Is China the new blockade in Indo-Nepal relations?

The past few months have been abuzz with the significant changes in the Indo-Nepal relations, which are nothing short of a cause for alarm.

The relations between the two which can be traced to more than a century ago, have not witnessed the best of days ever since the former Hindu kingdom adopted its new constitution in September 2015.

The issue of the Madhesi community has been a bone of contention between the two nations. The Madhesis accuse the Nepalese government of their improper representation in the constitution. Their demand for a separate province has caused a stir on both sides of the border. Not to forget, the strong traditional and cultural ties the community has with the Indian state of Bihar in particular.

The economic blockade that followed has brought the day-to-day life in Nepal to a standstill. Nepal is highly dependent on India for fuel, oil and medicines with India providing more than 60% of its supplies. In its absence, the country is facing a crisis of sorts. And moreover, the limited supplies that are being brought into the country are being sold in black at exorbitant prices. According to a news channel, gas cylinders are being sold for as much as ₹6000 each.

India remarked that, Nepal should adopt a constitution that is more inclusive of its population and that the ‘political problem requires a political solution’. On the other hand, Nepal is wary about India’s intentions with regards to the economic blockade and its support for the Madhesis.

The blame game could not be left far behind. Nepal’s accusation of India intervening in its internal affairs has given legitimacy to the voices of others in the subcontinent like Bangladesh, Pakistan and especially China. They too have long accused New Delhi for snooping around their internal matters.

Let’s not forget India’s large economic clout. It has been the major supplier to Nepal for its essential goods and services. The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in April last year also saw increased assistance from India. One can say between China and India, the latter enjoyed much better privileges in Nepal than the former.

Following the stand-off, Nepal has been forced to look beyond our nation. Asking for Chinese assistance was the only choice it was left with. And China did provide support to the country in the time of a grave crisis. It provided about 1000 metric tonnes of petroleum after India’s pompous behaviour following the adoption of the Nepalese constitution which didn’t get down too well with India.

But it would be imprudent to assume that China extended a heartfelt gesture only on humanitarian grounds. In global politics, every action has a reason, a strategic reason to be precise. The reason for China trying to be a friendly neighbour in wake of dwindling Indo-Nepalese ties is not difficult to comprehend, leaving India to be perceived as the ‘bad boy’ one more time.

Why is India so concerned with what is happening across the border?

As mentioned above, India’s support for the Madhesis is because of the latter’s age-old ties with the former. A huge number of Madhesis in Nepal had migrated from India. Members of the same community also reside in Bihar.

Moreover, amidst all the protest, India does not want to project itself as a mute spectator. It’s not surprising that a country’s political influence in a region is largely influenced by its mediating power and even more so when the people in question have a strong affiliation with India. But the fact of the matter is that this is no way for India to show its strength. Trying to act as the boss will only devoid it of its friends, the signs of which are becoming quite visible. In a real friendship there are no leaders and followers.

India’s behaviour will create problems for it. We have already seen one such instance in its loss in the recent assembly elections of Bihar.

If New Delhi doesn’t have anything to do with the blockade and it truly is a result of what’s happening inside Nepal, then nonetheless it can still play an important role in ensuring peace and stability in the region without using the upper hand.

The recent end of the impasse following Nepal’s decision to amend the constitution has been hailed by India as a ‘positive step’. But the Madhesis are not satisfied with the solution package and see it as a vague and insufficient one.

What follows will be a crucial step that will reflect whether the two nations go back to being the old pals that they have been or there will be another cloud on the horizon.

Nandini Sinha

The barbed wire called Religion

images (8)Religion. An ambiguous area of practice which has been misconstrued by the west and the east alike. Today, religion, much like a barbed wire, ends up causing people injury or discomfort, if they try to either pass through it or make an attempt to change it with new practices. Much like a barbed wire, religion is symbolic of the old practices, attached with significant moments of history, yet for most people, it only acts as a symbolic of division. Much like this wire, who’s prime aim must be to secure its people from external threats, religion as well, was supposed to protect man, from wrongdoings, from external threats of fanaticism and irrational extremism.

But, the most irrational mistake that we ought to be guilty of making is, attributing the misdeeds of humans as the teachings of religion in the contemporary scenario. On trying to answer the said question, of who’s is more petrifying, Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump, Indian Lawmakers or Religion, the question must have been partially answered by the above metaphor.

It must be noted that, Kim Jong-un , Donal Trump and Indian lawmakers are human and hence mortal. They’ll vanish away with time, sadly religion is a way of life, its there and only becoming dynamic with time. Its static yet changing its course. Its that river which is about to die, its crying for help, but what we are doing is, trying to revive it using foreign methods which aren’t suitable to replenish it. Religion is immortal and perennial.

It is rather fascinating, that how half the people who talk about religion, are unaware of the scriptures of their own religion and have never read them. And its also sad and worrisome that, in the contemporary scene, when we mention religion, the first thing that comes in our mind is Islam and second, terrorism. Associating a fanatic activity, with a religion, just because, ‘people in authority’ feel so, is an indirect act of conformity to the authority’s viewpoint.

Amazingly enough, the world today is at war in the name of something that it can’t even define. Its being used to sanction force, its being use to legitimise mass killing, it is being used to camouflage and act of murder in the world’s largest secular socialist democratic republic as an accident.

Amidst an atmosphere of power struggle, superiority and hegemonic tendencies of a few nations, the world is in search of peace, but with the use of force. Its an outrage to see an an act of peacemaking with oneself being used as a weapon for achievement of self-satisfying motives.

From Al Quada to ISIS today, politicisation of religion behind the veil of exterminating terrorism has been a long tradition in the sphere of international politics.

No religion in this world is crystal clear, it is how we choose to perceive it that matters the most, and in case of Islam, the perception has inadvertently, never been too optimistic. In fact, the nefarious nexus of misunderstood forces have increasingly led to what is called- Islamophobia. Its interesting how we choose to view a religion only from one side of a prism, and never make an effort to see the light and the colours that the other side has in store for us.

However, it is also wrong to presume that this disturbing terminology is a mere western ideal. With the Indian soil painted in saffron these days and people being attacked of their eating habits, its a given that India is no less affected by Islamophobia. Probably the most talked about religion in the world, but never in the right tone, Islam’s underestimated understanding is partially because of our ignorance and rest because of the media’s projection. Its sad how the actions of a few representatives of a said religion bring badmouthing to it. We should, as rational individuals, bear in mind that no religion perpetrates terror, failure to understand it does. We are divided by boundaries, but we should be united by religion, the religion of humanity.

Riya Chhibber

Indo-US diaspora: The way ahead

The self proclaimed “world inspector” has always tried to maintain pragmatic relationship with the international community. Yes, the world inspector here denotes the United States of America. India, too, has maintained diplomatic relations with the USA. But, relations between India-US have always been fluctuating. Both the nations have seen the sweetness and sourness, whether the US support to Pakistan during the 1971 war or Nuclear Deal with India is concerned. The relation between US and India have thus always dynamic. The position always changed with the change of time. India shared little sour relations with USA due to its allied relations with the Soviet Union, despite being a non-aligned nation. But, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and with the policy reformation during 1991, many changes were witnessed. With the presidential visit of Bill Clinton, many saw a new dawn of relations between the two countries. America’s strong stance against terrorism and international condemnation to Pakistan of conducting terror activities against the integrity of India has opened new doors. But, there are certain unaddressed or new issues that have become the focal point of the 2016 US Presidential Elections.

America has two major parties i.e. Republican Party and Democratic Party. There has always been a presumed belief that, India has shared cordial relations with the Democrats than the Republicans. Hillary Clinton, a favourable presidential contestant can be seen as a likely nominee for India’s interest. Her strong condemnation against terrorism on Pakistani soil and many other diplomatic initiatives can be seen favourable for India. On the other hand, Donald Trump, a Republican candidate, can be hard to understand. As, with his recent demeanour against the Muslims and immigrants have raised many concerns. His outward speeches can be a cause of concern for the Indian interest, as India has the world’s second largest Muslim population and many Indian origin workers in America are alarmed as it can be a threat for their well being and cordial atmosphere in the US. So, a close watch of the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections is of immense importance to India.

There are several issues surrounding the focal point of these elections, such as the rise of ISIS, refugee crisis, fluctuation of oil prices due to issues between Iran-Saudi Arabia, P5+1 deal or Nuclear Deal with India. However, I would intend to focus on the rather volatile issue of the Visa policies and Immigration issues between these two nations. There is no denying the fact that there has always been a fear amongst the Americans about losing their jobs to the foreign workers because foreign workers are more cost efficient as compared to the US citizens. In this election, such issues have caught the eye of many Americans. The Obama administration too has considered taking decisions to hike visa fees. India is the largest  user of H1B visas, and such have been seen as discriminatory by the Indian authorities. India share a profitable and sound business with the USA in the IT sector. Such hike is likely to impact the US economy as the Indian IT firms have a major role to play in structuring the US economy.  The Indian authorities have condemned the decisions, and have taken the matter to the US authorities. India has also stated that if talks failed, then it would raise this issue Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation. Rigid immigration laws and hike in visa fees will have a direct impact on the Indian interest. Many IT firms and well trained professionals will lose their jobs would be refrained from several business opportunities.

India too has thought of taking retaliatory measures, but has believed in scrutinising all the possibilities before any hard stand is taken. The 2016 elections will be dependent upon these crucial issues and how the new regime will ultimately deal with it. With the recent developments, the shift is towards the Trump’s ideology of enforcing strict immigration regime. But, election promises do not go hand in hand with the needs of the International community. If America wants to continue its influence around the globe, then such reforms are unlikely to take place. But, India on the other hand, must be ready with its policy framework and must be equipped with sound initiatives to tackle the upcoming foreseeable situations. The relations between both the countries are entirely dependent upon how these issues are dealt, and the result will only be seen once the new President will be chosen.

Shreyan Acharya

Discerning the Constitutional Conundrum in Nepal

Madhesi imageDisplaying Madhesi image.jpg

Displaying Madhesi image.jpgDisplaying Madhesi image.jpgIt has been more than three months since Nepal promulgated its new Constitution. While the new Constitution has been a moment of rejoice for many, the Madhesis, Tharus and Janajatis of the Terai region have expressed resentment towards the same. This has sparked political and social turmoil in the country, shifting the centre’s relations with the internal as well as external actors. With India overtly supporting the Madhesis, the Indo-Nepal bond is under severe duress. The fiercely nationalistic assertion of a Nepali identity vis-a-vis the growing anti-Indian feeling amongst the Nepali population seems to portend a highly volatile future.

While India’s concerns about the representative nature of the Constitution may be legitimate, its highly aggressive attitude towards the same might drastically alter perceptions. From Nepal’s perspective, this can be seen as a dualism between two forces – Nepal’s perception of its internal diversities and the geo-politics of the Indo-Nepal relations.

Madhesi standing in Nepal has always been complicated. As a geographical area, appropriating to itself an ethnic colour, Madhesis constitute around one-third of the low lying regions of Terai and largely practise Hinduism. They represent a migrant community that settled at the foothills of the Himalayas, fleeing the Mongol invasion of India. Their demand for an autonomous Terai region, greater representation in the Civil Services and establishing a federal democratic governance model have been some of the causes of their strained relationship with Kathmandu. Despite their contribution to 60 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they have been historically discriminated. Most have not been issued citizenship certificates, do not have access to social benefits and the region has been devoid of quality infrastructure.

Even the new Constitution places them at a severe disadvantage due to clauses of representation, with the omission of words like ‘proportional’. The earlier clause in the interim constitution, “and in the case of Madhes on the basis of percentage of population” has been dropped. It also states that “only citizens by descent will be entitled to hold to hold the posts of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Chairperson of National Assembly, Head of Province, Chief Minister, Speaker of Provincial Assembly and Chief of Security Bodies” and systemically discriminates against citizens by birth or naturalisation.

This has prompted an aggressive step by India to support the Madhesi agitation. Not only is the region marred by violence and unrest, this victimhood has led to drastic stand still of the economy as all supply from India to Nepal has been stopped. With economic blockade in place, the expected growth rate of the country has declined from the forecast of 4.5 percent to 1 per cent. The closed factories, shortage of oil and cooking gas, shutting down colleges and hospitals has exacerbated the situation further. Despite these challenges, the Madhesis have been able to sustain their agitation, without any coercive methods.

The first problem stems from the fact that Kathmandu refuses to even acknowledge the agitation of Madhesis. Despite being an economically productive region, the fear of secession and the loss of rich agro spaces seems to overshadow the structural violence meted out against Madhesis. Moreover, Kathmandu seems to believe that India’s intervention in the issue has strengthened ground for their demands. The miscalculation by Kathmandu lies in underestimating the potency of a violent civil war in the country.

The second problem can be attributed to the implications of the fissures in the Indo-Nepal relation on China. While India has been supporting the blockade in an already economically deteriorating Nepal, China has been cajoling Nepal by supplying essential oil and food packages. For India, the constitutional process appears to be a betrayal of the promise to create an inclusive social document for the people. The statements from both China and India appears as if both consider the other’s diplomacy as unviable and short-term in nature. Looked in-between the two most powerful South Asian economies, Nepal fits Nitasha Kaul’s expression of ‘a pawn in the power posturing’.

Both the assessments have certain shortcomings. Nepal needs to acknowledge the Madhesi leadership and understand their transformation since 2005. It is important to delve deeper and accept that they are willing to pick up arms, if need be. As seen in the Madhe-Maoist clash of 2007, the agitated group of Madhes have come to understand that they cannot be used as pawns anymore. The widening of this gulf may have unprecedented implications that may hamper Nepal’s stability and progress.

On the other hand, India’s current involvement in Nepal may have been guided by the operating Hindutva forces, who have a vested interest in creating a Hindu Nepal. In fact, some internalisation of the ideologies is visible in the current ban on cow slaughter and declaration of cow as the national animal. The other issue may be the accommodative constitution of Nepal towards China, which may put India at a disadvantage.

Both India and Nepal have to become more accommodative to each other’s need. A couple of weeks ago, Nepal agreed to amend its Constitution and India has also sent out a positive signal in this regard. However, what remains to be seen is the reaction of the Madhe community. While Nepal has to genuinely make attempts to keep its socio-economic institutions intact, it is equally important for India to not be on the offensive end. Coercive diplomacy may be the only option while dealing with tough neighbours. However, in case of the fraternising relationship between Nepal and India, caution needs to be exercised. Otherwise, one might just end up reinforcing the already existing ruptures and alienating a nation and its people.

It has been more than three months since Nepal promulgated its new Constitution. While the new Constitution has been a moment of rejoice for many, the Madhesis, Tharus and Janajatis of the Terai region have expressed resentment towards the same. This has sparked political and social turmoil in the country, shifting the centre’s relations with the internal as well as external actors. With India overtly supporting the Madhesis, the Indo-Nepal bond is under severe duress. The fiercely nationalistic assertion of a Nepali identity vis-a-vis the growing anti-Indian feeling amongst the Nepali population seems to portend a highly volatile future.

While India’s concerns about the representative nature of the Constitution may be legitimate, its highly aggressive attitude towards the same might drastically alter perceptions. From Nepal’s perspective, this can be seen as a dualism between two forces – Nepal’s perception of its internal diversities and the geo-politics of the Indo-Nepal relations.

Madhesi standing in Nepal has always been complicated. As a geographical area, appropriating to itself an ethnic colour, Madhesis constitute around one-third of the low lying regions of Terai and largely practise Hinduism. They represent a migrant community that settled at the foothills of the Himalayas, fleeing the Mongol invasion of India. Their demand for an autonomous Terai region, greater representation in the Civil Services and establishing a federal democratic governance model have been some of the causes of their strained relationship with Kathmandu. Despite their contribution to 60 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they have been historically discriminated. Most have not been issued citizenship certificates, do not have access to social benefits and the region has been devoid of quality infrastructure.

Even the new Constitution places them at a severe disadvantage due to clauses of representation, with the omission of words like ‘proportional’. The earlier clause in the interim constitution, “and in the case of Madhes on the basis of percentage of population” has been dropped. It also states that “only citizens by descent will be entitled to hold to hold the posts of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Chairperson of National Assembly, Head of Province, Chief Minister, Speaker of Provincial Assembly and Chief of Security Bodies” and systemically discriminates against citizens by birth or naturalisation.

This has prompted an aggressive step by India to support the Madhesi agitation. Not only is the region marred by violence and unrest, this victimhood has led to drastic stand still of the economy as all supply from India to Nepal has been stopped. With economic blockade in place, the expected growth rate of the country has declined from the forecast of 4.5 percent to 1 per cent. The closed factories, shortage of oil and cooking gas, shutting down colleges and hospitals has exacerbated the situation further. Despite these challenges, the Madhesis have been able to sustain their agitation, without any coercive methods.

The first problem stems from the fact that Kathmandu refuses to even acknowledge the agitation of Madhesis. Despite being an economically productive region, the fear of secession and the loss of rich agro spaces seems to overshadow the structural violence meted out against Madhesis. Moreover, Kathmandu seems to believe that India’s intervention in the issue has strengthened ground for their demands. The miscalculation by Kathmandu lies in underestimating the potency of a violent civil war in the country.

The second problem can be attributed to the implications of the fissures in the Indo-Nepal relation on China. While India has been supporting the blockade in an already economically deteriorating Nepal, China has been cajoling Nepal by supplying essential oil and food packages. For India, the constitutional process appears to be a betrayal of the promise to create an inclusive social document for the people. The statements from both China and India appears as if both consider the other’s diplomacy as unviable and short-term in nature. Looked in-between the two most powerful South Asian economies, Nepal fits Nitasha Kaul’s expression of ‘a pawn in the power posturing’.

Both the assessments have certain shortcomings. Nepal needs to acknowledge the Madhesi leadership and understand their transformation since 2005. It is important to delve deeper and accept that they are willing to pick up arms, if need be. As seen in the Madhe-Maoist clash of 2007, the agitated group of Madhes have come to understand that they cannot be used as pawns anymore. The widening of this gulf may have unprecedented implications that may hamper Nepal’s stability and progress.

On the other hand, India’s current involvement in Nepal may have been guided by the operating Hindutva forces, who have a vested interest in creating a Hindu Nepal. In fact, some internalisation of the ideologies is visible in the current ban on cow slaughter and declaration of cow as the national animal. The other issue may be the accommodative constitution of Nepal towards China, which may put India at a disadvantage.

Both India and Nepal have to become more accommodative to each other’s need. A couple of weeks ago, Nepal agreed to amend its Constitution and India has also sent out a positive signal in this regard. However, what remains to be seen is the reaction of the Madhe community. While Nepal has to genuinely make attempts to keep its socio-economic institutions intact, it is equally important for India to not be on the offensive end. Coercive diplomacy may be the only option while dealing with tough neighbours. However, in case of the fraternising relationship between Nepal and India, caution needs to be exercised. Otherwise, one might just end up reinforcing the already existing ruptures and alienating a nation and its people.

A.R. Rakshitha

Need to Curb Obstructionism

Necessity fosters change. To ensure smooth functioning of an institution, a regular assessment of the setbacks is required to enhance reformative changes. India has adopted the British Parliamentary System, but certain impediments mar the passage of several important legislations. Members of the Upper House of Parliament, i.e. Rajya Sabha, possess ‘Veto’ power that empowers them to delay the enactment of necessary and public spirited legislations. Such obstructionism directly questions the competence of the democratically elected members of the Lower House i.e. Lok Sabha. Many public-spirited citizens and parliamentarians have felt the need to curb such arbitrary powers, which are exercised to fulfil political ambitions that results in public distress. Before we further discuss on the issue, it is important to understand how such powers are resulting from obstructionist activities. Members of the Rajya Sabha are not directly elected representatives. Allotment of veto powers to such individuals directly questions the integrity of the Members of the Lokh Sabha. On many occasions, it has been witnessed that welfare legislations passed by the Lok Sabha whittles down the legislative business due to such obstructionism. Such powers are often exercised to serve extraneous purposes, which has a direct impact on the general public. Blockages caused due to its exercise is hampering the smooth process and jeopardising the ultimate welfare purposes of the parliament.

Curbing of veto powers has been dealt very dispassionately. This often creates chaotic governance. But, India being a democratic institution must further such reforms to overcome newly emerged hurdles. The Constitution of India possess the feature of being flexible, such empowers parliamentarians to introduce reformative changes. Many learned intellectuals have raised this issue on several occasions. Amongst the masses, a strong need is felt to abrogate ‘veto’ powers to provide a smooth passage of various constitutional amendments and key legislations. Recently, the Italian Parliament has taken a visionary step. Italy’s Upper House of Parliament and Senate, have voted to drastically reduce the powers of its own to reduce chaotic governance and to facilitate easy and transparent functioning of the House. Indian Parliamentarians are also required to take such a bold and selfless initiative to introduce key measures that help in nation building disregarding their own political gains. Often, on many instances, such powers are exercised to block key legislations only to gain political mileage. But, with intellectual transformation, many scholars have propounded for initiating parliamentary reforms. Chairman of the Upper House, Vice President Dr. Hamid Ansari, expressed his concern on attempts being made to whittle down legislative business. Biju Janta Dal MP Jay Panda, has also expressed his concern of removing such a provision that is affecting the business of the Parliament. Though, such reforms have not gained a common consensus, but various members of different political sections have expressed their concern. It seems to be quite difficult to bring all the political parties on the same footing, but it is appreciated that many have envisioned to bring a welcoming reform.

A democratic institution is based upon the ideals on checks and balances, and through regular assessment corrective steps are required to be taken. It is felt after the decade old debate that the time has come to bring reformative changes in the Parliament. Parliamentary reforms are focussed on safeguarding the public interest from any unrest and arbitrary provision in the Parliament. It cannot be denied that the powers of the Lower House must go unchecked, but it is also required to reduce the powers and functions of the Upper House, which jeopardises the dispensation of power of the democratically elected members of the Lower House.

Shreyan Acharya

Contesting images of India

When people think about India what crosses their mind, defines the worldwide understanding of India. But, why it is important to discuss about people’s perception about India? Should India care about it? A country’s reputation determines the way people, inside and outside the country, feel and relate to it. In the globalized world, a country’s image has become a decisive factor in social, political and economic relations in the world. States are gradually acknowledging the significance of national reputation for investment and economic development.

In the age of public diplomacy, not merely the perception of government matters, but the perception of the people or rather I must say, public opinion regarding a country occupies a significant place in the world politics. It is not just about popularity or making your presence felt, but closer to being seen in a positive light. Strong and famous don’t necessarily mean positive: North Korea, Iraq and few other countries have strong and famous reputations but definitely not positive ones.

Simon Anholt has rightly described the world as one market, where every country, every religion and every city must compete with each other for its share of the world’s consumers, tourists, investors, students, entrepreneurs etc. for the  attention and respect of the international media, with other governments and the people of other countries. And, to rule this market, a country has to present itself as a positive brand to strengthen the identity and self-esteem of the citizen; increase political influence; and erase misconception and negative stereotype about it. Branding efforts have branched out well beyond simple efforts at attracting tourism. Countries now hire firms to help them launch sophisticated branding campaigns aimed at luring foreign investment, facilitating trade, improving private-sector competitiveness, or even securing geopolitical influence. Further, they are working to upgrade their infrastructure to make it favourable for investors in order to fetch more investment. India also operates along the same course but has remained inconsistent with its picture.

 Defining India’s global reputation

From the beginning India, set up its image as an independent and emerging power by not aligning with any of the superpower during the cold war, sending the message of sovereign determination and no internal involvement by some other country. It hence, came across as a firm leader of the decolonized states.  Over the course of time, by opening its economy in 1990s, India made its positive presence felt in the economic sector as well. But these positive global images weren’t left unchallenged. They were highly challenged at domestic front in the cultural dimension where India remained a place of religious contentions and violence.

Eventually India created a brand for itself breaking the stereotypes of India being backward through its military might, political influences, technological advances and most importantly its cultural power. Culturally beside Bollywood, yoga also empowers India’s reputation. Recently, celebration of world yoga day sent across a message of India’s cultural contribution to the world. But like earlier this image has contested counterparts, which question the Indian reputation.  BBC documentary India’s daughter questions the societal structure and India’s outlook towards women, which created a wave of generalisation of India not being safe for women. Later, India’s image faced another jolt when incredible India became intolerable India. A country which stand proud on the pillar of secularism became intolerant to religious minorities, thus, questioning the applicability of secular principles.

Re-branding India

Therefore, to regain the image and make it consistent for the political and economic influence in the world, India needs to concentrate on three elements. Firstly, it has to emphasize on the positive advances of the country to form an overall image. But, it doesn’t mean that it has to construct that it is not, but to demonstrate the world, what it is. Secondly, in the age of social media there is an overflow of information, which is not always reliable. And, repetition of a wrong information makes it a true one, thus it is important to re-activate the sources of authentic information about country to avoid any form of stereotypes and misconceptions. And, finally, it is important to tackle the existing issue, rather than pushing them under the carpet. It is necessary to solve the issue from the root cause instead of letting them affect the discourse of national image. For that, India must take charge of domestic issues positively bringing favourable outcome for those involved. This will further create peace domestically and ensures the strengthening of India’s influence in the world market.

The game of power struggle is not new in world politics, and so is India as its prominent player. But, in the contemporary world, it has become more about perception and influence than weapons and economic advances. Hence, this shift in the world scenario makes it mandatory for India to re-emphasis on its influential power.

Loveleena Sharma

 

The author is a YFFP Jindal Foreign Policy fellow.

 

Economic Dualism in the Gulf

Economic dualism in the Gulf

Descartes distinction between the mind and the body seems to have the cornerstone of today’s economic relations. With human resource gaining ground, an important indicator of economic development value of the mind and the body present interesting pictures, especially in the Gulf.

One of the defining features of the oil rich economies of the Gulf is their labour. According to a report by Moody, the Gulf countries working age population has shown an upward trend in the last 15 years[1]. However, the employment rates have not been in sync with the same. The high rates of unemployment in the Gulf has been triggered by the dual forces governing the private and public sector. As Chandra Mohan explains, the private sector is dominated wholly by expatriates while the public sector is largely operated by the locals[2]. The interesting facet of this dichotomy is the pool of unskilled labours governing both the sectors.

The labour market in this region depends heavily on low skilled and low wage earning migrant labour. A majority of cheap labour comes from the neighbouring Asian countries. While it may seem to reduce the cost of production, that is not the case. On the contrary, there seems to be a spiral of low skills leading to low productivity leading to low income which runs back to low skills. Thus, in a globalised economy that is moving towards technological development and a knowledge based economy, the Gulf has now realised the importance of nurturing a competitive tertiary sector. Breaking away from the two sector approach of the Gulf becomes critical because of two reasons. One, the underutilisation of labour. A graver challenge is presented in the second instance where the lack of economic opportunities in an area market by sectarian politics, makes arms, ammunitions and terror, a lucrative incentive. What exacerbates the situation is the sporadic oil shocks that fluctuate the economic progress of the region.
While the shift from a secondary to a tertiary may take longer than expected, especially in today’s fast paced world, it is nonetheless imperative for the Gulf states to not just make the shift, but a successful one, of they are to hold on to their reins of the resource rich economies.

A.R.Rakshitha