Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

legacyiasacademy@gmail.com

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 March 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 March 2023


Contents

  1. West Asia’s New Challenges: Saudi-Iranian Normalization
  2. Gati Shakti : Third pillar of Amrit kaal growth strategy

West Asia’s New Challenges: Saudi-Iranian Normalization


Context

  • An agreement to re-establish diplomatic ties, respect one another’s sovereignty, and maintain non-interference in one another’s domestic affairs was recently signed in Beijing by Saudi Arabia and Iran, represented by their national security advisers.
    • This agreement puts an end to the two Gulf neighbours’ seven-year diplomatic estrangement.

Relevance

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question

India’s diplomacy faces difficulties as a result of China’s expanding influence in West Asia. Examine the claim critically. Include suggestions for ways to resolve this problem. (250 Words).


Background of Relations

  • The rivalry between the two dates back to pre-revolutionary Iran, when they fought it out for regional supremacy. After the 1979 revolution toppled the Iranian monarchy and transformed the nation into a Shia theocratic republic, sectarian and ideological flavours were added to the mix. In more recent times, it had become a cold war with both sides supporting their proxies in West Asia.
  • Formal ties between them were severed in 2016 after protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to Riyadh’s execution of a revered Shia cleric.
  • They have now decided to begin anew thanks to China’s mediation.

Provisions of the Agreement

  • According to reports, Iran has agreed to stop future attacks against Saudi Arabia, particularly those coming from areas of Yemen that are under Houthi control (Iran backs Houthis, a Shia militia in Yemen while the Saudis back the government forces).
  • Saudi Arabia consented to limit Iran International, a Farsi news outlet that opposes the Iranian government (which the Iranian intelligence has termed a terrorist organization).
  • Before reopening embassies in each other’s capitals in two months, the foreign ministers of both nations will meet soon to negotiate the terms of the reconciliation.

Saudi Arabia’s outreach to Iran: Why?

  • In recent years, West Asia has undergone strategic realignments.
    • After a quarter-century, the UAE was the first Arab nation to normalise relations with Israel in 2020.
    • Israel and the Arab world grew closer in the years that followed.
  • The U.S.’s deprioritization of West Asia is one of the main causes of these realignments.
    • The Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s ascent in the Indo-Pacific are two of the larger foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.; Saudi Arabian-U.S. relations have also been tense recently.
    • In exchange for Saudi oil, America provided security guarantees that served as the foundation of the alliance.
    • Unlike during the Cold War, the United States is now among the top oil producers in the world and is less reliant on Gulf Arab nations.
  • This made it possible for American presidents to quickly deprioritize the region.
    • The U.S. turned a blind eye to the attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 (for which Iran was widely blamed), leading the Saudis to seek out alternative approaches to the Iran issue.
  • They decided to approach the Iranians as their solution.

What made Iran agree to the agreement?

  • Iran is enduring one of the most difficult periods of domestic pressure and economic isolation.
  • Tehran is aware that a temporary lift in Western sanctions is unlikely in the near future, and despite its crackdown at home, protests have not subsided.
    • Its currency is in trouble, and its economy is deteriorating.
  • Iran sought Chinese investments and currency support.
  • Therefore, a deal with Saudi Arabia could provide Iran with economic lifelines through China’s mediation.
    • Strategically, Iran is aware that such a deal might make it more difficult for the United States to persuade Arab nations and Israel to oppose it.
      • As a result, Tehran stands to gain from a reconciliation both economically and strategically.
  • What benefits does the deal have for China?
  • China is interested in serving as a peacemaker in West Asia for economic, regional, and strategic reasons.
    • As the biggest consumer of oil in the world, China depends on a stable energy market to continue growing.
      • The agreement heralds China’s emergence as a major power in West Asia on a regional scale.
    • The U.S. was a constant presence in the region during all of the major peace initiatives in the post-War era.
  • But the United States is not participating in the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
  • Furthermore, China is attempting to send a strong message to nations in the Global South. o This suggests that more significant changes in the global order are underway.

How does the United States view the deal?

  • The reconciliation has been praised by American officials.
    • According to the official story, a settlement between two of the major rival powers in West Asia would stabilise the area and help the global energy market.
  • However, from a strategic perspective, the U.S. would have to deal with uncomfortable questions about the agreement.

What difficulties do diplomats face?

  • The revival of the nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the control of Israel’s aggressiveness are necessary for regional security.
    • Although there are still questions about whether a deal to ease Iran sanctions will be possible given the country’s intensely divisive domestic environment.
  • It is anticipated that Israel’s domestic politics, which are also sharply divided and dominated by the extreme right wing, will prevent the JCPOA from being renewed and maintain a hostile attitude towards Iran.
  • Disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be challenging to resolve because of Saudi Arabia’s deep sense of strategic vulnerability towards its northern neighbour and worries that Shia proxies could destabilise neighbouring states.
    • Iran must be more proactive in convincing its neighbour of its good intentions. This effort would be strengthened by China’s active engagement with the two regional powers.

Way Forward

  • The agreement addresses the most serious regional conflict; it lowers regional tensions and establishes the framework for future discussions on enhancing relations and tackling contentious issues.
  • China has declared that it will likely play a more active and significant role in West Asian affairs.
  • However, India will need to engage with China in West Asia where they have a wide range of shared interests in energy security, free and open sea lanes, logistical connectivity, and, most importantly, regional stability. Recognizing that the management of its ties with China remains its diplomatic priority.
  • They can cooperate to advance their shared and local interests here.

Conclusion

The growing influence of China in the Middle East is currently a reality rather than just a theory.


Gati Shakti : Third pillar of Amrit kaal growth strategy


Context

A crucial third pillar of facilitating free movement supports the two policy pillars of green growth and domestic manufacturing for Atmanirbhar Bharat in the nation.

Therefore, this third pillar entails building infrastructure that will lower logistics costs while also improving India’s transportation efficiency.

Relevance

GS Paper-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

Mains Question

How can infrastructure support India’s role as a logistics and supply chain hub for the region, given that recent changes in the world have further elevated India’s profile as a preferred location for global supply chains as well as a market? (250 words)


Key Takeaways

  • With sustainability as a shared imperative, the focus in India is now not only on business ease but also on business cost.
  • India will become more competitive on the global stage if logistics costs are reduced.
  • Recent changes in the world have elevated India further in the public eye, not only as a market but also as a preferred location for global supply chains.
  • The government has rightly emphasised infrastructure as India’s first and most crucial requirement in order to join these value chains.
  • India presents a unique opportunity to serve as a logistics and supply chain hub for the region, and given that the domestic market is still growing, this is the perfect time for it to do so. This perfect confluence of good things has happened.

Governmental Initiatives to Increase Infrastructure and Logistics

  • The government has committed its largest-ever capital expenditure outlay of $10 trillion in the budget for 2023–2024, as part of its efforts to expand infrastructure and logistics.
  • The expenditure in 2021–2022 was $6.03 trillion, and the revised estimate for 2022–2023 is $7.3 trillion.
  • The government has correctly recognised the need to maximise the use of its capital investments and the advantages of having various ministries oversee project planning and execution.
    • Digital Solutions: o Thanks to the PM Gati Shakti initiative, India may be the first nation to digitise and make these processes visible across all ministries.
  • It is estimated that the use of digital traffic solutions like FastTag has led to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of close to 1 million tonnes.
    • Launch of New Infrastructure Projects: In India’s most recent budget, investments totaling 75,000 crore were allocated to 100 critical infrastructure projects.
  • Green technologies, digital connectivity, and multimodal connectivity can all be used in and displayed in these projects.
  • They will help reduce carbon emissions nationwide in addition to lowering business costs.
  • Private investment will follow because it is a primary goal of private-sector investments as well to support further reductions in India’s carbon footprint.
    • Strengthening Collaborative Federalism: The government has correctly recognised the need for Indian states to support the infrastructure plan and logistics policy of the federal government.
  • The budget allots states concessional funding in the form of loans with favourable terms, which must be invested by 2023–2024 in order to carry out significant projects and meet their goals.
    • Attempts at Balancing Regional Growth: The government wants to make sure that development is spread out among India’s various regions.
  • The increased capital spending is anticipated to produce a positive feedback loop that supports domestic demand while sharpening India’s position as a global manufacturing hub.

PM Gati Shakti Plan 2021

  • Gati Shakti, a digital platform, will bring together 16 Ministries for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects as part of the PM Gati Shakti Plan 2021.
  • The infrastructure plans from various Ministries and State Governments will be incorporated.
  • Economic zones, such as textile and pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, and agri zones, will be covered in order to increase connectivity and boost the competitiveness of Indian businesses.
  • It will also make extensive use of technology, including BiSAG-spatial N’s planning tools with ISRO imagery (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics)

Six pillars form the foundation of PM GatiShakti

  • Comprehensiveness: With a single centralised portal, it will incorporate all current and future initiatives of various Ministries and Departments. Every Department will now be able to see each other’s activities, providing essential information for thorough project planning and execution.
  • Prioritization: Using cross-sector interactions, this will enable various Departments to rank their projects in order of importance.
  • Optimization: After identifying crucial gaps, the National Master Plan will help various ministries plan for projects. The plan will assist in choosing the fastest and least expensive route for moving goods from one location to another.
  • Synchronization: Different Ministries and Departments frequently function in isolation. The project’s planning and execution are not coordinated, which causes delays. By ensuring that work is coordinated between the various departments, PM GatiShakti will assist in coordinating the operations of the various layers of governance in a comprehensive manner.
  • Analytical: The plan will compile all the data in one location using GIS-based spatial planning and analytical tools with 200+ layers, giving the executing agency better visibility.
  • Dynamic: Through the GIS platform, all Ministries and Departments will now be able to visualise, review, and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects, as satellite imagery will periodically provide on-ground progress and the progress of the projects will be updated on a regular basis on the portal.

Way Ahead

  • A sustained conversation with users and private players will be necessary for infrastructure planning in the future to eliminate bottlenecks.
  • The Unified Logistics Interface Platform can be used to ensure data integration, which will increase efficiency (ULIP).
  • The best possible use of the infrastructure in India. India could significantly lower its overall capex needs and prepare for the future by comparing each asset to its best-in-class equivalents and implementing digital solutions.
  • Demand aggregation or pooling, data on capacity, real-time tracking, and analytics are some of the essential elements of end-to-end logistics management.
  • Incorporating cloud-based IT systems, integrating and coordinating among Indian logistical service suppliers, and using small service providers are additional efficiency-boosting measures that will be put into practise more frequently.
  • The outsourcing of tasks to (and the development of) third- and fourth-party service providers in India should make PM Gati Shakti even more significant and environmentally friendly.

Conclusion

  • Projects like PM Gati Shakti and the National Logistics Policy lay the groundwork for India to seize its chance to become a crucial link in global supply chains.
  • The cost of doing business will go down, and India will become an even more desirable location thanks to improved logistics.
  • As PM Gati Shakti’s third pillar of effective logistics infrastructure continues to take shape, the pillars of manufacturing and green growth will continue to reap benefits.
  • As a result, this focus is a crucial component of a solid plan to achieve rapid economic growth.
  • Rapid growth made possible by new policy measures should eventually assist in providing Amrit Kaal dividends to more than 1.4 billion Indians.

February 2024
MTWTFSS
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829 
Categories