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The Hindu Editorial

11-January-2024

1. India and Maldives should see the benefits of closer ties.

Topic: GS2 – International relations – India and its Neighbourhood
UPSC importance: Analyzing the deteriorating India-Maldives ties, understanding regional dynamics, and assessing implications for India’s foreign relations and neighborhood stability.
Context:
  • The rapid deterioration in India-Maldives ties stems from anti-India tweets by Maldivian Ministers, criticizing PM Modi and triggering calls for a boycott.
  • The underlying issues include President Muizzu’s shift in priorities and insistence on military personnel withdrawal, urging reassessment for regional stability.
India – Maldives Relations: Data:
  • Strong Historical Ties:Cultural and trade links dating back centuries. India was among the first to recognize Maldives’ independence in 1965.
  • Economic Interdependence:India is Maldives’ largest trading partner (18% of total trade) and a major source of imports (food, construction materials, pharmaceuticals). Maldives is a popular tourist destination for Indians.
  • Security Cooperation:Close cooperation on maritime security, counter-terrorism, and disaster management. India has provided military assistance and training to Maldives.
  • Development Partnership:India has extended substantial development assistance to Maldives, including grants, loans, and technical assistance in areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare.
 Prospects:
  • Enhanced Trade and Investment:Potential for increased trade in tourism, healthcare, and education sectors. Indian investments in infrastructure projects can boost Maldives’ economy.
  • Strengthened Maritime Security:Collaboration in combating piracy, terrorism, and illegal fishing can ensure regional stability.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Capacity Building:India’s expertise in various fields can benefit Maldives’ development goals.
  • Cultural Exchange:Continued cultural exchange programs can foster deeper understanding and friendship between the two nations.
 Challenges:
  • Political Instability in Maldives:Frequent changes in government can impact the consistency of bilateral relations.
  • Economic Disparity:Maldives’ dependence on tourism makes it vulnerable to external shocks. Indian investments should be mindful of environmental and social sustainability.
  • Security Threats:Maldives’ strategic location makes it susceptible to non-traditional security threats like piracy and terrorism. Continued cooperation is crucial.
  • Perception of Asymmetry:Balancing Maldives’ concerns about maintaining its sovereignty with India’s security interests remains an ongoing challenge.
Way Forward:
  • High-Level Engagement:Regular visits and dialogues between leaders can strengthen ties and address concerns.
  • Focus on Mutual Benefits: Collaboration should be based on equality and respect for each other’s interests.
  • Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing:India can assist Maldives in developing its own expertise and resources.
  • Multilateral Cooperation:Working together on regional and international issues can benefit both nations.
  • People-to-People Exchange:Promoting cultural and educational exchange can build bridges between the people of both countries.
By proactively addressing challenges and nurturing shared interests, India and Maldives can continue to build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship in the years to come.
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: Analyze the strategic importance of the Maldives for India and evaluate the challenges posed by China’s increasing presence in the bilateral relationship. (150 words/10 m)

2. A manifesto for justice that has sprung from crises

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Role of NGOs and civil society
The article highlights grassroots solutions for India’s crises, offering insights into economic, political, and environmental issues, relevant for UPSC aspirants.
Context:
  • The article discusses the ‘People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable, and Sustainable India’ released by 85 civil society groups under Vikalp Sangam.
  • It addresses India’s crises, emphasizing economic, political, and environmental reforms for a sustainable future. 
People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable, and Sustainable India:
  • Released by 85 movements and civil society organizations under Vikalp Sangam, focusing on solutions to India’s crises.
  • Economic Reforms: Urges priority attention to small manufacturing, crafts, and sustainable agriculture. Calls for extending National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to urban areas.
  • Macro-economic Policies: Demands curbs on the black economy, wealth taxation, reduction in salary inequalities, basic income, and pension for all workers.
  • Political Reforms: Seeks decentralization, devolution of powers to local assemblies, comprehensive laws for accountability, and the repeal of misused laws like UAPA and NSA.
  • Social Inclusion: Advocates for dialogue forums, prioritizing marginalized sections, and allocating 6% of GDP for culturally rooted education.
  • Environmental Focus: Recommends a national land and water policy, organic farming by 2040, reduction in toxic products, decentralization of water and energy management, and phasing out fossil fuels.
  • Climate Crisis: Urges greater priority for climate adaptation, increased allocation for communities affected by climate impacts.
  • Governance and Accountability: Calls for reinstating the independence of institutions like the Election Commission and media, addressing inter-faith conflicts, and ensuring accountability in environmental impact assessment processes.
  • Youth Empowerment: Recognizes and encourages the role of the youth population in shaping decisions affecting the country.
  • Historical Examples: Cites practical examples of successful initiatives promoting economic self-reliance, ecological responsibility, and socio-cultural equality.
  • Implementation Challenges: Acknowledges the need for citizens’ pro-active involvement in holding elected representatives accountable and ensuring the implementation of manifesto points.
PYQ: Can Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations present an alternative model of public service delivery to benefit the common citizen? Discuss the challenges of this alternative model. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)

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