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MAINS Q/A 22-05-2018


Q1. How is the policies of the western and the middle east countries playing havoc with the remittances?

India has witnessed sharp remittance growth since 1991, which grew from $2.1 billion in 1991, and touched $70.4 billion in 2014.Since then, the value of remittances to India has seen modest declines – $68.9 billion in 2015 and $62.7 billion in 2016, although 2017 closed at $65.4 billion.

However, considering the cranky debate on migration around the world, considerable uncertainties about remittances remain.Notably, India receives about 56% of its remittances from migrants in West Asia, with the remainder from mainly North America and Europe.But rapid changes in the economy and the socio-political climate in emigrant destinations have had an impact on remittances.

Arab Spring in 2010 and subsequent counter-revolutionary moves by states had a drastic impact on its immigration policies.

  • Declining oil prices and sluggish regional economies, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, aggravated the situation.
  • Consequently, most governments decided to prioritise filling their workforce with their nationals, which meant stricter visa norms.
  • Visa Regime – Notably, only UAE continues with its pre-2008 liberal visa regime, whereas, Oman has had a strict immigration policy since 1998.
  • The other countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) have now started looking increasingly inwards since the spring.
  • This move was clearly to appease its increasingly restless youth, many of whom were unemployed and participated in protests.
  • Actions – Saudi government enacted “Saudi Nationalisation Scheme” in 2011 with a view to reducing unemployment among Saudi nationals.
  • This included incentives for companies performing in accordance with this system and regularisation of over 5 million temporary workers.
  • Crackdown on illegal migrants, increased control over foreign workers and the apathy to curtain harassment of foreign labourers has also become common.
  • It is evident that the younger natives of West Asia, who are increasingly becoming educated, will replace migrants in the coming years.
  • North America, which is currently a major remittance sending regions of the world, is expected see dampened migration due to the Trump presidency.
  • Europe, which surpasses even the Gulf region in remittance, is currently facing its worst refugee crisis since the days of the 2nd world war.
  • This has already fuelled xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiments across the continent and has resulted in the rise of rightist parties.

It seems obvious that migration and remittances will take on a more prominent role in internal and international politics in the near future.This is in striking contrast to the latter part of the last century, which was commanded by liberal ideas on migration and open borders.As the richer nations start relying more on its own workforce and tightly controls borders, the poorer nation will have to rely less on remittances.Therefore, it is imperative that developing nations that have relied on remittances to recalibrate strategies go ahead.


Q2. How does copper smelting process pollute the environment? How can the ill-effects of smelting be mitigated?


Copper smelting is the process through which the copper ore is purified through intense heating and melting to derive high-quality copper or copper products.As most copper ores are sulphur-based, the smelting process releases sulphur dioxide, an air pollutant which has many harmful effects.

When the concentration of sulphur dioxide is so high, the industries convert it into sulphuric acid, which is an irritant and water contaminant.

The other by-product of smelting is slag, the waste matter containing metals separated from ore.

This slag may leach heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead or mercury depending on the composition of the ore) into groundwater reservoirs.

Water which has a high heavy metal content is very toxic to humans.

Slag may also increase the concentration of other, less harmful salts in water resources, which may change the taste of water.

To reduce the effects of smelting process in the environment and to the public, the location must be decided according to the specific rules given in the Environment Protection Act.

A green zone surrounding the industry must be made with variety of trees, shrubs and grasses to absorb the excess pollutants which may be in the atmosphere.

The by-products or pollutants has to be properly recycled or contained, and not be let out freely in the atmosphere.

The slag or waste materials have to be stored and disposed of according to the specifications of the pollution board.

Care must be taken to ensure nearby villages or towns are not affected and regular survey of the externalities have to be undertaken as part of the research by the industry.

Transparency regarding the pollutants, their concentration and any necessary precautions have to be made aware to the public.By following the governments’ rules and regulations, smelting plants or industries can be functional without much damage to the environment nor to the people.


Q3. India’s foreign policy is showing a U-TURN on the ideologies it stood for in the past.

In India’s evolving foreign policy imagination, the pursuit of power and influence seems to eclipse the country’s traditions of normative behaviour and principled positions

India’s stand vis-à-vis Rohingya refugees is an indication of how new India proposes to deal with humanitarian issues in its neighbourhood. Its approach to the Rohingya crisis (i.e. its refusal to admit people fleeing for their lives into the country or to ask Myanmar to address the human rights violations against its Rohingya population) is informed by several realpolitik considerations.

India’s response to the Rohingya crisis, then, is in stark contrast to its long tradition of offering refuge to the region’s homeless. What makes this policy even more petty-minded is the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which empowers the government to offer citizenship to migrants hailing from minority communities in the neighbourhood, except Muslims. It is clear then that the government’s position on refugees is anything but principled.

Through the much-publicised celebration of the India-Israel partnership, the government has made it clear that it seeks to pursue a foreign policy guided by realpolitik.

From being ideological opponents to maintaining a relationship in the closet, India and Israel have come a long way.

While an earlier BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had invited the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to visit India, and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government deepened engagement, the current NDA government has taken the relationship to another level.

This is not to discount the fact that there is an instrumental rationale underlying the India-Israel relationship, especially in terms of national security and strategic considerations.

Non-alignment once used to be the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, New Delhi continued to pay lip service to it. In 2016, only for the second time ever, India’s Prime Minister was not present at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.

NAM stood for several important global movements: decolonisation, disarmament, correcting the inherent ills of the global economic order, etc. For sure, some of the founding ideals of NAM may have lost their relevance today, but the grouping can help rising powers such as India to enhance their global standing and influence.

With the U.S. designating India as a “Major Defence Partner”, it is one India’s closest strategic partners today. In 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. which gives both sides access to designated military facilities for refuelling and replenishment

And whatever happened to good neighbourliness? The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) seems to be consigned to the dustbin of history as for some reason New Delhi sees no future for it. Is the ‘mistreatment’ of SAARC in our best interest? It is ironic that SAARC and NAM, both India-centric institutions, have been sidelined by our own conscious efforts.

Non-alignment is passé, ‘neighbourhood first’, despite the recent overtures, is falling apart, and multi-alignment is increasingly looking like a fantasy: India’s post-normative foreign policy is in a shambles.

The post-normative turn also comes with its challenges and complications. For one, the soft power persuasiveness of a country is also the product of its political ideals, civilisational values and its cultural resonance.

Choosing to exclusively focus on hard power for foreign policy outcomes sidelines our rich soft power attributes. Second, new India’s foreign policy choices also indicate the company it wishes to keep in the comity of nations and what it wants from the international system. It seeks hard power, great power status and the company of great powers — not an equitable international order and the company of developing nations. If so, we must also ask how steadfast are our current great power partnerships? Will they stand the test of time well beyond the attraction of India’s growing defence budgets and expanding consumer markets?


Q4. Maritime relations between India and Indonesia will help to counter China in Indian ocean.

Indonesian governments offer to grant India access to its Sabang port for the development of the port and an economic zone. Located at the mouth of the strategically important Strait of Malacca, Sabang is only 100 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

India and Indonesia share multiple common concerns, one of which is China’s growing maritime footprint in the eastern Indian Ocean. Sabang, with its naval base, naval air station, and maintenance and repair facilities, has the potential to serve as the focal point of a budding strategic partnership between the two countries.

Both countries value the key sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, and therefore the foundation of any strategic partnership will rest on how they both seek to manage the region’s strategically important chokepoints.

The strategically important Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda fall under the Indian Navy’s primary area of interest, and access to Indonesian naval bases such as Sabang will significantly enhance the Indian Navy’s ability to maintain a forward presence and monitor movements in the Straits of Malacca.

Indonesia too has started recognising the benefits of a closer strategic partnership with India. Like many other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Jakarta remains apprehensive of Chinese intentions in the wider maritime theatre.

The territorial dispute between China and Indonesia in the Natuna Sea is an issue that is close to Mr. Jokowi, and a strategic alignment with India will help Jakarta balance some of the security concerns emanating from Beijing’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea.

The comprehensive defence cooperation agreement that is expected to be signed between the countries can possibly be a multifaceted logistical agreement — on the lines of the deal which India signed with France earlier in the year.

Mutual logistical support and reciprocal berthing rights will facilitate a more intimate maritime security partnership. This will allow India to gain access to naval bases in Lampung on the Sunda Strait, and Denpasar and Banyuwangi on the Lombok Strait, augmenting the Indian Navy’s operational breadth in the eastern Indian Ocean.

In the past, cooperation between India and Indonesia has been limited to anti-piracy patrols, search and rescue exercises and joint hydrographic exploration. It is important for the two countries to move to a more concerted and intensive engagement. India should leverage this opportunity and seek its inclusion in the Malacca Strait Patrols programme. India’s inclusion in the programme would augment India’s existing maritime domain awareness in the region, while the eyes-in-the-sky component will allow India to jointly patrol the region with its maritime surveillance aircraft.

Chinese presence in these SLOCs is well known, and India’s ability to monitor Chinese naval movements in the locale will be a great boost to the Indian Navy’s security missions. Moreover, access to the Jayapura naval base in West Papua will expand the Indian Navy’s operating capacity in the Western Pacific, and complement Indian access to French naval bases in French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the Southern Pacific.

At a time when countries are realigning themselves to accommodate the growing consensus around an Indo-Pacific strategic framework, India and Indonesia, as members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, need to complement each other’s vision of a regional order.


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