QUESTION : What are the common priorities for India and Maldives in Indian Ocean Region? Discuss measures taken by India to curb perils of China’s debt trap diplomacy in Maldives.
India-Maldives Bilateral Relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
The visit of Foreign Secretary to the Maldives is significant for taking forward bilateral relations.
INDIA- MALDIVES BILATERAL RELATIONS :
- Historical relations: India and the Maldives have had bilateral relations for centuries. Technology has made connectivity easier for everyday contact and exchanges.
- People to people contact: Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India and patients fly here for super-speciality healthcare, aided by a liberal visa-free regime extended by India.
- Tourism is the mainstay of Maldivian economy. The country is now a major tourist destination for some Indians and a job destination for others.
- Given the geographical limitations imposed on the Maldives, India has exempted the nation from export curbs on essential commodities.
- Emergency assistance:
o In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership under Operation Cactus.
o The 2004 tsunami and the drinking water crisis in Male were other occasions when India rushed assistance.
o To help in COVID-19 disruption, India rushed $250 million aid in quick time. New Delhi also rushed medical supplies to the Maldives, started a new cargo ferry and also opened an air travel bubble, the first such in South Asia.
WHY IS THE MALDIVES IMPORTANT FOR INDIA ?
- In the Indian Ocean, Maldives ensures uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like China, Japan, and India.
- Maldives has extended its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council.
- The Maldives also has reiterated support for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat for the year 2020-21.
- India’s interests in the Maldives range from political stability in the neighbourhood, and protection of its investments and trade to the prevention of state and non-state forces which are harmful to Indian interests
- Under Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih, bilateral cooperation, especially on the economic front, has become a ‘model’ that New Delhi can adopt to make the Prime Minister’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ a sustained success.
- ‘India First’ policy : Given ex-President Yameen’s tilt towards China and bias against India when in power, India can take respite in the ‘strategic comfort’ of the ‘India First’ policy of the Solih government.
- Protests from the Yameen camp: Ex-President Yameen’s camp has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign against New Delhi’s massive developmental funding for creating physical, social and community infrastructure.
o They are also protesting Maldivian President Solih’s government retaining two India-gifted helicopters and their operational military personnel.
o Maldives had deployed the helicopters for humanitarian operations.
- Political instability: India should be concerned about the protests as well as the occasional rumblings within the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
CONCERNS FOR INDIA :
Nasheed has also been pushing for a parliamentary system. There is concern within the government that his moves might undermine the President, who is trying to work with the coalition partners.
The Maldives has maintained a close relationship with China, especially in financial terms, under its previous government
WAY FORWARD :
- Investment cooperation with Maldives should be enhanced by establishing an advisory cell to guide all stake-holders
- India must enhance anti-terrorism cooperation and intensify cooperation in the areas of training and capacity building of the Maldives National Defense Force and the Maldives Police Service
- A regular bilateral security dialogue amongst the officials of both sides should be instituted to expand the scope of security cooperation
- The SAARC and IORA can provide a platform to work on lingering concerns. Moreover, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka can explore ways to strengthen trilateral mechanisms to address these issues.
- India must collaborate with like-minded countries like EU and US for reducing Maldives’ dependence on China.
India’s increasing geostrategic concerns in the shared seas, taking forward the multifaceted cooperation to the next stage quickly could also be at the focus of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit.
QUESTION : Explain how are the presidential election of India different from the presidential elections in U.S ?
US Federal Election Commission Vs Indian Election Commission
WHY IN NEWS ?
Comparison between Indian U.S. Federal Election Commission and Indian Election commission
ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE FUNCTIONS OF U.S. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION :
The Commission has hardly been able to function in the last year because of resignations.
The Commission haven’t passed a single order since August 2019, owing to lack of quorum, for which at least four members are needed.
As a result, several hundred matters lie pending before the Federal Election Commission.
Lack of consensus:
The six posts of Commissioner are supposed to be equally shared by Democrats and Republicans.
This has created a situation where decision making was often divided on partisan lines.
During the recent Presidential election, when there are allegations over election process the President decided to appeal only to the U.S. Supreme Court without any reference to the Federal Election Commission.
INDIAN VS US ELECTION COMMISSIONS :
Origin: The Federal Election Commission was established recently in 1975, with the special mandate to regulate campaign finance issues. Whereas Election commission of India came in to force on 25th January 1950.
Members: The Federal Election Commission is led by six Commissioners. Whereas Indian Election commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
Scope: Federal Election Commission has a much narrower mandate than its Indian equivalent. In India, by virtue of being the custodian of the electoral roll, all matters related to keeping the roll updated, fall under the ECI’s domain and ECI enjoys enormous power.
Role of Judiciary: In India the role of the judiciary is limited post the election period. Our constitutional makers were clear that if election-related petitions were entertained during the course of the election process, it would impede the process and delay election results.
Scope of Postal ballot: In the 2016 U.S. election, almost a quarter of the votes counted arose from postal ballots. In India we have confined postal ballots to only a few categories, of largely government staff, the police or armed forces.
ABOUT ECI :
- It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
It administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- Article 324 vests “in an Election Commission” the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”.
- Parliament enacted The Representation of the People Act, 1950 and The Representation of the People Act, 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission
- It plays an important role in stopping the dissemination of misinformation with the help of technological tools.
- It conducts elections with the highest standard of credibility, freeness, fairness, transparency, integrity, accountability, autonomy and professionalism.
- It creates awareness about the electoral process and electoral governance amongst stakeholders namely, voters, political parties, election functionaries, candidates and people at large
ARTICLES ASSOCIATED WITH ECI :
- Article 324 -Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
- Article 325 –No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
- Article 326 –Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
- Article 327 –Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
- Article 328 –Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
- Article 329 –Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters
In its functioning, Election Commission of India has broad powers as compared to its counterpart in the U.S. which has helped India see a smooth power transfer from the first election in India in 1951-52 and every single election since.