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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

29- January-2024

1. Red lines in neighbourhood

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
This topic is relevant for Mains in the context of India- Maldives relations.
  • The article delves into the evolving dynamics of India’s ties with Maldives after the election of President Mohamed Muizzu.
  • It points out the challenges posed by China’s assertiveness in the region, leading neighboring countries, including Maldives, to balance their relationships between India and China.
  • The article emphasizes the need for India to counter China’s influence by bringing neighboring countries under the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inclusive development.
More about the news: Muizzu’s Stand and Diplomatic Moves:
  • President Muizzu, known for his proximity to China, campaigned on the promise of removing Indian defense services from Maldives.
  • Post-election, he swiftly asserted his commitment to this pledge. After a meeting with PM Modi, Muizzu claimed India’s agreement to withdraw its “military personnel.”
  • The passage highlights the ambiguity in the Indian statement, focusing on the establishment of a “core group” for various collaborations while staying silent on defense personnel withdrawal.
Chinese Influence and Rhetoric:
  • Muizzu’s visit to China elevated the China-Maldives relationship to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.”
  • The article suggests that China is leveraging the Maldives card with a committed partner, Muizzu, who makes provocative remarks about India.
  • Muizzu’s statement upon return, asserting that a small country should not be bullied, is interpreted as a reference to India, indicating a clear alignment with China’s rhetoric against perceived bullying by larger nations.
Diplomatic Efforts and Red Lines:
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s meeting with his Maldivian counterpart aimed at finding mutually workable solutions and continued cooperation.
  • The article underscores the need for India to balance respect for Maldives’ sovereignty with safeguarding its security interests.
  • The challenge lies in preventing Maldives from becoming a base that threatens India’s security.
  • The article advocates for India to draw clear red lines in the region, emphasizing strength while maintaining cooperative and non-interfering policies in line with the Modi doctrine of “sabka saath, sabka vikas.”.
Challenges in the Region:
  • The article expands the discussion beyond Maldives, highlighting China’s historical use of Pakistan against India, its growing influence in Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, and the delicate situation in Bangladesh.
  • It also points out India’s historical challenges in decisively combating terrorism and the need to counter China’s economic dominance effectively.
  • The article advocates for India to enunciate security red lines in the region, demonstrating strength and determination, while simultaneously adhering to the principles of inclusive development and non-interference.
  • The Balakot airstrike of 2019 is cited as an example of India’s willingness to use coercive elements to counter terrorism, and the article calls for a similar approach in enforcing broader security red lines in the region.
                  The China Factor in the Indian Ocean Region
  • The Maldives has emerged as an important ‘pearl’ in China’s “String of Pearls” strategy in South Asia.
  • Maldives has massive Chinese investment and became a participant in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The India-Maldives relationship suffered a setback when Maldives entered into a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in 2017.
  • There are speculations about a Chinese plan to develop a naval base in the Maldives, with past proposals indicating concerns about potential military applications.
  • China’s oceanographic surveys in the waters of amicable South Asian nations pose potential conflict points due to the presence of Indian hydrographic ships in the region.
PYQ: Discuss the political developments in Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India? (200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2013)
Practice Question:  Examine the evolving dynamics of India’s relations with Maldives in the context of President Mohamed Muizzu’s election and China’s increasing influence in the region. (200 words/12.5 m)


Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Issues relating to poverty and hunger This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of nutritional deficiencies, government initiatives, challenges in implementation, dietary patterns, and strategies for awareness.
  • The article highlights the common issue of anaemia, often caused by nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency. The impact is particularly significant in children and women.
  • The article underscores the intricate relationship between nutritional deficiencies and certain disorders, emphasizing the bidirectional nature of this relationship.
  • The article also explains how consistent intake of food lacking essential micronutrients can lead to deficiencies like iron, Vitamin A, and zinc, consequently impairing immunity.
More about the news: Intergenerational Impact and Government Initiatives:
  • The article emphasizes the intergenerational impact of malnutrition caused by micronutrient deficiencies. It notes that anaemic mothers are known to give birth to anaemic babies.
  • Government initiatives like Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) and the Mid-day Meal Scheme for school children are acknowledged as substantial targeted measures to address these concerns.
  • However, the article acknowledges the persistent challenges in effective implementation that need to be addressed.
Shift in Dietary Patterns and Challenges:
  • The article talks about the evolution of dietary patterns, noting the transition from traditional, diverse diets to modern diets dominated by processed and calorically dense but nutritionally deficient foods.
  • It also points out the shift away from seasonal and varied foods towards processed alternatives, which poses challenges to maintaining a balanced diet.
Addressing the Lack of Access to Balanced Diets:
  • Highlighting regional disparities, the article cites FAO data indicating that a significant portion of South Asia lacks access to an affordable balanced diet.
  • Specifically, it mentions that around 74% of India’s population could not afford a healthy diet.
  • Recent government interventions like Large-Scale Food Fortification (LSFF) are considered timely, with potential benefits at both individual and community levels.
  • The article emphasizes the need for aligning LSFF with micronutrient supplementation programs, promoting diet diversity, and inducing behavioral change.
Challenges and Potential of Food Fortification:
  • While recognizing that food fortification may not be the ideal remedy, the article sees it as a crucial first step.
  • Drawing parallels with the successful adoption of iodized salt to control iodine deficiency disorders, the article underscores the importance of awareness in the acceptance of fortified foods.
  • The need for an intensive information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign is stressed, including informing beneficiaries about stringent fortification standards and dispelling misconceptions.
Strategies for Greater Awareness:
  • The article suggests multiple awareness strategies, including community radio, videos, and door-to-door outreach, with messages delivered in vernacular languages to enhance understanding and build trust.
  • It emphasizes the importance of state-level strategies, such as LSFF, and calls for a comprehensive approach involving both individual and community-level dietary practices.
  • The article advocates for a holistic approach to address nutritional deficiencies, combining government interventions, awareness campaigns, and individual dietary practices to ensure a healthier and more nutritionally balanced society.
PYQ: How far do you agree with the view that the focus on lack or availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2018)
Practice Question:  Discuss the multifaceted challenges associated with malnutrition in India, with a specific focus on iron deficiency anaemia. (150 words/10 m)

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