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16 May 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

1. The CDS that should be

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors

GS3 – Internal Security

Context:
  • The article highlights the evolving discourse around the restructuring of the Indian military into integrated theatre commands (ITCs) and the potential appointment of a Vice Chief of Defence Staff (VCDS) and a Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (DyCDS).
  • It also touches upon the challenges faced by the existing Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) position and the need for a careful review of India’s higher defence management matrix.

What is CDS?

  • Its creation was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) that was tasked with studying the Kargil Review Committee (1999) report.
  • After the GoM recommendations, in preparation for the post of CDS, the government created the Integrated Defence Staff in 2002, which was to eventually serve as the CDS’s Secretariat.
  • In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as a midway to eliminate apprehensions over the CDS.
  • Finally, the post of CDS was created in 2019 on the recommendations of a committee of defence experts headed by Lt General DB Shekatkar.
  • General Bipin Rawat was the first CDS in the country and was appointed on December 31, 2019.

The Significance of Integrated Theatre Commands (ITCs):

  • The integration of the Indian military into ITCs has long been recognized as a crucial step towards enhancing jointness and improving composite combat capability.
  • However, the process has been slow, with concerns raised about the lack of progress despite internal deliberations.

The Evolution of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Position:

  • The creation of the CDS position under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership was initially seen as a bold move to address structural constraints within the armed forces.
  • However, the trajectory of the CDS post has been marked by challenges, including the untimely demise of General Bipin Rawat, the first CDS, and subsequent delays in appointing a successor.

Proposed Organizational Changes:

  • The article suggests the creation of new posts at the higher level, including a Vice CDS, to facilitate the realization of objectives related to jointness and combat capability.
  • However, there are concerns about the potential overload of responsibilities on the CDS and the need to streamline bureaucratic roles.

Concerns and Clarifications:

  • There are lingering questions regarding the proposed rank hierarchy within the CDS office and the location of the Maritime Theatre Command (MTC).
  • Additionally, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s caution about the time-consuming nature of creating theatre commands underscores the complexity of the process and the importance of consensus-building.

National Security Imperatives:

  • Against the backdrop of ongoing territorial disputes and security challenges posed by neighboring countries and state-sponsored terrorism, the need for enhancing combat efficiency remains paramount.
  • However, there is a perceived lack of significant progress in this regard since the creation of the CDS position.

Future Outlook:

  • As a new government prepares to assume office, there is a call for resolute and objective evolution of the CDS institution, guided by enduring national security considerations.
  • Expert’s emphasis on the CDS’s professional independence and allegiance to the Constitution serves as a reminder of the ethos guiding this crucial role.

Conclusion:

  • The media reports shed light on the evolving discourse surrounding the restructuring of the Indian military and the challenges faced in realizing the objectives of jointness and combat efficiency.
  • While the proposed organizational changes hold promise, there is a need for careful deliberation and consensus-building to navigate the complexities of India’s defence landscape effectively.
Importance of CDS in India’s security:
  • Coordination among services: The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a high military office that will oversee and coordinate the working of the three defence Services in India. This would lead to enhanced security in the region.
  • Effective leadership: CDS will provide effective leadership at the top level to the three wings of the armed forces.
  • Resource optimisation: The CDS will help in the tackling of threats in an integrated manner and would help in optimal use of available resources. Policy-making on operations, procurement and joint logistics will be improved.
  • Coherence: It will provide a single and coherent perspective, instead of disaggregated individual single service perspective.
  • Holistic management: It would help in holistic management of national security for optimised results and single point military advice on matters of national security including nuclear weapons.
  • India is the only country with a Ministry of Defence without military professionals, with bureaucrats lacking a military background and knowledge. As a result, we lack a cohesive national security strategy. There is little synergy within the military and also the military-industrial complex remains in a bad state. A post of CDS will remove such issues.
Practice Question:  What are the key challenges and potential benefits of restructuring the Indian military into integrated theatre commands (ITCs)? Discuss the role of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in this process and the implications for enhancing national security. (250 words/15 m)

 

2. Next government’s things-to-do

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors

GS3 – Indian Economy

Context:
  • The Indian economy has demonstrated resilience by maintaining a growth rate above 7 percent for three consecutive years, despite global economic challenges.
  • However, a closer examination reveals complexities and challenges that need to be addressed by the next government.

 Analysis of Economic Growth Trends:

  • In the pre-Covid period (up to 2018-19), the Indian economy added a significant amount to its real GDP.
  • However, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted economic activities, resulting in a lower GDP addition in the subsequent five years (up to 2023-24).
  • This serves as a critical starting point for the next government’s economic agenda.

Reviving Private Investment:

  • A key area of focus is reviving private investment, which plays a vital role in driving economic growth.
  • While the government has invested heavily in infrastructure through capital expenditure, private sector participation remains subdued.
  • Initiatives like the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme need expansion to include SMEs, alongside incentives such as investment allowances.

Boosting Household Consumption:

  • Household consumption, a crucial driver of economic activity, has been volatile in recent years.
  • Although there was a surge in demand during the pandemic, particularly for services, demand for consumer goods remains subdued.
  • Surplus capacity and high inflation have compressed demand. The government can boost consumption by revising tax rates, increasing disposable income, and encouraging savings.

Employment Generation:

  • Employment generation, primarily driven by the private sector, requires a conducive environment with increased consumption and investments.
  • While the government can provide a push through filling vacant positions, sustained employment growth relies on robust consumption and investment trends.

Agricultural Reforms:

  • Decisive action is needed on agricultural reforms, including revisiting the contentious farm laws and engaging with stakeholders to find acceptable solutions.
  • Government participation through state cooperatives and clarity on agricultural trade policies are essential for stabilizing the sector and ensuring farmer welfare.

Integration into Global Supply Chains:

  • To enhance India’s competitiveness, there is a need to integrate more effectively into global supply chains.
  • This entails pursuing free trade agreements with major trading partners and focusing on boosting merchandise exports, alongside the existing momentum in services exports, particularly in the IT sector.

Fiscal Consolidation

  • While maintaining aggressive economic growth targets, the government must also prioritize fiscal consolidation.
  • Despite challenges, moving towards a lower fiscal deficit, ideally around 3 percent of GDP, requires strategic planning and balance.

Conclusion:

  • The next government must address critical economic challenges to sustain and enhance India’s growth trajectory.
  • This entails reviving private investment, boosting household consumption, promoting employment generation, undertaking agricultural reforms, integrating into global supply chains, and pursuing fiscal consolidation.
  • Strategic policymaking and concerted efforts across sectors are crucial for navigating the complexities of the evolving economic landscape.
PYQ: Consider the following statements: (2018)

1) Human capital formation as a concept is better explained in terms of a process which enables

2) individuals of a country to accumulate more capital.

3) increasing the knowledge, skill levels and capacities of the people of the country.

4) accumulation of tangible wealth.

5) accumulation of intangible wealth

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 4

(d) 1, 3 and 4

Ans: (c)

Practice Question:  What are the key challenges facing India’s economy post-pandemic, and what policy measures can the government undertake to address them? (250 words/15 m)

 

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