Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 24 June 2023
- Enhancing India-Egypt Relations at the Cairo Summit
- India’s Multicultural Challenge: The Uniform Civil Code
- India and Egypt have a long history of shared civilizations that dates back to antiquity. However, despite years of friendly interactions, the two-way relationship has not produced significant results.
- It is critical to pinpoint chances for increased significance and to fortify bilateral cooperation when the Prime Minister travels to Egypt for the Cairo Summit.
- This year, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the chief guest at India’s 74th Republic Day celebrations. Egypt has also been invited to serve as a “Guest Country” during India’s G-20 Presidency in 2022–2023. The two countries also decided to upgrade the relationship between India and Egypt to a “strategic partnership” during their meeting with the Indian Prime Minister.
GS Paper 2: Bilateral relations
How can India make the most of holding the G-20 presidency to deepen its relationship with Egypt? Discuss the potential advantages of Egypt taking part in the G-20 as a guest nation (250 words)
Relations between Egypt and India date back to 2750 BCE, when the Pharaoh Sahure sent ships to the “Land of Punt,” which is thought to have been peninsular India.In the second millennium BCE, the transaction went on, with Egyptian mummies being wrapped in muslin that had been dyed with Indian indigo.
India places great strategic importance on Egypt for a number of reasons, including:
- Strategic Location: The Suez Canal and Egypt’s geographic location, in particular, are important factors in global trade. The canal handles a sizable percentage of international trade and is a key transportation route. It serves as a significant commerce hub by giving India access to both the European and African markets. Egypt’s role as a production and reexport hub, notably in the Arab world and Africa, can be advantageous to India.
- Energy Resources: Egypt is a major provider of natural gas and crude oil to India. India relies on Egypt as a dependable partner to meet its energy demands as one of the main importers of Egyptian petroleum products.
- Egypt enjoys an important place in the Arab world, as indicated by its function as the Arab League’s administrative centre. This illustrates Egypt’s sway in the area and diplomatic clout. India views Egypt as a crucial ally in managing the regional dynamics and anticipates Egypt’s support as a responsible Arab nation.
- Influence among Islamic Nations: Within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a global organisation made up of 57 Muslim-majority nations, Egypt is seen as a moderate Islamic voice. India cherishes Egypt’s moderate attitude and sees Egypt as a friend within the OIC, which may promote understanding and collaboration between India and other OIC members.
- Shared Concerns: India and Egypt have similar worries about the rise of extremist ideology, terrorism, and bloodshed. Both nations acknowledge these dangers as major obstacles to world peace and security.
Current Trade and Investment Scenario:
- Despite a century of bilateral relations, India and Egypt’s trade volume in 2022–23 is $6,061 million, a 17% decrease from the previous year.
- Products that relate to petroleum make up a sizable component of the market. Indian investments in Egypt are concentrated in 50 projects totaling $3.15 billion, while Egyptian investments in India reach $37 million. India is Egypt’s sixth-largest commercial partner, while Egypt is India’s 38th.
- There are just a tiny number of Indians living in Egypt, and a large percentage of them are students.
Opportunities and Challenges:
- Institutional channels for bilateral collaboration already exist, but their efficacy and intent need to be improved. With a 105 million-person population and a $378 billion economy, Egypt offers numerous prospects for cooperation.
- Indian cooperation is possible in the infrastructure development plans of the Egyptian government, which include initiatives like New Cairo, a nuclear power plant, and a high-speed rail network.In addition, Egypt’s import demands for refined petroleum, wheat, automobiles, maize, and pharmaceuticals are compatible with India’s export potential.
- However, problems still exist, mostly because of Egypt’s economic situation. The economy is sluggish, there is high inflation, the currency is depreciating, and there is a shortage of foreign cash. Due to a lack of foreign currency, the government has postponed making payments for imports of necessities like wheat.
- The International Monetary Fund provided a $3 billion bailout package, but vested interests and crony capitalism have made economic reforms difficult. Due to worries about governance, Gulf Arab states, which traditionally played a vital role in supporting the Egyptian economy, have become wary.
Strategies for Effective Collaboration:
- India must carefully assess its exposure to Egypt in order to successfully traverse these difficulties and take advantage of opportunities.
- Investigating cutting-edge financial tools like EXIM lines of credit, barter agreements, and rupee trading can promote bilateral trade.
- However, India should avoid the mistakes made in the past, such as in Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s, where taxpayers in India were burdened by delayed project payments.Instead, for projects in Egypt or other comparable nations, India can take into account trilateral funding agreements with Gulf partners, the G-20, or multilateral financial institutions.
- In the 1950s, Egypt and India took the initiative to start the NAM. India and Egypt should work together to strengthen South-South Cooperation and advocate for a rules-based global order amid the current geopolitical unrest.India should try to broaden the scope of its defence cooperation beyond bilateral drills to include collaborative manufacturing and development initiatives. India may consider Egypt as a possible market for its defence exports.
Restoring India-Egypt relations is crucial as Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Egypt for the Cairo Summit. Both nations may improve bilateral collaboration and produce significant results by addressing issues, seizing opportunities, and using strategic finance strategies. A mutually beneficial alliance may be established between India and Egypt on the solid foundation of their historical links and shared cultures. This will open a new chapter in their cooperative efforts.
The Law Commission of India is seeking public input on the Uniform Civil Code in this context.
GS Paper 2 – Directive Principles of State Policy, Civil Laws in the Country
Talk about the Uniform Civil Code’s (UCC) relevance and historical context in India. How has the conflict between individual freedom and governmental control influenced the conversation surrounding the UCC? Analyse the most significant legal decisions and advancements concerning the UCC in India. (150 words)
What’s going on?
The Law Commission of India has revisited the topic after coming to the prior decision that the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is superfluous and undesirable. One of India’s most contentious and politically charged issues has been revived by this action. While recognising the potential advantages of gradually adopting the UCC, it is vital to take a critical factor into account when the Commission starts its new endeavour.
What is the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a proposed single legislation for India that would govern marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption for all religious sects. This code is based on Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, which mandates that the government work to create a Uniform Civil Code that applies to all citizens nationwide.
Autonomy versus Authority
The conflict between personal and religious autonomy and the state’s right to reshape family relationships is at the centre of the discussion surrounding personal laws. The argument put forth by supporters is that each religious organisation should start reforms inside their own neighbourhood, encouraging internal legal reform or a voluntary adoption of the UCC. The Special Marriage Act, a recent example of voluntary UCC adoption, runs counter to the spirit of some recent laws, such as the love jihad laws. Regional differences also occur; for example, Kerala abolished the Hindu Joint Family in 1975, and various states have distinct laws governing Muslim weddings and divorces.
Do you know:
- The British administration issued a study in 1835 emphasising the need for uniformity in the coding of Indian law, omitting personal laws of Hindus and Muslims from such codification. This report is where the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) first emerged.
- The B N Rau Committee, tasked with codifying Hindu law, was established in 1941 as a result of the expansion of personal law near the end of British rule.
- The committee’s recommendations led to the 1956 adoption of the Hindu Succession Act, which codified and amended the laws governing intestate succession among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.However, there were different personal laws for Muslims, Christians, and Parsis, which resulted in a lack of consistency in personal laws.
- Courts have emphasised the necessity of a UCC and urged the government to strive towards its adoption in a number of judgements.
- The Shah Bano case, which received a lot of attention in 1985, and the Sarla Mudgal case, which addressed the clash between personal laws relating to marriage and the issue of bigamy, are notable examples highlighting the subject.
- The government has stated that practises like triple talaq and polygamy violate a woman’s right to a life of dignity, which raises the question of whether religious practises that go against fundamental rights should be covered by the constitution’s protections.
Religious Identity and Personal Laws
Personal laws currently apply to all religious groups, including Muslims but also Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jews. Which personal law is applicable to an individual depends on their religious affiliation. Even the revised Hindu Personal Law promulgated by the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 stipulates particular marriage ceremonies and incorporates ideas from antiquated works like the Manusmriti. Interestingly, while two Muslims marrying under the same legislation are no longer subject to Muslim Personal Law, two Hindus married under the Special Marriage Act continue to be controlled by Hindu Personal Law. Hindu Personal Law still applies to anyone who renounces his Hinduism.
As a culmination of India’s integrative traditions, the Indian Constitution protects cultural accommodation through clauses in Article 29(1) that forbid discrimination and ensure the preservation of various cultures. It is crucial to consider whether Indian Muslims can honestly claim that customs like polygamy and arbitrary unilateral divorce, even when done in a fit of rage or drunkenness. In a diverse and multicultural country like India, it is also critical to strike a balance between conserving multicultural diversity and promoting unity. While ignoring the variability within these populations, British colonial rule encouraged homogeneity among Hindus and Muslims.
The Indian Constitution provides two strategies for accommodating difference:
Integrationist multiculturalism and restricted multiculturalism. Although affirmative action laws support the integrationist philosophy, official support for minority cultures is frequently viewed as an illegal concession or as “appeasement.” As a result, there are no strong constitutional rules to support cultural distinctions. Therefore, rather than aiming for equality between communities, the focus should be on establishing equality between men and women inside communities. A just legal system that promotes justice and equality is more important than a simple uniform rule of law.
What is Multiculturalism
- Multiculturalism refers to a society’s approach to addressing cultural diversity on both a national and local level.Sociologically, multiculturalism makes the assumption that more diversity results from the peaceful coexistence of various civilizations.Usually, one of the two theories—the “melting pot” idea or the “salad bowl” hypothesis—explains how multiculturalism arises.
- Multiculturalism can exist at the national level or in local communities within a country. It can happen either spontaneously through immigration or intentionally when diverse cultural jurisdictions are brought together by legislative edict.
- It is crucial to take personal laws and practises into account in order to preserve India’s multicultural variety.Cultural relativism is insufficient to defend the retention of unfair and discriminatory rules. The Law Commission needs to proceed cautiously and watch out that its suggestions don’t encourage reactionary culturalism among various communities, especially Muslims.
- While acknowledging the historical and legal effects on Muslim Personal Law, the Muslim community should make a distinction between MPL and Islam itself. Reforming the MPL’s discriminatory provisions and embracing the opinions of progressive jurists are two ways to advance.
- In order to revamp socio-religious-cultural practises and embrace secularisation, a delicate balance must be struck between maintaining traditional practises and adhering to constitutional requirements.
- According to political philosopher Iris Young, the value of social difference is relational and shaped by social processes, hence the Commission must only ban practises that are in violation of the law’s standards.