What the Vande Bharat train says about the lopsided priorities of Indian modernity
With the latest edition of the Vande Bharat train, India made a huge leap into the future of mass transportation. However, it has also raised questions, as the poor may not be able to afford these trains.
Examples of skewed priorities of new India:
Medical facilities: While Indian hospitals attract people from other countries, most of its primary care clinics don’t have enough doctors.
Education: India has the world’s most prestigious engineering institutions, but still half of its children are unable to read and write at the minimum level expected for their age.
Food security: While India has food stored in granaries, tens of millions of its children go hungry and are stunted.
Road safety: Though all Indian cars must have seatbelts, the most basic rules of road safety such as breaking a red light are not enforced.
Sports: While India has the richest sports leagues in the world, it performs dismally at most global sporting competitions.
Infrastructure: India builds ultra-modern infrastructure on the banks of the holiest rivers, while these rivers are slowly dying from the most toxic pollution on the planet.
Reasons behind these mismatches: Tension between two competing ideas – achieving Modernisation vs universal access to basic things.
Way ahead – Realising the journey to development:
Like western countries, first invest in high-quality primary health care and primary education, and basic infrastructure (like sanitation, and public transportation).
Thus, focusing on simple and fundamental things that India overlooks.
Sri Kanaka Dasa, Maharshi Valmiki, Maulana Azad, Acharya Kripalani
The Prime Minister of India paid tributes to saint poet Sri Kanaka Dasa, Maharshi Valmiki, Maulana Azad and Acharya Kripalani (for multiple reasons).
About these personalities:
Kanaka Dasa (1509–1609) was a Haridasa saint and philosopher, who was a renowned Carnatic music composer, poet, reformer and musician.
Maharshi Valmiki is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. He is revered as Adi Kavi – the first poet, and author of Ramayana (the first epic poem).
Abul Kalam Azad (1888 – 1958) was an Indian independence activist and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. Following India’s independence, he became the first Minister of Education in the Indian government and for his contribution to establishing the foundation of Indian education, his birthday is celebrated as National Education Day across India.
Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani (1888-1982), popularly known as Acharya Kripalani, was an Indian politician best known for his presidency of the Indian National Congress during the 1947 power transfer.
DigiLocker has successfully completed its second level of integration with Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
DigiLocker users can now digitally store health records and link them with Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA)
DigiLocker is a secure cloud-based document storage and exchange platform launched in 2015 under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
DigiLocker can be used now as a health locker for storing and accessing health records such as vaccination records, doctor prescriptions, lab reports, hospital discharge summaries, etc.
Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM):
Launched in 2021, ABDM will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other.
The Digital Ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like Digital Consultation, Consent of patients in letting medical practitioners access their records, etc.
Action plan to promote Exports of Millet
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has prepared an action plan to promote Indian millet exports commencing December 2022.
Currently, the share of export of millets is nearly 1% of the total millet production
Role of Indian missions abroad: They would help in the branding and publicity of Indian millets, and identification of international chefs as well as potential buyers.
Targeting Ambassadors of Foreign missions in India for showcasing various millet-based products, including Ready to Eat millet products.
Millet promotional activities in various countries through food shows, Buyer sellers meet etc.
Promotion of Indian millets in International Food festivals: E.g. Gulfood 2023, Foodex, Seoul Food & Hotel Show, etc.
The government has also started formulating a five-year strategic plan for the promotion of millets and value-added millet products in the international market
Centre has created the Nutri Cereals Export Promotion Forum
The government is also mobilizing start-ups for export promotion of value-added products in the Ready to Eat (RTE) and Ready Serve (RTS) category
UN declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYoM) (India-led proposal)
It will help popularize Indian millets as well as its value-added products across the world and make it a people’s movement.
Could India be a mediator between Russia and Ukraine?
(GS-II: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests)
During his first visit to Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s External Affairs Minister expressed strong support for dialogue and diplomacy to restore peace.
India’s reaction to the conflict:
Expressed concern without openly condemning Russian actions.
Emphasised the importance of the UN Charter – the sanctity of territorial sovereignty.
The economic impact of the war on the “Global South” ( Global south refers to the developing and less developed countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. )
As a result, India strongly favours a return to dialogue and diplomacy.
Why is India regarded as the best mediator?
Neutral player: As India has walked the diplomatic tightrope, it has won credibility on both sides as a mediator between them.
Successful diplomatic involvement earlier:
Preventing the attack on the nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia in eastern Ukraine.
During the Black Sea grain shipment, discussions to intervene with Russia.
Leader of Global South: Mexico had suggested that the PM of India, Pope Francis and the UN Secretary-General should mediate the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Good relations with Moscow and the West: India can use this unique leverage to put pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine.
Geopolitical aspirations: Peace-making might help India gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Challenges ahead for India to be a mediator:
Understanding the dynamics: Between Russia and Ukraine, Russia and the European players, Ukraine and European partners and move ahead accordingly.
Experience: India has effectively negotiated in bilateral and multilateral formats, but negotiating in a crisis is a different question.
Risk-taking ability: While India has shown risk-taking abilities in its immediate region (surgical strikes in Pakistan), entering a geopolitical crisis of this size is different.
Credibility: The West sees India as closer to Russia, as India keeps buying Russian oil at discounted prices despite the west’s criticism.
Cannot afford a slide in relations with Russia:
Both India-Russia has strategic ties in nuclear, space, defence, energy, and connectivity – sectors.
Russia does not transfer to any other country the military technologies shared with India.
Also, India cannot afford a closer strategic relationship between Russia and China.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has entered a new phase, in which Indian diplomacy could aid in a range of realistic ways to address the stated challenges.