultation with the donors.
While voluntary contributions accounted for nearly 80% of the budget in 2018-19, assessed contributions merely constituted 17% of the total budgetary support.
o The challenges owing to constrained finances encumber autonomy in decision-making by favouring a donor-driven agenda.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION :
- It was set up on April 7, 1948, after its constitution was signed by 61 countries on July 22, 1946, at the first meeting of the World Health Assembly.
o The Geneva-headquartered organization has six regional offices and 194 members currently.
- It is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
- Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.
Its main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; noncommunicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.
How effectively has WHO responded to earlier global outbreaks?
- SARS 2003 – During the SARS outbreak in 2003, then WHO Director-General Gro Brundtland had taken on China over the outbreak.
- Brundtland had issued warnings against travel to SARS-affected regions, without the nod of the countries concerned.
- Brundtland had acted without authority to take these steps.
- In adopting the IHR in the aftermath of SARS, WHO member states gave WHO the authority with regard to state sovereignty and expanded the need for WHO’s scientific, medical, and public health capabilities.
- H1N1 2009 – After the IHR guidelines came into play in 2007, the H1N1 influenza spread around the world in 2009.
- The then WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the world’s first PHEIC.
- She issued recommendations that advised against trade and travel measures, among other things. This was seen as a success of the IHR.
- Ebola 2014 – Then came the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which was a disaster for WHO and the IHR.
- The WHO’s response was so bad that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created an ad hoc emergency response effort.
- The WHO failed to act on information that it received from non-governmental sources.
- It did not challenge governments that wanted to keep the outbreak quiet.
- It declared a PHEIC only after the epidemic was already a crisis.
- Ebola 2018 – The next major crisis was an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that started in late 2018.
- The WHO’s response to this outbreak demonstrated that it had re-invigorated its functional capacities.
INDIA’S IMPORTANCE IN THIS DEBATE ?
- India has been advocating for reforms of the WHO along with other international organisations.
- During the virtual G-20 summit in March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi articulated this demand.
- India has a unique opportunity to play a role in the WHO.
- As India takes the leadership role, much will depend on how it will,
- Navigate the global politics over the next 3 years in the Executive Board.
- Handle its own disease trajectory in a transparent manner.
WHOs’ ORGANISATIONAL CHALLENGES :
The WHO has been dependant on donor funds – mainly from rich countries and foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – rather than through secured funding from countries.
o As a result, currently 80% of WHO’s funding is tied to programs that donors choose. Work programs that are vital to WHO’s mandate remain under funded as they clash with the interests of big donors, especially of rich and developed countries.
o Consequently WHO’s role as a leader in global health has been supplanted by other intergovernmental bodies such as the World Bank, and increasingly by big foundations.
o The organisation’s efficacy has come under question, especially after its inadequate performance in containing West Africa’s ebola epidemic of 2014.
o It was because of WHO’s insufficient funding, structuring, staffing and bureaucracy.
- While the WHO has failed in arresting the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the globe are equally responsible for their inept handling and ill-preparedness.
- However, that does not vindicate the WHO’s inadequate response in handling the crisis. Many countries, especially in Africa and Asia, rely predominantly on the WHO for enforcing policy decisions governing public health. Political leanings and financial compulsions of WHO cannot betray that trust.
QUESTION: Role of civil services has become more challenging in the present time. Discuss.
Topic – THE MAIN BRICKS TO USE IN INDIA’S STEEL FRAME
Changing Face of Indian Bureaucracy or Civil Services
WHY IN NEWS ?
Civil services results were declared recently, it also reflects on a fundamental demand about raising the efficiency of the civil service
MORE ABOUT THIS NEWS :
- The questions arise such as
o Are the right type of men and women being inducted into the higher bureaucracy?
o Is there any mid-career review of their performance, so that the misfits and the dishonest are weeded out?
- Both these questions are extremely relevant considering the need to see an up gradation in the quality of service to the poor.
EVOLUTION of Civil Services in India :
- Ancient time: Kautilya’s Arthasastra stipulates seven basic elements – Swamin (the ruler), Amatya (the bureaucracy), Janapada (territory), Durga (the fortified capital), Kosa (the treasury), Danda (the army), and Mitra (the ally) – of the administrative apparatus.
o According to Arthasastra, the higher bureaucracy consisted of the mantrins and the amatyas. While the mantrins were the highest advisors to the King, the amatyas were the civil servants.
- Medieval period: During Mughal era, the bureaucracy was based on the mansabdari system.
o The mansabdari system was essentially a pool of civil servants available for civil or military deployment.
- During British India:
The big changes in the civil services in British India came with the implementation of Macaulay’s Report 1835.
o The Macaulay Report recommended that only the best and brightest would do for the Indian Civil Service, so as to serve the interest of British empire.
- Post-Independence: After independence Indian civil services system retained the elements of the British structure like a unified administrative system such as an open-entry system based on academic achievements, permanency of tenure.
FUNCTIONS OF CIVIL SERVICES :
- Basis of Government:
There can be no government without administrative machinery.
- Implementing Laws & Policies:
The civil services are responsible for implementing laws and executing policies framed by the government.
- Policy Formulation:
The civil service is chiefly responsible for policy formulation as well. The civil service officers advise ministers in this regard and also provides them with facts and ideas.
- Stabilising Force:
Amidst political instability, the civil service offers stability and permanence. While governments and ministers can come and go, the civil services is a permanent fixture giving the administrative setup a sense of stability and continuity.
- Instruments of Social Change & Economic Development: Successful policy implementation will lead to positive changes in the lives of ordinary people. It is only when the promised goods and services reach the intended beneficiaries, a government can call any scheme successful. The task of actualising schemes and policies fall with the officers of the civil services.
- Welfare Services:
The services offer a variety of welfare schemes such as providing social security, welfare of weaker and vulnerable sections of society, old-age pensions, poverty alleviation, etc.
- Developmental Functions:
The services perform a variety of developmental functions like promoting modern techniques in agriculture, promoting industry, trade, banking functions, bridging the digital divide, etc.
- Administrative Adjudication: The civil services also perform quasi-judicial services by settling disputes between the State and the citizens, in the form of tribunals, etc.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS Related to Civil Services :
- As per Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308-323)
- Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules:
The manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by these Rules.
- Article 311 – Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
- Article 312 – All India Services.
PROBLEMS AFFECTING CIVIL SERVICES TODAY:
- Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building.
- Ineffective incentive system that does not reward the meritorious and upright civil servants.
- Rigid and outmoded rules and procedures that do not allow civil servants to exercise individual judgement and perform efficiently.
- Lack of accountability and transparency procedure, with no adequate protection for whistle-blowers.
- Political interference causing arbitrary transfers, and insecurity in tenures.
- An erosion in ethics and values, which has caused rampant corruption and nepotism.
- Patrimonialism (a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader).
- Resistance to change from the civil servants themselves.
CRITICISM OF THE ROLE PLAYED BY CIVIL SERVICES :
- Glaring insensitivity to the poor citizen:
o If a Collector and an SP are inaccessible (as is the case in most of our districts) it shows the whole administration in a bad light.
o The sheer workload of a Collector and SP may prevent them from finding time to interact with every citizen.
o However, this reality does not convince the citizen who feels squarely aggrieved that only the rich and not the poor can get things done in post-Independence India.
- Corruption issues:
o In spite of admirable reforms brought about by the central government, there exists a corruption problem in the bureaucracy.
o The lower levels of the bureaucracy are either insensitive or demand illegal gratification to provide a service which is the fundamental right of every citizen.
- State of the police:
o The majority of police stations still have a blemished record of ill-treating the poor and literate.
o As a result, a police station has become an institution that is shunned by the law-abiding citizen.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN :
- Rationalization and harmonization of services
o Recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post.
- Encourage lateral entry: Inducting specialists at higher levels of government will provide much needed expertise.
- Outsource service delivery: Efforts need to be made to outsource service delivery to reduce dependence on the administrative machinery. Research is needed to identify possible services to be outsourced; various PPP models should be explored to determine the best possible mode of outsourcing.
- There is a need to develop ongoing training and immersion modules on a district-by-district basis.
- There is a need to inculcate ethical underpinning in the civil servants by implementing Code of Ethics.
o Institute the online Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window (SPARROW) template in all central and state cadres.
- Compulsory retirement for underperforming officers: Develop benchmarks to assess the performance of officers and compulsorily retire those deemed unable to meet the benchmarks.
- Incentivization: Review existing schemes and introduce new schemes of incentives for extraordinary performance.
- Robust Vigilant Mechanism: Strengthen institutional mechanisms for prevention and detection of corruption. Thus, there is a need to review existing vigilance mechanisms.
- There is a need to strengthen implementation of a Centralized Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System (CPGRAMs).
- Implementation of e-Office
- Prompt delivery of services
WAY AHEAD :
- Rise against injustice or violence
o Wherever they see injustice or violence against unsuspecting citizens, it will be for them to rise in protest and instil a sense in their subordinate ranks as well as their supervisors.
- Responsibility of new officers:
o There is a real danger of the image of the Indian Police diminishing further if the incoming young officers just mark their time and do not put their foot down when it comes to unethical practices.
o We also have a large core of enlightened senior IPS officers who can mould the character of the new entrants.