1.Children in War (The Hindu)
2.Cheers for world economy (Live Mint, The Hindu)
3.Navigating between friends (The Hindu)
1.Children in War (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the merciful situation of Children in the war zones and its impact on their present and future life. (GS paper I and II)
- During the last 10 years, around 10 million children are estimated to have been killed as a result of varied wars. The situations resulting from armed conflicts affect primarily children because of their vulnerability, and do so in many different ways.
- Syria is also one example among various example where children bear the plight of war and crisis. More than 17,000 children have died in Syria since the civil war erupted five years ago.
Children’s vulnerability in war
- Confronted with the chaos caused by armed conflicts, children are the most persecuted. In fact, most of the time they are still too young to understand what is happening or do not have any way to defend themselves against the danger. They are, therefore, vulnerable and become easy targets that armed forces have no reservations in exploiting.
However, vulnerability of children can be classified in following ways:
- Child Soldiers:A child soldier is defined as any person less than eighteen years old who is a member of armed governmental forces or of a regular or irregular armed group or associated with these forces, whether or not there is an armed conflict
- Displaced Children:During armed conflicts, a large number of children find themselves separated from their parents or those who have them in their care. There exist different categories for displaced children.
- Orphans:Because of war, many children find themselves orphans after the death of their parents.
- Imprisoned Children: In times of conflict, children are frequently imprisoned. The reasons for this imprisonment are diverse, but in most cases, it results from the association of the children with the armed forces of a State.
- Exploited Children (sexual exploitation or even forced labour): Often children are victims of sexual abuse. Most of the time, sexual violence increases considerably during times of conflict. Children are also subjected to forced labour and participate in hostilities through no fault of their own.
What needs to be done?
- The UN Security Council (UNSC) should be urged to bring a solution to this debacle, even if it meant a military solution as a bloody massacre may need an exertion of force to be stopped. At the end of the day, it is all about morality. Saving children and giving them an opportunity to try to build a better future is a sacred moral duty of all mankind. Scoring diplomatic debating points is fine, but we have crossed the stage of rhetoric.
- It is also important for faith-based leaders across the world to exert moral pressure on global institutions to urgently help these millions of helpless children who face a bleak future. Moral and ethical diktats may be issued by religion based leaders to rectify the behaviour of insurgents.
- The Geneva Convention relating to the protection of individual civilians in times of war (art 27 to 34): the fundamental guarantees granted by these texts, such as the right to the respect of life, physical and moral integrity, the ban of forced bodily services, torture, collective punishment, and reprisals are applicable to children. Provisions such as these, should be implemented more rigorously without any tolerance as to grant any sort of exception.
- As a consequence of conflict, children and young people can lose their confidence, their trust in others and their trust in the future. They often become anxious, depressed and withdrawn, or rebellious and aggressive.
- As a consequence of conflict, children and young people can lose their confidence, their trust in others and their trust in the future. They often become anxious, depressed and withdrawn, or rebellious and aggressive. Hence, rehabilitation centres should be created with international support where children can start a new life.
- A good way of returning children’s lives to some semblance of structure and routine is to restart education as soon as possible. This does not require formal buildings or courses; education can be restarted even in refugee camps. In Rwanda, tens of thousands of children were able to start primary classes within two months of the end of hostilities through ‘school in a box’, a collection of basic supplies and materials for learning.
- Healing the wounds of war-torn societies is a long and difficult undertaking. The immediate demand is to ensure that people, and especially children, are adequately fed, have access to safe water and are protected against disease. But recent experience has underlined the importance of five other tasks:
- Caring for unaccompanied children;
- Demobilizing child soldiers;
- Healing the mental wounds of war;
- Restarting schools
- Embarking on education for peace.
- The ultimate aim, of course, should be to reunite children with their families. In Rwanda, Save the Children, UNICEF, UNHCR and other partners have arranged with ICRC to standardize the process of data collection and tracing. This has included working with the Kodak company to enter photos of the children along with their details into computers and distributing printouts throughout the refugee camps. This kind of activity can be supplemented with information broadcast by radio.
Question: Children face a pity situation in the conflict ridden zones. How non-state actors can be roped to bring respite to the situation of these children?
2.Cheer for world economy (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on recent IMF forecast for the world economy as well as for Indian economy.(GS paper III)
- In its World Economic Outlook report, IMF projected a rosier picture of world economy. However, there are various bottlenecks as well. According to report, “downside risks” (as the IMF puts it) are so many that any celebration would be hasty.
Observations by IMF
- The IMF sees world economic growth accelerating from 3.1% in 2016 to 3.5% in 2017, and 3.6% in 2018. Both advanced and emerging economies are poised to do better.
- Growth in advanced economies is projected to rise from 1.7% in 2016 to 2% in 2017 and 2018.
- Emerging markets will grow at 4.5% in 2017, and 4.8% in 2018, compared with growth of 4.1% in 2016.
Impact on India
- IMF increased India’s growth estimate for 2016-17 to 6.8%, from 6.6% estimated in January, while maintaining that economic activity had slowed primarily because of the temporary negative consumption shock induced by cash shortages and payment disruptions from the currency exchange initiative.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for accelerated economic reforms for India to achieve a higher growth trajectory, while retaining its GDP growth projection of 7.2% for 2017-18.
- IMF’s projection makes India the fastest growing major economy in 2016-17, with China estimated to have grown at 6.7% during 2016. China’s economy is expected to steadily slow down to 6.6% in 2017 and 6.2% in 2018 due to the “complex process of rebalancing” by reorienting demand from exports and investment in consumption.
- The outlook said India’s economy has grown at a strong pace in recent years owing to the implementation of critical structural reforms, favourable terms of trade, and lower external vulnerabilities.
Sticky situation in world economy
- The recent forecast is a bit of a surprise considering that, until very recently, many economists had come to believe that the world economy was in the grip of ‘secular stagnation’
- In conditions of ‘secular stagnation’, conventional monetary policy is doomed to be ineffective as Conventional monetary policy operates by reducing nominal interest rates in order to stimulate growth. Where the nominal interest rate is already close to zero, there isn’t much scope for cutting interest rates.
- The burden of reviving growth in such a situation falls on fiscal policy. This means running up large government deficits and increasing public debt. But markets will finance government borrowings only up to a point, and there is also resistance among policymakers to increased government spending.
- People tend to save rather invest due to uncertainty which leads to secular stagnation in the economy.
Reasons for secular stagnation
- Prospects for such a phenomena occurred because savings were rising and investment was falling.
- Higher savings flowed from factors such as greater inequality (the rich can spend only so much), and greater life expectancy and reduced post-retirement benefits (which means people have to save more to provide for retirement).
- Whereas, Investment had fallen because capital goods had become cheaper, the new economy did not require a great deal of capital and population growth had slowed (which meant lower demand for goods down the road). With decreased spending, inflation rates also fell in the advanced world.
- Now seeing the trends in world economy, it can be ascertained that fears of secular stagnation may subside. However, it cannot be concluded with utmost confirmation that such fear will not revive as We have not seen big increases in private or public investment in the advanced economies.
- Moreover, much of the boost to market sentiment has to do with expectations that the U.S. will see a strong fiscal stimulus through the combination of tax cuts and massive infrastructure spending.
Concerns with regard to developing economies
- The IMF warns that emerging markets, including India, will find the external conditions for growth less supportive than in the post-2000 period.
- Slower growth in the developed world means lesser demand for emerging market goods and services.
- Tightening monetary conditions in the advanced world spell lower capital flows (although foreign investors will still be attracted to emerging markets with sound fundamentals).
- Moreover, the threat of protectionism and anti-globalisation sentiments in the U.S. and Europe pose bigger risks than many of the factors mentioned above, although it is not yet clear how these risks will play out.
- Government should be proactive and policy actions should consolidate the disinflation under way since the collapse in commodity prices through agricultural sector reforms and infrastructure enhancements to ease supply bottlenecks.
- Efforts should be made to boost financial stability through full recognition of non-performing loans and raising public sector banks’ capital buffers.
- Government should also make efforts to secure the public finances through continued reduction of poorly targeted subsidies and structural tax reforms, including implementation of the recently approved nationwide goods and services tax in order to drag economy out of sluggishness.
Question: The government is bringing far reaching reforms in order to boost economic prospects. However, performance world economy may derail India’s efforts. How India should respond to this challenge?
3.Navigating between friends (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on issue that deterioration in US-Iran ties could spell trouble for India. (GS paper II)
- Changes in the US’s attitude to Iran could be very serious for India; the issues involved are India’s access to Iranian oil supplies, Iran as key to gaining access to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia and other resources, the progressively more cordial relations between India and Washington, and India’s deepening defence relationship with Israel.
- There are no formal diplomatic relations between the Iran and the United States of America. Because the two nations currently do not have direct diplomatic relations, relations are in deteriorating pace, and since 1995 the United States has had an embargo on trade with Iran. In 2015 the United States led successful negotiations for a nuclear deal intended to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities, and when Iran complied in 2016 sanctions on Iran were lifted.
- United States by the executive order has temporary banned Iranian citizens from entering the country “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” Recently Trump Administration certified that Iran had continued to comply with the 2015 nuclear framework agreement.
- US administration slapped sanctions on the West Asian country over its missile programme. US Congress accused Iran as “a leading state sponsor of terror”, accused it of attempting to “destabilize another country”, meaning Yemen.
- In the response to Iran’s test of a ballistic missile, called it the world’s “single biggest state sponsor of terrorism”.
- US has its regional allies with Israel and Saudi Arabia, these state are also having hostile attitude towards Iran.
- India and Iran signed a pact to develop the Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman. The Chabahar port is less than 100km from Pakistan’s Chinese-constructed port of Gwadar, part of a project to open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf to western China.
- India, Iran and Afghanistan have also signed a trilateral connectivity pact to open an alternative route for Afghanistan, to access markets like India.
- In 2016, Iran was India’s largest supplier of crude oil, with its exports to India exceeding the overall largest supplier Saudi Arabia’s exports by over 10%. Tehran has consistently offered India very favorable terms, including non-dollar oil sales and other commercial attractions.
- Oil is of course only one commodity in a long-standing Indo-Iranian trade relationship, Iran buys basmati rice and sugar from India, as well as various agrochemicals and petroleum products. Substantial expansions in the volume of business are also likely, despite earlier tensions over delayed Indian payments for oil.
- The Indian government has taken steps to reassure Indian insurers in the public and private sectors, as well as banks, over the risks they might take in handling Iranian money while the U.S. sanctions regime remains in force.
- Another substantial deal is the one under preparation for India to have operating rights in the Farzad B gas field, which lies within Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.
Implications for India
- For India, the current state of events seems to present a dilemma as it looks to establish a working relationship with Washington, with the attitudes taken by Israel and Saudi Arabia no doubt exacerbating New Delhi’s predicament. It may help India that within the U.S. and Israel moderating factors both commercial and military obtain.
- Perhaps the Trump administration despite its bellicose rhetoric is showing some signs of moderation in all this. For example, the sanctions announced since the recent Iranian missile test amount to no more than the implementation of measures
- According to some analysts moving against US policy on Iran would put India at odds with the Trump administration. “The Trump administration will be a difficult partner to deal with on this issue.”
- With growing relationships between China and Pakistan with CPEC, any delay on Chabahar port “will be a very serious setback”
Question: How can deteriorating relations between Iran and US can pose negative implications for India’s stability?