QUESTION : “India has not been able to find an alternative to NAM which has been described as the basic tenet of India’s foreign policy”. Discuss.
Topic- WHAT IS IN A NAM AND INDIA’S ALIGNMENT
Finding alternative to non-alignment
WHY IN NEWS ?
India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, has stated recently that non-alignment as a foreign policy was a concept of relevance in a specific era and a particular context (Cold War era), though the independence of action enshrined in it remains a factor of continuity in India’s foreign policy.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :
- Non-alignment was a policy fashioned during the Cold War, to retain the autonomy of policy between two politico-military blocs.
- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) provided a platform for newly independent developing nations to join together to protect this autonomy.
- NAM campaigned for de-colonisation, universal nuclear disarmament and against apartheid.
- After the end of the Cold War, the NAM countries were able to diversify their network of relationships across the erstwhile east-west divide.
HOW DID NAM’S RELEVANCE DECLINE POST 1991 ?
- One of the blocs (USSR) was disbanded at the end of the Cold War.
- De-colonisation was largely complete by then, the apartheid regime in South Africa was being dismantled and the campaign for universal nuclear disarmament was going nowhere.
- Freed from the shackles of the Cold War, the NAM countries were able to diversify their network of relationships across the erstwhile east-west divide. Non-alignment lost its relevance, and NAM its original raison d’être.
NAM AND INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY IN THE PRESENT CONTEXT :
- For a few years now, non-alignment has not been projected by our policymakers as a tenet of India’s foreign policy.
- India has not yet found a universally accepted alternative to the non-alignment yet.
- “Strategic autonomy” as an alternative soon acquired a connotation similar to non-alignment, with an anti-U.S. tint.
- Multi-alignment has not found universal favour, since it may convey the impression of opportunism, whereas we seek strategic convergences.
- Seeking issue-based partnerships or coalitions is a description that has not stuck.
- “Advancing prosperity and influence” was a description External Affairs minister settled for, to describe the aspirations that our network of international partnerships seeks to further.
ROLE OF GEOGRAPHY AND POLITICS :
- Two major imperatives flow from India’s geography-
1) economic and security interests in the Indo-Pacific space.
2) the strategic importance of the continental landmass to its north and west.
- The Indo-Pacific has inspired the Act East policy of bilateral and multilateral engagements in Southeast Asia and East Asia and the Pacific.
- Shared India-U.S. interests in dealing with the challenge from China in the maritime domain have been a strategic underpinning of the bilateral partnership since the early 2000s.
ISSUES IN INDIA’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE U.S. :
- In the immediate-term, Indian and U.S. perspectives are less convergent in India’s continental neighbourhood.
- Connectivity and cooperation with Afghanistan and Central Asia need engagement with Iran and Russia, as well as with the Russia-China dynamics in the region.
- Russia extends to the Eurasian landmass bordering India’s near and extended neighbourhood.
- A close Russia-China partnership should move India to broad-base relations with Russia.
- A strong stake in relations with India could reinforce Russia’s reluctance to be a junior partner of China.
- As the U.S. confronts the challenge to its dominance from China, classical balance of power considerations would dictate accommodation with Russia.
- U.S. should see ties with India as a joint venture not an alliance in which they could pursue shared objectives to mutual benefit and accept that differences of perspectives will have to be addressed.
- This template could have wider applicability for bilateral relations in today’s world order, which former could be described as militarily unipolar, economically multipolar and politically confused.
- The U.S. could acknowledge that India’s development of trade routes through Iran which could provide it route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan and Russia, respectively.
HAS THE RISE OF CHINA REVIVED THE CONCEPT OF ALLIANCE ?
- The fact is that ‘alliance’ is as much a Cold War concept as non-alignment.
- During the Cold War, the glue that held countries of an alliance together was composed (in varying proportions) of ideological convergence and an existential military threat.
- With the disintegration of USSR and the Warsaw Pact, this glue dissolved and the international options of alliance partners widened, just like those of NAM countries.
- As a result, in today’s times the strategic interests of Nations are no longer fully congruent. This is evident in the recent rifts between US & Europe (NATO)
- Alliances in the Asia-Pacific face a bigger definitional dilemma. The threat to the alliance partners today is from an assertive China, which they are reluctant to define as a strategic adversary, because of their economic engagement with it and the huge military asymmetry.
- In the immediate-term, Indian and U.S. perspectives are less convergent in India’s continental neighbourhood (like Afghanistan & Central Asia)
IMPORTANCE OF NAM FOR INDIA :
Support for India’s Candidature in UNSC
- NAM’s total strength comprises 120 developing countries and most of them are members of the UN General Assembly.
- Thus, NAM members act as an important group in support of India’s candidature as a permanent member in UNSC.
Global South Cooperation
- India is widely perceived as a leader of the developing world. Thus, India’s engagement with NAM will further help in the rise of India’s stature as the voice of the developing world or global south.
- In times of increasing protectionism, NAM can provide a platform for South-South cooperation.
Strengthening of Multipolar World Order
- A multipolar world order is in concurrence with Indian forigen policy.
- Thus, NAM can help in formation of a multipolar world with India becoming a major pole.
India should find the alternative to the non-alignment which accommodate its interest in relations with the U.S. at the same time allow it “strategic autonomy”.
QUESTION : Effectiveness of the government system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are inter-dependent” Discuss their relationship in the context of India.
Topic- A CASE FOR DOWN-TO-EARTH GOVERNANCE
- Challenges In a Democratic form of Governance
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Nine years ago, Anna Hazare ended his historic fast when the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, informed him that Parliament had expressed support for proposed changes to anti-corruption legislation.
WHAT ARE LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTA?
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
- These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
- They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
THE MOVEMENT WAS ALL ABOUT :
- Anti-Corruption & Accountability: The single point demand of the Anna movement was the institution of the Jan Lokpal to try all government functionaries when accused of corruption; even the Prime Minister.
- Substantive Democracy: It was a remarkable movement of citizens — rich, middle class, and poor — coming together to take politics back from politicians and to demand Parliament’s accountability to citizens
- Decentralisation: Anna Hazare who was leading the movement said Lokpals and Lokayuktas would not eliminate the root causes of corruption in politics and government. Electoral reforms and decentralisation of power were essential.
PRESENT SITUATION VIS-À-VIS THE IDEAS RAISED IN MOVEMENT :
- The movement for fundamental reforms of governance lost its steam.
- The nation’s attention has moved on, from weaknesses in institutions of governance, to threats from China on the nation’s borders and to global problems caused by COVID-19.
ISSUES STILL PLAGUING OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM :
- Money dominates Electoral Process which leads to Systemic Corruption –
Around the world, electoral democracies have become infected by the disease of funding political parties and elections. Money is required to win elections legitimately, even when people are not bribed to vote.
Communications with citizens, essential for democracy has become expensive.
The race to raise more money for legitimate electioneering purposes can corrupt the process of funding parties and elections.
- Challenges with Democratic Process and deliberations –
The problem in electoral democracies is not only with the process by which representatives are elected, but also in the conduct of their deliberations when they come together.
Representatives fight for the largest share of the pie for their constituency rather than the growth of the whole pie.
Elected representatives must shed their local hats and put on a national hat to consider what will be best for the whole country, which seldom happens.
- Multi-Party Democracy is a double edged sword –
Emergence of multiple Political parties has enabled even the weakest person to make his voice heard. It has democratised the electoral process.
However, when there are too many parties and too many contradictory points of view to be accommodated within a coalition, governance can break down.
- Alternative of Direct Democracy has its own pitfalls –
It is tempting to abandon political parties and parliaments and revert to direct forms of democracy where every decision can be put directly to all citizens to vote on. New Internet technologies make this possible.
But, if all voters have not understood what is at stake, they cannot decide well as the U.K. has understood with its hasty Brexit referendum.
ADMINISTRATIVE FACTORS BEHIND CORRUPTION :
- Procedural complexities and the need of middleman to get things done.
- Slow moving administrative machinery.
- Weakness of the internal grievance redressal machinery.
- Bureaucratic resistance to administrative reforms
- General culture of secrecy in the bureaucracy.
- Peer pressures
POLITICAL FACTORS :
- Criminalization of politics
- Absence of political will to fight corruption.
- Politicization of civil service management (transfers etc)
- Political system does not encourage neutrality
- Excessive use of money power in elections
- Lack of voter maturity (keep voting back the same corrupt govt.)
INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK TO TACKLE CORRUPTION :
- ED responsible for implementing FEMA & PMLA
- Anti Corruption Bureaus in various states
- The judiciary
- Vigilance Departments (some states)
- State level lokayaktas
- DRI – Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
- Banking sector ombudsman
- Consumer forums
NEED FOR THE STRONG LOCAL GOVERNANCE :
- Complex issues, where many interests collide, must be resolved by reason, not settled by the numbers.
- Hence there is no alternative to good local governance, wherein citizens manage their local affairs democratically.
- One-size solutions devised by experts at the centre cannot fit all.
- Local systems solutions are essential to solve global systemic problems of environmental sustainability and inclusive growth.
WAY FORWARD :
- Electoral funding must be cleaned up, and democracy within political parties improved to make representative democracy work better.
- This will require big changes to entrenched systems.
- Citizens must appreciate that they have to be the source of solutions, and not become only the source of problems.
- Citizens must learn to listen to each other’s perspectives in their villages and in their urban neighbourhoods.
Since India’s Independence 73 years ago when the power of government was transferred from a centre in London to a centre in Delhi, strong local governance remains the unfinished agenda to make India’s democracy strong and deep.