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15th July – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  2. China’s policy dilemma
  3. challenge of schooling India’s offline millions


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction of rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, on its own without India’s support

Reason for Exclusion of India from the project

Iran has cited delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project as the reason.

Trilateral agreement

  • in 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Tehran to sign a trilateral trade and transit agreement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani
  • The railway project, which was being discussed between the Iranian Railways and the state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd (IRCON), was meant to be part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • India never began the work, ostensibly due to worries that these could attract U.S. sanctions.
  • It has been difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries they could be targeted by the U.S.

Opportunity lost.

  • Connectivity is seen as a new currency these days. India’s loss could well become China’s gain.
  • Inability of New Delhi in dealing with Iran has raised questions on its commitment to strategic autonomy

Chabahar Port

This port is Located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country.

Chabahar Port UPSC
  • With this, India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
  • It will also boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • It also helps India counter Chinese presence in the Arabian Seawhich China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  • Trade benefits: With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.

China’s policy dilemma

Why in news?

Military stand-off at the LAC has triggered multi-dimensional fight between India and China. Post de-escalation there are various theories in China over the future of China’s policy towards India.

The vision of Assertive China

  • Various factions in China believe that, present conflict is not an “accident” but an “inevitable result” of “India’s longstanding strategy and development on China­ India border
  • From Doklam to Kashmir India is following unending infrastructure arms race at the LAC, and Beijing was fed up and had to teach India a lesson
  • There is no possibility of a negotiated settlement ofthe border dispute any time soon.
  • India is already a “quasi ­ally” of the U.S. with no scope for reversal
  • Only by daring to fight, by showing strong determination, the will and

the ability on the western frontier can China effectively deter Chinese adversaries on the eastern coast.

3 no’s to deal with India

  • Chinese Think tanks propose 3 No’s to deal with India in future.  “No weakness, No concession and No defensive defence”.
  • In other words, China should take all opportunities to crack down on India, take the initiative to hit it hard whenever possible
  • This will not damage China ­India relations but, it will make it more stable.
  • 1962 China­ India war helped China to maintain peace and stability on the western front for a long time and directly eliminate American and Soviet ambitions to use India to contain China
  • India should be kept under control by destabilising the entire border region, creating tension across the board, from the McMahon Line in the east to the Aksai Chin area in the west
  • China should take the initiative to attack and seize territories under India’s control from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh,
  • weaken India internally, by supporting the cause of Maoists, Naga separatists and Kashmiris.

Other debate

  • Various other think tank’s believe that, 3 No’s would stoke extreme nationalism in India and unite the otherwise divided nation against China, which not only harms China’s interests but might eventually draw China into an untimely military conflict.
  • Attempt to “teach India a lesson” is  short sighted and China is  not psychologically prepared for the rise of India.
  • China, they argue, lacks understanding of the fact that India, as a rising power, is very important to China and will be increasingly crucial in the future, with China ­India relations evolving as the most important pair of
  • relations after China ­U.S. links.
  • If China­ India ties are damaged beyond repair, they warn, India alone or in association with other countries will cause “endless trouble for China”.
  • For example, an openly hostile India will use every possible means to prevent China from reaching the Indian Ocean.
  • On the other hand, the decoupling  of China ­India relations will further strengthen the “anti­ China alliance” between the U.S., Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia.
  • These countries, will actively take the initiative to reshape global industrial chains, use the Indo Pacific Strategy to check and balance China’s military and economic power
  • They can also try to expand international organisations such as the G­7 to weaken China’s influence in international affairs.

Military challenge

  • The general view among these military analysts in China is that if China has an advantage in terms of psychology, equipment, and logistics  mobilisation, India too has advantage on various fronts such as deployment, supply line, practical war experience, topography, and climate among others.
  • India’s disadvantage remains in the fact that its capital lies well within the bombing range of China, China’s key disadvantage is its particularly long supply lines.
  • Hence, if the conflict ends in a short period of time, it will benefit China.  But if it is prolonged, China will be disadvantaged.
  • If a war starts, they argue, India will make all efforts to prolong it as long as possible, and the U.S. is likely to help India to attain this objective.
  • Even if the two sides end in a tie, in India it will be counted a victory and the national  morale will rise sharply
  • on the contrary, in China, the morale will decline if it cannot beat India decisively.

What is the conclusion now?

  • China, for now, should strive to make India retreat without a military conflict, maintain basic peace and stability at the borders, and, at the minimum, not deliberately push it towards the U.S
  • China simultaneously will carry out its strategy of weakening India internally by leveraging its social and political differences, completing its strategic encirclement, improving troop deployment in the Tibet region to secure the China ­Pakistan Economic Corridor, and stationing Chinese troops in the Gwadar Port
  • Rather than winning a war, China should aim at attaining a comprehensive and overwhelming advantage in geopolitics vis-à- vis India
  • Despite all the jingoism and rhetoric propagated through its official media, China is actually in a serious dilemma over its India policy

challenge of schooling India’s offline millions

Why in news?

A whopping 1.6 billion young people, or about 90% of the world’s student population, were shut out of school and university due to measures to contain covid-19 in the month of April.

Education emergency

9.7 million children are affected by school closures and face the risk of never going back to class,

In addition to the social fallouts, the economic fallout of the crisis could force an extra 90 to 120 million children into poverty, affecting school admission and pushing child labour.

India’s situation

  • India has one-third of the world’s poorest children.
  • Alarm bells rang as reports said that less than half of India’s seven-year olds could read at grade level.
  • A recent report by UNICEF and the International Labour Organization says that the pandemic is likely to undo a 20-year battle against child labour.
  • Schools and colleges have been quick to adapt to online learning. However, digital access and connectivity challenges are creating a widening chasm between those who will continue to learn and those who will not.
  • Over 31 million children depend on the anganwadi network for early learning, health and nutrition. It is critical that these centres reopen

Way forward

By adapting to available technologies, like television, radio, mobile phone or even the loudspeaker, it is possible to think creatively and reach the farthest child. We must find ways to address this emergency, else our demographic dividend turns into a disaster.

Thank you!

June 2024