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11 June 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Analysis

1. From warp speed to reset, the state of India-U.S. ties

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
  • A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. visit, which aimed to enhance strategic and high-tech cooperation, progress in U.S.-India relations has slowed due to external and internal challenges.
  • Upcoming meetings between leaders at international summits offer a chance to reassess and invigorate the bilateral ties.

Overview of U.S.-India Relations One Year After High-Level Visits


  • The past year marks the anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States, where significant announcements were made, including the revival of a decade-old jet engine technology transfer plan.
  • The U.S.-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) was highlighted as a major success, potentially ushering in a new era of bilateral relations.

Current State of Relations

  • Despite high ambitions, progress in the U.S.-India relationship has been slower than expected due to various external and internal factors.
  • The newly sworn-in Indian Prime Minister is set to meet the U.S. President at the G-7 outreach summit in Italy, offering an opportunity to reassess and reinvigorate ties.

Positive Developments (“The Crests”)

  • The 25th anniversary of improved U.S.-India relations post-Pokhran was celebrated, noting the deepening of strategic ties since Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 1998 speech.
  • Key areas of cooperation include climate change, green energy, critical and emerging technologies, and outer space.
  • Strategic trust has been bolstered by foundational agreements, military exercises, interoperability, and significant military hardware purchases.
  • Old irritants have diminished, such as the de-hyphenation of U.S.-India ties with Pakistan and reduced tensions over Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Increased engagement with the Quad (India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.) and the Indo-Pacific strategy has aligned Delhi and Washington on shared concerns over China’s aggression.

Challenges and Ongoing Issues (“The Not-So-Good”)

  • Multilateral cooperation on global conflicts remains a work-in-progress, notably regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • The U.S. frames the war in terms of international rule of law and humanitarian principles, while India considers historical contexts and the impact on the Global South.
  • Compromises include the U.S. withdrawing objections to India’s purchase of Russian oil, while India has postponed its annual summit with Russia.
  • Upcoming engagements between the newly-elected Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President will be crucial, particularly at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit and the BRICS Summit.

Impact of China on Multilateral Cooperation

  • Concerns over China’s threats against Taiwan and activities in the South China Sea affect Quad cooperation.
  • Logistical issues have delayed Quad meetings, including the U.S. President’s decision to decline the Republic Day invitation, affecting the Quad Summit.
  • Planned visits by U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell have been postponed, impacting the iCET review.

Diplomatic Tensions and Strained Relations

  • The absence of an Indian Ambassador in Washington and strained ties with the U.S. Ambassador in India, exacerbated by comments on human rights and democracy, have widened the gap.
  • The U.S. State Department’s critical reports on religious freedom and democracy in India have led to diplomatic summons and increased tensions.
  • Statements from the U.S. post-general election, including commendations for civil society and journalists, have further strained relations.

Sensitive Issues and Legal Disputes

  • The attempted assassination of a Khalistani separatist and U.S. citizen in New York, allegedly linked to Indian security officials, remains a contentious issue.
  • The discomfort over India’s perceived involvement in the killing of foreign citizens has seeped into the bilateral relationship, with ongoing investigations and trials in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The U.S. demands accountability, while India must navigate the situation delicately to maintain diplomatic relations.

Future Engagements and Political Realities

  • The Indian government must adjust to coalition realities following the general election results and engage effectively with the U.S. during its “lame-duck” period.
  • A potential Trump presidency could alter the dynamics of U.S.-India relations, introducing uncertainty.
  • Upcoming meetings, including the Biden-Modi meeting and the visit by U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan for the iCET review, are critical for restarting the relationship.


  • One year after Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to the U.S., the relationship has seen both progress and setbacks.
  • Strategic and high-tech cooperation has grown, but challenges in multilateral cooperation, diplomatic tensions, and sensitive legal issues need addressing.
  • Future engagements between the Indian Prime Minister and U.S. officials are vital for achieving the ambitions set during last year’s visit and ensuring a robust bilateral relationship.
PYQ: “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of a China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)
Practice Question:  Discuss the key challenges and opportunities in the current state of U.S.-India relations, particularly in the context of strategic and high-tech cooperation, as observed a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States. (150 Words /10 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 8)

2. A push for more climate action

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Environmental pollution and degradation
  • On May 21, 2024, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) issued an advisory opinion in response to a request from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS).
  • It seeks to clarify obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding climate change mitigation.


  • On May 21, 2024, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) issued an advisory opinion, responding to a request from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS) regarding climate change mitigation obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Additional information:
  • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS): The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.
  • ITLOS has jurisdiction over disputes concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS.
  • Its composition includes judges from various countries, ensuring representation from different legal traditions and geographical regions.
  • ITLOS provides a forum for peaceful resolution of maritime disputes.
  • Cases before ITLOS may involve issues such as maritime boundaries, navigation rights, and protection of the marine environment.
  • Its decisions are binding and final, contributing to the rule of law in the maritime domain.  
  • Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS): The Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS) is a specialised body focused on the intersection of climate change and international law.
  • It represents the interests of small island states vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • COSIS facilitates collaboration among small island states to address legal challenges related to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.
  • It provides a platform for advocacy and negotiation within international forums such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • COSIS aims to ensure that the legal frameworks governing climate action adequately address the needs and concerns of small island states.  
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a comprehensive international treaty governing the use of the world’s oceans.
  • It establishes the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas.
  • UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994.
  • It defines the rights and responsibilities of nations regarding the use of marine resources, navigation, environmental protection, and scientific research.
  • UNCLOS sets rules for maritime boundaries, exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and the exploitation of resources beyond national jurisdiction.
  • It provides mechanisms for dispute resolution, including the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Key Points of the Advisory Opinion:

1. Identifying Obligations under UNCLOS:

  • The ITLOS accepted COSIS’s request, focusing on obligations of states not party to the COSIS Agreement.
  • Under Article 194(1) of UNCLOS, states have obligations to prevent, reduce, and control marine pollution from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

2. Carbon Dioxide as a Pollutant:

  • The Opinion clarifies that carbon dioxide emissions into the marine environment qualify as pollutants under UNCLOS.
  • It emphasises the impact of CO2 absorption on ocean acidification and sea-level rise.

3. Legal Significance and Implications:

  • The advisory opinion expands the principle of prevention to address climate change as a collective interest.
  • It sets a stringent standard for necessary measures, aligning with international climate agreements like the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target.

4. Mitigation Obligations and Due Diligence:

  • States are obligated to take necessary measures to reduce anthropogenic GHG emissions.
  • However, the opinion recognizes the general nature of these obligations and allows gradual emissions reduction over time.

5. Challenges in Implementation:

  • The Opinion lacks concrete methodology for assessing states’ mitigation actions, unlike the Urgenda judgement.
  • It acknowledges the principle of equity in determining mitigation levels based on states’ capabilities.

6. Political and Legal Impact:

  • While advisory opinions lack legal force, they hold significant political influence.
  • The ITLOS advisory opinion serves as an authoritative judicial pronouncement on climate change mitigation obligations.


  • The ITLOS advisory opinion marks a milestone in international climate change litigation, emphasising states’ obligations under UNCLOS to mitigate anthropogenic GHG emissions.
  • While providing clarity on carbon dioxide as a pollutant, it also underscores the need for stringent yet equitable measures to combat climate change effectively.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s advisory opinion on climate change mitigation obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (250 Words /15 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 8)

3. Why India needs a third aircraft carrier

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security
  • The article discusses recent developments regarding the Indian Navy’s pursuit of a third aircraft carrier, highlighting concerns over costs, operational effectiveness, and alternative defence strategies amidst regional security challenges and budgetary constraints.

Background and Context

  • Recent reports suggest progress towards the construction of a third aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy, emphasising the importance of maintaining shipbuilding expertise.
  • Drawing parallels with past lapses in submarine construction, particularly the Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilder’s experience, underscores the need to prevent such occurrences with Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).
  • The Indian Navy aims to avoid a repeat of costly mistakes, prioritising continuity in carrier-building capabilities by opting for an interim solution with the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-2 (IAC-2).

Concerns and Considerations

  • The proposed IAC-2, despite modifications and enhanced local content, faces concerns regarding its estimated cost of $5-6 billion.
  • Questions arise regarding the effectiveness of IAC-2 in countering the evolving anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, particularly those of China and Pakistan.
  • Advancements in cruise missile technology contribute to the feasibility and affordability of A2/AD operations, prompting strategic concerns within the Indian Navy and beyond.
 What is anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities?
  • Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities refer to military strategies aimed at preventing an adversary from entering or operating freely within a specific area.
  • A2/AD employs layered defences, including missile systems, naval mines, submarines, and aircraft, to deter or impede enemy forces.
  • These capabilities pose significant challenges to traditional military operations, particularly for naval forces reliant on access to certain areas for power projection and maritime dominance

Operational Strategies

  • Debate within the Indian Navy revolves around operational strategies, with some advocating for a ‘sea denial’ approach primarily utilising submarines, while others support a ‘sea control’ strategy involving carrier battle groups.
  • The decision to prioritise carrier construction over acquiring additional submarines raises questions about the balance between surface and underwater assets.
  • Financial constraints necessitate revisions to the Navy’s fleet expansion goals, impacting the acquisition of critical surface combatants, helicopters, and other equipment.

Budgetary Challenges and Competition

  • Limited defence budgets lead to competition between the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force (IAF), and Indian Army for resource allocation.
  • The IAF presents arguments against investing in an aircraft carrier, suggesting alternative platforms like the SEPECAT Jaguar IM/IS and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters equipped for maritime operations.
  • Upgrades to existing capabilities, such as the maritime strike capability of the Jaguar IM fleet and the commissioning of Su-30MKI squadrons armed with BrahMos-A missiles, offer cost-effective alternatives.

Alternative Strategies

  • Some naval experts advocate for enhancing military capabilities in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to establish an A2/AD maritime ‘exclusive zone.’
  • This approach, focused on deterrence against potential threats, is seen as a potentially more cost-effective and resilient alternative to investing in additional aircraft carriers.
  • While acknowledging the strategic value of aircraft carriers, proponents argue that investing in island-based defences can offer similar deterrence benefits at a lower cost.


  • The Indian Navy’s pursuit of an additional aircraft carrier reflects its strategic imperatives and concerns over regional security challenges.
  • However, debates surrounding the cost-effectiveness and operational efficacy of such a venture underscore the complexities of modern naval warfare.
  • Alternative strategies, including investments in island-based defences and upgrades to existing capabilities, offer avenues for addressing security concerns within budgetary constraints.
Practice Question:  Analysing the Indian Navy’s quest for a third aircraft carrier amidst budgetary constraints and evolving security threats, discuss the strategic implications and alternative defence strategies that could be considered to address regional security challenges. (250 Words /15 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 9)

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