1.India-Australia Relations (The Diplomat and The Hindu)
2.A reckless Intervention (US missile attack) (The Hindu, Guardian)
3.The usefulness of nukes (The Hindu)
1.India-Australia Relations (The Diplomat and The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the relations between the India and Australia. (GS paper III)
- Newly Elected PM to Australia, Malcolm Turnbull has paid a state visit to India. The visit is aimed at shoring up ties between the two countries.
- The visit will be an opportunity to further build relations with India, which may include discussions on the trade, defence, education and skill sectors.
Commonalties in relationship
- India and Australia share much in common. Both celebrate their respective national days — Australia Day and Indian Republic Day — on January 26. Both countries are liberal democracies, with federal systems of government. Their strategic and economic interests have converged on numerous fronts, resulting in stronger ties between New Delhi and Canberra.
- India first established a Trade Officein Sydney, Australia in 1941. Besides both being members of the Commonwealth of Nations, both nations are founding members of the United Nations, and members of regional organisations including the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation and ASEAN Regional forum.
- Formal relation between two countries began in 1950, when Robert Menzies became the first Australian leader to visit independent India. Since then, both countries have been transformed.
Focus Areas of the visit
Prospects for state level diplomacy
- Over the past two decades, state governments in India have increased their engagement with the outside world. This outreach has increased in recent years due to a strong emphasis on subnational diplomacy.
- There are several key reasons why states are emerging as important stakeholders in foreign policy:
- The economic reforms of 1991 created space for states seeking foreign direct investment.
- A number of regional leaders, eager to burnish their credentials, have sought to showcase their states by having roadshows abroad and, in recent years, organizing investors’ summits at home.
- The diaspora from a number of states has also played an important role in strengthening linkages between the states they hail from and countries they have migrated to.
- To capitalize on the potential for Australia-India relations, numerous Australian and Indian states have entered into formal arrangements to promote stronger ties.
- In 2012, the premier of New South Wales signed an MOU with Maharashtra’s chief minister to recognize and expand the cultural, economic, and people-to-people relationships between the two states
- South Australia and Rajasthan also signed a “sister state” agreement in 2015. The agreement intends to boost the two-way exchange of research, policy, and technical capabilities
- In 2016, Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister signed an agreement to establish a sister state relationship.
- India being world’s fastest-growing major economy, holds several prospects for Australia whereas Australia can meet India’s technological demands.
- Two-way trade is growing, and approaching $20 billion, but potentials are far greater.
- Moreover, government will announce the results of the tenth round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. Worth more than $100 million, this initiative has enabled sharpest minds to collaborate in areas such as food security and health, and advance the boundaries of human knowledge in quantum computing, nanotechnology and astronomy.
- Education is a new pathway to shared prosperity. Australia has been one of the most popular study destination for Indian students.
- A great strength education relationship is found in the higher education and research sector. Collaboration between institutes on high-end research, innovation, science and technology are central to developing knowledge partnership.
- Through the Colombo Plan, more and more young Australians may choose India as a place to study and boost their own qualifications and experience.
- The security and stability of the Indo-Pacific is fundamental to both the countries and the visit provides an opportunity to discuss key regional and geostrategic issues and strengthen the engagement between two countries. As liberal democracies, both can work together to encourage free trade and prosperity and to help safeguard security and the rule of law in the region.
- Despite these closer ties, negotiations on the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement seem to have hit a roadblock. However, there is a strong trend in favour of subnational diplomacy, which hopes to boost trade and investment linkages in an alternative way.
- India-Australia trade, currently at US$13.6 billion, has witnessed an increase, but is way below its potential. After all, Australia is home to a strong Indian diaspora and a significant Indian student population. Both groups hail from Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Gujarat indeed, Punjabi is the fastest growing language in Australia. Hence, such dynamics should be translated into results.
Question: Australia and India being two vibrant democracies, also holds huge prospects for securing Indian Ocean as a cradle of trade and prosperity. How India and Australia should cooperate in this regard.
2.A reckless Intervention (US missile attack) (The Hindu, Guardian)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the recently conducted missile attack by US on Syrian Airbase. (GS paper II)
- The US has launched a missile strike against Syria for the first time since the civil war began, targeting an airbase from which the US said this week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians was launched by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Attack and key positions
- The missile strikes targeted Shayrat airbase near Homs. The US has said this was the location from which Syrian forces launched a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.
- Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from the warships USS Ross and USS Porter in the eastern Mediterranean.
- President Bashar al-Assad’s office said the strike was “foolish and irresponsible” and “revealed its short-sightedness and political and military blindness to reality”. It said the government would redouble its efforts against rebel groups after the strike.
- Syrian rebels welcomed the strike and called for additional action.
- Russia, a Syrian ally that has been helping the Assad regime target rebel-held districts, condemned the US action. The move would have consequences for relations between the two countries. With this step Washington has struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state.
- Shortly thereafter, the Russian military said it would help Syria strengthen its air defences after the strike to help “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities.
- The move was supported by key US allies, including the UK, Australia, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Italy and Japan said they understood the action taken by the US.
- Iran, Assad’s regional backer, said it “strongly condemned” the strikes, as it condemned “all unilateral military action”.
Implications of Attack
- The move by USA marks a departure in American policy towards the war-ravaged country. Though President Obama had repeatedly said Syrian President should go, he resisted calls for military action in this regard. Hence, it may indicate a change in America’s policy towards West Asia and particularly Syria.
- Removing Mr. Assad forcibly may sound purposeful, but it risks a direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russia and could result in the deaths and displacement of many more Syrians, triggering another wave of refugees.
- Moreover, on the face of it, it appears to be a bold move intended to take Mr. Assad to task for his actions. But in truth, USA has risked escalating the Syrian crisis to far more dangerous levels.
Legality of Attack
- The strike also raises questions about its legality. The UN Charter clearly states that any attack on another country needs Security Council approval unless it is an act in self-defence. On the ground, the U.S. action seems to have cemented the alliance between Moscow and Damascus(Syria).
- The primary focus of the international community should be on ending this war, not on lighting new fires.
- US could have waited for the UN to complete its probe into the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun before initiating military action, while simultaneously working to build a consensus on Syria at the UN Security Council.
- Finally, the U.S. and other countries could also have put more pressure on Moscow to rein in Mr. Assad, and offered support to the peace process backed by Russia and Turkey.
Question: The missile attack conducted by US may rather turn to breed more uncertainty and destability. What are your views regarding future outcomes of US missile strike?
3.The usefulness of nukes (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the unpredictability of nuclear regime for both energy as well as weapons. (GS paper III)
- Nuclear resources are double edged sword because at one time they can act as a wonderful energy source while at the same time they can inflict severe damage against humanity and property.
- However, both the notions of nuclear deterrence as well as nuclear energy are fading up.
Why such a change?
- Nuclear weapons have ceased to be viable as instruments of war because of the unpredictability of the consequences of a nuclear war. No one can trust even the use of tactical nuclear weapons without collateral damage for the user.
- Moreover, theories of deterrence of nuclear stockpiles have also been discredited after 9/11 attack. Despite of nuclear might, the conspirators were not deterred and 9/11 brought the most formidable nuclear power to its knees.
- On energy front, after the Fukushima crisis, nuclear power too is receding as a rational component of the energy mix. One clean-up operation after an accident can demolish many years of technological advancement and hopes of having cheap power.
Effort to eliminate nukes
- S. President Obama had made efforts to eliminate role nuclear weapons as anchor of security, Rajiv Gandhi’s United Nations Plan of Action for total elimination of nuclear weapons came to be revived.
- The ‘Global Zero’ movement gained momentum, even as nuclear weapon powers continued investment in developing delivery systems and weapons.
Redundancy of NPT
- Non-proliferation today, if any, is not on account of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but on account of the futility of building nuclear arsenals.
- Supporters of NPT have been disappointed of present movement under NPT. There are three pillars of the treaty i.e.- non-proliferation, disarmament and nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. However, the first, non-proliferation, has got watered down and disarmament has become the priority.
- NPT supporters also worry that dangerous technologies like enrichment are within the reach of the non-weapon states. In the context of Japan and South Korea debating acquisition of nuclear weapons, they feel that non-proliferation should be brought back to be the first priority of the NPT. The promotional function of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also a concern for them. The IAEA has already shifted its focus from nuclear power to nuclear security.
- The UN General Assembly, with its unlimited agenda, readily jumped into the first UN conference in more than 20 years on a global nuclear weapons ban, though the nuclear weapon powers did not join. More than 120 nations in October 2016 voted on a UN General Assembly resolution to convene the conference to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination. Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. voted no, while China, India and Pakistan abstained.
India’s Position on nuclear weapons Ban
- Though India had recommended the convening of such a conference, it abstained on the resolution as it was not convinced that the conference could accomplish much at this time. India said that it supported the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, which in addition to prohibition and elimination also includes verification.
- Moreover, recently a debate has begun in India about a review of its no-first use doctrine. Experts seem to think that India’s doctrine is flexible enough to deal with any eventuality, but others feel that we should enter more caveats to safeguard our interests.
Nukes as a source of energy
- Efforts to increase nuclear power production suffered a setback as a result of Fukushima. Except for China, India and Russia, most nations have shied away from building nuclear reactors or importing them.
- India’s liability law deterred U.S. companies from exporting reactors to India. The financial problems of Westinghouse, which had agreed to build six reactors in Andhra Pradesh, postponed, if not cancelled, the venture.
- But India has not fundamentally changed its three-stage nuclear power development, though the thorium stage eludes it.
- The Kudankulam project is set to move along with Russian collaboration, but its progress has been slow. The nuclear liability law, the Westinghouse bankruptcy and the protests by local people have combined to delay the expansion of nuclear power in India.
- The unpredictability over nuclear resources have casted a considerable shadow over the future of resource and technology associated with it.
- Moreover, the brainstorming over banning of nuclear weapons is not taking a too definite direction on the future of nukes. Hence, a more comprehensive reform and plans are needed under the aegis of UN to break the ice and to bring a considerable reform on the table.
Question: What are your opinion regarding nuclear power? Is it a boon or a bane? How the efforts should be spearheaded to make fullest use of nuclear resources?
- Paternalismis an ethical stance that a person’s liberty is justifiably restricted to prevent self-harm, or to promote that person’s own well-being.
- Paternalism is an inherently liberty-limiting principle. It is grounded in a theory of impairment, viz., that an individual lacks sufficient facts or mental capacity to make a sound choice.
- It is sometimes defended by a theory of future consent: viz., that the person whose liberty is circumscribed will (or, at least in principle, could) eventually agree that the restriction was desirable, given better facts or improved cognitive capacity in future.
- Paternalism is widely regarded as being restrictive to the liberty and autonomy of individuals, and for this reason it is often opposed.
- Liberals argue (to varying degrees) that rational agents should be free to act in any way they choose, as long as their actions do not harm others, even if their actions do harm themselves. Issues arise as to what constitutes harm, how far reaching one’s actions are, and which actions are voluntary.
- Others argue that paternalism can be justified in certain instances, but not in others. For example, some act-utilitarian argue that if acting paternally brings about the greatest overall utility (or happiness) then it is justified, Mill being a notable exception in that he argues strongly against paternalism, seeing liberty as too great a trade off for welfare; in the long run, violation of liberties will not bring about the greatest utility.
- Paternalism can effect various spheres of life, be it financial (mandatory pension), moral (criminalization of prostitution), personal (prohibition of same sex marriage), health (banning of trans fats), psychological (withholding information for ones peace of mind), or physical (mandatory wearing of seat belts and helmets).
- Issues of morality, liberty, autonomy, and good involved in paternalism make it a subject of philosophical ethical inquiry.
- A conditioned reflex, also called an acquired reflex, it is a behavioural process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response.
- It can also be said as an automatic response to a stimulus that differs from that initially causing the response, but that has become associated with it by repetition, in a process known as classical conditioning
- Such a reflex is developed gradually by training in association with specific repeated external stimuli.
- An example is that in Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov’s experiment in which a dog salivates at the ringing of a bell if, over a period of time, every feeding is preceded by the bell-ringing stimulus. Such a reflex is built into the nervous system and does not need the intervention of conscious thought to take effect.