- For political connectivity with the South East Asian countries, much more focus must be on economic connectivity. Comment. (10 marks)
- With rising cross border conflicts, increase in nuclear warheads is a matter of concern. In this context, mention the need for disarmament and the measures already taken at global level. Also enumerate the steps taken by India in this regard. (10 marks)
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1. For political connectivity with the South East Asian countries, much more focus must be on economic connectivity. Comment. (10 marks)
- India has land borders on three sides but has cordial relations with countries only on the east. Bilateral differences have made relations with China in the North and Pakistan in the West relatively dormant. This makes the South-east Asian region very important as evident in Look East and Act East policies.
- Though we have good economic relations with the South East, a lot more needs to be done on the political front. Some of these steps include-
- Better connectivity like Agartala-Akhaura rail link between India and Bangladesh, IMT project going to Thailand via Myanmar, Kaladan multimodal project.
- The upcoming Asia-Africa growth corridor will provide a free and open Indo-Pacific region via numerous sea corridors.
- The ASEAN-India trade in goods agreement has been in force since 2010 but the volume of trade is low which needs to increase.
- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal motor vehicles agreement will facilitate cross-border movement of passengers and goods.
- BIMSTEC is set to adopt a connectivity master plan worth USD 124 billion.
- Leveraging ASEAN+6 for comprehensive economic partnership.
- Challenges include-
- Notion that India promises but China delivers which has caused a deficit in implementation of projects by India.
- High financial impact and pressure of China in Southeast Asian economies.
- India walked out of RCEP negotiations due to national interests has further affected the importance.
- Politically unstable Myanmar and the north east border prone to insurgency is detrimental to our interests.
- Pandemic has impacted financial capacity of Southeast Asian countries to support connectivity projects.
- Economic connectivity is a precursor to India’s political connectivity with any region, especially South East Asia where China has a big clout. Being one of the fastest growing regions, India can align its Indo Pacific policy to integrate this region in its growth story.
2. With rising cross border conflicts, increase in nuclear warheads is a matter of concern. In this context, mention the need for disarmament and the measures already taken at global level. Also enumerate the steps taken by India in this regard. (10 marks)
- As per the latest report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), while absolute nuclear arsenals have reduced, they might grow in the next decade due to cross border tensions like the current Russia-Ukraine war. Nine countries in the world have proven nuclear warheads including rogue nations like North Korea and Pakistan.
- In this context and nuclear bombing of Japan post WW2, there is urgent need of disarmament because-
- Nuclear weapons don’t differentiate between combatants and civilians thus inflicting massive destruction on everyone.
- It violates the principle of sovereign equality of nations and divides the world into nuclear haves and have nots.
- Even if nuclear weapons are targeted over military only, still the radiation can impact civilians and resources like land and water in proximity.
- With ample nuclear arsenal to totally destroy the earth, even a fake trigger can bring unprecedented destruction.
- With few rogue nations in possession of nuclear weapons, there is grave danger of control going in hands of terrorist organizations.
- Thus, many treaties have been signed in the past to address the issue. Some of them are-
- Non-proliferation treaty 1968 by the USA, UK and USSR which recognizes the right of all parties to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. But it restricts legal possession of nuclear weapons if a country has tested them before 1967 and hence India hasn’t yet signed the discriminatory treaty.
- Conference on Disarmament (CD): A multilateral disarmament forum to negotiate arms control and disarmament.·
- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 2017 makes it illegal to possess, produce, transfer, acquire, or deploy nuclear weapons.
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regimes (MTCR) are nuclear export control groupings.
- India’s position is a full commitment to non-discriminatory disarmament despite not being a signatory to NPT. Its doctrine is based on maintaining a credible minimum deterrence along with ‘No First Use’ policy. It also emphasizes no nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and retaliatory attacks be authorized only by civilian authority.
- With rise in terrorist activities and crisis like in Ukraine, Afghanistan and many African countries, time has come for nuclear disarmament. There has to be very strict export controls and a commitment to a nuclear weapon free world to bridge distinction between nuclear haves and have nots.