May – 03 Editorial

The rising sun in India-Japan relations

GS Paper 2 :

New Delhi should be confident that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is willing to accord primacy to bilateral ties.

Background: Japan elected new PM Yoshihide Suga after the resignation of Shinzo Abe. He has kept the trend on of his predecessor in the foreign policy. His visit to the United States last month has set the agenda for the wider Indo-Pacific engagement of Tokyo and its evolving priorities.

Focus on China

  • To begin with, Tokyo and Washington drilled down to brass tacks on their joint security partnership given the need to address China’s recent belligerence in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas as well as in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Both sides affirmed the centrality of their treaty alliance, for long a source of stability in East Asia, and pledged to stand up to China in key regional flashpoints such as the disputed Senkaku Islands and Taiwan.
  • Reflecting the changed nature of conflict, both sides acknowledged the importance of extended deterrence vis-à-vis China through cooperation on cybersecurity and space technology.
  • Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership, or CoRe has been announced to invest in emerging technologies to fill the gap and Chinese ambitions to dominate the development of new age technologies such as 5G and quantum computing.
  • The two allies earmarked billions in funding for the deployment of secure 5G networks, committed to building digital infrastructure in developing countries and promised to collaborate on setting global digital standards.
  • Both sides have also signalled their intent to continue the Trump-era policy of pressure on China to reform economic practices such as “violations of intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, excess capacity issues, and the use of trade distorting industrial subsidies”.
  • Both powers repeatedly emphasised their vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific that respects the rule of law, freedom of navigation, democratic norms and the use of peaceful means to settle disputes. In the aftermath of the successful Quad Summit both parties expressed their continued support for the four-nation grouping of the United States, India, Australia and Japan. China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang, its heavy-handed suppression of protests in Hong Kong and military aggression towards Taiwan came in for heavy criticism.
  • Japanese premier plans to visit India as soon as situation permits following the COVID-19 pandemic. But the precursor of what will happen can already be seen from preview of US dealing by Japan.
  • A preview
  • First, one can expect a continuation of the balancing security policy against China that began in 2014. During a phone call with the Indian Prime Minister, Japanese PM expressed concern over China’s “unilateral” actions in the East and South China Seas, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
  • Within a decade the relations between both the countries has seen an upward spree which is seen by expanded high-level ministerial and bureaucratic contacts, conducted joint military exercises and concluded military pacts such as the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) logistics agreement.
  • Both nations continuously affirm for Open and Free Indo Pacific and wok with QUAD which is central pillar of security strategy.
  • Upcoming meeting between the leaders will take stock of security relationship and enhanced cooperation in defence technology and exports.

Technology Partnership

  • Two powers will look to expand cooperation in sectors such as cybersecurity and emerging technologies. During the tenure of previous Japanese PM both nations put together a digital research and innovation partnership that ran the gamut of technologies from AI and 5G to the Internet of Things and space research.
  • Leaders of the both the countries may look to deepen cooperation between research institutes and expand funding in light of China’s aforementioned technology investment programme. It is yet unclear whether Mr. Suga will attempt to stir the pot and bring up the disagreements over India’s insistence on data localisation and continued reluctance to accede to global cybersecurity agreements such as the Budapest Convention.
  •  Economic ties and infrastructure development are likely to be top drawer items on the agendas of New Delhi and Tokyo. While Japan has poured in around $34 billion in investments into the Indian economy over the course of the last two decades, Japan is only India’s 12th largest trading partner, and trade volumes between the two stand at just a fifth of the value of India-China bilateral trade.
  • The upcoming summit will likely reaffirm Japan’s support for key manufacturing initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and the Japan Industrial Townships. Further, India will be keen to secure continued infrastructure investments in the strategically vital connectivity projects currently under way in the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Third Country Outlook

  • Both nations will likely devote much attention to evolving a joint strategy towards key third countries and multilateral bodies. In past years both have collaborated to build infrastructure in Iran and Africa, provide vital aid to Myanmar and Sri Lanka and hammer out a common Association of Southeast Asian Nations outreach policy in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in these corners of the globe.
  •  the time is ripe for India and Japan to take a hard look at reports suggesting that joint infrastructure projects in Africa and Iran have stalled with substantial cost overruns. Japan will persuade India on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in an attempt  to reverse its decision not to join the massive trade compact.
  • Writing in 2006, Shinzo Abe, in his book, Utsukushii Kuni E (Toward a Beautiful Country), expressed his hope that “it would not be a surprise if in another 10 years, Japan-India relations overtake Japan-U.S. and Japan-China relations”.

Editorial 2

A timely warning

SC’s caution against harassing those needing help will deter ill­ advised action

GS Paper2:

Background: UP CM issued guidelines to those who spread “misinformation” or “rumor” on COVID-19 will be detained under National Security Act (NSA) and their property to be seized.

  • The Supreme Court has issued a timely warning to the States against any attempt to clamp down on the dissemination of information about the serious health crisis besetting the country, or calls for help through social media from citizens affected by COVID­19.
  •  It will surely help prevent ill­ advised action by the police and the administration to treat appeals concerning shortage of hospital
  • beds, medical oxygen and vital drugs as attempts to bring the government into disrepute.
  • While it is entirely in order that the government has directed the police to crack down on the profiteering on medicines in the black market, it is quite a different matter if the administration starts seeing all appeals for help in a grave crisis as nothing more than
  • activities aimed at tarnishing the government’s image.
  • The Supreme Court’s warning that any attempt to stifle the people’s voices would attract action for contempt of court is quite timely and necessary. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, remarked, “any clampdown on information is contrary to basic precepts”.
  • The Court drew inspiration from the theory, articulated by economist Amartya Sen, that the fundamental attributes of democracy — such as a free press and the need to face the people at elections and respond to political criticism — help prevent famines.
  • Amidst the grave situation of COVID-19 and it’s disastrous health impacts any move to stifle criticism will be of no avail if the infections and body count keep rising alarmingly and the health system draws close to a collapse.


The verdicts in the Assembly elections hold different lessons for different parties

Background: Assembly polls conducted in three states and one union territory i.e. the states which went to elections were West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry. The election results are out despite the ongoing health crisis of COVID-19.

  • Elections present an opportunity for political change and also continuity what is seen from the results is Assam, West Bengal and Kerala have voted for the incumbents, while Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have voted for change.
  • There is no one theme that can explain how the voters responded to the myriad political choices before them. Major national ruling  party was able to sweep victory in Assam but unable to  garner enough support in other states like Kerela, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • What’s evident from the election results that the leaders of the regional parties offered “ideological alternative” to the major political party ruling at centre. The results have exposed more chinks in its armour, while regional parties offered robust resistance to the ruling party at centre.

West Bengal

  • In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee mobilised “Bengali sub­nationalism” that stopped the ruling party’s victory. With the Left and the Congress nearly obliterated, the BJP is now a force to reckon with in the State.
  • West Bengal is staring at an explosion in COVID­19 infections, and Ms. Banerjee has her task cut out, entering into her third term as Chief Minister. What’s needed is  taking serious note of the public resentment against the Trinamool party rather than read this victory as public approval of its high­handedness and corruption. The style and substance of the Trinamool’s politics and governance must change for the better.


  • In Assam, the central ruling party reaped the benefits of its government’s proactive measures to provide relief to people badly impacted by the lockdown last year, and of a slew of welfare schemes. While the opposition partnership failed to live up to its promise. As the party’s key strategist in the victory, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will likely make a claim for the top post,and the ruling party will have an internal power tussle to handle.

Tamil Nadu

  • Mr. Stalin led the DMK to power in Tamil Nadu after a hiatus of 10 years. With his son also now MLA.This victory is not aided by any strident public resentment against the AIADMK government, and therefore can be considered a positive verdict in his favour. Moreover, the results also prove the resilience of Dravidian politics, modified to new challenges.
  • AIADMK is in the Opposition, and its leadership still in a flux, it will have to adapt to survive.
  • There are other aspirants at play, and outgoing Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami might have to again beat off challenges from within the party to his leadership.


  • In Kerala, the second consecutive victory of the Left Democratic Front led by the CPI(M) marks a departure from the anti­incumbency verdicts
    since the 1980s. With weak opposition this was an easy victory for the ruling party of the state. But victory was aided by other factors like mixture of political acumen and administrative measures.
  • Management of two major floods and pandemic with considerable efficiency, and daring moves in social engineering brought the victory.
  • All that paid rich dividends for, but the path ahead is going to be tougher as Kerala faces a fresh surge in COVID­19 infections. Finances are also
    challenging for the State. Mr. Vijayan’s complete command over the party has eclipsed other leaders, a situation that can turn out to be a crisis in the future.


These results also hold some messages for national politics. Congress had lost Assam and Kerela where it had considerable chances to win. Major ruling central party failed to woo muslim voters thus lost the lone seat it had in Kerela.

The notion that there can be a nationalist straitjacket into which the diversity of India will fit is irresponsible. They must consider a softer pursuit of power. The Left tasted historic victory in Kerala but faces extinction in Bengal.

Ruling party at centre might have lost more than it won, but Sunday’s verdicts are no indication that a national­level alternative to it is in the making. That is still some distance away in time and effort


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