Laos is a small landlocked country having its edges bordered by China in the North, Vietnam in the Northeast and east, Cambodia in the South, Thailand in the West, and Myanmar (Burma) in the Northwest. The country is dominated by its inhospitable forest-covered mountains constituting a significant impediment to travel. In furtherance of resolving this obstacle, Laos in close association with China inaugurated the Boten-Vientiane railway in early December. This $6 billion project is a 414-kilometer electrified high-speed railway line that runs between the Capital city of Vientiane and the town of Boten along the Laos-China border. The project was green-flagged on 3rd December 2021 with the arrival of a bullet train from the capital of China’s Yunnan province Kunming to Vientiane. The project, ever since its inauguration, has garnered mixed opinions and has raised eminent concerns from other South-Asian countries.
Although 2021 marked the 60th anniversary of long-standing Laos-China bilateral relations, the exorbitant cost of the project has given wind to grave concern with respect to Laos’s sovereignty from the other South-Asian neighbors. The economic condition of Laos makes it vulnerable to China’s defamed ‘debt trap’ diplomacy as the country’s fiscal deficit stood at 6% of GDP while its public debt was at 68% of GDP in recent years. Furthermore, as the country’s imports have a greater volume than the exports, Laos’s negative trade balance hardly leaves any space for repayment of debt. The hidden realities underneath this project are further disheartening for Laos as the country is already debt-ridden with a $10 billion, loaned in order to improve its exporting economy. Therefore, in such an already dwindling economy, China’s 70% hold in the joint venture only appears to be the beginning of it eventually eating Laos as sausage for breakfast.
The positives of the project, though asymmetrical to the negatives, are significant. China’s economically unfeasible infrastructure in Laos has proved to be one of the first major milestones under the Belt and Road project. The railway projects gain precedence over powerplants, ports, or bridges for all the obvious reasons and hence the said project is said to entertain both commercials as well recreational purposes. Secondly, while the inherent fear of China gorging on small developing states continues to disturb the other South-Asian nations, the 60 year-long relationship between the two countries delivers a well-backed benefit of the doubt to China. Furthermore, as the railway penetrates both countries, Laos is expected to witness a large influx of Chinese tourists bringing a cultural and economic boost like Thailand. Greater sociocultural interaction would extend to a great deed as the possibility to foster and create better understanding between the two nations is immense.
The project, with its gross negative tallies, appears to be a win-win arrangement for both. China’s investment offers it a chance to burnish its derogatory image in mainland Southeast Asia. And on the other hand, the project, though economically burdensome, provides a full-fledged railway network facilitating both economic and cultural purposes.
May Fourth Movement at Tiananmen Square- China’s Awakening
Early in the 20th century, China had a significant socio-political and intellectual movement known as the May 4th Movement, often called the New Culture Movement. It gained support from a wide range of intellectuals, laborers, and business people as it migrated from Beijing to other significant Chinese cities with demands to abandon ancient Confucian principles and to adopt the Western ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality instead.
While aiming to imbibe the modern thought, these protesters demanded that foreign imperialism be ceased and control be given back to the Chinese. By challenging long-standing conventions and paving the way for a more progressive and open society, this Movement had a significant impact on Chinese intellectual and cultural history.
What Happened on May 4th 1919?
On May 4, 1919 Chinese students started a series of demonstrations in Beijing, notably in Tiananmen Square. They took to the streets to protest and express their dissatisfaction with the government. Gradually this movement spread to parts of Shanghai and Guangzhou, making it a large-scale student protest.
What was the Reason of the Student Protest on May 4, 1919?
First, The Treaty of Versailles & Shandong Problem – The discussion of the Treaty caused much resentment over how China was being treated during the post-World War I by Western powers, especially with regards to Shandong. The German concessions in Shandong were not returned to China but instead were given to Japan. Intellectuals and students in China therefore could not help but be patriotic and anti-imperialist.
Second, existing sociocultural problems in the Chinese society – Disillusionment with traditional Chinese culture and values were growing among Chinese intellectuals and students. Discontentment with existing and belief on the new concepts and philosophies, especially those acquired from the West, were sought to replace these established principles. Thus, fostering science, democracy, and individuality became very important.
What Made May Fourth Movement so Successful?
- The Movement’s ability to win widespread support from various facets of society was one of the main factors in its success. Unlike any previous protests in China, the May 4 Movement was organised and led by students and intellectuals. They planned gatherings, marches, demonstrations, printed newspapers, and pamphlets to disseminate their views and unite participants. It was this initiative that attracted more people to join, including workers, business people and warlords. This increased the movement’s power, and the government was pressured to respond to its demands thanks to this wide-ranging support.
- Utilizing new media and communication channels effectively was another key. Students published their ideas through newspapers, journals, and speeches to get support from the public. They also built relationships with activists and intellectuals who shared their views in other places, which helped the cause extend outside of Beijing. The Movement was able to unite thanks to these communication tactics and develop a sense of a common goal.
- The next reason of the movement’s success can be traced to its appealing and distinct goals. The Movement had a clearly stated mission, which included calls for democracy, the democratization of China, and the nation’s revitalization. A sizeable segment of the populace, demanding modernization and reform in the face of foreign dominance, identified with these goals.
- The Movement also capitalized on a potent anti-imperialist and sense of national pride. The ‘Shandong Problem’ that was viewed as a violation of Chinese interests in the Treaty of Versailles sparked a strong sense of fury and served as the Movement’s unifying cause. The participants shared rage against foreign imperialism, and the need for national self-determination was a potent unifying force.
What was the May Fourth Movement Significance & Impact on Post World War 1 China?
The success of the May 4th Movement left a long-lasting influence on Chinese politics and society. The movement produced an intellectual and cultural awakening that significantly changed Chinese values and thought. Some major political and social reforms in China that are still cherished and recognised as attributes to the May 4 movement are-
Anti-Imperialist and anti-Warlord Feelings: The Movement stoked a genuine anti-imperialist feeling among the Chinese. It stepped up the fight against foreign meddling and prepared the way for the eventual downfall of imperial control. The Movement also helped reduce the influence of warlords by exposing their corruption and incompetence, further damaging their reputation among the populace.
Founding of Communist Party in 1921: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was established mainly due to the May 4th Movement. Many academics and students identified with the Movement’s emphasis on social justice, anti-imperialism, and the empowerment of the working class. Therefore, this Movement offered a favourable environment for the propagation of communist doctrine, resulting in the CCP’s founding in 1921. The party would later be crucial in determining the course of China’s development.
Anti-Japanese Sentiments: The Movement also stoked prejudice towards the Japanese, which is still present today. The Movement’s hostility to the Treaty of Versailles’s unfair treatment of China, particularly the transfer of German concessions in Shandong to Japan, strengthened a sense of national outrage towards that country. This attitude was the impetus for later resistance to Japanese aggression, culminating in the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), and the present that hate that since liberation was kept alive by CCP leaders especially Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping.
Large-scale but not widely supported – Controversies & Criticisms of May 4th Movement
Despite its enormous support and influence, the May 4th Movement came under fire from
several groups, notably Chinese Muslim Community and Kuomintang (KMT) – affiliated nationalists.
The Chinese Muslims & ethnic groups were concerned about the Movement’s emphasis on Westernisation and rejection of traditional values, most notably by people in Northwest China. They felt that the calls for a secular society and the adoption of modern ideas were in opposition to Islamic doctrine and cultural norms. Chinese Muslims saw the Movement as a potential danger to their identity and way of life since they connected so closely with their religious and cultural history. They were concerned that the emphasis on Westernisation might undermine their Islamic principles and push their communities to the margins.
The KMT Nationalists under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek criticized the Movement’s extremism and connection to communist philosophy. Chiang and other KMT members thought the Movement’s focus on the class struggle and worker emancipation would erode social stability and impede national unity. They said that the Movement’s emphasis on urban intellectuals ignored the requirements and ambitions of the rural masses, who comprised most Chinese citizens. As a danger to Chinese culture and social order, the KMT also criticized the Movement’s rejection of traditional Confucian principles.
A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
– Mao Zedong
Despite the criticism, it is essential to note that the May 4th Movement it must be accepted that the Chinese history underwent significant change during this Movement. It brought about substantial political, social, and cultural transformations that influenced the development of contemporary China. The Movement’s legacy still impacts Chinese society today and represents youth activism, pride in one’s country, and the desire for social change.
Sudan Crisis: What Sparked Ongoing Violent Clashes?
The Sudanese army and its paramilitary organization called Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are at war with one another that if unchecked may soon lead to collapse of the African nation. Read everything about Sudan Crisis.
What Led to Sudan Crisis?
A coup in 2021 overthrew the transitional government that was established after the tyrannical reign of Omar al-Bashir. Since then Sudan has been governed by the army under the leadership of General Abdel-Fattah Burhan as the de facto president. And they were supported by the RAF…until now.
The RSF under the command of General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, had cooperated with the Sudanese army to maintain military rule. After Bashir was overthrown elections were expected to be held by the end of 2023 with Burhan vowing a switch to a civilian administration.
However now neither Burhan nor Dagalo is willing to cede their positions of authority. The situation has now developed into a violent power battle since April 15, 2023.
What is Happening in Sudan?
Clashes between the RSF and the Sudanese army have occurred throughout the nation, including in Khartoum, the nation’s capital. The violence has increased dramatically over the past three days. Conflict about integrating RSF paramilitaries into the Sudanese army was the recent background of the violence. After the RSF began sending personnel nationwide and into Khartoum without the army’s formal consent, tensions reached a breaking point.
But in actuality, tensions in Sudan have been building for some time due to worries that the RSF may be attempting to gain more control over its economic resources, particularly its gold mines. The recent changes in Sudan are unfavourable for the country’s stability or chances of making a democratic transition.
Where does the power equation stand?
Since Sudan’s independence in 1956, the military has dominated the country, carrying out coups, waging internal conflicts, and acquiring economic interests. Distrust between the military and civilian parties persisted throughout the 2019–21 power-sharing arrangement. A tenacious protest movement and backing from some members of the international community provided legitimacy to the civilian side. Additionally, Bashir’s government veterans who joined the civil service after the coup and rebel factions profiting from a 2020 peace agreement supported the military.
The army was restored to power following the coup, but it was met by weekly protests, a rekindled sense of isolation, and worsening economic conditions. General Mohamed HamdanDagalo, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the deputy chairman of Sudan’s ruling council since 2019, backed the proposal for a fresh transition, which stoked tensions with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the president of the ruling council and the army. Hemedti is the alternate name for Dagalo.
Major Faultlines in Sudan Crisis
- Army’s unconditional support to local militias groups
- Monopoly of the military over major industries – civilians have demanded transfer of lucrative military holdings in trade, agriculture, and other businesses.
- Lack of investigation into military’s war crimes during Darfur War (2003) – The people of Sudan had expected that Bashir and other accused would be punished for the wae crimes committed by them at the International Criminal Court (ICC). However the present government’s has shown no intention towards fulfilling this.
- 2019 murder of pro-democracy protestors – On 3rd June 2019 a military personnel was accused of committing the murder of pro-democracy protesters. However repeated delays in the investigation have infuriated family members, activists and civic organizations.
- Widespread demand of justice for the protesters slain by security personnel since the coup in 2021.
How is Sudan Economy Doing?
A significant factor in Bashir’s fall was the deteriorating economic crisis that drove the currency to tumble and caused severe shortages of food and oil. The 2019 – 2021 Transitional Government successfully sought debt relief and attracted international funding by implementing severe, quick changes under the IMF’s supervision. However, after the coup in 2021, billions of dollars in foreign aid and debt relief were suspended, slowing development efforts, taxing the national budget, and escalating the already grave humanitarian situation.
Situation in the Neighborhood
The Red Sea, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa border Sudan, which is located in a volatile area. The nation’s strategic importance and wealth in agriculture have drawn regional power struggles, making the odds of a smooth transition more difficult. Several of Sudan’s neighbours have experienced political unrest and conflict, notably Ethiopia, Chad, and South Sudan.
Several issues have soured Sudan’s relations with Ethiopia, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, contested farmland along their shared border, and unrest in the Tigray region, resulting in thousands of refugees entering Sudan.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two powerful nations in the region, have viewed Sudan’s transformation as a means of fending against Islamist influence.
Meanwhile, the Western nations are concerned about the possibility of a Russian facility on the Red Sea, which Sudanese military officials have said they are open to.
Why Sudan Crisis is Important to the Rest of the World?
Fighting in Sudan between groups loyal to two prominent generals has raised the possibility of its collapse and may have repercussions well beyond its borders. Both sides possess tens of thousands of fighters, outside financial support, mineral wealth, and other assets that may protect them from sanctions. It is a recipe for the protracted strife that has wreaked havoc on other nations in the Middle East and Africa, including Libya, Ethiopia, Lebanon, and Syria. Millions of people are stranded in cities, seeking safety from gunfire, explosives, and looters. And so many more have sacrificed themselves for a better life with democracy.
The Nile River is shared by Sudan, the third-largest country in Africa by area. With regional powerhouses Ethiopia and Egypt, it uncomfortably shares its waters. Ethiopia is building a sizable upstream dam, frightening both Cairo and Khartoum. Egypt depends on the Nile to support its population of nearly 100 million people. Egypt has tight connections with Sudan’s armed forces, which it views as an ally against Ethiopia. Cairo has contacted both sides in Sudan to urge a cease-fire, but it is unlikely to remain silent if the military is defeated.
Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, and South Sudan are the other five nations that border Sudan. South Sudan broke away in 2011 and seized 75% of Khartoum’s oil reserves. Almost all have ongoing internal battles, and there are several rebel organizations swarming the open borders.
According to International Crisis Group’s Alan Boswell, “What happens in Sudan will not stay in Sudan.” “South Sudan and Chad appear to be the most at risk for immediate spillover. But the longer the Sudan crisis continues, the more probable there will be significant outside intervention.
UNSCR 1325: Advancing Women’s Participation and Protection in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution
On 31st October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted a historical and landmark resolution – Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). It is considered to be a milestone in several ways owing to its importance in moving towards a gender-just society. The first-ever resolution adopted by the Security Council that recognised the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and children. It laid out the important role that women can play in promoting peace and security.
4 Pillars of UNSCR 1325
UNSCR 1325 (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325) has four pillars:
- Participation: The resolution emphasizes the importance of women’s participation in all aspects of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, including in decision-making processes and in post-conflict reconstruction.
- Protection: The resolution recognizes the particular impact of armed conflict on women and girls and calls for their protection from all forms of violence, including sexual violence.
- Prevention: The resolution highlights the need to prevent conflict by addressing its root causes, including gender inequality, and by promoting the participation of women in conflict prevention efforts.
- Relief and Recovery: The resolution recognizes the unique needs and contributions of women in relief and recovery efforts, and emphasizes the importance of their full participation in these efforts.
Women’s Participation in Peace Dialogues
Highlighting the significance of women’s full and equal participation in all initiatives, it aims at maintaining and promoting peace and security, as well as at conflict prevention and resolution. The resolution emphasises the need of incorporating women in all stages of the peace process, including talks, conflict resolution, and post-war reconstruction. Additionally, it calls for actions to preserve women’s rights and stop gender-based violence both during and after armed conflict.
The importance of the equal participation and full involvement of women in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, as well as in the prevention and resolution of conflicts has also been underscored.
Role of Women’s Rights Groups
Resolution 1325 was the result of years of advocacy by women’s groups and civil society organisations, who had been working to raise awareness about the impact of armed conflict on women and the need for their participation in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The resolution was also influenced by the experiences of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, particularly in the Balkans and in Rwanda.
Since its adoption, UNSCR 1325 has been followed by several subsequent resolutions and has become a cornerstone of the UN’s efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in conflict prevention and resolution. The resolution has also served as a catalyst for the development of national action plans and other initiatives aimed at implementing its provisions at the national level.
The Women, Peace and Security Agenda
UNSCR 1325 has been followed by 9 subsequent resolutions, a brief description of which is given below:
Resolution 1820 (2008)
This resolution focuses on sexual violence in conflict and calls for measures to prevent and respond to such violence, including through the deployment of specialized personnel and the inclusion of sexual violence in peacekeeping mandates.
Resolution 1888 (2009)
This resolution builds on Resolution 1820 and calls for the establishment of a reporting mechanism on sexual violence in conflict, as well as the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Resolution 1889 (2009)
This resolution emphasises the need to address the specific needs and experiences of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, including through the provision of gender-sensitive services and the promotion of women’s participation in peacebuilding and reconstruction.
Resolution 1960 (2010)
This resolution focuses on the issue of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and calls for measures to strengthen accountability, including through the establishment of special courts or tribunals and the collection of evidence.
Resolution 2106 (2013)
This resolution calls for increased efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, including through the deployment of women protection advisers and the provision of comprehensive services to survivors.
Resolution 2122 (2013)
This resolution emphasises the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts, as well as the need to address the root causes of conflict and violence against women.
Resolution 2422 (2018)
This resolution focuses on the role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism, calling for efforts to empower women and promote their participation in prevention and response efforts.
Resolution 2467 (2019)
This resolution calls for increased efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, including through the provision of comprehensive medical and psychosocial services to survivors.
Resolution 2493 (2019)
This resolution emphasises the importance of women’s participation in peace negotiations and peacebuilding efforts, as well as the need to address the gendered impacts of conflict and ensure that the perspectives and experiences of women are integrated into peace and security policies and programs.
Together these are called the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS). Their aim is to provide a comprehensive approach to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, and highlight the importance of recognizing and addressing the specific challenges facing women in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Has India enforced the WPS agenda?
Successive Indian governments have insisted that the WPS Agenda does not apply to internal Indian matters as there are no active conflicts. However, WPS can assist governments & policy makers to enhance women’s rights, reduce the negative effects of internal conflict on women, and raise female representation in political organisations. In this regard, Indian diplomats and political figures have expressed a commitment – India sent an all-female police unit to South Sudan in 2019, in addition to an all-female engagement team to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019 and an all-female police unit to Liberia in 2007; However much work needs to be done in this regard.
The People vs Donald Trump – Testing American Democracy
During his time as the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump was (in)famous for controversial statements, questionable conduct and far-right ideology..But who would have known 2 years since leaving the office, Donald Trump is still making headlines.
Why Is Donald Trump Trending Again?
On April 4th of this year Trump was indicted on 34 felony charges, all of which are for falsifying business records in several instances under New York state law. If proved, he could potentially serve for 136 years in prison consecutively.
What Is the Former President Charged With?
To answer this, we have to understand a little about the legal proceedings in the USA and some of the more nuanced viewpoints related to this particular case.
In the American legal system, an indictment is not a verdict, but an acknowledgement of a court, that there is enough evidence present to charge a person and proceed towards trial. Being indicted does not mean you are sentenced to prison.
However, this case is a first for the US, where a former president was indicted on criminal charges.
The New York State District Attorney Alvin Bragg presented evidence of falsification of the record of money transferred to an Adult Movie Star Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about a long-term affair before the Presidential election of 2016.
Though the jury collectively acknowledged the evidence, the former president pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges.
This opens the door to an open public trial in this case.
But First, Let’s Understand the Exact Nature of Trump’s Crime
According to New York State Law, it is a crime to delete, alter or make a false entry in the business records of an Enterprise with the intent to defraud. According to the Manhattan DA’s indictment and the attendance statement of facts, the DA is alleging the following facts; the records show that the former president ran a catch-and-kill scheme with AMI, the parent company of the “National Enquirer”.
The idea was that the National Enquirer would help Trump win the presidential election by finding negative stories about him and then buying the rights to those stories. The plan was for AMI to then conceal those stories rather than publicize them. According to the New York indictment the scheme went from August 2015 to December 2017, suppressing stories with money and falsifying the purpose of those payments. With the help of the National Enquirer, Trump came to know that Stormy Daniels was ready to sell their long-term affair story to Times Magazine for some undisclosed amount of money. Then Trump with the help of his then-attorney Michel Cohen paid 130,000$ to the former porn star through a real estate shell company registered in the name of Michel. After the 2016 Presidential win, Trump paid 420,000$ in legal fees in several instances to Michel Cohen from the account of the Trump Foundation.
The DA provided several pieces of evidence that proved that these legal payments however are the “Hush-Money” that Cohen paid previously in several instances to suppress several scandalous stories.
So, Is Trump Going to Jail?
Falsifying business records in itself is NOT a ground for harsh jail time in NY state law. However, to push the verdict towards guilt, the prosecutor has to prove the intent of influencing the election behind these payments – which IS A felony.
In future trials, DA Alvin Bragg will be responsible for proving that not only has Trump falsified business transactions but also, he did them to cover up other crimes. Trump’s lawyers on the other hand, will have to provide enough defense to support that the payments were not made to influence the election but to preserve his family’s reputation.
Whether or not Trump is going to jail is entirely upon the jury and the court!
Apart from these cases, there are also three other investigations going on in three different states on the former president alleging; instigating Jan 6 riots on the Capitol, mishandling of classified documents and trying to tamper with vote counting in Georgia.
What is the Biden Government’s Attitude Towards the Case?
Suppressing stories through the means of money and an ironclad NDA contract, is not unheard of in American politics. There is also the question of speeding of case proceedings on this case, making it seem like a political hit job. However, at the moment Donald Trump’s credibility is on the rocks.
Zooming in on this case, one can certainly see the patterns of undermining the concerns and voice of opposition. In the recent years, various accusations of misconduct by several government agencies have surfaced – Be it Trump’s story, multiple subsidies to Pfizer or the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop – all such stories have either been covered up, banned or labeled as misinformation.
Lets not forget the January 6th incident – Unethical political practices by some US leaders in recent years, has made people so resentful of the establishment that they tried to overthrow the government by forcefully entering and raiding the nation’s capital building!
According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, America is the 3rd largest polarized country in the world. It is believed that the county is very divided and doubtful that the differences can be overcome. And the most ironic of all is that every other day a White House representative comments on another country’s internal politics. When a country struggling with racism and gun violence, stuck in gender and identity politics, battered by canceled culture, presses its skewed view upon others, the rest of the world can only advise America to look within and help itself before preaching to others.
India’s Contribution to Post-Conflict States’ Development and Peacebuilding Support
India’s commitment to giving economic assistance to developing countries returns to its formation as an independent sovereign state in 1947. Despite its great struggle for growth after centuries of colonial control, India laid aside part of its scant resources to assist other developing countries. Regarding motivation, guiding principles, and methodology, India’s approach to offering development and peacebuilding aid differs significantly from that of the DAC nations.
The primary motivation for India to participate in development assistance is an emotional and ideological desire to exhibit solidarity with other developing nations. The economic factor of access to the market for Indian products and natural resources for its expanding industrial sector became the additional impetus in the altered geopolitical and geo economic setting in the globalized globe. India needs a distinct support category for peace building since it rejects the concept.
India’s Humanitarian Assistance
The peculiarity of India as a provider of development aid is that it primarily benefited from support from Western nations and multilateral organizations. India, despite its problems, donated part of its limited resources to help other developing countries that had suffered from similar colonial exploitation and oppression. It provided development assistance to demonstrate its emotional and ideological unity with other poor nations. It had paid off handsomely since India could take the lead among developing countries and use moral influence to affect world politics during the Cold War. Its experiences influence the guiding ideas and methodologies for its development aid as a developing nation.
With its recent economic growth and aim to lead the area, India has become more prominent in disaster assistance. While India has had significant success in achieving its goal of being the “first responder” in the region, it can further benefit from the goodwill generated by its aid:
- Improving internal procedures and increasing coordination with state governments, civil society, and other government branches; and
- eschewing a primarily bilateral approach and coordinating more through regional mechanisms or partnerships. Internally, increased collaboration between its numerous ministries, state governments, the media, and civil society would enable streamlining of operations.
India and Development Assistance
India has been helping developing nations since its independence in 1947; referring to it as a new player in the world development scene needs to be more accurate. Despite facing development issues, India committed a portion of its limited resources to aid other emerging nations. It chose to share its knowledge and skills in development as an emotional and conceptual act of solidarity with other developing countries. India’s initial development assistance was primarily offered through grants, multiyear loans, and technical help to its neighbors, including Nepal, Burma, and Afghanistan. For instance, in the 1950s, India gave “loans of almost 200 million rupees to Myanmar and 100 million rupees to Nepal.”
India realized that a significant barrier to economic progress was a need for more skilled labor. India, therefore, prioritized enhancing the capabilities of other developing nations by providing financial aid for training programs and scholarships for higher education. For instance, India offered scholarships to students from Asian and African countries in 1949. Since then, India has contributed significantly to global development through scholarships and educational exchange. In addition to bilateral assistance for development between 1947 and 1964, India provided support through the multilateral Colombo Plan for Economic Development and Cooperation in South and Southeast Asia (Colombo Plan), which was established in 1950, and the Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Program (SCAAP), which was established in 1960. Moreover, it began funding the United Nations Development Program.
India’s Increasing Participation in Humanitarian Aid
India’s post-conflict contributions are mainly concentrated in three areas: the conflict and post-conflict period, natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis, as well as the aid for COVID-19. India has donated humanitarian help to Ukraine during the conflict, including provisions for children and medical treatment. India also offered assistance to Fiji after storm Yasa devastated the island. The nation has shown greater responsibility in aiding other countries experiencing crises.
India needed to distinguish between support for peace building and development, in contrast to the DAC (Development Assistance Committee) nations. The DAC nations concentrated on closing the “governance gap,” particularly in post-conflict states, while India continued to offer support to reduce “capacity gaps.” Geo-economic considerations have significantly impacted its development and peacebuilding assistance more than political and ideological considerations since its internal economic reforms and a turn towards the neoliberal policy paradigm in the 1990s. Its development aid shifted towards being more commercially focused with “tied credit.”
Since the turn of the century, India has developed into a substantial source of development assistance, even though a sizable portion of its population remains in poverty. It is now part of the non-DAC group of countries, which collectively account for roughly 12 percent of overall aid. According to the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC), in 2014, India’s development assistance climbed from Rs. 134 million in 1990–1991 to Rs. 1.2 billion in 2012–2013. From Exim Bank’s Line of Credits, it has expanded to Rs. 6.7 billion as of 2018–19 in grants, loans, and interest rate subsidies (LOCs).
Principles for Help in Peace building and Development
The formation of India’s guiding philosophy for its development and peacebuilding assistance was also affected by its emotional and ideological approach to dealing with underdeveloped nations. India’s approach to development and peace building assistance has been influenced by a set of normative and operational principles markedly different from that of the DAC countries. India chose the phrase “development partnership” over “development assistance” or “development cooperation” in the era of globalization. India decided to refer to its connection as a development partnership rather than a donor-recipient one to highlight the egalitarian culture of involvement. Although the guiding concepts are not specified in one text, these are reflected in its administration of development assistance to developing nations.
The distinctive concepts, techniques, and modalities of India’s approach to development and peace building assistance draw attention worldwide. The DAC and non-DRC nations, including India, are working on parallel tracks to provide development and peacebuilding aid because they are wary of one another. It would be advantageous to see the differences as complements to meet the global concerns rather than seeing India’s approach to providing development and peacebuilding aid as a challenge to the DCA’s established frameworks. Instead of carrying on customary techniques of superimposing the economic and governance models of mature and high-income donors of DAC nations, they should draw some lessons from India’s experiences of performing peace building and providing development assistance.
India has demonstrated a different approach to promoting world peace and offering development aid. The benefit to underdeveloped nations is that they now have another source of assistance for development and peacekeeping. Instead of attempting to achieve consistency, the diversity in the field of development and peacebuilding support in the post-conflict states should be acknowledged.
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