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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 19 August 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 19 August 2022


Contents

  1. The historical and cultural connections between India and Thailand
  2. Government to count sewer cleaners

The Historical and Cultural Connections Between India and Thailand


Context

India and the Southeast Asia region share a long history of cultural and commercial relations. The classical Sanskrit and Pali texts from India carry references of the region using various names such as Kathakosha, Suvarnabhumi (the land of god) or Suvarnadvipa (the golden island).

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Mains Question

Write a note on the developments in India-Thailand bilateral relations. (150 words)


The Heritage Visit

  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited the Devasthan in Bangkok on Thursday as part of his visit to Thailand for the ninth India-Thailand joint commission meeting.
  • The Devasthan is the Thai Royal Court’s Royal Brahmin Office and the official Hindu centre in Thailand.

The making of ‘Greater India’ in Southeast Asia

  • India and the Southeast Asian region have long had cultural and commercial ties. The region is mentioned in Indian classical Sanskrit and Pali texts under various names such as Kathakosha, Suvarnabhumi (the land of god), or Suvarnadvipa (the golden island), indicating that it drew Indian merchants.
  • It is known that trade in spices, aromatic wood, and, most importantly, gold flourished.
  • Southeast Asia has been referred to as ‘Farther India,’ ‘Greater India,’ or ‘Hinduised or Indianised states’ by European and Indian scholars in recent times.

‘Farther India’

  • A French scholar named George Coedes was the first to conduct an in-depth study of the process of ‘Indianisation’ in Southeast Asian countries.
  • He coined the term “Farther India” to refer to states that experienced “India’s civilising activity.” It refers to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Malay states geographically.

Long dated Interactions

  • Sanskrit, Buddhist, and Jain texts indicate that interactions between the two regions date back more than two thousand years, primarily through sea voyages, and that trade was important.
  • “Indian religion, culture, traditions, and philosophy” were brought to the shores of Southeast Asia by traders. “They were accompanied by Brahmin priests, Buddhist monks, scholars, and adventurers, all of whom played an important role in transmitting Indian culture to Southeast Asian natives.” Some merchants and Brahmin priests married local girls and were frequently employed by local rulers.”
  • Coedes writes in his 1968 book “The Indianised States of Southeast Asia” that these relations resulted in the formation of Indian kingdoms from the beginning of the common era.
  • However, he cautions that Indian expansion into Southeast Asia cannot be compared to European colonisation because Indians were not complete strangers to the Southeast Asian population and had pre-existing trade relations.
  • The ancient Indian kingdoms in Southeast Asia were frequently referred to as India’s “colony” by nationalist historians in the early twentieth century. According to historian RC Majumdar, “the Hindu colonists brought with them the entire framework of their culture and civilisation, which was transplanted in its entirety among the people who had not emerged from their primitive barbarism.”
  • However, the colonisation theory has recently been rejected due to a lack of evidence of conquest or direct political influence in the ancient Southeast Asian kingdoms.
  • Funan, the predecessor of modern Cambodia, and Lin-yi in southern Vietnam were the first Indian kingdoms to appear in Southeast Asia in the second century CE.

Other Contemporary Evidences

  • Several pieces of evidence of the cultural impact of these interactions can be found in contemporary Southeast Asian society.
  • Many local languages in the region, including Thai, Malay, and Javanese, contain significant amounts of words of Sanskrit, Pali, and Dravidian origin.
  • Thai is written in a script derived from the Pallava alphabet of Southern India.
  • Perhaps India’s most significant influence on Southeast Asia was in the field of religion, and how Shivaism, Vaishnavism, Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and later Sinhalese Buddhism became practised in the region.
  • Indian practises have greatly influenced political and administrative institutions and ideas, particularly the concept of divine authority and kingship. The Thai king, for example, is regarded as an incarnation of Vishnu.
  • The Ramayana and Mahabharata episodes are frequently featured in puppet shows and theatre events. Monuments such as the Borobodur Stupa in Java, the Angkor Vat temple in Cambodia, and the My Son temple in Vietnam are some of the best examples of Indian influence in the region in terms of architecture.

India’s religious links to Thailand

  • Thailand, which was historically known as Siam, was ruled by the Funan Empire in the early centuries of the common era.
  • After the Funan Empire fell apart in the sixth century CE, it was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Dvaravati. The region came under Khmer rule in the 10th century, and it is also known to have links with India.
  • Singh describes how archaeological, epigraphic, and other evidence point to Indian cultural penetration into Thailand dating back to the early centuries of the common era, if not earlier.
  • A Tamil inscription discovered in Takua-pa attests to trade links between South India’s Pallava region and southern Thailand. Manikarramam, a mercantile corporation of South Indians, had established a settlement here, built its own temple and tank, and lived as a’self-contained’ colony.
  • It is important to note that Brahmanism and Buddhism coexisted in Thailand during the pre-Sukhothai period of the 13th century.
  • The Mon kings of Dvaravati and the Khmers supported Buddhism and built several Buddhist structures, but they also adopted Brahmanical customs and practises.
  • The thriving coexistence of the two religions is evidenced by the fact that, while Thailand is now a Buddhist majority country, there are many temples throughout the country that house both Buddhist and Brahmanical Gods.
  • Apart from the popular Brahamanical deities of Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, Thailand also worships deities that are largely absent from the Indian socio-religious landscape, such as Indra.

The Hindu Origin Tonality

  • The epic Ramayana has had a greater impact on the tone of Thai life than Hindu origin. The Ramayana, also known as Ramakriti (the glory of Rama) or Ramakien (the account of Rama) in Thailand, has provided a cultural outlet for both the elite and the common man.
  • Epic scenes are painted on the walls of Buddhist temples and acted out in dramas and ballets.
  • Certain towns in Thailand have legends related to Rama’s life associated with them.
  • For example, Ayutthaya in Central Thailand, which emerged in the 10th century CE, is derived from Ayodhya, Lord Rama’s birthplace. “From the 13th century onwards, several Thai kings assumed the title Rama, which has become hereditary during the current dynasty,” Desai writes.

Government to Count Sewer Cleaners


Context

  • The government is preparing to conduct a nationwide survey to identify all people involved in hazardous sewer and septic tank cleaning.
    • Since 2017, at least 351 people have died as a result of unsafe sewer and septic tank cleaning.
    • The census is part of the Union government’s National Action Plan for Mechanized Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE) programme.

Relevance

GS Paper 2:  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Mains Question

Despite the fact that the practise is prohibited by law, it is a harsh reality in India. Examine critically. (250 words)


NAMASTE Scheme

  • Launched in July 2022 with the goal of ensuring the safety and dignity of sanitation workers in urban India, as well as providing these workers with a sustainable livelihood.
  • Ministries involved include: It is the result of a collaboration between the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) and Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) (MoHUA).
  • National Safai Karamchari Financial Development Corporation is in charge of implementation (NSKFDC)
  • Coverage: This phase of NAMASTE will cover 500 cities (converging with AMRUT cities). It will be implemented between 2022 and 2026.

Aim

Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India; all sanitation work to be performed by skilled workers; no sanitation workers to come into direct contact with human faeces; sanitation workers to be organised into SHGs and empowered to run sanitation businesses; and all sewer and septic tank sanitation workers (SSWs) to have access to alternative livelihoods.

Components

  • Extending Insurance Benefits
    • The Ayushyaman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana will cover these workers and their families (AB-PMJAY).
    • The premium for AB-PMJAY for those identified SSWs families who were not previously covered will be borne by NAMASTE.
  • Assistance with Earnings
    • The Action Plan will encourage mechanisation and business development.
    • Identified SSWs and their dependents will be counselled on available livelihood options and given the opportunity to learn alternative skills, if desired.
  • An SSW may choose to continue working in the sanitation sector, making them eligible for capacity-building training.
  • The worker may decide to pursue an alternative source of income or an entrepreneurial venture.
  • Overexposure to the benefits of Social Security Schemes
    • All social security schemes will be extended to the identified SSWs and their family members.

Additional assistance

  • The scheme will include capital subsidies of up to 5 lakh on sanitation machinery worth up to 15 lakh, as well as loan interest subsidies.
  • Beneficiaries will have interest rates capped at 4-6%.
  • The scheme also includes training for workers on how to use these machines, with a monthly stipend of up to $3,000 provided.
    • As part of the NAMASTE scheme, the government is planning a nationwide survey to identify all people involved in hazardous sewer and septic tank cleaning.
    • Manual scavenging is no longer practised in India o According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E), manual scavenging is no longer practised in the country.
  • This is due to the fact that all manual scavengers had been identified and enrolled in the rehabilitation programme.
    • Earlier scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers o In 2007, the Self-Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) was launched.
  • The provisions of the NAMASTE scheme are similar to those of the SRMS, with the exception of one component — a one-time cash transfer of 40,000.
  • In a nationwide survey conducted in 2018, the Social Justice Ministry identified a total of 58,098 eligible manual scavengers under the SRMS.
  • According to Ministry data as of July 2022, all of these beneficiaries had received the one-time cash transfer of 40,000, 18,880 had opted for skills training in alternative occupations, and 2,051 had opted for loans under the scheme’s subsidies to start alternative businesses.

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