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The Hindu Editorial

16-December-2023

1. A time-honoured connect that will help bridge the Gulf

Topic: GS2 – International Relations- Bilateral Relations

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for mains in context of understanding bilateral relations and agreements involving India.

Context:
  • Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s state visit to India strengthens diplomatic ties, building on landmark agreements from Prime Minister Modi’s 2018 visit to Oman.
  • India-Oman strategic partnership flourishes in defence, trade, and regional stability, highlighting Oman’s role as India’s gateway to West Asia.

 Sultan’s Visit to India:

  • Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman is on a state visit to India from December 16, 2023.
  • First visit to India since taking office in January 2020.

Landmark Visit and Agreements:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Oman in February 2018, resulting in key agreements on trade, defense, and security.
  • Signified a milestone in diplomatic relations between India and Oman.

Strategic Importance of Oman:

  • Oman, India’s closest neighbor in the Arabian Gulf, holds strategic importance.
  • Key Omani ports crucial to India’s maritime interests in the Arabian Sea and Gulf region.

Historical Ties and People-to-People Relations:

  • Strong historical ties with the ruling family of Oman.
  • Large Indian community contributing to close people-to-people relations.

Oman’s Foreign Policy and Regional Role:

  • Oman’s foreign policy based on moderation and mediation.
  • Maintained deliberate neutrality, fostering peace in a conflict-prone region.
  • Played a key role in diffusing tensions, including during the Persian Gulf crisis in 2019.

India-Oman Strategic Partnership:

  • Strategic partnership signed in 2008, based on mutual trust and shared interests.
  • Defence and security engagement a key pillar, with joint exercises and maritime cooperation.
  • Trade and commerce thriving, bilateral trade reaching $12.388 billion in FY2022-23.

Future Collaboration:

  • Possibilities of increased collaboration in space cooperation and joint exploration of rare earth metals.
  • Proposed infrastructure projects, including the India-Middle-East-Europe Connectivity Corridor and a gas pipeline from Oman to India.

Gateway to West Asia:

  • Oman seen as India’s gateway to West Asia, holding a crucial role in the region’s geopolitics.
  • Ongoing Israel-Hamas war adds significance to the Sultan’s visit for India and the region.

Conclusion:

  • Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s visit underscores the enduring India-Oman strategic partnership.
  • With deep-rooted historical ties, collaboration in defence, trade, and regional stability, Oman remains India’s vital gateway to West Asia, fostering peace and cooperation in a geopolitically significant region.
PYQ: India has been pursuing multi-pronged strategies to deepen its engagement with West Asia. Discuss the key factors driving this engagement and critically evaluate the successes and challenges faced by India in achieving its objectives. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022)
Practice Question: How does the longstanding India-Oman strategic partnership contribute to regional stability, and what role does Oman play as India’s gateway to West Asia? Discuss with a focus on key agreements, defence cooperation, and shared interests. (250 Words)

2. Opportune moment to rediscover Chennai’s hydrology.

Topic: GS3 – Disaster Management.

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for mains in understanding disaster and disaster management.

Context:
  • The article underscores the escalating challenge of floods in Indian cities, with specific reference to Chennai – due to climate change, emphasizing the imperative for proactive urban flood management.
  • It advocates for comprehensive, scientifically-driven interventions to build resilience and convert challenges into opportunities.

 Introduction:

As India grapples with an increasing frequency of floods, intensified by climate change, the need for robust urban flood management strategies becomes paramount. This article delves into the challenges faced by cities across the nation, emphasizing the importance of proactive interventions to mitigate the impact of floods.

The Pervasive Challenge:

  • Unprecedented rainfall events, linked to climate change, contribute to the rising frequency of floods in Indian cities.
  • Numerous cities witness devastating floods, necessitating a reevaluation of urban flood management approaches.

Drawing Lessons from History:

  • Absence of discernible lessons learned from past floods raises concerns about the effectiveness of corrective measures.
  • Each flood, while unique, compounds the overall impact, underscoring the urgency for proactive and adaptive strategies.

Critical Inquiries and Complexities:

  • Evaluating the historical role of human errors in contributing to floods.
  • Scrutinizing the efficacy of traditional approaches in mitigating floods and droughts.
  • Gleaning insights from past extreme events to inform resilient future strategies.

Unveiling Urban Hydrology:

  • Advocates for a comprehensive understanding of urban and peri-urban hydrology in every city.
  • Calls for scientifically driven interventions in flood mitigation, drought management, and climate resilience.

Addressing Neglected Watersheds:

  • Highlighting the neglect, siltation, and deterioration of irrigation tanks and watersheds across cities.
  • Emphasizes the importance of restoring water bodies, catchment areas, and feeder channels to reduce run-off and flooding.

Leveraging Geographic Features:

  • Recognizing the unique geography of Indian cities, often endowed with multiple rivers.
  • Urges comprehensive hydro-elevation mapping covering upstream-downstream watersheds and coastal areas.

Navigating Urban Expansion:

  • Acknowledging the rapid urban expansion occurring in cities nationwide.
  • Advocates for ecological hotspot protection, considering ecological zones and “no development zones” during expansion planning.

Seizing Opportunities Amidst Challenges:

  • Proposes a transformative approach to convert disasters into opportunities through strategic, scientific interventions.
  • Advocates for permanent flood prevention and the realization of round-the-clock water supply as achievable goals.

Conclusion:

With floods becoming a recurring threat in various Indian cities, a paradigm shift in urban flood management is imperative. The outlined interventions, applicable to cities across the nation, offer a roadmap for sustainable and resilient flood management strategies. It is crucial to transform challenges into catalysts for positive change, safeguarding lives and infrastructure in the face of unpredictable climatic patterns.

PYQ: Account for the huge flooding of million cities in India including the smart ones like Hyderabad and Pune. Suggest lasting remedial measures. (250 words, 15 marks)

(UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2020)

Practice Question: How can Indian cities develop resilient flood management strategies amid climate change? Discuss key interventions for sustainable urban planning.

(250 Words, 15 marks)

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