1. Ukraine’s situation, India’s national interest
While India needs to remind Russia that its actions violate the BRICS Delhi resolution, the UN can assist Ukraine
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in his televised speech on the night of February 21, 2022, had announced a “special military operation to protect people who have been abused by the genocide of the Kyiv regime for eight years.” Mr. Putin further said: “We will strive for the demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine, as well bring to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians.” Who is ‘We’? In the 21st century, why is Mr. Putin using despicable 19th century Imperialist language?
A belief without basis
There is, or was, however no genocide in Ukraine proved by any documented report. Moreover, the Ukrainian government is nowhere close to be legitimately called “Nazi”. For example, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew. He is also proud of his Jewish grandfather who had fought against Hitler’s German army. In fact, Mr. Putin’s actions during the last few days are making Mr. Putin himself sound more like the hated Nazis. As of now, Russian bombs are pounding Ukraine. Russian soldiers are pouring into Ukraine. The only question on everyone’s lips is: “Why? What does Russia hope to accomplish with this bloody invasion?” The Ukrainian people from the very top, from President Zelensky himself, have decided to fight and Russian troop movement is thus down to a crawl and behind announced schedule.
Mr. Putin seems to believe that “Ukraine is an illegitimate country that exists on land that is historically and rightfully Russia’s”. But even the most biased Russian history book does not suggest even remotely this outrageous Nazi-like belief of Mr. Putin.
Thus, the talk of a “de-Nazification” of the Russian establishment, while absurd at the factual level, nonetheless reveals that Mr. Putin is “acting on his long-held autocratic belief that the Ukrainian government has no right to exist”. His ultimate goal seems to be to make Ukraine into a vassal of his future as yet imaginary, Russian-led Soviet Empire.
In his earlier 2005 Declaration, Mr. Putin had stated that “the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster”. There are not many takers for this view even inside Russia. “The most relevant formulation, for the purposes of understanding the current invasion, however came in Mr. Putin’s inflammatory speech on Ukraine policy delivered on February 20 last, in which the central contention of his address is that Ukraine and Russia are, in historical terms, essentially inseparable. Mr. Putin’s narrative is twisted history: It is simply incorrect to say that Ukraine has had no independent national identity that is separate from Russia”.
The Narendra Modi government had decided to abstain on the vote on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (moved by the United States and its allies against Russia over the Ukraine invasion). But Prime Minister Modi should surely recognise that BRICS, in its New Delhi Declaration (paragraph 22 in the XIII BRICS Summit), had resolved that the five BRICS nations were opposed to the unilateral use of force against any state, and wanted all disputes resolved by peaceful means, and categorically ruled out the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State (September 9, 2021).
The BRICS Delhi resolution
The text adopted was as follows: “We (BRICS) underscore the inadmissibility of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes and principles or United Nations.”
Thus, the New Delhi BRICS Declaration commits to resolving all disputes by peaceful means and is opposed to unilateral use of force against any state. Russia by invading Ukraine has violated that resolution to which India also was a prominent party.
This declaration was in fact approved and signed by Russia in the presence of Mr. Putin along with China’s President Xi Jinping. Yet, six months later, Russia, a founder-member of BRICS, has forgotten that resolution by Russia’s unilateral illegal violent military action against Ukraine.
That is why I have been advocating, since long, for India walking out of BRICS since I had earlier apprehended the coming collapse of BRICS. In 2015 I had declined Prime Minister Modi’s offer to me, conveyed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Shah in the presence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh representative, of accepting to become the first President of the BRICS Bank. I conveyed to the Prime Minister directly later that China would soon be turning hostile to India, and BRICS would lose credibility. Today the invasion and aggression against Ukraine has in effect cremated the spirit of BRICS.
“By casting the Ukrainian regime in the most negative possible light — and officially linking Russia’s official war aims to ‘de-Nazification’ and ‘demilitarization’ — Mr. Putin is all but openly acting on his belief, that Ukraine is not a legitimate sovereign state, into aggressive action. The Russian case for the war is thus built on an unwitting lie about Ukraine’s history”, as an article says.
The path for New Delhi
From this juncture onwards, India has to take stock since the apparent goal of India becoming a “Viswa Guru” is now, at best, a mirage. From Jawaharlal Nehru onwards, India has failed to become one since it cannot be a reality in the present global dispensation. Instead, India needs friends and collaborators but without bowing before any country.
One way for India to begin asserting itself is to suggest to Russia to withdraw its armed forces from the entire Ukraine in keeping with the aforenoted Delhi Resolution of BRICS. If Russia does not give weight to India’s suggestion, the Modi government should announce in the UN General Assembly, consideration of the U.S. proposed Draft Resolution; India would vote for it after the United Nations General Assembly adopts any reasonable amendments proposed.
India should also urge the United States to re-structure the objectives and the priorities of the Quad, outline a clear strategy to achieve the objectives, and mobilise the resources required.
For India, a President Xi-led China is a hostile nation directly, and in global competition. India is potentially capable of meeting this Chinese threat — a threat that is evident by China grabbing 50,000 square kilometres of Indian territory.
The potential strength of India can become actual capability with a little help from the United States. As for Russia, its position in global affairs will depend on the outcome of the Ukraine invasion. At present Russia is falling behind its announced schedule. Ukraine has by its bravery caused delays in Russia’s schedule. With help from members of the United Nations, Ukraine can become the David against the Russian Goliath and become a free democratic nation again.
BRICS is the group composed of the five major emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- It together represents about 42% of the population, 23% of GDP, 30% of the territory and 18% of the global trade.
- The acronym BRIC was coined by economist ‘Jim O’Neill’ of Goldman Sachs in 2001 to indicate the emerging powers that would be, alongside the United States, the five largest economies of the world in the 21st century.
- In 2006, BRIC countries started their dialogue, which since 2009 takes place at annual meetings of heads of state and government.
- In 2011, with South Africa joining the group, the BRICS reached its final composition, incorporating a country from the African continent.
2. IPCC warns of multiple climate hazards
All States will be hit if emissions increase: report
The world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C, and even temporarily exceeding this warming level would mean additional, severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was made public on Monday.
“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our well-being and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and damage to nature and people. Some development and adaptation efforts have reduced vulnerability. Across sectors and regions, the most vulnerable people and systems are observed to be disproportionately affected. The rise in weather and climate extremes have led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt, according to an accompanying statement from IPCC authors, who include scientists from India.
Lucknow and Patna, according to one of several studies cited in the IPCC report, are among the cities predicted to reach wet-bulb temperature (a metric of humidity) of 35°C if emissions continued to rise. Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Mumbai, Indore, and Ahmedabad are identified as at risk of reaching wet-bulb temperatures of 32-34°C with continued emissions. Overall, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab will be the most severely affected, but if emissions keep rising, all States will have regions that experience wet-bulb temperature of 30°C or more by the end of the century.
At the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070, that is, there will be no net carbon emissions. By 2030 India would also ensure 50% of its energy will be from renewable energy sources.
India will reduce its carbon emissions until 2030 by a billion tonnes and cut its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45%. India would also install 500 Gigawatt of renewable energy by 2030, a 50 gigawatt increase from its existing targets, he added.
According to the IPCC report, global sea levels will likely rise 44-76 cm this century if governments meet their current emission-cutting pledges. With faster emission cuts, the increase could be limited to 28-55 cm.
But with higher emissions, and if ice sheets collapse more quickly than expected, sea levels could rise as much as 2 m this century and 5 m by 2150.
“It is expected that by 2050, we would reach 1.5 degrees Celsius. Even the slightest change in climate will have a long-lasting impact on the Himalayan region due to its fragile ecology. There would be a rapid increase in incidents like the Chamoli disaster and extreme weather events like heavy precipitation that we saw in Himachal and Uttarakhand this year,” said Anjal Prakash, Research Director of Bharti Institute of Public Policy at ISB and lead author of the chapter on cities, settlement and key infrastructure and cross chapter paper on mountains.
“The latest IPCC report, in particular, worries me on three counts. We now have high confidence that the accelerating climate crisis is increasing water-related diseases. Second, we have high confidence that climate change will severely impact food production and food security. Third, droughts and heatwaves will trigger biodiversity loss, as well as human migration. To combat this surge of crises, developing countries like India will need to significantly scale up their adaptive capacity,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a think tank.
The IPCC authors noted that while progress in adaptation planning and implementation has been observed across all sectors and regions, generating multiple benefits, it was unevenly distributed with observed adaptation gaps.
Many initiatives prioritise immediate and near-term climate risk reduction which reduces the opportunity for transformational adaptation, they noted.
About the IPCC
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces assessment reports that are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of the earth’s climate.
So far, 5 assessment reports have been produced, the first one was released in 1990. The 5th assessment report was released in 2014, in the run-up to the climate change conference in Paris.
IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The IPCC does not itself engage in scientific research. Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up logical conclusions.
The IPCC reports are created by three working groups of scientists.
|Working Group||Concerned climate research|
|Working Group-I||Deals with the scientific basis for climate change|
|Working Group-II||Deals with the likely impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation issues|
|Working Group-III||Deals with actions that can be taken to combat climate change.|
About the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report
The first part (Working Group I) of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report release follows a two-week-long plenary session held virtually from July 26 to August 6, 2021. The two remaining parts would be released next year.
The report updates the scientific consensus and charts the future state of the climate since the 5th Assessment Report of 2014.
The latest scientific assessment will influence discussions on the Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow later this year when countries are expected to announce plans and steps they have taken to curb emissions.
3. Quad grouping is a diplomatic arrangement: U.S. Commander
Efforts on to increase collaborations between four Navies, says Admiral Paparo
Terming the Quad grouping as a “diplomatic arrangement”, visiting U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel J. Paparo said that strategy always follows policy and the four Navies have embarked upon an effort to increase the “total sum of our collaboration at sea with particular focus on information sharing, maritime patrol, undersea domain awareness” and all the elements a Naval power can bring upon to bear.
Admiral Paparo is on a visit to India from February 25 to 28 coinciding with the biennial multilateral exercise Milan 2020 underway in the port city of Visakhapatnam and was a speaker at the international maritime seminar held on Sunday as part of the exercise.
On Monday, he held discussions with Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar in the national capital. “It is also bourne of the necessity of the common values the four Quad nations hold, as maritime democracies and the growing threats to the free and open Indo-Pacific,” Admiral Paparo said speaking at the seminar.
Stating that within Quad one can see the geography of the interests and how the strategy will follow the policy, and so the increasing numbers of exercises, increasing information sharing and “greater amount of combining networks to enable those”.
On his interaction with Admiral Hari Kumar, the Navy said in a statement that among issues discussed were avenues to strengthen the growing cooperation between the two Navies, deal with “challenges emerging on the maritime front, and enhance collaboration and interoperability to ensure maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).”
Speaking at the seminar, the Chief of Australian Navy Vice-Admiral Michael Noonan too termed the Quad as an important “diplomatic construct” and has seen significant interactions between the four countries most recently between the four Foreign Ministers in Melbourne.
Vice-Admiral Noonan too met Admiral Hari Kumar on Monday and the Navy said he was provided a broad overview of “regional security dynamics and the operational aspects” in recent times, particularly those related to delivering Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief to friendly foreign countries, conducting counter piracy operations, enhancing maritime safety and security in the region, and strengthening foreign cooperation, with special emphasis on India-Australia cooperation.
The Quad, also known as, the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (QSD), is an informal strategic forum comprising of four nations, namely, United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan. One of the primary objectives of the Quad is, to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
The group for the first time met in 2007 on the side lines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is considered an alliance of maritime democracies. The forum is maintained through meetings, semi-regular summits, information exchanges, and military drills of all the member countries.
Formation of QUAD
Former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe was the first to float the idea, for the formation of Quad in 2007. Since its formation in 2007, the representatives of the four-member nations have met periodically.
In fact, its origin can be traced back to the evolution of Exercise Malabar and the 2004 Tsunami, when India conducted relief and rescue operations for itself and neighbouring countries, and was later joined by US, Japan and Australia. Obviously feeling endangered, China issued formal diplomatic protests to the members of the Quad.
Followed by this, Australia withdrew in 2008 from the forum, ostensibly, due to political pressure from the Chinese government, and, following the growing conflict between the US and China in the Asia-Pacific region. However, in 2010, Australia again joined the Quad’s naval exercises & enhanced military cooperation between the US and Australia was resumed.
The Japanese PM, in 2012, emphasised the idea of Asia’s ‘Democratic Security Diamond’, comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia. Following this, in 2017, the first official talks under the Quad, took place in the Philippines.
Principles of Quad
The motive behind the Quad is, to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific, free of any military or political influence. It is basically seen as a strategic grouping, aimed at reducing the Chinese domination. The core objective of the Quad is, to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and, a liberal trading system. The coalition also aims to offer, alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Quad leaders exchange views on contemporary global issues, such as, critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, pandemic and education.
Significance of Quad for India
It is believed, that the forum strategically counters China’s economic and military rise. As a member of the Quad, in the event of rise in the Chinese hostilities on its borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter it. In addition, India can even take the help of its naval front and conduct strategic explorations in the Indo-Pacific region.
In March 2021, US President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in a virtual format. The summit vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region, that is free, open, inclusive, and unconstrained by coercion.
Naturally, China’s aggressiveness and coercive nature in the strategic Indo-Pacific region is said to be a frequent topic of discussion among the Quad nations.
On September 24, 2021, the US President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever in-person summit of the Quad leaders. The summit vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, and unconstrained by coercion, sending an apparent message to China.
At President Biden’ invitation, the Quad summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterparts, Scott Morrison from Australia and Yoshihide Suga from Japan, announced a slew of new initiatives to take on common challenges, amidst muscle flexing by an assertive China in the strategic region.
Although Quad does not exist simply to counter China or its influence, the aggressiveness, the coercive nature with which, China tries to press its claims, is certainly a frequent topic of discussion with all the allies and partners of India, and inside the Quad.
The Quad arrangement gives India an opportunity to work multilaterally on all kinds of initiatives that can help create, a free and open Indo Pacific region.
In November 2017, India, Japan, US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad, to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific, free of any influence, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.
India, US and several other world powers, in recent times, have been talking about the need to ensure, a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific, in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
It is important to note here that, China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has also built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
China had initially opposed the formation of Quad and since then, China’s position has not changed. In 2018, the Chinese Foreign Minister had referred to the Quad, as a “headline-grabbing idea”, and accused the group of openly inciting discord among regional powers in Asia. Beijing sees the existence of the Quad, as part of a larger strategy to encircle China, and has pressured countries like Bangladesh to avoid cooperating with the group.
4. Adopt Gati Shakti, Modi tells States, private sector
Portal will be ready by March-end
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged State governments as well as private sector to adopt the Gati Shakti portal to plan infrastructure projects and develop special economic zones.
In October last year, the government announced PM Gati Shakti programme under which a portal would be set up to bring 16 Ministries together for integrated planning and implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects. The portal is expected to be ready by March end.
“More than 400 data layers are now available on the portal which give information on not just the existing and proposed infrastructure projects but also on forest land and available industrial estate,” Mr. Modi said at a post-Budget webinar on Gati Shakti organised by the Commerce Ministry.
The Prime Minister said that the government’s expenditure on developing infrastructure had grown four fold since 2013-2014.
“In the year 2013-14, the direct capital expenditure of the Government of India was about 1.75 lakh crore rupees, which has increased to ₹7.5 lakh crore in the year 2022-23. This will lead to greater investments and job creation,” he said.
Mr. Modi said that that the Unified Logistic Interface Platform (ULIP) will also integrate 24 digital systems of six Ministries and will help in reducing logistics cost in the country which today stood at 13-14% of the GDP and was much higher than some of the developed countries.
PM Gati Shakti
- It was announced by the PM on the 75th Independence Day.
- It is a national master plan for synchronising connectivity infrastructure projects across modes of transport.
- It will help India realise its dream to become the “business capital” of the world.
- Aim: Its aim is coordinated planning and execution of infrastructure projects to bring down logistics costs.
- Focus areas of Project:
- It will help raise the global profile of local manufacturers and help them compete with their counterparts worldwide. It also raises possibilities of new future economic zones.
- It will help India to increase both manufacturing and exports. Every product that is sold globally from India is attached to India.
- The plan includes 11 industrial corridors, achieving a Rs 1.7 lakh crore turnover in defence production and having 38 electronics manufacturing clusters and 109 pharma clusters by 2024-25.
- For Railways, the target by 2024-25 is to handle cargo of 1,600 million tonnes from 1,210 million tonnes in 2020, decongesting 51 per cent of the Railway network by completing additional lines and implementation of two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs).
- In Civil Aviation, the target is to double the existing aviation footprint to have a total of 220 airports, heliports and water aerodromes by 2025.
- Importance to quality infra:
- It is globally accepted that the creation of quality infrastructure for sustainable development is a proven way, which gives rise to many economic activities and creates employment on a large scale.