26 March 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Notes PDF



1. China, a ‘want-to-be’ superpower

Topic: GS2 – International Relations

From a UPSC perspective, understanding China’s role in the Middle East aids in comprehending global geopolitical dynamics.

●     The article explores China’s ambitions to become a significant mediator and power player in the Middle East, discussing its goals, challenges, and pragmatic approach in achieving influence in the region.


  • China aims to play a larger role in the Middle East as a mediator and influential power.
  • This article explores China’s aspirations and the challenges it faces in achieving them.

China’s Aspirations:

  • Challenge Western Dominance: Position itself as an alternative to Western interventionist policies in the Middle East.
  • Become a Responsible Power: Increase global influence and be perceived as a responsible international actor promoting peace.
  • Economic Leverage: Utilise “mediation diplomacy” to enhance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), gaining political influence through economic ties.

Challenges to China’s Role:

  • Stance on Israel-Palestine: Pro-Palestinian position strains relations with Israel, limiting mediation effectiveness.
  • Selective Engagement: Prioritizing self-interest undermines image as a responsible power.
  • Limited Solutions: Lack of comprehensive resolutions to complex conflicts beyond economic clout.

China’s Pragmatic Approach:

  • Saudi-Iran Détente: Likely facilitated talks rather than actively brokering a deal, showcasing opportunistic diplomacy.
  • Hedging Bets: Content with weakening US dominance without complete replacement, focusing on strategic gains.
  • Security Focus: Prioritizing partner states’ internal security over regional peace potentially guides “mediation” goals.


  • China’s risk aversion and limited alternatives to existing policies constrain influence in the Middle East.
  • Despite economic power, China appears as a “want-to-be” superpower, offering limited solutions.
  • Current role as a counterweight to the US rather than a true replacement.
Rising Chinese influence and India’s concerns

● Geopolitical Competition: China’s rapid economic growth has fueled its ambitions for global influence, leading to increased competition with India for power and resources in the region.

● Border Disputes: Long-standing border disputes, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), have escalated tensions between China and India, culminating in deadly clashes on multiple occasions.

● Infrastructure Development: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to enhance connectivity across Asia, but India sees it as a strategy to encircle and contain Indian influence, particularly in South Asia.

●  Economic Expansion: Chinese investments in South Asian countries, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, raise concerns in India about potential strategic encirclement and economic dominance.

Military Modernization: China’s rapid military modernization, including advancements in technology and naval capabilities, poses a direct challenge to India’s security interests in the Indian Ocean region.

● Diplomatic Maneuvering: China’s growing influence in international organizations and forums marginalizes India’s voice on global issues, limiting its ability to counter Chinese initiatives effectively.

● Regional Dynamics: China’s alliances with countries like Pakistan and its increasing presence in India’s traditional sphere of influence, such as in Nepal and Bangladesh, further exacerbate India’s security concerns.

Way Forward:

●  Enhanced Regional Cooperation: Strengthening partnerships with neighbouring countries through initiatives like the “Neighbourhood First” policy can counterbalance Chinese influence by fostering economic ties and security cooperation.

● Infrastructure Development: Investing in infrastructure projects within the region to improve connectivity and socio-economic development can undercut the appeal of Chinese-funded projects under the BRI.

● Strategic Alliances: Deepening alliances with like-minded countries such as the United States, Japan, and Australia can provide India with diplomatic support and bolster its strategic position vis-à-vis China.

● Economic Diversification: Diversifying trade partnerships beyond China and promoting domestic manufacturing through initiatives like “Make in India” can reduce economic dependence and mitigate the impact of Chinese economic coercion.

Military Preparedness: Strengthening military capabilities, particularly along the border areas, and investing in advanced defence technologies can deter Chinese aggression and safeguard India’s territorial integrity.

● Diplomatic Engagement: Actively engaging in regional and international forums to highlight concerns about Chinese expansionism and build consensus among other nations can amplify India’s diplomatic efforts in countering Chinese influence.

Soft Power Projection: Leveraging cultural diplomacy, educational exchanges, and public diplomacy initiatives can enhance India’s soft power and counter Chinese narratives in the region.

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. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of rising Chinese influence in South Asia for India’s strategic interests, focusing on key areas of concern and potential policy responses. (150 Words /10 marks)

2. Understanding what the right to equality promises

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Constitution – Significant provisions

The topic is crucial for UPSC as it pertains to constitutional law, equality, and judicial interpretation, reflecting contemporary legal debates on CAA 2019.

●     The article discusses the constitutional challenge to India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) of 2019, highlighting the limitations of the traditional ‘reasonable classification’ test in addressing concerns of equality and the need for a more comprehensive judicial approach.

 Overview of the CAA Challenge:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) of 2019 faces a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court.
  • The challenge asserts that the CAA violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality.

The ‘Reasonable Classification’ Test:

  • The classical ‘reasonable classification’ test is applied to judge violations of equality.
  • This test scrutinises if there’s a clear basis for differentiating between classes and if such differentiation aligns with the government’s objectives.
  • The Home Minister argued that the CAA meets this test by focusing on persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries.

Judicial Precedent and Legislative Discretion:

  • Previous cases like Charanjit Lal Chowdhury v. Union of India (1950) have allowed legislative discretion in recognizing degrees of harm.
  • Despite potential flaws, courts have historically given the state considerable leeway in equality law challenges.

Limitations of the Classification Test:

  • The classification test, derived from U.S. jurisprudence, has become a cornerstone of Indian equality law.
  • However, it may not fully capture all aspects of equality, particularly regarding excluded persecuted minorities and discrimination based on religion.

Critique and Need for Development:

  • While some judges advocate for a broader interpretation of Article 14 beyond mere classification, current judicial responses are insufficient.
  • The ‘manifest arbitrariness’ test, a recent development, lacks concrete parameters and fails to offer substantial guidance.

Call for a Comprehensive Rethink:

  • There’s a pressing need to rethink the concept of equality comprehensively within the constitutional framework.
  • This requires going beyond the traditional ‘treating equals equally’ paradigm and engaging in a deep theoretical examination.

Enhanced Judicial Scrutiny:

  • The Court must ask probing questions regarding the exclusion of Ahmadiyya Muslims and gather data on immigrants from each country and religion.
  • Such scrutiny should be rooted in a robust understanding of equality derived from Article 14.

Opportunity for Legal Evolution:

  • The legal challenge to the CAA presents an opportune moment to reassess the relationship between equality and legislative action.
  • A clear distinction between the inviolable right to equality and the tools used to assess it is essential for constitutional clarity.


  • The constitutional challenge to the CAA underscores the need for a nuanced understanding of equality beyond the confines of the classification test.
  • Through comprehensive judicial engagement, the Court can pave the way for a more robust constitutionalism aligned with the values enshrined in Article 14.
The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019:


●  The Act seeks to amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Jains and Christian (but not Muslim) immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation.

●  They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in 5 years (11 years earlier).

● The Act (which amends the Citizenship Act 1955) also provides for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.

Who is eligible?

● The CAA 2019 applies to those who were forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration.

● The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date.

● The act will not apply to areas covered by the Constitution’s sixth schedule, which deals with autonomous tribal-dominated regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

● Additionally, the act will not apply to states that have an inner-line permit regime (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram).

What are the concerns About CAA, 2019?

●   Constitutional Challenge: Critics argue that it violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on religion.

●    The CAA’s provision of granting citizenship based on religion is seen as discriminatory.

● Potential for Disenfranchisement: The CAA is often linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a proposed nationwide exercise to identify illegal immigrants.

●  Critics fear that a combination of CAA and a faulty NRC could disenfranchise several citizens who are unable to prove their documentation.

●   More than 19.06 lakh people were left out of the final draft of the Assam NRC released in August 2019.

●  Impact on Assam Accord: In Assam, there is a specific concern regarding the compatibility of the CAA with the Assam Accord, 1985.

●  The Accord established criteria for determining citizenship in Assam, including specific cut-off dates for residency.

●  The CAA’s provision of a different timeline for granting citizenship could conflict with the provisions of the Assam Accord, leading to legal and political complications.

●   Secularism and Social Cohesion: The CAA’s focus on religion as a criterion for citizenship eligibility has raised broader concerns about its impact on secularism and social cohesion in India.

● Critics argue that privileging certain religious communities over others undermines the secular principles upon which the Indian state was founded and could exacerbate communal tensions.

● EXclusion of few Religious Communities: The exclusion of certain religious communities from the CAA and its subsequent rules, such as Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetan Buddhists, who faced religious persecution in their home countries, raises concerns.

PYQ: Analyse the distinguishing features of the noSon of Right to Equality in the constitutions of the USA and India.
(250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) challenge in reshaping India’s constitutional interpretation. (150 Words /10 marks)

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