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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 10 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 10 April 2023


Contents

  1. Why does India extend its hand to Latin America?
  2. China’s Subsea Internet Cablea

Why Does India Extend Its Hand to Latin America?


Context:

  • India’s engagement with Latin America has significantly increased over the past few years.
    • S. Jaishankar, the minister of external affairs, will travel to Guyana and Colombia later this month after stops in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
    • Meenakshi Lekhi, a minister of state for external affairs, travelled to the area and met with top leaders in Bolivia, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Cuba.
    • For the G20, New Delhi also welcomed a number of regional leaders, including the foreign ministers of Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and affecting India’s interests; India-US relation

Mains Question

“Latin American nations are looking to collaborate with India in new fields like space, science, and technology, and defence; from New Delhi’s perspective, this represents a positive dynamic.” Examine the claim critically. (250 Words).


Key Points:

  • From New Delhi’s perspective, it’s encouraging that Latin American nations like Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Argentina are looking to collaborate with India in new fields like space, science, and technology, and defence.
  • In spite of recent growth, trade between India and Latin America remains modest on a quantitative level.

What is the relationship between India and Latin America’s history?

  • Due to its constrained diplomatic and economic reach, India had to put its relationships with its neighbours and the major Western powers first in the decades following its independence.
    • Despite India’s interest in the continent, it paid little attention to Latin America.
  • Latin America’s significant domestic problems mirrored these resource and diplomatic reach limitations, but the end of the Cold War and India’s influence have opened up new possibilities.

Why is Latin America of interest to India now?

  • Trade and Investment o Over the past two decades, India’s trade with Latin American nations has increased significantly, and its investments are diversified across industries like manufacturing and information technology (IT).
  • Since 2000, trade has increased by almost 25% yearly, reaching close to $50 billion.
    • In addition, the area has grown to be a significant market for the Indian auto and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Diversification of Dependencies on Energy
  • India has turned to Latin America in an effort to diversify its energy sources.
  • Indian energy giants like ONGC and Bharat Petroleum are present in Colombia and Brazil, respectively.
  • The region is home to crucial reserves of materials like copper and lithium, which will be crucial to India’s energy transition plans. Renewable energy is also a key interest, with potential for cooperation in ethanol and green hydrogen.
  • How has the area reacted to India’s efforts?
  • In an effort to entice investment, Latin America has welcomed rising Indian interest.
    • The foreign minister of Panama emphasised that Latin American countries can link Indian businesses with the larger American market.
  • Covid and the war in Ukraine have both had an impact on the region of Latin America.
    • Poverty and inequality are major problems for many of the major economies in the region.
  • So, for many of the economies in the region, expanding economic ties with India is a top priority.

How are the ties with the nations of Latin America?

  • Brazil and India’s relations stand out in Latin America because both countries are widely regarded as “rising powers” in the global system.
  • Both parties envision greater cooperation in a variety of areas as a result of their participation in newly formed multilateral organisations like the BRICS and IBSA.
  • Mexican and Indian businesses view Mexico as a “springboard” to improve access to the significantly larger US market.
    • In Latin America, Mexico is India’s second-largest trading partner.
    • Mexico has been seen as a reliable source of crude oil and related investments by New Delhi ever since that country opened up its oil sector to foreign investment in 2014.
  • Argentina o In a time when ties between Argentina and China have gotten stronger quickly, Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s trip to India in 2019 could still have a significant impact on how India and Argentina interact.
  • With Macri’s visit, both parties are looking into ways to increase their cooperation in fields like space, nuclear energy, and defence.
    • The MoU between Argentina and India on defence cooperation represents a significant step forward, especially in light of the former’s expanding military ties with China.
  • Additional Latin American nations
    • India is attempting to increase its economic influence in other parts of Latin America.
  • Chile is India’s sixth-largest trading partner in the region, and New Delhi is encouraged to look into expanding economic ties with Santiago by Chile’s favourable geographic location.
  • India and Peru, meanwhile, are debating a comprehensive free trade agreement; there have already been three rounds of negotiations.

Way Forward:

  • Historically, India’s interactions with Latin American nations have been influenced by its membership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as the “Global South,” which is still somewhat of a buzzword in the region.
  • China’s enormous $450 billion trade in the region dwarfs India’s increased trade with Latin America.
    • India must start enlarging its own presence in the region as China is quickly becoming the region’s economic and strategic partner.India’s position as a rising power, economic expansion, and soft power in the form of its cultural and civilizational practices, like yoga, have all worked in its favour.
  • In the race to exploit the significant mineral resources of Latin America, Indian businesses have lagged behind.
  • India will need to step up its economic diplomacy and join organisations like the Inter-American Development Bank that are focused on the regional economy.

Conclusion:

Although India’s interest in Latin America is relatively new, the relationship has been improving. The Indian government has expressed a desire to diversify India’s engagement in the region.


China’s Subsea Internet Cablea


Context

  • To compete with a similar US-backed project, Chinese state-owned telecom companies are building a $500 million undersea fibre-optic internet cable network that would connect Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
    • The plan is a sign that an escalating tech conflict between Beijing and Washington runs the risk of rupturing the web’s infrastructure.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests; Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

Mains Question

“Chinese subsea internet cable networks are expanding, posing challenges to US diplomacy.” Examine the claim critically. (250 Words).


Highlights:

  • One of the most sophisticated and extensive subsea cable networks in the world is being planned by China’s three major carriers, China Telecommunications Corp. (China Telecom), China Mobile Limited, and China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd. (China Unicom).
  • The proposed cable, known as EMA (Europe-Middle-East-Asia), would connect Hong Kong to the Chinese province of Hainan before winding its way to France, Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.The cable would be manufactured and laid by China’s HMN Technologies Co. Ltd, a rapidly expanding cable company whose predecessor company was majority-owned by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. The cable’s estimated $500 million construction cost would be covered by this company.

The US-China Tech War

  • The USA and China are at odds over eavesdropping on internet traffic, which has helped Beijing thwart a number of its international undersea cable projects over the past four years.
    • In addition, Washington has prevented permits for projects led by Google LLC, Meta Platforms, Inc., and Amazon.com Inc. that would have connected the US with the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.
      • Over 95% of all international internet traffic travels on submarine cables.
    • But these cables, which are open to espionage and sabotage, have turned into weapons of influence in an escalating competition between the US and China. o These high-speed conduits have been owned for decades by groups of telecom and tech companies that pool their resources to build these vast networks so that data can move smoothly around the world.
      • The superpowers are vying for control of cutting-edge technologies that will likely determine economic and military dominance in the coming decades.
  • The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-6 (SeameWe-6) cable, which is currently being built by the US company SubCom LLC and will also connect Singapore to France via Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a half-dozen other nations along the route, is directly competing with the China-led EMA project.
    • HMN Tech was initially chosen to build the SeaMeWe-6 cable by the consortium, which originally included China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and telecom carriers from several other countries. But last year, SubCom won the contract after a successful pressure campaign by the US government.
    • As part of the US campaign, foreign telecom companies were offered millions of dollars in training grants in order to choose SubCom over HMN Tech. o The US Commerce Department also imposed sanctions on HMN Tech in December 2021 on the grounds that the company planned to purchase American technology to aid in the modernization of China’s People’s Liberation Army.
  • This action made it impossible for owners of HMN-built cables to sell bandwidth to US tech firms, which are typically those companies’ biggest clients, undermining the project’s viability.

Beginning of EMA Project:

  • After SubCom won the contract last year, China Telecom and China Mobile withdrew from the project. These companies, along with China Unicom, started planning the EMA cable.
    • Although the three state-owned Chinese telecom companies are anticipated to hold a majority of the new network, they are also forming partnerships with foreign parties.
    • The Chinese carriers signed separate memorandums of understanding with four telecoms, including Zain Saudi Arabia, a division of the Kuwaiti company Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C.P., Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL), and Telecom Egypt.

Way Ahead:

  • The Chinese companies hope to finalise contracts by the end of the year and have the EMA cable online by the end of 2025. Large undersea cable projects typically take at least three years to complete from conception to delivery.
    • The cable would benefit China strategically in its conflict with the US.
  • First off, Washington would like to avoid the development of a brand-new, extremely fast connection between Hong Kong, China, and most of the rest of the world.
  • Second, it expands the reach and protection of China’s state-backed telecom carriers in case they are ever cut off from US-backed cables.
  • Countries should give security and privacy top priority in wireless networks, terrestrial and undersea cables, satellites, cloud services, and data centres in order to support an open and secure internet.

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