Cornered by the Quad?  (The Hindu)

No discrimination (The Hindu)

Going grey  (The Hindu)

Cornered by the Quad?  (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Quadrilateral arrangement.

(GS paper II)

Overview

 

  • On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila, the Quadrilateral arrangement involving Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. revived, as the officials exchanged notes on regional and global security. It has been a remarkable turnaround in the prospects of an arrangement which had collapsed a decade ago. In 2017 it was an assertive Beijing that brought the four Indo-Pacific powers together to manage the externalities arising out of the scale and scope of China’s rise.

 

China as a challenge

 

  • There has been a range of questions on the viability of the Quad arrangement, and specifically on its agenda given that the grouping has often been wary of explicitly annoying the Chinese. The four countries are working to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though the plan is still in its nascent stage, it is clear that the normative order China is trying to construct in the economic sphere will not go unchallenged.

 

  • The Quad has expressed reservations on the BRI in its own ways. But the four countries have rightly recognised that merely opposing it will not advance their agenda given the hunger for infrastructure in large parts of the world. According to some estimates, developing nations in the Indo-Pacific itself need around $26 trillion through 2030 for their infrastructure needs.

 

  • As a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the BRI is aimed at situating Beijing at the core of the global economy by building global transport links across the world. The Quad nations will have to present their own model if only to underscore the normative differences between the Chinese and their approach.

 

  • China with its BRI is providing a new economic template to the world, and it is important for those powers which view Beijing’s approach as top-down, opaque and self serving to pro-actively provide credible alternatives. The scale and scope of the Chinese economic footprint can only be tackled if the Quad nations combine forces.

 

  • Unlike the military option, this is a softer side of the “Quad” engagement and its members are already undertaking connectivity projects around the world. India and Japan, for example, are working on an ambitious Asia-Africa Growth Corridor linking Southeast Asia to Africa. The idea of an Indo-Pacific “quad” has been much talked about but this will be the first concrete manifestation of the idea in operational terms.

 

  • The biggest concern about the BRI is that it is a means of cementing Chinese economic hegemony and, in the process, challenges the foundations of the extant liberal economic order. India’s opposition has been the strongest partly because the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

 

  • India was the only major power which did not attend the BRI summit hosted by China last May. Japan has laid down specific conditions for its participation in the BRI even as it is looking to use its official development assistance to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure”.

 

  • Australia has challenged the principles which frame the BRI. U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has suggested that “no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘One Belt, One Road’”. After the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, raising apprehensions about America’s continued commitment to Asia’s future, infrastructure investment in the region will bring it back in the game.

 

Way ahead

 

  • China sees the emergence of the “Quad” as moves to counter the BRI as an attempt to shift the balance of power in the wider Indo-Pacific. China’s worries will only increase as the combined might of these four powers is quite formidable.

 

  • The possibility of major power coordination on managing global connectivity still remains a possibility but as more and more countries recognise the limits of Chinese approach, the Quad’s attraction will get even stronger.

 

Question- Critically analyse how quadrilateral seen by China as an attempt to counter its influence in the region.

 

No discrimination (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of health insurance in India.

(GS paper III)

Overview

 

  • In a significant judgment, the Delhi High Court recently termed “unconstitutional” discrimination in health insurance policies of individuals with genetic disorders.

 

The judgement

 

    • The case involved a rare heart condition based on which United India Insurance Company rejected the claim, viewing it as a manifestation of a genetic disorder.

 

    • A petition filed by United India Insurance Company Limited challenging an order passed by a trial court here directing it to honour the medical claim of a person who was suffering from genetic disorder. Justice Prathiba M. Singh said a person suffering from a genetic disorder needed medical insurance as much as others. Genetic disorders have been the source of debate in the health insurance sector.

 

    • Most policies have exclusionary clauses that deny clients’ claims if they suffer from such disorders. The verdict could open up a large number of ailments as claimable under medical insurance. “The exclusionary clause of ‘genetic disorders,’ in the insurance policy, is too broad, ambiguous and discriminatory, hence violative of Article 14 of the Constitution”.

 

    •  The court has struck a blow for the rights of the individual by holding that exclusion of the kind invoked does not just involve a contractual issue between the two sides, but the basic right to health flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution. It has gone further to interpret the right to health as being meaningful only with the right to health care, and by extension, health insurance required to access it.

 

    • The court directed the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India to re-look at the exclusionary clauses in insurance contracts and ensure that insurance companies do not reject claims on the basis of exclusions relating to genetic disorders.

 

    • Justice Singh highlighted that there are different types of genetic disorders and even common diseases like diabetes and cardiac diseases could be included in the broad definition.

 

Health insurance in India

 

  • Several studies have pointed out that health insurance in India suffers from lack of scale, covering only about 29% of the households surveyed under the National Family Health Survey-4, that too in a limited way.

 

  • The health-care system also lacks regulation of costs. There is asymmetry of information, with the insured member unable to assess the real scope of the policy or negotiate the terms with the provider. We can take the example of USA, the enactment of a new health-care law during the Barack Obama administration, whereby strict obligations were placed on insurers and unreasonable exclusions removed.

 

  • India’s health insurance and hospital sectors closely follow the American pattern, and are in need of strong regulation. This is necessary to define costs, curb frauds and empower patients. As the Delhi High Court has observed, exclusions cannot be unreasonable or based on a broad parameter such as genetic disposition or heritage.

 

  • Insurance law has to be revisited to also ensure that there is a guaranteed renewal of policies, that age is no bar for entry, and pre-existing conditions are uniformly covered. Problems of exclusion will be eliminated if the payer-insurer is the state, the financing is done through public taxes, and coverage is universal.

 

  • Given its stated intent to ensure financial protection against high health costs, India should adopt such a course. The short-term priority is to remove discriminatory clauses in policies and expand coverage to as many people as possible.

 

Question Why India need to revive its Insurance law? Briefly discuss the unreasonable exclusions in health policies in India.

 

Going grey  (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decision to keep Pakistan on its greylist.

(GS paper II)

Overview

 

 

  • Recently the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary decided to put Pakistan back on the “grey list,” subjecting it to direct monitoring and intense scrutiny by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) on terror financing, pending further review in June.

 

 

  • The decision can be considered appropriate and overdue, given Pakistan’s blatant violation of its obligations to crack down on groups banned by the Security Council 1267 sanctions committee that monitors groups affiliated to the Taliban (which originally included al-Qaeda affiliated groups), such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network.

 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

 

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.  The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.  

 

  • The FATF is therefore a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas. The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

 

  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.  

 

  • In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 

Pakistan on grey list

 

  • The move was pushed by four nominating countries, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France. In mid-January, they had written to the FATF stating that even though Pakistan had anti-money laundering or anti-terror funding regime in place, effectiveness of the implementation was inadequate.

 

  • Pakistan had been on the same list from 2012 to 2015. Pakistan will, under a “Compliance Document,” now be required to furnish a fresh report to the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).

 

  • Accordingly, the country will undergo a review at the next Plenary in June, when it would be presented a full action plan on how it is expected to crack down on terror groups banned by the UN Security Council.

 

  • One violation was a Pakistani court’s bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, LeT operational commander and a key planner of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Under the 1267 sanctions ruling, banned entities can get no funds, yet Lakhvi received the bail amount, and the authorities have since lost track of him.

 

  • The first round of talks of the International Cooperation Review Group that makes its recommendations to the FATF plenary failed to reach the consensus needed to list Pakistan, despite a formidable team of the U.S., U.K., France and Germany proposing the resolution against it. That the initial support for Pakistan came from China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries is cause for concern in New Delhi, given the recent diplomatic outreach by India.

 

Way ahead

 

 

  • The FATF listing will not miraculously change Pakistan’s behaviour, and as this is not the first time it has been listed as a country with “strategic deficiencies” in countering terror-financing and money-laundering. However, if the grey listing comes as part of a concerted campaign to hold Pakistan accountable, and pressure is ratcheted up with financial strictures on its banks and businesses and targeted sanctions imposed against specific law enforcement and intelligence officials, it may yet bear fruit.

 

 

 

  • The hope is that such sanctions will persuade Pakistan to stop state support for these terror groups and become a responsible player on the global stage and a responsive neighbour.

 

 

Question The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary had recently decided to put Pakistan back on the “grey list”, discuss its implications upon India.