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Indian Express

24- January-2024

1. Challenge for Modi-Macron

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations 
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of Indo-French relations.
Context:
  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India is anticipated to be more than just a display of pomp and show.
  • For Macron, struggling to redefine his presidency, the warm reception in India provides a much-needed relief and an opportunity for positive vision.
Political Engagement and Perception Management:
  • Prime Minister Modi, enjoying domestic popularity, sees Macron’s visit as a continuation of high-level political engagement from Western leaders amid controversies over the temple project and discussions on India’s secularism.
  • Despite media critiques, the visit underscores the separation of Western geopolitical interests from media articulation of liberal ideology.
Substance of the Visit:
  • While the leaders issued an ambitious framework named Horizon 2047 during their last meeting, the visit aims to showcase progress in implementing plans related to defense, nuclear energy, and other areas.
  • The in-principle deals on Rafale Marine aircraft and Scorpene submarines, along with technology transfer for jet engines, remain points of interest, and the visit may shed light on the advancement of these agreements.
Changing Global Dynamics:
  • The international context has evolved since the leaders’ last meeting, with new geopolitical realities.
  • Developments include Ukraine’s counter-offensive stalling against Russia, heightened tensions in the Middle East, and the prospect of Donald Trump’s return, generating fears of renewed political chaos and policy shifts in Washington.
Challenges and Opportunities:
  • Modi and Macron must navigate the rapidly changing global landscape, adapting to new dynamics in the US and addressing challenges posed by Trump’s policies.
  • The concept of a multipolar world, traditionally embraced by India and France, faces a test as the US contemplates retrenchment.
  • The idea of strategic autonomy is also challenged, requiring a reassessment of foreign policy identities in the face of potential US retreat.
Real Questions at Hand:
  • The leaders should focus on concrete issues, such as stabilizing regions like Ukraine and Central Europe, enhancing India’s contributions to European security, and addressing the protection of strategic sea lanes in West Asia.
  • The real challenge lies in developing practical solutions to stabilize Eurasia and its waters, especially if the US, which historically played a crucial role, considers a reevaluation of its global role.
Conclusion:
  • Macron’s visit goes beyond ceremonial aspects, presenting an opportunity for India and France to reassess their strategic cooperation amid changing global dynamics and uncertainties in the international order.
  • The leaders need to address tangible challenges and develop collaborative solutions to ensure regional stability and security.
PYQ: What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2019)
Practice Question: How does the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India contribute to the strategic cooperation between the two nations, considering the changing global dynamics. (150 words/10 m)

2. KEEP IT POROUS

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security- Security challenges and their management in border areas
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of security concerns along the Indo-Myanmar border, the impact of internal conflicts, and the government’s approach to border management.
Context:
  • The central government’s decision to fence the 1,643-km border with Myanmar is analyzed in this article, with a call for reconsideration.
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has indicated plans to formally end the Free Movement Regime (FMR) regime, which allowed people living along the border to travel up to 16 km into the other country without a visa.
Background and Deterioration of Situation:
  • The deterioration of the situation along the Indo-Myanmar border, particularly since the Tadmadaw seized power in Myanmar in February 2021, is highlighted.
  • The junta’s actions, including persecution of the Kuki-Chin people and the resulting influx of Myanmarese refugees in India’s Northeast, have raised security concerns, especially regarding arms and drug trafficking.
Complications and Concerns in Northeast:
  • The potential complications of sealing borders, especially in regions with a history of insurgencies and ethnic strife, are discussed.
  • The move may impact people-to-people relations, causing discontent among tribal groups like the Kukis in Mizoram and Manipur, who share kinship ties with Myanmar’s Chin community.
Opposition from Mizoram and Civil Society:
  • The opposition from Mizoram’s Chief Minister Lalduhoma and civil society groups to the border fencing is highlighted.
  • The concerns raised indicate that the decision does not align with the sentiments of the local population.
India’s Complex Relationship with Myanmar:
  • The historical context of India’s relationship with Myanmar is explored, emphasizing the fact that India has chosen to engage with the military regime ruling Myanmar for strategic reasons.
  • Myanmar has been a part of India’s Look East Policy, and the strategy was successful until the military takeover in February 2021.
Humanitarian Concerns and Limited Influence:
  • The humanitarian concerns arising from the conflict in Myanmar’s Chin province and India’s limited influence in restraining Myanmar from actions against Indian interests are discussed.
  • Despite occasional admonitions, Delhi has struggled to prevent adverse developments in the border regions.
Mizoram’s Shelter for Refugees and Manipur’s Response:
  • Mizoram’s role as a sanctuary for refugees is emphasized, contrasting with Manipur, where Chief Minister Biren Singh has framed the crisis in ways that deflect attention from his government’s failures.
  • Hostility towards the Kuki community and accusations of illegal settlement add complexity to the situation.
Advocacy for Porous Borders:
  • The article advocates for the preservation of porous borders, highlighting that India’s border with Myanmar cuts through villages and divides families in states like Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur.
  • The colonial origins of these borders and their complex nature in the Subcontinent are acknowledged as factors to consider in the decision-making process.
PYQ: Analyze internal security threats and transborder crimes along Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan borders including Line of Control (LoC). Also discuss the role played by various security forces in this regard. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2020)
Practice Question: Evaluate the implications and challenges associated with the Indian government’s decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border, particularly in the context of the Free Movement Regime (FMR)’s suspension. (200 words/12.5 m)

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