- Under Biden, unfurling India’s foreign policy concerns
- The cost of clearing the air
Under Biden, unfurling India’s foreign policy concerns
After good ties with Trump, New Delhi must track how the new administration deals with China and Iran, respectively.
GS Paper 2: Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed and Developing countries on India; Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)
- The U.S.-India partnership is founded on a shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, equal treatment of all citizens, human rights, and the rule of law. Comment 15 marks
- The United States and India have shared interests in promoting global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment, and connectivity. Elaborate. 15 marks
Dimensions of the Articles
- Evolution of India-USA relations
- Areas of cooperation between two countries
- Majors concerns between two countries
- Way forward
Evolution of India-USA relations
In the past, Indo-US relations were overshadowed by Cold War politics. The Indo-Soviet friendship and the US-Pak alliance were the two major irritants. Though ‘aid relations’ prevailed during 1950s and 1960s, New Delhi and Washington saw each other on opposite sides of the fence during this period. . Dramatic turn occurred in the 1990s—the Cold War was terminated with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and US-Pak relations nosedived, because of the latter’s clandestine nuclear programme.
Today, the India-U.S. bilateral cooperation is broad-based and multi-sectoral, covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high-technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health. India-U.S. bilateral relations have developed into a “global strategic partnership”, based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues.
Areas of cooperation between two countries
USA’s New Security Strategy
- It recognizes India as a “leading global power” and “stronger strategic and defence partner” and seeks to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India.
- This assessment is an upgrade from “regional provider of security” in 2015 and one of “21st century centres of influence” in 2010.
- Indo-Pacific region: The document explicitly includes India in its definition of the Indo-Pacific, which stretches “from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States”.
India has signed three defence foundational agreements between the United States and India—the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (earlier referred to as CISMOA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Intelligence.
The United States seeks an expanded trade relationship that is reciprocal and fair. A burgeoning trade relation can be witnessed through:
- Bilateral trade: In 2019, overall U.S.-India bilateral trade in goods and services reached $149 billion. U.S. energy exports are an important area of growth in the trade relationship.
- Energy exports: In 2018 India purchased 48.2 million barrels of U.S. crude oil, a significant increase from 9.6 million in 2017.
- Service exchange: In immigration, Indians continue to dominate the high-skilled visa category, at times making up over 70 percent of H1-B visa holders.
India and the US cooperate closely at multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, G-20, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. India is also a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), at which the United States is a dialogue partner. o The United States supports a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.
Fight against terror:
The listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar as an international terrorist by the UN is an example of uncritical American support to India. The Trump administration has also thrown its weight behind the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reinforce the FATF demands on Pakistan.
Balancing China’s rise in the international system, and more particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, is a clear strategic convergence between India and the United States.
- India and the U.S. seem determined to counter China’s maritime expansion, which is seen as a threat to their trade routes in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
- Co-operation at Forums like QUAD (India, the United States, Japan and Australia), to secure the IndoPacific and countering Chinese accession in Asian geo politics.
Recognition of Indo-Pacific Realm:
The term “Indo-Pacific region” has now replaced the term “Asia Pacific region” in the American diplomatic lexicon.
- The Trump administration has consistently described India as one of its major allies in the IndoPacific region.
- It renamed the former U.S. Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command, emphasizing the strategic linkage between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Majors concerns between two countries
Quad dynamics and China
India resisted converting the Quad into a primarily military or strategic grouping, (what China perceives it to be) and is in fact aimed solely at containing China. India wants Quad should remain as a maritime security architect. However, USA wants to includes more countries like Japan and South Korea into Quad which may create divergence between India and USA.
Iran used to be one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to India — about 15 per cent of our crude supply came from Iran. It is a matter of our critical energy security interest. New Delhi has been forced to stop concessional oil imports from both Iran and these heavy-handed American tactics have led to sharp rise in India’s oil import bill.
- The U.S. attempts to undercut India’s strategic ties with Iran are going to pose serious challenges for Indian foreign policy. The common concerns of India and Iran about threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory make Iran an important geopolitical partner of India.
India’s decision to buy the Russian made S-400 Triumph missile defence system despite threats of American sanctions through the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a case, where Washington’s priorities clash with India’s interests.
The US appears to have a positive vision of strategic convergence between India and the US and fully appreciates the need for two countries to work together not only for mutual benefit but also for the sake of global peace.
The cost of clearing the air
Budgetary allocations alone don’t reflect the true cost of reducing air pollution Jacob Koshy
GS Paper 3: Environmental conservation; Environmental pollution and degradation; Environmental Impact Assessment.
- Air pollution in Delhi and the whole of the Indo Gangetic Plains is a complex phenomenon that is dependent on a variety of factors. The first and foremost is the input of pollutants, followed by weather and local conditions. Elaborate. 15 marks
- National Green Tribunal has prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers during Deepavali in the National Capital Region of Delhi and in urban centres. Examine in context of giving primacy to the precautionary principle in sustainable development over employment and revenue losses is understandable. 15 marks
Dimensions of the Article
- Status of Budgetary allocation to clean air
- What is air pollution and its types?
- Causes of air pollution in India.
- Consequences of Air pollution
- Measures taken by the government to improve air quality in India
- Way forward
Status of Budgetary allocation to clean air
Finance Minister announced a ₹4,400 crore package for 2020-21 to tackle air pollution in 102 of India’s most polluted cities. The funds would be used to reduce particulate matter by 20%-30% from 2017 levels by 2024 under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
Air pollution and its types
Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mild spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog. The air pollutants are following types:
- Primary Pollutant: They are a direct result of the process and can be caused by primary sources or secondary sources. Example: Sulphur dioxide emitted from factories.
- Secondary pollutants are the ones that are caused by the inter mingling and reactions of primary pollutants. E.g.- Smog created by the interactions of several primary pollutants.
- Ground or Tropospheric Ozone: It is formed through a chemical reaction between sunlight and gases like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Ozone pollution is generally highest during the sunniest months of the year.
- Particle Pollution: These are the sooty deposits in air pollution that blacken buildings and cause breathing difficulties. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.
Causes of air pollution
- Burning of Fossil Fuels: Sulphur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and other factory combustibles is one the major cause of air pollution. Fossil fuel emissions contain the major greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.
- Vehicle emissions are also a source of fossil fuel emissions and air pollution. Incomplete combustion of Hydrocarbon generally leads to carbon monoxide emission from vehicles, which along with Nitrogen Oxides is a toxic cocktail.
- Industrial emissions: Manufacturing industries release large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air.
- Petroleum refineries also release hydrocarbons and various other chemicals that pollute the air and also cause land pollution.
- Power Plants: India is the world’s second largest coal burner after China, generating 210 GW of electricity a year, mostly from coal.
- Agricultural activities like stubble burning increases air pollution in Delhi and NCR area. Ammonia is a very common by product from agriculture related activities and is one of the most hazardous gases in the atmosphere. Use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers in agricultural activities also emit harmful chemicals into the air and can also cause water pollution.
- Mining operations: Mining is a process wherein minerals below the earth are extracted using large equipment. During the process dust and chemicals are released in the air causing massive air pollution.
- Indoor air pollution: It is the degradation of indoor air quality by harmful chemicals and other materials. Household cleaning products, paints etc. emit toxic chemicals in the air.
- Dust Storm: They are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution and can carry harmful particles that increase the spread of diseases across the globe. For e.g.- Virus spores in the ground are blown in the air and spread through acid rain or urban smog.
- Forest Fire: Wild fires cause air pollution by releasing particulate matter into the air. These particles can become lodged in your respiratory system, causing irritation to tissues.
- Deforestation: Deforestation affects the atmosphere in several ways as forests act as sinks for carbon dioxide through a process called carbon sequestration.
- Waste: Landfills are also known to generate methane, which is not only a major greenhouse gas, but also an asphyxiant and highly flammable and potentially hazardous if landfills grow unchecked.
- Electronic waste: Large number of people in India are involved in improper disposal waste by burning of wires/waste electrical and electronic components emitting harmful gases in the atmosphere.
Consequences of Air pollution
- Health effects: The effects of Air pollution are alarming. They are known to create several respiratory and heart conditions along with Cancer, among other threats to the body.
- Pollution was responsible for 9 million deaths in 2015 worldwide. One in six people die due to pollution globally and most of them occur in developing countries like India.
- Particulate matter (PM 2.5) is a major reason behind air pollution in India from different sources like coal power plants, transport, household pollution, waste, shipping, agriculture and others.
- Economic loss: Financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is about 6.2% of the global economy. Economic loss due to climate-related disasters in proportion to GDP is far greater in lower-income economies than higher-income countries.
- Global warming: Increase in greenhouse gas emission like CO2 is slowly increasing the mean global temperature, causing the climate (the long-term pattern of our weather) to change, and producing a variety of different effects on the natural world, including rising sea levels.
- Acid Rain: When it rains, harmful gases like nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides combines with the water droplets which becomes acidic and then falls on the ground in the form of acid rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to human, animals and crops.
- Eutrophication: It is a condition where high amount of nitrogen present in some pollutants gets developed on sea’s surface and turns itself into algae and adversely affect fish, plants and animal species.
Measures taken by the government to improve quality of Air in India
- The Commission for Air Quality Management In National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020:
- The Ordinance seeks to create an overarching body to consolidate all monitoring bodies, and to bring them on one platform so air quality management can be carried out in a more comprehensive, efficient, and time-bound manner.
- In matters of air pollution and air quality management, the Commission will supersede all existing bodies such as the CPCB, and even the state governments of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It will have the powers to issue directions to the states.
- The Commission will also coordinate efforts of state governments to curb air pollution, and will lay down the parameters of air quality for the region.
- National Green Tribunal has prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers during Deepavali in the National Capital Region of Delhi and in urban centres.
- Carbon Emission by Thermal Power Plants (TPPs): Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified environmental norms in December 2015 and direct them to reduce emission of PM 10, SO2 and oxide of nitrogen. However, 90% of the coal fired TPPs have not complied with the norms.
- Clean Air- India Initiative: to curb air pollution in Indian cities by promoting partnerships between Indian start-ups and Dutch companies and build a network of entrepreneurs working on business solutions for cleaner air.
- Dust Mitigation Plan: Recently, Centre has notified dust mitigation norms under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to arrest dust pollution. It empowers CPCB to fine companies and agencies for not complying with norms.
It is also high time we recognise that air pollution problem is not merely a technological issue, but a social concern. Besides emphasising on clean energy devices, energy efficiency technologies, dust control mechanisms and clean transport facilities, the government must be alive to the concerns of the people whose livelihoods are affected when polluting industries are banned. The improvement in the quality of lives of the rich and middle classes should not be at the cost of the poor.