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Indian Express

27- December-2023

1. Seeing the new South Asia

Topic: GS2 – International Relations 
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of South Asia’s geopolitical landscape, historical context, and current challenges.
  • The article casts doubt on the myth that India is “losing” South Asia and emphasises the need for a more realistic comprehension of the dynamic changes taking place in the area.
  • The sense of betrayal stems from an emotional and disjointed South Asian discourse in India, wherein doves propose a more conciliatory stance and hawks advocate for firmness.
Legacy of British Raj and Changing Realities:
  • The idea that India is becoming less influential in South Asia stems from nostalgia for the British Raj era.
  • But since then, the subcontinent was divided along religious lines, and the British left, changing the geopolitical landscape and leaving behind long-lasting legacy of boundary disputes.
Regional Challenges and Unresolved Issues:
  • One of the long-standing issues is Kashmir, which Pakistan sees as an unfulfilled Partitionist dream.
  • Regional collaboration has been hampered by border securitization and economic division, notwithstanding intermittent attempts in the age of globalisation.
Economic Cooperation and Regional Challenges:
  • Even though there has been an increase in regional economic cooperation during the 1990s, Pakistan is still hesitant to do business with India.
  • Although the article acknowledges that things could change under Nawaz Sharif’s leadership, it doubts that this would actually happen.
Shifts in Power Dynamics:
  • Changes in power dynamics are covered in the analysis, both internally and externally.
  • The British Raj’s instilled respect for Delhi among the elites of the region is beginning to wear thin as other countries come to terms with India’s limits.
  • Neighbours view India’s regional aspirations as a pretext for regional hegemony, and neither dovish nor hawkish strategies succeed in addressing fundamental structural issues.
External Influences and Changing Geopolitics:
  • India faces challenges from China’s growing military and economic influence in South Asia as well as the growing influence of Middle Eastern nations.
  • India’s geopolitical strategy needs to be reevaluated in light of the West’s diminishing influence in the Subcontinent and the rising power of external countries like China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE.
  • The necessity for India to let go of outdated ideas and embrace a South Asia that is evolving is emphasised in the conclusion.
  • It implies that India can adjust to the changing geopolitical environment in the area and use its strengths to both maintain and increase its influence.
  • The emphasis should move from the fixation with the pre-colonial South Asia to strategies for gaining ground in an area that is undergoing rapid change.
PYQ: China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’. In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017) (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Examine the evolving geopolitical landscape in South Asia, considering historical legacies and contemporary factors. (150 words/150 m)

2. A missing industrial policy

Topic: GS3 – Industrial Policy 
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of Significance of Make in India in Transforming Indian Economy.
  • Launched in 2014, the Make in India (MII) campaign is a break from India’s historical position of self-sufficiency, emphasising global exports, investor attraction, and competitiveness.
  • Even though there are worries about protectionist inclinations, it’s important to separate MII from previous policies and evaluate how well it achieves economic goals.
Historical Context:
  • It is unjustified to draw comparisons with the protectionist measures of the 1970s.
  • Instead of focusing on self-sufficiency, MII has a different philosophy, aiming for global competitiveness.
  • The previous protectionist policies created difficulties for consumers and distorted markets by causing shortages, illegal markets, and rent-seeking.
Key Objectives of MII:
  • The 2014 launch of MII expands on past efforts to support the manufacturing industry.
  • Its objectives include becoming India a centre for global manufacturing, raising the industry’s GDP share, and creating 100 million new employment. But reaching these lofty goals hasn’t always been easy.
Concerns and Criticisms:
  • Even though MII has several variants, such as “Make for India” and “Made in India,” protectionism is a worry, particularly for some industries.
  • Critics claim that concentrating on a sizable home market is insufficient to replace global competitiveness, which is necessary for long-term economic expansion.
Recent Developments:
  • The Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) programme is now in place, and the proposed new industrial policy (NIP ’23) has been placed on hold.
  • PLI seeks to increase global competitiveness in important areas, guarantee efficiency, and draw investments.
  • Still, there are concerns over the industrial policy’s overall formulation and its contribution to the creation of high-quality jobs.
The Need for Labor-Intensive Manufacturing:
  • It is imperative to tackle the labour market difficulties in India, which are typified by informal and low-paying jobs.
  • More than 99 percent of MSMEs in India are in the unorganised sector, where there is little room for growth in terms of jobs.
  • A thorough investigation is made more difficult by the lack of regular and comprehensive data regarding PLI’s impact.
Recommendations for Future Policy:
  • Although high-end manufacturing is important, mass employment generation depends on labor-intensive industrial sectors.
  • It is imperative that policymakers persist in promoting excellence in industries that hold promise for creating substantial job opportunities.
  • A flexible and sophisticated approach to policy is needed to address the opportunities and problems brought about by the changing industrial landscape.
  • The Make in India initiative, which emphasises global competitiveness, diverges from previous protectionist measures.
  • But its ability to accomplish economic goals—particularly the creation of jobs remains under constant examination, demanding a methodical and data-driven approach to policymaking.
Four Pillars of Make in India
New Processes:
  • “Ease of Doing Business” is identified by “Make in India” as the most crucial element in fostering entrepreneurship, a goal for which several efforts have already been launched.
  • The goal is to remove all licences and regulations from the industry for the duration of a business’s life cycle.
New Infrastructure:
  • The government’s commitment to the industry’s expansion includes plans to create industrial corridors, upgrade current infrastructure, and create a quick registration process.
New Sectors:
  • 27 manufacturing, infrastructure, and service industries have been identified by “Make in India,” and comprehensive information is being disseminated via an interactive web page and expertly created pamphlets.
New Mindset:
  • The goal of “Make in India” is to fundamentally change the way the government engages with industry.
  • The government will work alongside industry to advance the nation’s economy, but it will do so as a facilitator rather than a regulator.
PYQ: “Success of ‘Make in India’ program depends on the success of ‘Skill India’ programme and radical labour reforms.” Discuss with logical arguments. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2015) (200 words/12.5m)
Practice Question: Critically analyze the evolution and impact of the Make in India (MII) campaign, highlighting its departure from historical protectionist policies. (150 words/10 m)

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