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GS Paper II –International Relations.

Raja Mandala: Fruits of patience

What’s Happening-
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar addressing the Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).
Strategic patience is a virtue in statecraft. But it is not about passive and endless waiting. It demands persistent pursuit of one’s goals and seizing the moment when the circumstances turn more favourable.
Chinese officials offer the first glimmer of hope that India’s patience might begin to pay off.

Key Points discussed were:

Downturn in relations:

  • The downturn in bilateral relations was marked by China’s decision-
  1. To block India’s campaign for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and
  2. Putting Pakistan’s Masood Azhar (of the Jaish-e-Mohammed) on the terror list of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 
  • Although Beijing presented its objections in procedural terms, Delhi knew Beijing’s opposition was political.
  • China’s sense of its own rise and a growing political clout in the multilateral arena seemed to convince Beijing that it was under no obligation to make nice with Delhi.
  • Making matters worse was the fact that Pakistan was a critical factor in China’s calculus at the NSG and the UNSC.
  • Delhi, however, held its nerve and chose to persist with a two-fold approach.
  • One was to continue the campaign for the membership of the NSG and putting Masood Azhar on UNSC’s terror list. 

Other Issues:

  • Issues like the boundary dispute, trade deficit, and the One Belt, One Road initiative, where the differences between the two sides are too deep, are not amenable to easy or early resolution.
  • But others like India’s NSG membership are not too hard to resolve.

Way Forward:
India China can work together for a more stable, substantive, forward looking.
India-China relationship which would inject a greater amount of predictability into the international system.
Indian emphasis is on perseverance with China that puts self-interest above ideology and seeks common ground wherever possible.
The continuing talks on international terrorism and the discussion on potential for cooperation in stabilising Afghanistan.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.

GS Paper III –Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Global studies on India’s air quality flawed: CPCB

What’s Happening-
The Central Pollution Control Board (PCB) — an Environment Ministry organisation that sets guidelines for monitoring and controlling pollution
CPCB says international studies linking air quality in India to disease and death are flawed because “…the ethologic, personnel immunity (sic) and demography of India are incomparable with international practices.”

Key Points discussed were:

  • Bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) used “arbitrary conversion factors [to measure the prevalence of different pollutants]” to rank cities for air quality, the CPCB alleged in an internal newsletter published in November 2016 but not made public.
  • The publication, called Matter-Fine Particulate: An Environmental Challenge:

It is a guide to understanding the genesis, prevalence, sources and health effect of extremely small particles of dust that can result from a wide range of causes including road dust, domestic cooking and fossil fuel burning.

  • in 2016, the WHO said that 10 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world were in India, whose air quality standards require that the daily PM 2.5 averages not exceed 60 mg/cubic metre and 40 mg/cubic metre annually.
  • The WHO arrived at its figures by collecting 24-hour and annual average of PM 10 and PM 2.5 of cities from government websites 
  • According to the CPCB publication — by far the only available government critique of this methodology — this conversion is problematic, as air quality monitoring machines varied widely in their measurements even within the same city.

Background-
Particulate Matter 2.5:
These microscopic particles are so light they float on air and lodge deep in the lungs, and have been linked to higher rates of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.
Particulate matter (PM) are  solid or liquid matter  in .
The term  commonly refers to the particulate Matter.
Sources of particulate matter can be natural or .
They have impacts on climate and  that adversely affect human .
Conclusion:
Government clearly a much more concerted effort needs to be done to address the adverse impacts of air pollution in India.

GS Paper III –Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Seeing the light

What’s Happening-
The WTO dispute that India lost over solar power and the one that it has now filed against the U.S. are similar.
It is best for both countries to find an amicable solution.
Key Points discussed were:
India and the U.S. have been filing a number of disputes against each other, challenging the other’s domestic content requirement in the renewable energy sector.
in September 2016 when India requested consultations with the U.S. under the dispute settlement system regarding alleged domestic content requirements and subsidies provided by eight U.S. states.
This request came three days after India lost the case brought by the U.S. India in the present case claims that California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and Washington are providing renewable energy subsidies similar to those of the domestic content requirement under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), which, the U.S. claims, violates World Trade Organisation (WTO) law.
India alleges that these states have been granting subsidies to local manufacturers in the renewable energy industry along with the requirement that the products be made domestically.

Background & The WTO ruling:

  • JNNSM required that 20 gigawatt (GW) of solar power should be generated from domestically produced modules or solar cells.
  • The WTO found that the mandatory domestic content requirement under JNNSM violated the National Treatment provision of Article III:4 of the WTO agreement.
  • The Indian government has significantly reduced the domestic content requirement after the initiation of proceedings at the WTO.
  • At the beginning of the mission, the domestic content requirement in the auctioned contracts was as much as 50% of the total output generating capacity. This value dropped significantly through the auctions and is currently down to 5%.

After the WTO ruling was delivered, India asked the U.S. not to implement it:

  • Under WTO law, the complainant can give 15 months to the defendant to implement the ruling.
  • If 15 months were provided, India would be able to complete the JNNSM without having to painstakingly restructure the entire mission.
  • After the 15-month period, the ruling would be applicable.
  • However, nothing meaningful came from from these negotiations.
  • The Indian government then announced that it had decided to file many cases against the U.S. because eight of the latter’s states had domestic content requirements in the renewable energy sector.

Conclusion:

  • It is best for both countries to find an amicable solution.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 28