1) The road from Ladakh is paved with disruptions

China-India ties are moving into a zone of problems even as New Delhi grapples with pandemic-related issues

GS 2 : IR


  1. It’s been a year since the  tensions between Indian and Chinese troops on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh escalated.
  2. India lost 20 soldiers in a violent clash with soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in mid-June last year.
  3. The crisis  involved seven places: Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra, Hot Springs, North bank of Pangong Tso, Kailash range and Demchok.

Border crisis

  1. The situation at Galwan was resolved a few weeks after the deadly clash, and the two sides disengaged from the face-off site.
  2. The Indian Army had occupied certain heights on the Kailash range in end of August.
  3. It was announced by our defence minister in February 2021 that , the two sides agreed to disengage from this location and from the north bank of Pangong Tso.
  4. India lost it’s leverage on Kailsah Range after India reversed its position of simultaneously resolving all the flashpoints in Ladakh rather than deal with them piecemeal.
  5. It was also clear that by restricting itself to its own side of the LAC on the Kailash range, India had not taken control of the more dominating peaks like the Black Top and had a weak hand to play with.
  6. As of April 2020 on the north bank of Pangong, a new status quo has been created where the patrolling rights are yet to be restored. Similarly, the Kailash range has seen neither de-escalation nor de-induction so far.
  7. In each statement, both India and China reiterate the need “to ensure peace and tranquillity” in border areas.  But the ground reality is different as there are massive deployments on each side,  which belie any hope of tranquillity.

COVID-19 and geopolitics

  1. India’s geopolitical concerns have been exacerbated by the devastation caused by the mismanagement of COVID-19.
  2. Under ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme, New Delhi was presenting itself as a better alternative to Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy, particularly in South Asia.
  3. Shaken by scenes of massive suffering and public criticism, the current government has backtracked on existing contractual commitments to supply vaccines to its friendly neighbours.
  4. Countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have started procuring vaccines from China. Sensing the opportunity, Beijing also moved in quickly, organising a meeting with all South Asian countries except India, ostensibly to deal with the pandemic.
  5. New Delhi was also the lynchpin of the Quad’s pledge to deliver a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine throughout the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022, an effort focused on countering Chinese influence in the region.
  6. But  India now is trying to import vaccines for its own population and reneging on its commitments to other poor countries under GAVI’s COVAX scheme, the proposal now seems to be on a weak footing. This has given a “severe blow” to India’s image as an emerging power.
  7. A weaker India is not only less attractive as a partner globally, it makes New Delhi more dependent on the United States to deal with China. It would further strain India-China ties, directly linking them to the vagaries of the China-U.S. relationship.
  8. The hypothesis that India can safeguard its land borders by strengthening its oceanic prowess could then be put to test, a scenario New Delhi wants to avoid at all costs.
  9. After the Ladakh crisis Inidian govt. tried to establish peace at LOC (Line of Actual Control)  with the help of UAE. But there has been mounting pressure from Islamabad.
  10. It is hard to predict the Pakistani course of action hence, but if the past is an experience to go by, it has usually been spiteful, reckless and dangerous, especially when India is seen as weak.
  11. An assertive China and a vengeful Pakistan acting in concert on the land borders is India’s military nightmare, which New Delhi will have to avoid at all costs.

Chinese supplies

  1. China’s President Xi Jinping sent a message to convey sympathy and express condolences over the pandemic, which was the first communication between the two since the border crisis began last year.
  2. Beijing’s efforts have been largely confined to private companies and donations from the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, unlike other countries which have pledged government help to India.
  3. India is heavily dependent on China for crucial medical supplies. India’s demand to keep the supply chain open has been met but the other demand to ensure stable product prices has not been met.

More point scoring

As the talks between India and China have floundered, New Delhi has taken a position that the border issue is central to the bilateral relationship. This runs contrary to Beijing’s argument that the boundary question cannot be seen as the whole of the bilateral relationship.


  1. India can hope for a settlement that delineates and demarcates the LAC in some form but China has ruled out any such proposal.
  2. As soldiers of both armies face each other in Ladakh and a lack of trust between the two countries, it is clear that the China-India bilateral relationship is moving into a zone of increasing disruptions, and attendant risks of conflagration on the disputed border.

2) It is getting from bad to worse for women workers

GS 1: Role of Women/ GS 3 Inclusive growth


The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed millions of livelihoods and led to a sudden and large increase in poverty and a massive disruption of the labour market in India. Women workers, in particular, have borne a disproportionate burden.

A widening gap

  1. Gender employment gap is large in India. Only 18% of working-age women were employed as compared to 75% of men.
  2. Reasons include a lack of good jobs, restrictive social norms, and the burden of household work.
  3. According to the report, ‘State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19’  the pandemic has worsened the situation.
  4. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. show that 61% of male workers were unaffected during the lockdown while only 19% of women experienced this kind of security.
  5. Even by the end of the year, 47% of employed women who had lost jobs during the lockdown, had not returned to work. The equivalent number for men was only 7%.
  6. Men were able to regain the jobs even though at lower prices but in the case of women.
  7. From the data available around  33% of formal salaried men moved into self employment and 9% into daily wage work between late 2019 and late 2020.
  8. Whereas women had far fewer options — only 4% and 3% of formal salaried women moved into self employment and daily wage work, respectively.
  9. Nearly 50 percent of women withdrew from the worforce as comapred to just 7 percent of men. Also women had less avenues for self employment and were forced to settle for daily wage labourers.
  10. Women tended to lose work disproportionately irrespective of the industry in which they were employed. For instance, the share of women in job losses in education was three times their share in that industry. This is also evident from health sector.

Growing domestic work

  1. The household responsibilites increaed for women with the closure of schools and workplaces.
  2. The India Working Survey 2020 found that among employed men, the number of hours spent on paid work remained more or less unchanged after the pandemic. But for women, the number of hours spent in domestic work increased manifold.
  3. This increase in hours came without any accompanying relief in the hours spent on paid work.

The course to take

  1. The following measures are needed now: expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the introduction of an urban employment guarantee targeted to women as soon as the most severe forms of mobility restrictions are lifted.
  2. Co-ordinated efforts by States to facilitate employment of women while also addressing immediate needs through the setting up of community kitchens, prioritising the opening of schools and anganwadi centres, and engagement with self-help groups for the production of personal protective equipment kits.
  3. COVID-19 hardship allowance of at least ?5,000 per month for six months should be announced for 2.5 million accredited social health activists and Anganwadi workers, most of whom are women.
  4. The National Employment Policy,should systematically address the constraints around the participation of the women’s workforce, both with respect to the availability of work and household responsibilities.


  1. Universal basic services programme that fills existing vacancies in the social sector but also expands public investments in health, education, child and elderly care can be implemented.
  2. These measure can help bring women into the workforce not only by directly creating employment for them but also by alleviating some of their domestic work burdens, while also overcoming nutritional and educational deficits.


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