1.Belligerence and pushback

GS 2- IR

Context: In the given article the writer talks about Quad gaining momentum, states in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia likely to resist Chinese largesse

What’s the issue?

  • Under it’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy, China issued a strange warning to Bangladesh, a nation that it has tried to cultivate assiduously over several years.
  •  China considers the Quad to be a minor anti-China initiative, the Beijing, warned Dhaka that there will be “substantial damage” in bilateral ties between China and Bangladesh if the latter joins the Quad.

Revealing fault lines

  • Bangladesh  promptly and publicly challenged the Chinese envoy’s statement, underlining categorically that Dhaka pursues an independent foreign policy
  •  China continued to target Quad “as a small clique against China” and said that “remarks expressing opposition to this mechanism are not about interference but about expressing opposition to small cliques and bloc politics.
  • They also reflect the aspiration for maintaining regional peace and stability.” That China’s remarks would reverberate far beyond South Asia was expected and perhaps intended by Beijing itself.
  •  U.S. remarked, “What we would say is that we respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty and we respect Bangladesh’s right to make foreign policy decisions for itself.”
  • This episode captures the emerging fault lines in South Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific in ways that are both revealing and challenging.
  • For all its attempts to play down the relevance of the Quad, Beijing realises that the grouping, with all its weaknesses, is emerging as a reality and there is little it can do to prevent that.
  • China is agitated about Quad’s future role and its potential success in offering the regional states an alternative to its own strong-arm tactics.
  • The Quad member states are busy in figuring out a cohesive agenda and there are no plans for an expansion. The success will come only if Quad can build a credible platform first.
  • No one is sending out invitations to join Quad and no one has shown an interest.
  • But Beijing wants to ensure that after failing in its initial attempt to prevent the Quad from gaining any traction, its message is well understood by other states who may harbour any desire of working closely with the Quad members to uphold a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
  •  With its message to Dhaka, Beijing was laying down a marker that nations should desist from engaging with the Quad.

Growing momentum of Quad

  •  This aggressive diplomacy is likely to have the opposite effect, in the near future.
  • Beijing has failed to prevent nations from the West to the East from coming out with their Indo-Pacific strategies, it has failed to prevent the operationalisation of the Quad, and now it might be worried about other nations in the region thinking of engaging with the Quad more proactively.
  •  Bangladesh is planning to come out with its own Indo-Pacific strategy and Beijing has now warned Dhaka that a close cooperation with the Quad should not be part of the policy mix.


  • As the Quad gains more momentum and the churn in the waters of the Indo-Pacific leads to new countervailing coalitions against China.
  • For all the criticism China has heaped on the Quad’s members for trying to create an exclusive clique, it will be Beijing that is likely to demand clear-cut foreign policy choices from its regional interlocutors.
  • And states are more likely to push back than become subservient to Chinese largesse.

2) Towards a stronger mental health strategy

GS 2- Health

Context: The author in the given article talks about Mental Health issues and more needs to be done in India in the context of COVID-19, which has exacerbated mental illnesses.

What’s the issue?

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a 10-25-year life expectancy reduction in patients with severe mental disorders.
  • Mental health issues are a major health challenge in the world today.
  • India introduced the National Mental Health Policy (NMHP) in 2014, and a rights-based Mental Healthcare Act in 2017, which replaced the Mental Healthcare Act of 1987.
  • The NMHP, National Health Mission, National Adolescent Health Programme, and Ayushman Bharat have the necessary components to address the mental health issues of all sections.
  • But more needs to be done in the context of COVID-19, which has exacerbated mental illnesses everywhere.

Mental health indicators

  • Studies in The Lancet Public Health (2019) revealed that median mental health spending across the world was around 2% of the total government health expenditure in 2015.
  • In low-income countries, it was around 0.5% of their health budget; for lower-middle-income countries, it was 1.9%; for upper-middle-income countries, 2.4%; and for high-income countries, 5.1%
  •  Government expenditure on hospitals dealing with mental health issues as a percentage of total government expenditure on mental health is 1.3% in India; in developed countries, it ranges from 3% to 15%.
  • In India, the share of mental hospitals per 1,00,000 population is as low as 0.01 in line with developing countries, according to the WHO.
  •  This may possibly be due to the lack of focussed attention given to mental health compared to other major diseases in India.
  • India was also at the 64th position in the distribution of mental health day treatment facilities (per 1,00,000 population).
  • Residential mental health services, particularly community ones, are an important component for good quality mental health care.
  • Research also shows that long-term patients with mental health issues are usually admitted to residential facilities.
  • The people working in the mental health sector help us understand mental health issues better. Here, India was ranked 107 with 0.292 per 1,00,000 population.

Mental illnesses

  • Mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, substance use disorders, personality disorders and eating disorders.
  • The majority of suicides in the world are related to psychiatric problems or to the illnesses listed above. Death by suicide is a complex phenomenon and not fully reported.
  • Mental health may not be the primary concern in developing economies like India as there may be other communicable and non-communicable diseases which may be more prevalent.
  • There are also challenges regarding funding, delivery of mental health packages, lack of trained staff, etc.
  • Recent reports published in Lancet revealed that one in seven people in India had a mental disorder ranging from mild to severe in 2017.
  • Mental disorders include depressive and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • This situation was generally worse in the southern States compared to the northern States due to the nature of development, modernisation, urbanisation and other factors not understood yet.
  • Depressive disorders were more prevalent among females than males which could be due to sexual abuse, gender discrimination, stress due to antenatal and postnatal issues and other reasons.

Additional measures

  • To address mental health issues, India could :
  1. reduce the treatment gap for mental disorders,
  2. increase the number of personnel in the mental health sector,
  3. work towards reducing discriminatory attitudes, and
  4. devise an integrated approach for detecting, treating, and managing patient needs.
  5. More counselling facilities, especially in rural areas, with special support for women
  6. More telemedicine, telephone-based helpline numbers, and mental health apps could help.
  7. Communities have an important role in this regard and so do community-based programmes. School-based programmes on mental health can improve the mental health of children.
  8. More fund allocation for treatment of mental health, especially to those States in need of funds, could do wonders.
  9. Explore various policy options including creating online mental health awareness.


There needs to be a road map for mental health awareness. This should include the traditional media, government programmes, the education system, industry, and social media. Media awareness and government involvement is already happening in India but both can improve. It is high time that industry and private sector companies set up counselling facilities. The application of big data and crowd sourcing ideas may help us in informed decision-making.


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