- In Himalayan staredown, the dilemmas for Delhi
- Move over G7, it’s time for a new and improved G11
- Time to discontinue free power for farmers
Focus: GS-II International Relations
The growing number of reports about Chinese troops crossing the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India in the Ladakh region — neither acknowledged nor denied by the Indian government as yet — indicate a new age of Chinese territorial aggression against India.
The growing territorial aggression
- China’s growing territorial aggression on the LAC signals the end of Beijing’s peaceful rise and its traditional desire to maintain regional status quo with India.
- While the timing could be explained by the global political distraction caused by COVID-19 and the international pressure on China (including by India) to come clean on the origins of the novel coronavirus, the proximate causes could be several.
- For one, New Delhi’s terse statements about Aksai Chin following the Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation in August last year had not gone down well with Beijing.
- New Delhi has been carrying out the construction of infrastructural projects along the LAC — a long overdue activity — which is something that seems to have made China uneasy.
The following developments must be viewed in the broader context of a long-term geopolitical world view China has for the region.
- China’s China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connectivity to Pakistan through the Karakoram and New Delhi’s criticism of it
- The reported presence of PLA troops in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)
- India’s new-found activism on Aksai Chin
- The PLA’s incursions into areas in eastern Ladakh
- The 2017 standoff between India and China at the Doklam trijunction was the first major military standoff between the two sides in a long time in which New Delhi demonstrated it was not a military pushover despite China’s conventional superiority over India.
- Since Doklam, however, there have been several reports that China has continued with its construction activities in and around Doklam.
- The 2020 transgressions in Sikkim and Ladakh are perhaps Beijing’s way of responding to India consistently and militarily.
Way Forward: Limits of adventurism
- There are several places along the several thousand-kilometre-long LAC where the PLA is militarily weak, the Indian Army has the upper hand.
- While China enjoys continental superiority over India, maritime domain is China’s weak spot, in particular Beijing’s commercial and energy interest to which the maritime space is crucial.
- There is little doubt that China is our neighbour and that we have to live next to the larger and more powerful China. However, India should not accept Beijing’s attempts at land grabs, or military intimidation. That China is a rising superpower located next door to us is a reality, but how we deal with that reality is a choice we must make as a nation.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-II International Relations
US President Donald Trump is keen to expand G7 to include India, Russia, South Korea and Australia.
What prompted US to call for an expansion?
- The G7, formed in 1975-76, comprises the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy.
- India is both a military and economic giant but isn’t part of the G7. So, its expansion, just like that of the United Nations Security Council, is called for.
- China has emerged as the new nemesis for the US and many other countries, particularly after the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
- Having India and others in the G7 is Trump’s way of countering the rising influence of China on the world stage.
What could be the other reasons?
- The US and China have been fighting a trade war for quite a long time. Both have imposed tariffs on imports of a long list of goods from the other.
- Mentioning ‘Wuhan virus’ to provoke China and upping the rhetoric against it, along with inviting four other countries to G7, help Trump sell the promise of ‘Make America Great Again’ well to his audience.
- Trump hasn’t had the best of relations with few members of G7. Expanding the group helps him accommodate friendly countries.
Why has Trump chosen the four countries?
- If there’s any country in Asia that comes anywhere close to China in population, economic and military numbers, it is India.
- South Korea is a tech and economic superpower and US is committed to defending it against any enemy.
- Australia is a natural ally for the US in the South Pacific, a region where China has been expanding its influence.
- That leaves Russia, a force to reckon with any day, given its military superiority. Russia also shares a large border with China.
Should India play along as US takes on China?
- India has had a complex relationship with China. China’s past record—it fought a war with India in 1962— makes it difficult for India to trust it.
- China and India are in a standoff in Ladakh.
- India and the US are natural allies. One is the world’s largest democracy and the other the oldest.
- There is an urgent need for democracies and rules-based regimes that believe in fair trade and respect for intellectual property rights to come together. It may be time for India to play hardball with China.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-II Social Justice
The Centre has prescribed that the free power supply scheme should be replaced with the direct benefits transfer (DBT) as a condition to allow States to increase their borrowing limit.
- Tamil Nadu was the first State to introduce free power in September 1984.
- In the last 15 years, Maharashtra has been the only State that scrapped the DBT scheme within a year of introducing it.
- Karnataka, which has been implementing it since 2008, may become the first southern State to have DBT in power supply.
Advantages of DBT
- Middlemen will be eliminated. Hence leakages will be reduced.
- As Aadhar card is based on biometric identification, fake & duplicate beneficiaries will be eliminated.
- DBT scheme allows time-bound transfers hence avoids delays in transferring money, which is one of the biggest problems beneficiaries are facing.
- This scheme eliminates intermediaries and rents for ‘fair price shops’ because subsidies and benefits of welfare schemes are transferred directly. This will help Indian economy in the long run as the structural expenditure will be reduced.
- Transparency in the distribution of benefits.
- As everyone can purchase goods at market price, there will be healthy competition between the sellers in the market. The problem of middlemen diverting subsidized grains to markets will be eliminated.
- It encourages people to have bank account.
- The problem of food grains storage and spoilage in the process can be eliminated.
- Circulation of money will be increased, which can lead to a significant increase in the GDP.
- It will help India to transform itself into cashless economy.
Disadvantages od DBT
- Still there are many rural & tribal areas, which don’t have banking facility and road connectivity.
- As of now, only 3% Indians pay income tax. So, determining the income of the rest of the citizens is still a challenge hence making it difficult to identify the deserving beneficiaries.
- Most of the banks appoints Business Correspondents to enroll beneficiaries in rural areas. They may open more than one account for each beneficiary for incentive. And there are many complaints that they are not giving passbooks to the beneficiaries making them unaware of the scheme. Illiterate beneficiaries are more vulnerable in this case.
- Direct cash may not be used for intended purpose and can be used in unhealthy ways. For example, the cash instead of food subsidy may be spent on drinking and smoking as most of beneficiaries’ families’ heads are men.
- Micro ATMs, which were set up to deliver cash benefits at door step are not present in many areas hence many beneficiaries have to travel long to withdraw money.
- Most of the beneficiaries’ families’ heads are men. This will be a disadvantage to women as there is no guarantee that they will get their share of the cash.
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)
- DBT Mission was created in the Planning Commission to act as the nodal point for the implementation of the DBT programmes.
- DBT has shown promising results in pilot schemes being run in different parts of the country, these include PAHAL (modified DBTL for LPG subsidy), Public Distribution System (PDS) in Puducherry, Chandigarh and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) payments in Jharkhand, Bihar, etc.
Categories of Schemes covered under DBT
The scope of DBT include all welfare/subsidy schemes operated by all the Ministries/ Departments of Government of India directly or through implementing agencies, which involve cash / kind benefits’ transfers to individuals.
- Cash Transfer to Individual Beneficiary – This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein cash benefits are transferred by Government to individual beneficiaries. Example PAHAL, MGNREGA, NSAP etc.
- In-kind Transfer from Government to Individual Beneficiary – This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein kind benefits are given by the Government to individuals through an intermediate agency.
- Other Transfers – Apart from these two categories of schemes, there is another category of transfers from the government to different non-government functionaries who help in facilitation of various government schemes till the last mile. This category includes transfers made to the various enablers of government schemes like community workers, NGOs, in the form of honorarium, incentives, etc. for successful implementation of the schemes.
-Source: The Hindu