What is Quad grouping?
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun has said that eventually the Quad group of countries should become more formalised once the parameters of cooperation were understood.
Why there is a need for formalisation?
Despite renewed efforts, the QUAD has faced criticism over its lack of formal structure. There have been calls for institutionalisation, a formal agreement to transform the group into a formidable anti-China bloc.
A lot has changed over the years. Each member state has faced the heat of China’s increased aggression.
China has grown in might and influence and is keen on picking up fights.
After attempting to influence Australia’s domestic policies, it slapped punitive tariffs on the country.
It is engaged in what has become a routine border confrontation with India.
China has flared up territorial disputes with Japan with regards to the Senkaku Islands and is battling a fully-fledged trade war with the United States.
What has been India’s stand on this?
While India has been historically hesitant over explicitly defining its anti-China associations, the recent border confrontations at Ladakh give us enough cause to reassess the profits and pitfalls of such formalisation.
What is Quad grouping?
The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.
It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.
Significance of the grouping:
Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.
What are China’s views on the Quad?
There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.
Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.
QUAD is, through its intent, a label, a geostrategic vision and a foreign policy instrument for India to balance China via global networking. When a tipping point is reached, it provides scope for the forging of an alliance amongst the world’s most formidable militaries. Until then, the QUAD’s future as a platform for multilateral engagement is secure.
China- Taiwan relations
China has asked India to approach ties with Taiwan “prudently and properly”, and said it would “firmly oppose” any official exchanges between New Delhi and Taipei.
What’s the issue?
The statement from China came in response to reports that India and Taiwan were considering going forward with talks on a trade deal.
India and Taiwan in 2018 already signed a bilateral investment agreement.
India-Taiwan trade ties have expanded since, and Taiwanese firms are prominent investors in India, although India and Taiwan do not maintain formal diplomatic relations.
China- Taiwan relations- Background:
China has claimed Taiwan through its “one China” policy since the Chinese civil war forced the defeated Kuomintang, or Nationalist, to flee to the island in 1949 and has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary.
China is Taiwan’s top trading partner, with trade totaling $226 billion in 2018. Taiwan runs a large trade surplus with China.
While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.
Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.
Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asian Development Bank under various names.
Indo- Taiwan relations:
Although they do not have formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan and India have been cooperating in various fields.
India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.
What is it?
It is a scheme to assist cooperatives play an important role in creation of healthcare infrastructure in the country.
National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), an autonomous development finance institution under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Key features and implementation of the scheme:
NCDC will extend term loans to prospective cooperatives.
A fund will be created for the purpose.
Any Cooperative Society with suitable provision in its byelaws to undertake healthcare related activities would be able to access the NCDC fund.
NCDC assistance will flow either through the State Governments/ UT Administrations or directly to the eligible cooperatives.
The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements.
The scheme provides interest subvention of one percent to women majority cooperatives.
Cooperatives in healthcare and why focus on them?
There are about 52 hospitals across the country run by cooperatives. They have cumulative bed strength of more than 5,000.
By virtue of their strong presence in rural areas, cooperatives utilizing the scheme would bring revolution in comprehensive health care services.
Benefits of the scheme:
COVID 19 pandemic has brought into focus the requirement of creation of more facilities.
Therefore, NCDC’s scheme will be a step towards strengthening farmers welfare activities by the Central Government.
With this scheme, villagers will get many facilities including hospitals, medical colleges.
In line with the National Health Policy, 2017:
The scheme aligns itself with the focus of the National Health Policy, 2017, covering the health systems in all their dimensions- investments in health, organization of healthcare services, access to technologies, development of human resources, encouragement of medical pluralism, affordable health care to farmers etc.
In line with the National Digital Heath Mission:
The scheme would bring transformation in rural areas.
Cyber Crime and Cyber Security in India
National Cyber Security Coordinator Lt Gen (Dr) Rajesh Pant recently made the following observations on Cyber Crimes in India:
Cyber crimes in India caused Rs 1.25 trillion loss in 2019.
Cyber threats will continue to increase as the country starts developing smart cities and rolling out 5G network, among other initiatives.
There are only a few Indian companies who are making some of the cyber security products and there is a big vacuum in the sector.
So, a dedicated industry forum for cyber security should be set up to develop trusted indigenous solutions to check cyber attacks.
Steps taken by the Government to spread awareness about cyber crimes:
Online cybercrime reporting portal has been launched to enable complainants to report complaints pertaining to Child Pornography/Child Sexual Abuse Material, rape/gang rape imageries or sexually explicit content.
A scheme for establishment of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) has been established to handle issues related to cybercrime in the country in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
Establishment of National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) for protection of critical information infrastructure in the country.
All organizations providing digital services have been mandated to report cyber security incidents to CERT-In expeditiously.
Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has been launched for providing detection of malicious programmes and free tools to remove such programmes.
Formulation of Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.
What needs to be done ahead?
Finally, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects as per the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes through their law enforcement machinery.