India, democracy and the promised republic
(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)
India will soon celebrate its 75th anniversary. The article evaluates how successful Indian democracy has been till now.
How India should be judged on its 75th anniversary?
On basis of Human Development: India must be judged by the extent to which it has advanced human development and not just on its economic development.
Currently, India is in the 131st position (out of 189 countries) in Human Development Report 2020, even though the Indian Economy is slated to become the 5th largest in the world.
Jawaharlal Nehru in his message to the nation on August 15, 1947, mentions the aim of India:
What is the status of women on the 75th anniversary?
High Gender-based inequality: It is rampant in India; within every social group, women are worse off than their men. Women are less nourished, less educated and have a representation in the institutions of governance far lower than their share of the population.
Women have very low female labour force participation in India compared to the rest of the world.
It reinforces their secondary position in society by adding economic deprivation to the social restriction that discourages them from working outside the home
However, there has been some progress– female literacy has jumped, more women participated in the parliamentary election than men, their representation in local governance has increased tremendously, and MMR and instances of female infanticide have decreased.
What is the status of regional differentiation on the 75th anniversary?
Comparison with China: China does far better than India on development indicators pertaining to health and education, not to mention poverty. However, some of the Indian states have done relatively well on human development indicators in comparison to China.
The south (e.g., Kerela and Tamil Nadu) and the west of India show greater development because they have witnessed greater social transformation.
Regional differentiation in human development is high: For instance, data released by NITI Aayog in 2021 show multi-dimensional poverty in Bihar to be over 50% while it is only a little more than 1% in Kerala.
In the current scenario where freedom of expression of individuals is threatened, civil liberties are at stake and there is distress in agriculture, it is necessary for India to create “social, economic and political” institutions that can facilitate social transformation.
The coming battle for Taiwan
(GS-II: International Relations)
Given the recent visit of US leader Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the geopolitics in the region have become intense.
Background of the issue:
Taiwan, a tiny island off the east coast of China, is where Chinese republicans of the Kuomintang government retreated after the 1949 victory of the communists — and it has since continued as the Republic of China (RoC).
People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) maintains that “there is only one China in the world” and “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China“.
However, self-ruled Taiwan sees itself as no less than an independent nation, and its leaders have vowed to defend its sovereignty against the Chinese goal of “reunification”. Currently, Taiwan is entirely dependent on the US for its defence against possible Chinese aggression.
Why does China want to reunify the country?
To recover from two centuries of perceived ‘humiliation’ by Western powers
To finish the civil war that started nearly a hundred years ago.
China believes that if it recovers Taiwan, then it will retake its rightful place as a global power.
Recent evolution of Chinese doctrine:
First Act: China has adopted Deng Xiaoping’s ‘hide and bide’ strategyand Hu Jintao’s ‘peaceful rise’. Thus, it remained peaceful, until it was powerful enough to move to the next stage.
Second Act: By 2010 China was powerful enough to challenge world powers, therefore, it started forcefully taking control of disputed territories, both land, and sea, on its own terms.
Change the status quo along the Ryukyus, Spratlys, Paracels, the nine-dashed lines in the South China Sea, and, the Himalayan frontiers with Bhutan, Nepal, and India.
Third act:Hong Kong virtually reunited (2020). China destroyed its limited autonomy under “one country, two systems”. Macao had already been taken. Thus, the only remaining Chinese target is Taiwan.
The Fourth act: It will take place when China has reunified ‘Taiwan’. It will then challenge and upstage the US as the world’s dominant power.
Issues with the Chinese policy:
Internal Weakness of China: China has been suffering from one century of civil war and revolutionary excesses. For example, recent attacks on the private sector, the tech economy, the current zero-covid policy, etc. have damaged the Chinese economy.
People in Hong Kong are still protesting the Chinese takeover.
External resistance: India’s resistance has added friction to the Chinese ambition in the Himalayas. QUAD and AUKUS have emerged. Nancy Pelosi’s visit is a manifestation of a bipartisan consensus in Washington that Beijing must be challenged.
The danger of world war/Nuclear war: UN chief has already warned that recent geopolitical events may cause nuclear wars.
Indo- Taiwan relations:
India doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but both sides have trade and people-to-people ties.
India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.
What India should do?
Take sides: Late K. Subrahmanyam pithily stated that India is better off on the side of the West in its contest with China because China’s desire and thy manner of pursuing its desire is wrong
Use Taiwan to challenge China: Taiwan is not a major strategic concern for India. However, because it is the single most important factor that can consume Beijing’s energies and delay its play for global power, it is in our interest that Taiwan keep China occupied. Therefore, to some extent, our interests converge with those of the US, Japan, Australia, and the Taiwanese people.
Material and moral support: Quad partners can extend material support, and India’s moral support for Taiwan can be very important.
International leaders should pursue good diplomacy, which involves buying time and sustaining peace. What is needed is countries should try to come to a win-win solution that takes care of the wishes of people rather than just perceived national pride.
Recalling ‘Quit India Movement’
(GS-I: The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country)
On August 9, 1942, the biggest mass movement of the Indian freedom struggle i.e Quit India Movement was launched. This year marks 80 years of the Quit India Movement or Bharat Chhodo Aandolan.
Involvement of India in World War II without prior consultation with the leaders
Failure of Cripps Mission
The British sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India to gain the cooperation of India, which failed because the Cripps Mission offered India not complete freedom but the Dominion Status to India, along with the partition.
Shortage of essential commodities
There was widespread discontent due to the shortage of essential commodities and rising prices of salt, rice, etc., and commandeering of boats in Bengal and Orissa.
Prevalence of anti-British sentiment
The sentiments were widely anti-British, and the masses were demanding complete independence from the British Government.
Centralisation of many small movements
Phases of Quit India Movement:
First phase: The first phase of the movement had no violence. It began with civil disobedience, boycotts, and strikes that the British Government quickly suppressed. Almost all members of the Congress Committee, including Gandhiji, were arrested and kept in Jail till 1945 without any trial.
Second phase: In its second phase, the movement shifted to the countryside. The second phase of the movement took a violent and aggressive turn. Any building or offices which were the symbol of the colonial authority was attacked and distracted. Communication systems, railway stations & tracks, telegraph poles and wires were also targeted.
Third and last phase: In the last phase of the movement, there was the formation of many independent national or parallel governments in the isolated pockets of the country, such as Ballia, Satara, Tamluk, etc.
Successes of the Quit India Movement:
This movement had the active participation of women of the country.
Aruna Asif Ali hoisted the national flag on the Gowalia tank maidan; Usha Mehta, on the other hand, helped set up the underground radio station to spread awareness about the movement.
Rise of future leaders:
This movement also gave some future prominent leaders such as Biku Patnaik, Aruna Asif Ali, Ram Manohar Lohia, Sucheta Kriplani, J.P. Narayan, etc. These leaders were helping the movement through underground activities.
Rise of nationalism:
A greater sense of unity and brotherhood emerged due to the Quit India Movement.
Failure of the Quit India Movement:
Britishers were supported by the Princely States, British Indian Army, Indian Civil Services, Viceroy’s Council (which had Indians in the majority), All India Muslim League, Indian Imperial Police
The Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) & Muslim League also opposed the Quit India Movement.