The Hindu Editorial Analysis 8th july 2019

The Hindu Editorial Analysis 8th july 2019

OpEd 1 :- Reclaiming the Indo-Pacific Narrative

Context :-
At the 34th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok in June, its member states finally managed to articulate a collective vision for the Indo-Pacific region in a document titled “The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific”. which comes at a point when geopolitical contestation is escalating between USA & China.

What does the document "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific" indicates ?

> It underlines the need for an inclusive and “rules-based framework” to “help to generate momentum for building strategic trust and win-win cooperation in the region”.

> It further argues that “the rise of material powers, i.e. economic and military, requires avoiding the deepening of mistrust, miscalculation and patterns of behaviour based on a zero-sum game”. due to an awareness of the emergence of a great power contest around its vicinity pervades the document.

> It emphasises development and connectivity, underlining the need for maritime cooperation, infrastructure connectivity and broader economic cooperation.

What brings ASEAN to have an outlook on the Indo-Pacific ?
Certain events listed below to bring ASEAN on this document :-
  • The release of the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy report in June — it focuses on preserving a “free and open Indo-Pacific” in the face of a more “assertive China”.
  • Japan had already unveiled its Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept in 2016.
  • Australia released its Foreign Policy White Paper in 2017, detailing its Indo-Pacific vision centred around security, openness and prosperity.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi articulated India’s Indo-Pacific vision at the Shangri-la Dialogue in 2018, with India even setting up an Indo-Pacific wing in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) earlier this year.

Take on South China Sea :-
ASEAN member states agreeing to push for a quick conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, an increasingly contested maritime space which is claimed largely by China and in parts by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Tensions continue to rise over the militarisation of this waterway as in June, a Philippine fishing boat sank after it was rammed by a Chinese vessel. It is hoped that the first draft of the code for negotiations will see the light by this year end.

Conclusion :-

ASEAN is signalling that it would seek to avoid making the region a platform for major power competition. Instead its frame of reference is economic cooperation and dialogue. The ASEAN’s approach is aimed at placating China by not allowing itself to align with the U.S.’s vision for the region completely but China still refuses to validate the concept .

But finally when ASEAN coming to terms with its own role in the Indo-Pacific, the ball is now in the court of other regional stakeholders to work with the regional grouping to shape a balance of power in the region which favours inclusivity, stability and economic prosperity.

OpEd 2 :- Quota-Politics :-

Context :- The Uttar Pradesh government’s latest attempt to extend the benefits available to Scheduled Castes to 17 castes that are now under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) list has no legal basis and appears to be aimed at making political gains ahead of a round of by-elections to the State Assembly.

Constitutional Provisions :-

It is fairly well- known that Parliament alone is vested with the power to include or exclude any entry in the SC list under Article 341 of the Constitution.

Background :- Uttar Pradesh has unsuccessfully tried to get some backward castes declared as Scheduled Castes in the past, once during the tenure of Mulayam Singh, and again during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav.

Verdict in a previous matter

  • In 2016, a notification was issued stating that 17 castes were to be treated as Scheduled Castes.
  • The matter reached the Allahabad High Court, but in an interim order in March 2017, the court observed that in case any certificates were issued on the basis of the notification, these would be subject to the outcome of the litigation.
  • More than two years later, this order has been utilised by the Yogi Adityanath government to restore the proposal in an oblique manner.
  • Though it is quite apparent that it is not a judicial directive, the State government has asked authorities in all districts to issue certificates to those from these castes.

Problem with this provision :-

  • No doubt, these 17 castes comprise the most disadvantaged among the backward classes. Categorising the backward classes into two or three sections has been seen as one way to apportion the benefits of reservation among many social groups.
  • In such an exercise, these castes may qualify for a compartment within the OBC quota. However, treating them as Scheduled Castes is beset with problems. For one thing, they may not qualify to be treated as SCs because they may not have suffered untouchability and social discrimination.

Conclusion :- The U.P. government would be well-advised to avoid misleading vulnerable sections with the promise of SC status.

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