India’s Stakes and Dilemma in SCO (Important regional organisations ,GS paper 2 ,IDSA )
New Strategic Axis
Option for India
Brick and mortar of foreign policy (Institutions of Foreign Policy ,Political Science ,The Hindu ,GS paper 2 )
The principal drawback of the foreign policy establishment is that it is miserably understaffed. While New Delhi does have some first-rate diplomats, what we really need are not a few overworked senior officials but more, well-trained personnel. On account of financial constraints, bureaucratic inertia and inter-ministerial disagreements, all we have are around 900-odd Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers to operationalise India’s ambitious foreign policy initiatives.
Diplomacy today is much more than mere courtesies, photo-opportunities and protocols: it is primarily about pursuing one’s national interests in a globalised and highly networked world that is far more complex than before. New-age diplomacy then needs a lot more intellectual agility, in-depth knowledge of specialised issues, and an ability to innovate like never before. Therefore, India’s antediluvian diplomatic and foreign policy architectures should be subjected to radical reform if New Delhi is to make its presence felt in the fast-changing contemporary international system.
The Indian foreign policy establishment also suffers from an acute inability to ideate outside the box. Much of the intellectual energy is spent on routine management of the ministry where adhocism, outdated precedents and pragmatism are the guiding principles. Moreover, our foreign policy establishment, by design, tends to be reactive in nature, rather than proactive or creative.
Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Modi has demonstrated no hesitation in articulating that under his watch, India will play a major role on the world stage. If he is serious about his ambitious plans to be a part of the emergent Asian century, he needs to start by overhauling the country’s foreign policy apparatus. If not, his foreign policy agenda is likely to collapse under its own weight.
The battle for Delhi(Polity,HInduEditorial)
Time for new environmentalism (Down to Earth ,Environmental movements,new social movemnet,polity)
Stateless and left out at sea (Rohingya crisis, IR,The HINDU ,GS paper 2 )
The images of emaciated Rohingyas stranded mid-sea and reports of mass graves of trafficked people in Thailand and Malaysia, which have shocked the world, speak of a history of ethnicity-based marginalisation where certain groups are victims of systematic oppression
The images of thousands of emaciated migrants on boats sent back to sea by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, and reports of the discovery of the mass graves of trafficked people in Thailand and Malaysia have together done what human rights activists have been trying to achieve for decades. They have drawn international attention to the plight of thousands of Rohingya people who have been deemed stateless by the Myanmar government for more than 40 years as well as the issue of human trafficking in South and Southeast Asia. It appears that the images have managed to shock the world but this is not a new phenomenon. Nor can it be resolved just by a one-time acceptance of the migrants into these or other countries.While recent reports suggest that Malaysia and Indonesia will no longer turn away migrants, these horrifying images speak of a history of ethnicity-based marginalisation that has turned certain ethnic groups into perpetual victims of systematic oppression.
Exit as escape
The Rohingya in Myanmar are perhaps the worst off among many minority groups that have been repressed by the military government of Myanmar as they were stripped of their citizenship and rendered stateless between 1974 and 1982. The government sees them as Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh who migrated there during the colonial period (and continue to do so) whereas the Rohingya see themselves as (Muslim) natives of Arakan (Rakhine), a state in Myanmar. In turn, Bengali Muslims in Bangladesh and India do not see the Rohingya as their kin in any respect, making the Rohingya the “safest” scapegoat. The Rohingya are thus deemed outsiders and continue to be persecuted and denied citizenship. In fact, the Rohingya are among the most persecuted minorities in the world according to the UNHCR.
Many had participated in Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy movement as members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the main Opposition party, only to realise that the NLD, like the junta, has no place for the Rohingya in its “democracy.” There were and continue to be fringe armed groups mobilising to increase pressure on the government, but activists complain that there is no solidarity among the Rohingya let alone any consensus with regards to the future of the movement. Because many of the Rohingya are averse to armed struggle, they are unable to defend themselves when the military sweeps through their villages to clear the areas of “illegal immigrants.” Fleeing becomes the only option, no matter how dangerous that might be, the choice being between certain death and a small chance of survival. India and Bangladesh’s silence shows that they are unlikely to intervene in any way in what they would identify as being Myanmar’s internal affairs.
Plight of economic migrants
Economic migrants face a somewhat different reality. The logic of globalisation requires that labour be freely mobile across markets for efficiency reasons, at least theoretically. Yet, despite high economic integration, labour migration is often criminalised, creating an inherent contradiction between the incentives to migrate and immigration laws that limit migration. What this means is that there are profits to be made from migration that governments restrict artificially, which then incentivises “illegal migration.” When the workers are desperate, unskilled, and willing to pawn off their lives’ worth of assets to access job markets abroad, they become easy targets of extortion, exploitation and trafficking. As the many interviews of rescued migrants in the past weeks indicate, these migrants often have no idea that what they were doing was illegal; after all, many had paid huge sums of money for migration services — often by selling land/assets, taking on loans, or mortgaging future earnings.
A small example from Bangladesh provides a microcosm of the larger issues at hand. Since the 1990s, Bangladesh has been one of the two largest suppliers of labour to Malaysia, responsible for much of the construction work and infrastructure development there. Beginning 2012, however, a smaller number of Bangladeshis have been able to go to Malaysia through official channels because of “insufficient demand” despite a government-level agreement to send 14 lakh Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia. At a time when the government could not ensure regular labour export, traffickers, in the guise of middlemen and government agents, lured workers into treacherous waters.
Paradoxically, the same desires for upward mobility are deemed entrepreneurial if the migrants are among the elite class and know the laws well enough to never break them. Going back to the case of Bangladeshis in Malaysia, in the same period too, Bangladeshis formed the second largest group to apply for a residency programme called “Malaysia My Second Home”, aimed at wealthy families in developing countries who would like to take advantage of state-sponsored facilities in Malaysia (unavailable in their own countries) and eventually invest there.
Thus, while there was no demand for Bangladeshi unskilled labour, wealthy Bangladeshis were welcome to go and live there. Perhaps, this highlights Malaysia’s developmental path; Malaysia needed Bangladeshi (manual) workers when its primary investments were infrastructure-based. Now, as it tries to shift to a consumer-driven economy, it no longer requires unskilled labour as much as it requires a strong consumer base. At the same time, the many tales of workers finding jobs in Malaysia just as they land and rumours that Malaysian women like Bangladeshi men as husbands because they “look like Shah Rukh Khan” all keep the lure of going to Malaysia strong. While wealthy Bangladeshis found their way to their “second homes,” the unskilled, poor migrants ended up stranded at sea, buried in unmarked mass-graves, or in detention centres across South and Southeast Asia.
Being Bengali Muslim
The circumstances under which the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants found themselves at sea are different, but the issues at hand are not only about escaping ethnic cleansing or economic depravation. In the last several decades, Bengali Muslims have become among the most persecuted in the region, easily targeted as being foreign by virtue of a shared ethno-religious identity with the majority of Bangladeshis. For its part, the Bangladeshi government has turned a blind eye to such acts for the sake of regional peace, stability and cooperation, made necessary by its weaker economic position. Perhaps, it is for the same reasons that the Bangladeshi government allows the 3,50,000 strong refugee population along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border without demanding resolution to the over 40 year refugee crisis. Thus, not only are Bengali Muslims easily “othered”, but they also have no foreign patrons to come to their defence, despite cross-border ethnic ties.
The “Muslim factor” feeds into the calculation as well. The ‘global war on terror’ has effectively legitimised anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks across the world, even when links to the al-Qaeda are at best tenuous. For example, several UNHCR officials I spoke to in 2008 about resettlement of the Rohingya, had categorically said that their religion and “ties to terrorism” make them unlikely candidates for resettlement in the developed world; they saw resettlement in Bangladesh as the only durable solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis.
In India, the Hindu right traditionally used anti-Muslim sentiments as a rallying force, but in subversive ways. With global Islamophobia on the rise, anti-Muslim rhetoric has been normalised, it seems. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that religious minority groups (Hindus) in Bangladesh and Pakistan would be given residency in India if they so desired. In conjunction with his speech during his election campaign in West Bengal and Assam in 2014 — on “illegal Bangladeshis” needing to pack up their bags or face consequences — this indicates that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s interest may lie in the consolidation of a supranational Hindu space; to which Hindus of the region belong, but even Indian Muslims may not. Historically, anti-Bengali Muslim sentiments in Assam had emphasised the Bengali part. Moving forward, would the Muslim factor become more dominant? What would be the fate of Muslim populations in enclaves that India received as part of the land-swap with Bangladesh?
Despite the various uncertainties, several things become clear: in spite of varied circumstances, the migrants at sea are predominantly Bengali Muslim (defined broadly), unwanted in their own homelands; Islamophobia has become a global force that has allowed countries like Myanmar (and the democratic voices there) to disregard the lives of (Bengali) Muslims without fear of any repercussion; a climate of anti-Muslim sentiments in India, the de facto regional hegemon, has excused and normalised repression against Muslims in the entire region (including in Sri Lanka); Muslim-majority countries also prioritise state interests and will not necessarily come to the rescue of Muslim migrants on the basis of humanity or religiosity, as can be seen in the case of Indonesia and Malaysia; hope lies with the people — Indonesian fishermen were the first to rescue migrants defying government orders to turn away boats carrying migrants. It is among ordinary people that we can find humanity.
The Rohingyas: Security Implications for ASEAN and Beyond (Rohingya Crisis ,GS papaer 2 ,IDSA )
Rohingyas and their Moves: A Brief History
|IDPs in Kachin State||
IDPs in Rakhine State
IDPs in Southeast Myanmar (Mon, Kayah, Kayin States and Tanintharyi Region)
People Without Citizenship
Response from Neighbours and Beyond
Rohingyas and the Limits of ASEAN Community
Security Implications of Neglect of Rohingyas
Decoding China’s Military Strategy White Paper: Assessing the Maritime Implications (IDSA ,IR ,GS paper 2 )
India’s Foreign Policy By Sumit Ganguly (One of the Best source to read Foreign Policy of India for both GS mains and Political Science Optional)
Dare we begin to hope?( HIndu , Political Science )
That the party (the Aam Aadmi Party) which stopped what appeared unstoppable has since imploded and, in any case, had no serious analysis of what has been chronically wrong in the nation’s politics and political economy in the last two and a half decades, is not the main point of relevance. What is heartening rather is that it awakened people to correct their judgement of only nine months ago and it did so with hardly any resources, thereby giving the lie to the idea that the future of Indian parliamentary politics lies in cash-debased, American-style, electioneering given over to the sinister manipulations of public relations companies and a shallow mainstream media cheerleading for elitist ideas of “development”. There is no more urgent task than to consolidate and build on this no small, though local, achievement in Delhi; and, at this particular juncture, it is not a task that can be carried out by any one party all on its own. I will return to this last point in a moment. The agitation against the Land Acquisition Bill is heartening for two quite separate reasons.
The acquisition of land has been at the centre of this ideal of development and what is encouraging about the agitation against it is that it may be the beginning of a spread of understanding among our citizens that we cannot any longer consistently oppose this state-facilitated land-seizure for domestic and foreign corporate gain without also seeing that it is merely a symptom of the larger tendencies summarised in such terms as “development” as they are deployed in the prevailing economic zeitgeist that we have witnessed around Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi; tendencies such as the privatisation of the nation’s resources, the loss of national sovereignty in the Indian state’s inability to pursue policies that uplift its own population due to having surrendered control to highly mobile international finance capital, the rendering helpless of the labour force in every corner of the land through informalisation and impermanence of employment…We can perhaps hope that in these recent mobilisations that oppose the land policies of the government, we are at the cusp of such a more penetrating understanding of what needs to be opposed than the mere cry against corrupt politicians — a more fundamental and more structural corruption at the heart of our entire political economy.
The second encouraging feature of the agitation is that a wide spectrum of parties has supported it, raising the hope of a growing united front of opposition. And Sonia Gandhi’s initiatives in the agitation reflect a potentially interesting emergence in the Congress party, one in which the technocrats approved by international economic interests and domestic elites might cease to be the dominant influence on its political and economic agenda. If that were to happen, there may be real prospects for an alliance to emerge against the present government in which the Left parties and the AAP put aside their seemingly unburiable hatchets with the Congress, hatchets that owed to their perfectly justified disgust with the second regnum of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).