Editorial Simplified: The Gulf as a Channel of Peace| GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (International Relations)


Theme of the Article

Gulf countries can play a significant activism to help defuse the current tensions between India and Pakistan.


The Pakistan Angle: Past

  • In the past, many parts of the Gulf and Middle East tended to act as Pakistan’s strategic depth.
  • For decades, shared religious identity and common approach to regional affairs gave Pakistan a political edge over India in the region.

The Pakistan Angle: Present

  • In recent years, India has begun to correct that imbalance.
  • As many Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, develop stronger economic and security bonds with India, they could become potential allies in nudging Pakistan towards political moderation and regional accommodation in the Subcontinent.
  • The parlous state of its economy and dependence on financial bailouts from the UAE and Saudi Arabia has made Pakistan more amenable to such an outcome.

India-Gulf link: Colonial Era

  • The security of the Indian Subcontinent and the Gulf region have always been inter-linked.
  • In the colonial era, undivided India loomed large over the Gulf. During that era, the Raj offered security protection, a framework for commerce and some administrative support.
  • The Gulf and other locations in the Middle East were critical links in the larger architecture of Great Britain’s Imperial defence system in the eastern hemisphere centred on undivided India.
  • The armies of India had to embark on repeated expeditionary operations in the Gulf and the Middle East through the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The Indian army played a key role in the Middle Eastern theatre in both the World Wars.

India-Gulf link: Post-Colonial Era

  • Independent India tended to underestimate the importance of this strategic intimacy with the Gulf.
  • After Independence, India pulled out of any security role in the Gulf and the Middle East.

Pakistan Replaced India in Gulf

  • Pakistan joined the Anglo-American effort to replace the security vacuum created by the Indian withdrawal. It became a member of CENTO.
  • While India aligned with the nationalist and non-aligned governments like Egypt, Pakistan embraced conservative and pro-Western regimes.
  • CENTO provided the basis for Pakistan’s external and internal security cooperation with a number of countries in the Gulf region. Some of them like Jordan, Iran and Turkey backed Pakistan during its wars with India in 1965 and 1971.
  • As the Arab nationalist regimes steadily weakened in relation to the regional conservatives, India steadily lost political ground to Pakistan in the 1970s.
  • Matters got worse in the 1980s as India remained silent on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Gulf regimes joined Pakistan in promoting jihad against the Soviet Union.
  • The 1990s saw Pakistan mobilise significant support within the Middle East, including at the OIC and other international forums, to castigate India’s internal policies.
  • The attack on the Babri Masjid and India’s troubles in the Kashmir valley gave ample political ammunition to Pakistan.

The Winds of Change

  • The nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998 and the Kargil crisis in the summer of 1999, opened the possibilities for restructuring South Asia’s relations with the Gulf.
  • The strategic dialogue between Jaswant Singh and the US Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott during 1998-2000 opened an influential new channel to the Gulf.
  • More important, the US mobilised Saudi Arabia during the Kargil War to encourage Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept the Indian demand to pull Pakistan’s army back to the Line of Control.
  • That Jaswant Singh was the first Indian foreign minister to ever visit Saudi Arabia in late 2000 underlined how far Delhi and Riyadh had drifted in the decades before.
  • The bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia that steadily improved in the UPA decade, acquired a fresh momentum under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Two decades ago, Jaswant Singh sought to lift the Pakistan constraint on the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia. Today the Saudi is becoming a valuable partner for Delhi in promoting regional security in the Subcontinent and beyond.

Essential Facts (Prelims): 16 March, 2019


RBI’s $5 Billion Plan

Category: Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s $5 billion tool for liquidity creation is likely to result in faster transmission of interest rates in the banking system and improve liquidity in the banking system at a time when banks are hesitant to pass on rate cut benefits to customers and liquidity is still in deficit mode.
  • RBI decided to inject rupee liquidity for three years through long-term foreign exchange Buy/Sell swap.
  • Under this, the RBI will buy up to $ 5 billion from the market via auction and simultaneously sell it back to the same counterparties.
  • Whatever amount of dollars get mopped up via these operations will reflect in the RBI’s foreign exchange reserves for the tenor of the swap while also reflecting in RBI’s forward liabilities.
  • The RBI’s move to inject liquidity by swapping billion with rupees is aimed at improving the interest rate transmission in the economy.
  • Injection of liquidity is likely to put downward pressure on interest rates in the economy, while at the same time preventing any sharp appreciation of the domestic currency on the back of increased foreign fund inflows.

National Health Authority

Category: Health

  • The first meeting of the governing body of the newly constituted National Health Authority (NHA) is to take place today.
  • NHA IS tasked with the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
  • The governing board of the NHA is chaired by the Minister for Health and Family Welfare and has among its members the CEO of Niti Aayog, Expenditure Secretary, the CEO of NHA, Health Secretary, domain experts and five principal secretaries (Health) of different State governments.

Rupee

Category: Economy

  • The rupee has been steadily appreciating in recent days.
  • Strong inflow in both debt and equity segments helped the currency to hit a six-month high against the dollar.
  • The recent decision of the RBI for a currency swap to infuse rupee liquidity is expected to bring down hedging cost, prompting inflows.

Afghanistan

Category: International

  • The Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, will assist Afghanistan’s higher education department to set up its own online courses platform.
  • The collaboration would allow the sharing of the Indian government’s platform Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), which offers free online courses, with Afghan students and academicians.
  • The institute would also assist the educational institutions in Afghanistan to upload existing courses developed locally on the SWAYAM platform.
  • Assistance would be given to the country to develop its own online courses platform.
  • The agreement would allow Afghans to access the National Digital Library of India (NDLI), virtual labs and tutorials developed by the IITs.

FSDC

Category: Economy

  • The Government formed the Financial Stability and Development Council in 2010.
  • It was formed due to the tussle between SEBI and IRDA on the regulation of ULIPs.
  • Basically, the activity of the Council is to coordinate financial and economic regulations through consultations of the heads of the various regulatory organizations.
  • It is non-statutory body.
  • The Chairman of the Council is the Finance Minister and its members include the heads of financial sector Regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA, IRDA & FMC Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, and Chief Economic Adviser.

NCLAT

Category: Economy

  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under the Companies Act, 2013. Thus, it is a statutory body.
  • It was constituted for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s).
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).