Weekly Current Affairs Mains (26th August to 1st September, 2018)

Rebulid Kerala

 

Weekly Current Affairs Mains (26th August to 1st September, 2018)

 

Topic: The sedition debate: Section 124-A of IPC

Topic in syllabus: GS II

  • IndianConstitution- significant provisions
  • Functions and responsibilities of the government
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,.

sedition debate

Why in news:

 Controversial Section 124-A of IPC, regarding sedition, is being hotly debated. Whether such draconian provision deserves a place in the statute of a modern democracy like India?

About Section 124-A and Criticism

  • Rulers everywhere tend to treat trenchant criticism as attempts to excite disaffection and disloyalty.
  • That is perhaps the only reason that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, enacted under colonial rule, remains on the statute book.
  • The foremost objection to the provision on sedition is that its definition remains too wide.‘Overbroad’ definitions typically cover both what is innocuous and what is harmful.
  • Under the present law, strong criticism against governmentpolicies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence.
  • In fact, so mindless have some prosecutions been in recent years that the core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court — that the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence — has been forgotten.
  • However, as long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief.

Misuse of Section 124-A

  • There have been repeated instances of its misuse. Regimes at the Centre and the States have often been shown in poor light after they invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists.
  • Since Independence, many have seen the irony of retaining a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle.
  • Despite all this, Section 124-A has tenaciously survived all attempts by successive generations to reconsider it, if not repeal it altogether.
  • In particular, it has raised the pertinent question: how far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle, when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?

Law Commissions’ observations

  • The Law Commission, for the third time in five decades, is now in the process of revisiting the section.
  • Its consultation paper calls for a thorough reconsideration and presents the various issues related to it before the public for a national debate.
  • In an earlier report in 1968, the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section.
  • In 1971, the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which ‘disaffection’ should not be tolerated.
  • The only dilution it mooted was to modify the wide gap between the two jail terms prescribed in the section (either three years or life) and fix the maximum sanction at seven years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine.

Conclusion

There can only be two ways of undoing the harm it does to citizens’ fundamental rights: Either it can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition, or the far better course is to do away with it altogether.

 

Sample question:

Q. Do you think that difference between dissent and sedition is diminishing day by day? Critically comment.

 


Topic: A People’s Campaign to Rebuild Kerala

Topic in syllabus: GS III Climate Change, Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster Management

A People’s Campaign to Rebuild Kerala

Why in news:

  • The material loss due to the Kerala floods has been estimated at Rs. 26,000 crore, but beyond this there has been an immense loss of natural, human, and social capital for which no estimates are available.
  • The immediate task in the State is relief and rehabilitation, but it is crucial to simultaneously identify the root causes of the havoc.

The root causes

  • There is no doubt that the short-sighted attempts in building man-made capital(buildings in hilly forests, encroachments on wetlands and rivers, and stone quarries) while ignoring the attendant degradation of natural, human and social capital have played a significant role in exacerbating the problem.
  • The root causes prevail throughout the Western Ghats and, indeed, the rest of the country.
  • The first is the flouting of lawsthat have been established to safeguard natural capital. The Shah Commission inquiring into illegal mining in Goa observes that mining beyond permissible limits has caused serious damage to water resources, agriculture and biodiversity.
  • The Second, ignoring serious degradation of human capitalin terms of health and employment. In the case of the Plachimada panchayat in Palakkad district, overuse and pollution of water resources by the Coca Cola factory has resulted in losses to the tune of Rs. 160 crore.
  • Third, scientific knowledge and advice has been continually disregarded. In the case of the proposed Athirappilly hydroelectric project, an analysis by the River Research Centre showed that the project document had seriously overestimated the availability of water.
  • Fourth, there has been serious erosion of social capital.For instance, Anoop Vellolippil, a staunch anti-quarry activist engaging in a peaceful demonstration, was killed by those allegedly employed by quarry owners.

The right of local communities

  • It must be acknowledged that it is local communities that have a genuine stakein the health of their ecosystems and an understanding of the working of the same.
  • The current system of protecting natural resources through negative incentives in the hands of a coercive and corrupt bureaucracy must give way to positive incentives that can be monitored in a transparent fashion by all concerned citizens.
  • Gadgil panel proposes several such incentives —for example, payment of conservation service charges for protecting important elements of biodiversity such as sacred groves (called Sarpa Kavus in Kerala), and payment towards soil carbon enrichment by switching to organic farming.

Way forward

  • The government must reassure its people that it will no longer continue the policies of development and conservation by exclusion, and that it will respect the right of local communitiesto decide what kind of development they want and what kind of conservation measures they would like to see put in place.
  • The government must implement the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in letter and spirit.
  • It must empower local bodiesat the ward, gram panchayat, and town and city levels to prepare reports on the status of the environment and to decide on how a substantial portion of the budget should be spent on the basis of these reports.
  • It must set up Biodiversity Management Committees of citizens and empower them to document the status of the local ecosystems and biodiversity resources, and regulate their use.
  • They must be given powers to levy collection charges for access to biodiversity as well as to intellectual propertyrelating to community knowledge.
  • In particular, it must accord the Biodiversity Management Committees a central place in the preparation of environmental impact assessmentsand ensure that these assessments begin to reflect the true state of affairs instead of being the uniformly fraudulent documents that are being submitted today.
  • It must fully implement the Forest Rights Actand empower not only tribal, but all traditional forest dwellers to control, manage and market non-timber forest produce.
  • It must stop distortion and suppression of all environment and development-related information and begin uploading information suo-moto on websites, as the Right to Information Act demands.
  • It must initiate building a public and transparent database on environmental parameters drawing on the environment status reports, People’s Biodiversity Registers, community forest management working schemes, and environmental education projects undertaken by students.
  • Equipped with this information and all pertinent documents such as from the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, the Kasturirangan Committee, and the Oommen V. Oommen Committee,the State government should ask local bodies about the levels of ecological sensitivity in different parts of the landscape on the basis of topography, hydrology, land use and vegetation, regardless of ownership of the land.
  • The local bodies should provide suggestions on appropriate management regimes for regions of different levels of sensitivity.
  • The government should begin to proactively use modern technologies, including smartphones, in a user-friendly manner so that all the inputs from the various local bodies are transparently available to all citizens.
  • Citizens can then assist in the task of integrating all this information and come up with appropriate conservation and development plans that are properly fine-tuned to locality- and time-specific ecological and social conditions.

Conclusion

  • A new approach is needed that enhances the sum total of man-made, natural, human and social capital.
  • This will be a broad-based inclusive approach to conservation and development, and will be in the spirit of the People’s Plan Campaign of the 1990s in Kerala, which was spearheaded by the State Finance Minister, Thomas Isaac.
  • There is need to renew the spirit of the People’s Plan Campaign rather than seek to bury it. Only then can the people rebuild nature and society and assure for themselves a sustainable and safe future.
  • If such a progressive approach was embraced, then we will be much better equipped in the years to come to moderate, if not fully prevent, the kind of havoc that visited Kerala recently.

 

Sample Question

Q. Briefly analyse the role of local communities in environment protection and disaster management.

 


Topic : Medical Device Pricing

Topic in syllabus:  GS II

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services
  • Welfare schemes, mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections 

GS III: Economic development, Science and technology: Indigenization

medical device pricing strategy 

Why in news:

  • After having brought down the prices of drugs, the government has medical devices on its agenda.
  • It will soon announce its decision on the method of rationalizing trade margins for medical devices from the first point of sale.

Findings on Profit margin

  • According to the report of the committee of high trade margins in the sale of drugs, released by the department of pharmaceuticals in 2016, the price to the distributor for both global and indigenous companies was considered from the first point of sale.
  • This report clearly identifies that it is the margin between the price to the distributor and maximum retail price (MRP) that results in the escalationof the latter, and recommends that this should be capped.
  • The data published by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)—also available in the public domain—shows that margins are indeed skewed towards hospitals.

Rationalizing trade margins:

  • The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy, 2012 (NPPP-2012) provides a pointer to understanding which method to opt for when rationalizing trade margins.
  • Till 2012, the practice followed by the NPPA was a maximum allowable post-marketing expense (Mape) over standardized manufacturing cost or over landing cost of the product.
  • According to the observations documented in NPPP-2012, the manufacturing cost/landing cost methodology of price capping had led to “possible manipulation” of cost data, resulting in entry barriers.
  • This was neither good for the patient nor for industry growth, and it impacted “the industry’s ability to invest in enhancing in capabilities”.
  • The techniques that were used for knee and stent price capping, failed.
  • The idea of price capping based on manufacturing cost/landing cost as per Drug Price Control Order 1995 was an unmitigated disaster.
  • The emphasis on price control starting at the bulk drug and formulation stages resulted in drug manufacturing shifting away from notified bulk drugs and formulations under price control. As a result, patients were adversely affected.
  • Considering the need for investment in skill development, in-clinic support, innovation and after-sales service of equipment, the scale of investment in pharmaceuticals is less than what it is for the medical device industry.
  • If any cost-based price control is imposed for the medical device industry, the magnitude of the adverse effect will be higher.

On the demand side

  • The demand for medical devices comes from doctors at the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels.
  • They need to be aware of the availability of various medical devices for different conditions before treating a patient so that they can guide patients and form an effective referral chain to super-specialty care.
  • For this, the global research-based companies need to invest and support clinicians in education and skill building. Every year, around 2.3 million healthcare professionals are trained by these companies. We need to do much more if we are to have universal coverage.
  • Who will invest in skill development and therapy awareness if medtech companies and their subsidiaries find margins capped unreasonably from landing cost?
  • If a patient feels a certain medication is not effective, he will go back to the doctor to change it, but this is not the case when it comes to medical devices.
  • The risk factor is high, as medical devices can’t be replaced without re-operating on patients. So a doctor needs to be well informed about the quality and functionality of the devices for better clinical outcomes.

Way forward:

  • The government’s previous attempts to cap high trade margins in the sale of drugs show that getting the balance wrong can hurt patients.
  • In this Union budget, the government focused on the healthcare sector, launching the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat.
  • Besides providing health insurance to 100 million poor families, the government also plans to open 150,000 health and wellness centresto provide comprehensive healthcare with free diagnostics and treatment.
  • For the success of these initiatives, a lot of skill-building activities are required.
  • In such a situation, the department of pharmaceuticals’ recommendation on trade margin rationalization from the first point of sale is the most viable solution.
  • It will not only allow global companies to sell innovative products, but also enable them to invest in skill development along with therapy awareness, while still ensuring affordability by correcting the skewed margins in the supply chain.

 

Sample question:

Q. What are the challenges in successful implementation of Ayushman Bharat. Explain with special reference to medical pricing reforms.

 


Topic : Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

Topic in syllabus: GS II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Why in news: 

The 21st All India Review Meeting on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) was recently held under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Statistics &Program Implementation.

  • Nodal Secretaries from States/UTs overseeing the implementation of MPLADS scheme took part in the deliberations. The focus was on issues related to the implementation of MPLADS with the States/UTs so that the Ministry can take steps to address these for further improvements in its implementation.

Challenges:

The major problems being faced in the implementation of the Scheme at the District level include: Non submission of requisite documents in time to the Ministry such as Audit Certificate, Utilization Certificate, Provisional Utilization Certificate, Monthly Progress Report, Bank Statement and Online Monthly Progress Report.

Performance of the scheme:

Since April, 2014 out of 4,67,144 works recommended by the MPs (Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), 4,11,612 works have been sanctioned and 3,84,260 works have been completed upto 31st July, 2018.  Since inception, till 31.07.2018, Rs 47,922.75 Crores have been released under the Scheme and works of Rs 49,065.58. Crores have been sanctioned by the District Authorities.  Of the total release since inception, Rs 45604.94 Crore have been utilized. This is more than ninety-five percent of the release.

About MPLAD scheme:

What is it? It was launched in December, 1993, to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.

Works under the scheme: Works, developmental in nature, based on locally felt needs and always available for the use of the public at large, are eligible under the scheme. Preference under the scheme is given to works relating to national priorities, such as provision of drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, roads, etc.

Funds: Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities. The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsablee. The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.

Execution of works: The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned district authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned state government. The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.

Recommendation of works: The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies. The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected. Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.

 

Sample question:

Q. Comment on the implementation of MPLADS scheme and suggest measures for improvement.

 


Topic : Barriers to cashless economy

Topic in syllabus: GS III 

 barriers to cashless economy

Why in news: 

The Reserve Bank of India’s second annual report shows that since demonetisation cash transactions have increased.

Nearly two years after demonetization, about 99.3% of the notes sucked out of circulation has been returned. Besides, the value of bank notes in circulation has increased by 37.7% over the year, reaching Rs 18,037 lakh crore by the end of March 2018.

Outcomes of demonetization:

Over the last two years, at least three of major claims of demonetization have collapsed.

  • First, it was supposed to flush out black money and end corruption. The government predicted that Rs 3 lakh crore in currency would not return to the banks. This has proved to be false, as most of the cash has returned.
  • Second, demonetisation was to help detect fake currency, which apparently funded terror and distorted the economy. The government claimed that at any point of time, there was Rs 400 crore in fake currency notes floating in the economy. Nine months after demonetisation, it was claimed that Rs 11.23 crore in fake currency had been detected. Now, the Reserve Bank reports a huge jump in fake Rs 2,000 notes, which were introduced after demonetisation.
  • Third, demonetisation was to pave the way to a cashless economy and the gleaming new world of digital India. Two years later, the amount of cash with the public has reached a record high, the bank has claimed.

Background:

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that all Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, comprising 86% of the total value of the currency in circulation at that time, would no longer be recognised as legal tender.

What is a cashless economy?

It is a situation in which the flow of cash within an economy is non-existent and all transactions have to be through electronic channels such as direct debit, credit and debit cards, electronic clearing, payment systems such as Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), National Electronic Funds Transfer and Real Time Gross Settlement.

Benefits of a cashless economy:

  • Usage of cashless mechanisms would ensure that loopholes in public systems get plugged, and the intended beneficiaries are able to avail the benefits due to them. It also leads to increased efficiency in welfare programmes as money is wired directly into the accounts of recipients.
  • Efficiency gains can also be seenas transaction costs across the economy come down. It also provides an on-ramp to financial inclusion and enables e-commerce growth.
  • Reducing use of cash would also strangulate the grey economy, prevent money laundering and even increase tax compliance, which will ultimately benefit the customers at large.

Benefits for individuals:

  • No need for queues outside ATMs.
  • No cashout during long holidays.
  • No waiting for a deposited cheque to be credited.
  • No risk of carrying currency notes in the wallet.

What perpetuates use of cash in India?

  • A high propensity to save in and use cash.
  • Cash intensive supply chains require many merchants to transact in cash.
  • A large shadow and remittance based economy is also to be blamed for the situation.
  • Gender imbalance in use of digital payments has further aggravated the problem. This is due to insufficient focus on financial literacy.
  • Also, costs of point-of-sale terminals and operating costs are still high in India.

 

Sample question:

Q. Discuss the challenges being faced by India in achieving cashless economy?

 


Topic : Venezuela crisis

Topic in syllabus: GS II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

  Venezuela crisis

Why in news: 

Venezuela, once a rich oil reserve country, is now battering an unprecedented economic crisis. Hyperinflation, mass migration, food shortage, increasing number of crimes and grinding poverty has pushed the nation into a deep turmoil.

What is the Venezuela crisis?

Hyperinflation is the biggest problem faced by Venezuela. The inflation rate there is expected to reach a stunning one million per cent this year, putting it on par with the crises of Zimbabwe in the 2000s and Germany in the 1920s, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government claims that the country is the victim of an “economic war” and that the major issues are due to opposition “plots” and American sanctions.

What caused this increase?

The plummeting oil prices since 2014 is one of the main reasons why Venezuela’s currency has weakened sharply. The country, which has rich oil reserves largely depended on it for its revenue. But when the oil price dropped drastically in 2014, Venezuela which received 96 per cent of its revenue from the oil exports, suffered a shortage of foreign currency. This made import of basic essentials like food and medicines difficult.

Impacts:

Venezuela’s imports are down 50% from a year ago. Venezuela’s minimum wage is now about the equivalent of $1 a month, making basics unaffordable for many. With a shortage of the import goods, the black market has got a free hand in the country. Prices have been doubling every 26 days on average.

A survey from February this year found that almost 90% of Venezuelans live in poverty and more than 60% surveyed said that they had woken up hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food, reported Reuters. Apart from food, the country is also facing medicine shortage. The economic crisis has also hit the public health system, making medicine and equipment inaccessible to its people.

As the country slips into poverty, many are turning towards crime to make money. A recent Gallup study placed Venezuela at the bottom of its 2018 Law and Order index, with 42 per cent of surveyed Venezuelans reporting they had been robbed the previous year and one-quarter saying they had been assaulted.

Mass migration:

Angered by the economic crisis in the country, many Venezuelans have started leaving the country. Of the 2.3 million Venezuelans living abroad, more than 1.6 million have fled the country since the crisis began in 2015, according to the UN. The pace of departures has accelerated in recent days, sparking a warning from the UN. The majority have crossed into neighbouring Colombia and then to Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Others have gone south to Brazil.

 

Sample question:

Q. What is Venezuela crisis? Analyse its impact on Venezuelan economy and on other economies including India.

 


TOPIC : Government announces Regulations for Drones

 Topic in syllabus: Internal security related issues.

Government announces Regulations for Drones

Why in news: 

The government has announced the Drone Regulations 1.0. These regulations will enable the safe, commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018. They are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations.

Categories:

As per the regulation, there are 5 categories of RPAS categorized by weight, namely nano, micro, small, medium and large.

Operational/ Procedural Requirements:

  • All RPAS except nano and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies are to be registered and issued with Unique Identification Number (UIN).
  • Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)shall be required for RPA operators except for nano RPAS operating below 50 ft., micro RPAS operating below 200 ft., and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies.
  • The mandatory equipment required for operation of RPAS except nano category are(a) GNSS (GPS), (b) Return-To-Home (RTH), (c) Anti-collision light, (d) ID-Plate, (e) Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and (f) RF ID and SIM/ No-Permission No Take off (NPNT).
  • For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary. Minimum manufacturing standards and training requirements of Remote Pilots of small and above categories of RPAS have been specified in the regulation.

Other Highlights:

No Drone Zones: The regulation defines “No Drone Zones” around airports;near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.

Operations through Digital Platform: Operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)  to be enabled through Digital Sky Platform. The RPAS operations will be based on NPNT (No Permission, No Take off).

There will be different colour zones visible to the applicant while applying in the digital sky platform, viz, Red Zone: flying not permitted, Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): permission required before flying, andGreen Zone (uncontrolled airspace): automatic permission.

Enforcement Actions: The enforcement actions are, (a) suspension/ cancellation of UIN/ UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions, (b) actions as per relevant Sections of the Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and (c) penalties as per applicable IPCs (such as 287, 336, 337, 338, or any relevant section of IPC).

What next?

Going forward, the Drone Task Force will provide draft recommendations for Drone Regulations 2.0. These regulations will examine, inter alia, the following issues:

  • Certification of safe and controlled operation of drone hardware and software.
  • Air space management through automated operations linked into overall airspace management framework.
  • Beyond visual-line-of-sight operations.
  • Contribution to establishing global standards.
  • Suggestions for modifications of existing CARs and/or new CARs.

Way ahead:

Flying drones safely in India will require research and development to understand how they can be best used in India’s unique landscape. Such R&D occurs best in a market-oriented environment, which will not happen unless civilian drone use is permitted. Building profitable companies around drone use can be complicated when the core business model is illegal.

 

Sample question:

Q. Discuss the challenges associated with use of drones and the need for their regulation.

 


Topic: North Korea Issue

Topic in syllabus: GS II International relations

North Korea Issue

Why in news:

A high-level South Korean delegation will fly to North Korea this week to discuss arrangements for an inter-Korean summit

Background

  • North Korea was formed in 1948 after the end of the Second World War.
  • It has little communication with the outside world and is still under communist rule.
  • The state controls the flow of information inside and with the outside world.
  • North Korea was part of the NPT, but after President Bush designated it as a “rogue state” it pulled out of the treaty and intensified its nuclear programme.

Nuclear tests carried out by North Korea:

  • North Korea is developing nuclear weapons as a defense against countries like USA which according to North Korea is attempting a regime change. This fear is founded in the assassination of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi after he gave up his nuclear programme.
  • Around late 1970s, North Korea started its missile development programme using Scud-B from the Soviet Union and a Launchpad from Egypt.
  • Over the years it test fired short range, medium range and intercontinental ballistic missile like Hwasong 12, Musudan, Hwasong 14 and Hwasong 15.
  • Experts believe that North Korea is now close to developing the capability to target U.S.
  • It is believed that North Korea also tested a Hydrogen bomb. In response to this, US, UN and EU imposed sanctions.

Present Stand of North Korea:

  • Kim Jong-un has declared a “Byungjin policy” whose objective is to simultaneously pursue a powerful nuclear deterrent and economic growth.
  • North Korea said that it no longer needed to test nuclear bombs or intercontinental ballistic missiles as it has developed nuclear deterrent capability.
  • Instead it would focus on economic development and peace.

Earlier initiatives:

  • 1994 Agreed Framework: Was made after North Korea threatened to withdraw from Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. This was negated by the Bush Administration in 2002 after it designated North Korea as an “axis of evil” and a rogue state.
  • Six Party Talks: Started in 2004. A joint statement was agreed upon in 2005. North Korea had agreed to denuclearize provided there were security guarantees. The talks collapsed when US imposed new sanctions. It was only after this that North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

Changed circumstance which might lead to the successful denuclearization:

  • North Korea has developed its nuclear capabilities. It now has the capacity to even strike USA.
  • The countries in the immediate neighborhood-South Korea, Japan and China are pressurizing US and other stakeholders to successfully negotiate a deal with North Korea. Last two times there was no such pressure on USA.
  • Weakening hegemony of USA:The prolonged war in Afghanistan, crisis in the Middle Eastetc. shows that unlike earlier, the US is not able to enforce its dictates on the other countries.
  • Rise of China:It is widely believed, that North Korea has been continuing its nuclear programme despite the sanctions imposed by US, UN and EU because of China’s support.

Reactions and expectation of different countries:

  • North Korea:Is looking for regime legitimacy and regime security, removal of sanctions, reduced dependence on China, normal relations with the US and Japan, and financial assistance from them.
  • US:Wants complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament but North Korea was not willing to this precondition for talks, so US softened its stance and has settled for “credible steps” by North Korea towards denuclearization.
  • China:Wants to make sure that it is at the center stage of the negotiations. China proposed a “freeze for freeze” strategy according to which US should stop military exercises with South Korea in return for North Korea stopping its nuclear and missile testing.

China is also using North Korea as a leverage against increasing US presence in the Pacific Ocean.

  • South Korea:It expects denuclearization of the peninsula, friendly ties with its neighbor and limited American presence for security.
  • Russia: Prevention of a nuclear war.

Issues:

  • Nuclear Security:There is a possibility that the nuclear weapons developed by North Korea would fall into the hands of terrorists who have no accountability.
  • Increased presence of USA in Southeast Asia:Increased militarization of the region might lead to escalation of conflicts.
  • US pulling out of major commitments including the Iran nuclear deal would reduce the credibility of any future deal with US.
  • The lives of ordinary citizens have been affected due to the sanctions and its negative impact on the economy.
  • Human Rights issue being eclipsed by Korean Issue
  • Major nuclear weapons modernization programme has started in US and Russia.
  • Decreased trust deficit among East Asian Countries.

Recent Developments:

Panmunjom Summit:

  • Confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.
  • Gives assurance that military action against on the Korean peninsula will not happen anytime soon or ever.
  • Made a commitment to end the conflict between the two countries and resolve their differences through talks in a peaceful manner.
  • Called for future meetings with USA and also China if possible.
  • Agreed on holding “reunion programs” on August 15th, the day they got independence from Japan, to let the families divided by war and the border reunite
  • Both the countries would commit to ending propaganda broadcasts.
  • Would hold regular military meetings.
  • Turn the demilitarized Zone into a “Peace Zone”
  • Steps to increase direct inter-Korean exchanges and dialogues starting right from the lower level politicians to the topmost level.
  • Set up a communications office in Kaesong in North Korea.

Criticism of the Panmunjom declaration

  • The commitment to denuclearization is similar to previous declarations.
  • South Korea has not mentioned how it would fulfil its end of the commitment. It just said it would closely cooperate with the United States and the international community on the issue.
  • No mention of human rights issues
  • No proposals for joint economic projects.

US North Korea Meet in Singapore

  • The 1953 Armistice Agreement should be replaced with a permanent peace treaty for better US-North Korea ties.
  • US has to guarantee security of rgime for Kim for smoother ties.
  • Disarmament would take time and commitment.
  • US announced the suspension of joint military exercise with South Korea.
  • North Korea hinted that it would dismantle a major missile engine testing site.

Criticisms

  • No indication of how the denuclearization will be carried out.
  • No deadline for denuclearization
  • No mention of China.
  • No talks of establishing formal diplomatic ties.

Impact on India

  • Once sanctions are removed would be able to conduct business with North Korea.
  • Would remove the threat of nuclear proliferation to India’s hostile neighbors.
  • India has always urged nuclear restraint and universal disarmament.

Way Forward:

  • Priority should be to normalize ties between North Korea and important countries. All other issues would fall in place.
  • More solidarity building measures like the one in Winter Olympics where both the countries appeared under the same flag in the opening ceremony is required.
  • The main reason behind North Korea increasing its nuclear arsenal is the perceived threat of US. A summit should be held among the Pacific nations to determine the role and boundaries of USA in the region.
  • More emphasis should be given to the human rights issues and steps should be taken to alleviate the sufferings of people in North Korea.
  • US must establish beyond doubt that it would not pull out of the deal in the future unless there are very compelling reasons to do so.

 

Sample question:

Q. Discuss the dynamics of relations between North and South Korea. Comment with respect to recent US- North Korea meet in Singapore.