1.Getting back on the democratic path (The Hindu)

2.The great American arms bazaar (The Hindu)

3.Explained : DAVOS SUMMIT

 

1.Getting back on the democratic path (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issues how India is failing democratic ideals. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India is going to celebrate its ‘Republic day’ very soon, but one conclusion is surely inescapable that India remains woefully short of its potential. India is a difficult country to govern, none ever coped with so many competing diversities, rights and claims, in such huge proportions and through democracy.

Importance of this year’s 26th Jan

  • This January 26, leaders from all the 10 ASEAN member countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei will be chief guests at the ceremonial parade at Rajpath. This is unprecedented and the first time in the history of Independent India that the Republic Day Parade will be attended by as many as 10 head of states.

India’s difficulties

  • It is well known that countries worldwide find existing governmental systems unable to cope with contemporary challenges or people’s expectations, some even with basic needs. Particularly alarming is the condition in democracies, where the ideals and concepts, the very essence of their being, are threatened.
  • As the whole essence of the Parliamentary Government lies in the intention to make the thing work and its strength is exactly measured by the unity of political parties upon its fundamental objects. But in India, far from seeking congruence of fundamental objectives, leave alone unity, our parties compete to prevent things working.
  • Our social tensions need sensitive healing, but suffer ever harsher divisiveness; our political institutions and processes need to address rising challenges but sink ever deeper in backwardness; our administrative machinery desperately needs efficiency but corrodes into dysfunctionality, our security challenges become more complex while both our conceptual and procedural drawbacks retard our response-capabilities.
  • Democracy depends on the Enlightenment’s ideals -the ceaseless expansion of liberty and equality, the impartial functioning of impersonal law and institutions, the reconciliation of society’s differences by accommodative compromise, above all the primacy of reason.
  • We can take example of China- China’s record over the last century is hardly edifying- revolutions, civil war, famines, war-lords, etc. Corruption is rampant, sloth and incompetence hardly unknown, but things get done because there is a directing force which devises and executes forward-looking plans for national greatness.
  • We have no option but to make our system functional and to the right purposes. We gave ourselves a great system but have not known how to keep it up to standard. As the dispersion of power between executive, legislature and judiciary is undermined by both our traditional acceptance of personal rule and the appalling incompetence of each branch.
  • In 150 years of modernising influences we never grew out of our old ways. Enormous reforms we need we reject- how can any society advance when saddling itself with khap panchayats, disgraceful dowry systems, blatant practice of untouchability, acceptance of castration and other primitivisms? Ways of thinking and behaving are universally intractable.

Way ahead

  • We are in need of a planned, determined push to make our system work and modernise. Only an organised body with such a purpose can do anything.  The Girija Shankar Bajpai’s observation points to the prime necessity- “the will to succeed, a carefully thought out plan, a commitment to fulfilment, obviously not to reviving a past irrelevant to today, if indeed it ever existed, but to a state and society adapted to our times.”
  • As the leadership is the art of making even the impossible possible, we the people are ultimately responsible but political leaders have to lead.

Question-India gave itself a great system but now does not seem to know how to keep it up to standard”. Comment.

 

2.The great American arms bazaar (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue how US attempt to rework the commercial-strategic equation spells an opportunity for India. (GS paper II and III)

Overview

  • Arms supply has been a key tool of U.S. strategy for years and Mr. Trump wants to make arms sale itself a strategy. Recently in a joint press conference, US has been promoting the sale of U.S. arms, which could soon become a key result area for the country’s embassies around the world.

Assessment of the existing policy

  • Arms transfers by the U.S. happen primarily through Foreign Military Sales, Direct Commercial Sales, and Foreign Military Financing, all controlled by stringent laws, the most important of them being the Arms Export Control Act. The U.S. government sells defence equipment worth about $40 billion every year under Foreign Military Sales.
  • Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan have been significant recipients of Foreign Military Financing in recent years, followed by 50 countries that receive smaller amounts totalling $1 billion.
  • Arms supplies to foreign countries is critical to the U.S. for at least three reasons– as it is a key leverage of global influence, it reduces the cost of procurement for the U.S. military by spreading the cost, and by employing 1.7 million people, the defence industry is a key component in the country’s economy and consequently, its politics.
  • But the sale of weaponry, traditionally, is guided less by commercial considerations rather than strategic ones, each proposed sale is vetted on a case-by-case basis and approved “only if found to further U.S. foreign policy and national security interests”, according to the Bureau’s policy.
  • The White House, through the National Security Council, plays a key role in this process, as the significant sales require a tacit approval by lawmakers.

Changes under Trump’s regime

  • He wants to reduce the Foreign Military Financing to the least, except for Israel. He wants American partners to buy more weapons from it, and it is also a move towards reducing trade deficits with key partners such as South Korea and Japan.
  • Overall the President is pushing for a liberalisation of U.S. arms sales to partner countries, guided less by any grand strategic vision, but by commercial and domestic political calculations. He is seeking to flip the equation between commercial and strategic calculations behind arms sales in favour of the first.

Impact upon India

  • This change could turn out be an opportunity for India, one of the largest importers of major arms. India has bought $15 billion worth of defence equipment from the U.S. over the last decade, but Indian requests for arms often get entangled in the U.S. bureaucracy for multiple reasons.
  • The honorific title of ‘major defence partner’ notwithstanding, the traditional American propensity to link sales to operational questions such as interoperability and larger strategic notions dampens possibilities. India’s robust defence partnership with Russia is a major irritant for American officials.
  • If new policy manages to emphasise the commercial benefits of arms sales, and de-emphasise the strategic angle, it could lead to a change in the dynamics of the India-U.S. defence trade, and bilateral trade in general. India, always wary of military alliances, will be more comfortable with weapons purchases as commercial deals. For America, India could be a reliable, non-proliferating buyer of its arms.

Question – Explain how change in US’ arms policy could lead to a change in the dynamics of the India-U.S. defence trade, and bilateral trade in general.

 

EXPLAINED:  DAVOS SUMMIT

(GS paper II)

Overview

  • The annual summit of the global elite of business, finance, and politics began in Davos under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum (WEF) amid the heaviest snowfall and conflicting global trade and economic developments.
  • Around three thousand delegates, comprising top politicians, business leaders and representatives from civil society, culture, technology, science, religion and academia congregated in the congress centre to hear Indian Prime Minister deliver the inaugural address in which he is expected set out India’s perspective on “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.

About WEF’s annual summit

  • The WEF came into existence first as the European Management Forum for bringing together business leaders in Europe and the US. It changed its name to the WEF in 1987, making Davos the annual Mecca for the global economic, business and political elite.
  • The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting aims to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of the world.
  • This year WEF’s theme is ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’.

Plan

  • WEF chief Klaus Schwab wants “smart globalization” in which markets are kept open and that governments must strive toward social cohesion and address issues concerning terrorism. The prospects for this year’s 48th annual meeting seemed good after International Monetary Fund managing director delivered an upbeat economic assessment at Davos.
  • Almost 10 years after the global economic crisis in 2008, amid a pickup in economic growth in Greece and other slump-driven-countries, “chief executives” optimism in the global economy is driven by economic indicators being so strong.

India in Davos

  • Delivering a keynote address at the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, PM of India said India’s position on the menace of terrorism is well known and he would not like to elaborate on that. Issues of peace, security and stability have also emerged as serious global challenges.
  • Underlining the importance of technology, the prime minister said data is the real wealth in the present era. “Today, data is a real wealth and it is being said that whoever acquires and controls the data will have hegemony in the future. The global flow of data is creating big opportunities as well as challenges.
  • Referring to this year’s WEF’s theme of ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’, the prime minister said the Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) has become more relevant in today’s time to address fissures and distances in the world. He also mentioned the world leaders that democracy in India was not just a “political system” but a way of living.

QuestionHow Davos WEF meeting can be avenue for addressing the global situations like defence of globalization, joint action on climate change and economic cooperation etc. Analyse.