11th October 2018
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS II: SOCIAL
Q1. The Supreme Court of India recently struck down the Section 377 of the IPC, which might have a negative impact on women who are subjected to sexual violence. Discuss the impact of this move on women. What steps can be taken to protect the interest of women.
- The Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377 should be celebrated for ejecting an ugly Victorian norm from the Indian criminal justice system. The landmark decision breaks new ground by removing restrictions that made consensual sexual relations between members of the same sex and the transgender population a crime. The judgment of the Supreme Court will, however, likely have unintended negative consequences for one group that has used Section 377 to protect itself from sexual violence – women.
- While Section 377 has indeed been used as a tool to vilify and arbitrarily punish members of the LGBTQ community, it may be surprising for most to learn that an overwhelming majority of those who utilise the section at police stations are abused and physically tormented married women. Utilising new data as well as research conducted at police stations across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, it is found that female complainants invoked most cases of Section 377 in the context of Section 498A (wherein the husband or his relative subjects a wife to cruelty, often within the framework of harassing her for additional dowry post-marriage). Another legal problem is that India, as in large parts of West Asia and Africa, does not recognise marital rape as a crime. This is where Section 377 comes in. Women who register spousal abuse, especially in the form of Section 498A, often do so as a case of last resort. In extreme circumstances, women encourage police officers to register an additional case of Section 377 against their husbands. They do this to to elevate the “heinousness” of Section 498A, i.e., to signal to the police that their abuse is not simply “cruelty” but also one of sexual abuse. Section 498A has the lowest conviction rate of any law in India, and by tacking on Section 377, women are potentially able to increase the likelihood of the husband being punished. In a legal context in which marital rape is not recognised, Section 377 emerges as a tool for married women to highlight the “unnatural” abuse they face. Interestingly, the media in Kerala have found that the use of Section 377 is often added to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to increase POCSO’s stringency.
- In its recent judgment, the Supreme Court appears to have been conscious of the fact that Section 377 has been used to protect women but implied that as Section 375 (rape) already criminalises non-consensual acts, Section 377 is redundant when applied to women. The court also implied that Section 377 was obsolete because the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 broadened the scope of Section 375 to include non-penile-vaginal penetration, “thereby plugging important gaps in the law governing sexual violence in India”.
- While Section 377 will now apply to minors and in cases of bestiality, it is unclear whether abused married women will be able to use the law in quite the same way as they did before. More importantly, they really should not have to. If physically abused by their husbands, wives should be able to register a case without having to use the circuitous paths of employing laws with anachronistic language when they are essentially being raped. A far more effective and progressive strategy would be for the state to now criminalise marital rape. This could be done by passing a new law or merely removing the exemption in Section 375.
GS I: HISTORY
Q2. Discuss the importance of the Non- Alignment Movement. Discuss its relevance in the present scenario.
- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and its precursor, the Bandung Afro-Asian conference in 1955, were examples of soft balancing by weaker states towards great powers engaged in intense rivalry and conflict. As they had little material ability to constrain superpower conflict and arms build-ups, the newly emerging states under the leadership of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and Indonesia’s Sukarno, and later joined by Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, adopted a soft balancing strategy aimed at challenging the superpower excesses in a normative manner, hoping for preventing the global order from sliding into war.
- The NAM is often not given credit for what it deserves, because by the 1970s, some of the key players, including India, began to lose interest in the movement as they formed coalitions with one or the other superpower to wage their conflicts with their neighbours. It is also not theorised by scholars properly. The Western countries often portrayed non-alignment as pro-Soviet or ineffective and the general intellectual opposition was the result of the Western scholarly bias against a coalitional move by the weaker states of the international system. The international system is hierarchical and the expectation is that the weaker states should simply abide by the dictates of the stronger ones. It is often forgotten that when the Bandung meeting took place, the world was witnessing an intense nuclear arms race, in particular, atmospheric nuclear testing. The fear of a third world war was real. Many crises were going on in Europe and East Asia, with the fear of escalation lurking. More importantly, the vestiges of colonialism were still present.
- Despite all its blemishes, the NAM and the Afro-Asian grouping acted as a limited soft balancing mechanism by attempting to delegitimise the threatening behaviour of the superpowers, particularly through their activism at the UN and other forums such as the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, as well as through resolutions.
- “Naming” and “shaming” were their operational tools. They worked as norm entrepreneurs in the areas of nuclear arms control and disarmament. They definitely deserve partial credit for ending colonialism as it was practised, especially in the 1950s and 1960s in Africa, parts of Asia and the Caribbean through their activism at the UN General Assembly which declared decolonisation as a key objective in 1960.
- The non-aligned declarations on nuclear testing and nuclear non-proliferation especially helped to concretise the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty. They also helped create several nuclear weapon free zones as well as formulate the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The tradition of ‘non-use of nuclear weapons’, or the ‘nuclear taboo’, was strengthened partially due to activism by the non-aligned countries’ at the UN. The non-aligned could find solace that it took a few more decades for a leader like Mr. Gorbachev to emerge in one of the contending superpowers, and that many of their policy positions were adopted by him, and later partially by the U.S.
- As the great powers are once again launching a new round of nuclear arms race and territorial expansion and militarisation of the oceans, a renewed activism by leading global south countries may be necessary to delegitimise their imperial ventures, even if they do not succeed immediately. If these states do not act as cushioning forces, international order could deteriorate and new forms of cold and hot wars could develop. China, the U.S. and Russia need to be balanced and restrained and soft balancing by non-superpower states has a key role to play in this.
- If the present trends continue, a military conflict in the South China Sea is likely and the naval competition will take another decade or so to become intense, as happened in earlier periods between Germany and the U.K. (early 1900s), and Japan and the U.S. (1920s and 1930s).
- The U.S. as the reigning hegemon will find the Chinese takeover threatening and try different methods to dislodge it. The freedom of navigation activities of the U.S. are generating hostile responses from China, which is building artificial islets and military bases in the South China Sea and expanding its naval interests into the Indian Ocean. Smaller states would be the first to suffer if there is a war in the Asia-Pacific or an intense Cold War-style rivalry develops between the U.S. and China. Nuclear weapons need not prevent limited wars as we found out through the Ussuri clashes of 1969 and the Kargil conflict in 1999.
- The smaller states can develop a new ‘Bandung spirit’ which takes into account the new realities. They could engage in soft balancing of this nature hoping to delegitimise the aggressive behaviour of the great powers. The rise of China and India, with their own ambitious agendas, makes it difficult that either will take the lead in organising such a movement.
- China’s wedge strategy and its efforts to tie Afro-Asian states through the Belt and Road Initiative have limited the choices of many developing countries. However, despite the constraints, many have been able to keep China off militarily by refusing base facilities and also smartly bargaining with India and Japan for additional economic support. They thus are already showing some elements of strategic autonomy favoured by the NAM.
- More concrete initiatives may have to rest with emerging states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping. Engaging China and India more intensely while restraining the U.S. and Russia from aggravating military conflict in Asia-Pacific can be the effort of the developing countries. Norm entrepreneurship has it value, even if it does not show immediate results.
- Restraining the established and rising powers through institutional and normative soft balancing may emerge as an option for developing countries in the years to come.
GS II: BILATERAL-INDIA-JAPAN
Q3. Maritime security, defence, and strategic connectivity are the key areas of cooperation between India and Japan. Elucidate.
- Fortunately for India, Japan is a keen advocate of closer bilateral relations. Mr. Abe views India as the pivotal state in the Indian Ocean. A strong India, he candidly professes, is in Japan’s interest, just like a strong Japan is beneficial for India.
- The Abe administration is focusing attention on two critical areas – maritime security and strategic connectivity. On the security front, Japan is keen to strengthen the trilateral Malabar exercises with India and the U.S. During the last iteration of the exercises off Guam in June this year, the Japanese Navy deployed a maritime surveillance aircraft and a submarine, demonstrating a readiness for a strategic role in Asia’s sensitive littorals.
- In a bid to raise its Indian Ocean profile, Japan recently deployed its state-of-the-art helicopter carrier-destroyer, Kaga, to South Asia. After a brief stopover at Colombo, the ship is in Visakhapatnam for the Japan-India Maritime Exercises.
- Tokyo is keen that its military exchanges with India also include Army and Air Force exchanges. An Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement – on the lines of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. – is in the offing, and there is also talk of joint collaboration in unmanned armoured vehicles and robotic systems. Further, Japan also wants to assist India in improving the state of maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, where India is keen to set up an ‘information fusion centre’.
- Notwithstanding the excitement over security relations, it is strategic connectivity that presents the bigger opportunity.Tokyo and New Delhi have been working together on infrastructure projects in the Northeast. They are also building the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, whose four pillars – developmental projects, quality infrastructure, capacity building, and people-to-people partnership – make it an effective counterpoint to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- What makes Japan a reliable partner in the connectivity arena is its emphasis on ‘quality’. Unlike China’s Belt and Road projects, Japanese infrastructure initiatives are environmentally friendly and financially sustainable, with project managers laying particular stress on life cycle costs and asset resilience. Not only has Japanese development aid produced demonstrable results on the ground, Tokyo’s insistence on transparency has generated enormous trust.
- The Indian government’s economic and security outlook – often articulated in terms of its ‘Act-East’ outreach – fits well with Mr. Abe’s vision for a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’. Both countries want a regional order based on rules. However, neither country is keen to antagonise China. While Tokyo is willing to work with Beijing on overseas infrastructure projects, New Delhi has expressed reservations about its ‘Quadrilateral’ partners (the U.S., Japan and Australia) resorting to China-containment tactics.
- Even so, Japanese and Indian policymakers recognise the importance of balancing Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific. To deter China’s maritime aggression in their strategic backwaters, Japan and India have upped their defence engagement.
- None of this suggests a neat alignment of strategic interests and ambitions. Despite repeated attempts, talks for the sale of the US-2i amphibious aircraft have been deadlocked over issues of price and technology transfer. The deal has been hanging fire since 2014 when Indian officials raised objections over the platform’s high cost. Tokyo subsequently agreed to a concession but the aircraft’s price was still deemed high by Indian negotiators (over a $100 million apiece).
- Of greater concern has been Japan’s unwillingness to let India license produce the US-2i, insisting on delivering all aircraft in flyaway condition. The hard-bargaining, say observers, hasn’t been worthwhile, not least since the plane does little other than search and rescue.
- Even so, India’s foreign policy establishment knows the deal has come to be seen a symbol of India-Japan defence cooperation. A failure to procure it would be deemed as a setback. Policymakers also acknowledge that the partnership is increasingly vital for the security of littoral Asia. In the wake of growing challenges in the maritime domain, New Delhi knows that operational synergy with Tokyo is a strategic imperative. Striking a deal on the US-2i would be a good start point.