1)The UN remains unreflective of the current global trajectory, especially in the strategic and economic arenas. In light of this statement, justify the need for UN reforms.
At a special session marking 75 years of the United Nations , Prime Minister of India called for reform of its “outdated structures”, pointing out that in the absence of comprehensive changes, the world body today faces a “crisis of confidence”.
• The states established the UN system in the aftermath of the Second World War,
➢ To formulate ideas, norms, principles and standards;
➢ To draw upon the energy and resources of a diverse array of non-state participants in the work of the world organization.
• The UN was born in the crisis of the World War era, and the realities of that time can hardly be compared to the present.
• The UNSC’s permanent, veto-carrying members, chosen by virtue of being “winners” of World War II — the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and later China — can hardly claim adequate representation of the world’s leadership today.
• The UNSC does not include a permanent member from the African, Australian and South American continents, and the pillars of the multilateral order, such as the G-4 group of Brazil, India, Germany and Japan, have been ignored for long.
• Other, more representative options exist, and that has been the crux of the battle for change.
• Even though U.N. membership has risen from 51 to 193 countries, the number of seats on the Security Council has only been increased from 11 to 15, since 1965.
• Opportunities to participate in the work of the Security Council as non-permanent members have become inequitable among regional groups. Such regions as Asia, Africa and Latin America have been underrepresented.
Need for UN Reforms:
• Stagnant UN reform process: For India, what has been most frustrating is that despite the dysfunctional power balance that prevails, the UN’s reform process, held through Inter Governmental Negotiations (IGN) has not made progress over decades, despite commitments.
➢ The UN has chosen to “rollover” the discussions of the IGN, which are looking at five major issues:
▪ enlarging the Security Council,
▪ categories of membership,
▪ the question of the veto that five Permanent members of the UNSC wield,
▪ regional representation, and
▪ Redistributing the Security Council-General Assembly power balance.
• Preserve its credibility: Broader membership of the Security Council, with increased and enhanced representation of countries with the capacity and willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, including from Africa, will allow it to preserve its credibility and create the political backing needed for the peaceful resolution of today’s international crises.
• New complex and systemic global risks: On the one hand, the world is experiencing unparalleled levels of prosperity and connectivity,. Yet these advances are associated with ever greater complexity and systemic risks, increasing the liberal order’s vulnerability to collapse.
The world’s global and national institutions are increasingly incapable of managing stresses to the system.
• Need for stable governance: Faced with threats ranging from climate change to massive technological advancement, the world is in desperate need of stable and able global governance.
• To address perceived failure of liberal order: opposition to liberal governance due to rising inequalities and frustration with the perceived failures of the liberal order.
• Populism and the rise of parochial economic nationalism as among the gravest threats to future
• The risk of a disorderly collapse of the old system is more real than ever.
Areas of UN Reform
• Defunct UNSC: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the UN’s main executive body with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
o However, the veto powers possessed by the UNSC’s five permanent members are used as an instrument to shore up their geopolitical interests, regardless of the disastrous consequences for the victims of armed conflict. As it can be seen in Syria, Iraq, etc.
o Further, It does not reflect today’s distribution of military and economic power, nor a geographical balance. Thus, the structure of the 15-member Security Council ought to be more democratic and representative.
o This has been long overdue on the demand, especially from the so-called Group of 4 (G4) countries — Brazil, Germany, India and Japan — which advocate a permanent seat for all of them.
• General Assembly Reforms: The UN General Assembly(UNGA) can only make non-binding recommendations, which is another reason for ineffectiveness of the UN and another important issue of UN reform.
• Undermining of Associated UN Bodies The Economic and Social Council has been criticized, as it has become overshadowed by institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, which are lacking democratic processes, transparency, and accountability.
• Frequent divisions within the UNSC P-5 end up blocking key decisions. These issues are underlined in a year where the coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill; yet, the UN, the UNSC, and WHO have failed to play an effective role in helping nations deal with the spread.
• UN’s Financial Crisis: It can be said that the UN has a lot to do but it has too little money, as it is in a permanent financial crisis due to the unwillingness of many members to pay their contributions on time.
o As long as the UN’s budget remains tightly constrained, it cannot be effective.
• Toothless UN Peacekeeping Operation: While the vast number of international law treaties affecting international trade, economics and human rights has proved very effective, laws prohibiting the use of force have been less so.
o Thus, there is a need to include more personnel and carry out structural reforms for the UN Peacekeeping Operations.
The world is shifting to a new multi-polar order with the US and China at its center. We need to restore and rebuild stable institutions and rules that acknowledge the changed context. They will need to be more inclusive, representative and legitimate.The role of international mechanisms of cooperation such as the UN, G20, and regional organizations, non-state actors – especially financial and philanthropic actors – also needs to be elevated.
2)The India-United States (US) relationship has, despite the efforts of naysayers, developed on a positive trajectory over the past two decades. In light of this statement, discuss the opportunities and challenges in India- US strategic ties.
The U.S. has courted India as a strategic partner since the early 2000s, supporting India’s grand strategy of developing hard-power capabilities while addressing regional threats and eventually attaining great-power status. In return, India has supported Washington’s overarching goal of securing the Indo-Pacific region.
Opportunities in India-US strategic ties:
➢ Defence cooperation Although defence cooperation between both countries both soft- joint exercises, frequent high level meetings- and hard- defence sales- have increased substantially in recent years, they have potential to achieve greater level of cooperation.
➢ The U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) can build India’s indigenous defense technology ecosystem and absorptive capacity. This has already begun, with reports of cooperation on air-launched swarming drones.
➢ Counter-terror: India and the United States, the oldest and biggest democracies in the world are also victims of growing terrorism and hence can engage and share technical know-how and information in the field of counter-terrorism. The potential areas where substantial cooperation might evolve between these countries include intelligence sharing, cyber terrorism, creating a sound database, curbing proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Agro-terrorism.
➢ Cyber security cooperation should be a natural area of cooperation between India and the United States for a number of reasons. The two countries have been at the receiving end of cyber threats both from state sponsored and non-state actors. The structural complementarities between the two economies, especially in the services sector which is a major user of cyber networks provides further motive for the two countries to cooperate in this sector.
➢ The issue of nuclear security offers both governments’ diplomatic, practical and technical ways in pushing forward the nuclear and radiological security agenda. India can also cooperate with the US in counter proliferation measures such as the Proliferation Security Initiative.
➢ US is India’s largest trading partner and inbound FDI from the US is in excess of $50 billion. While Indian and U.S. negotiators failed to forge a trade deal, they would work on a legal framework for a future deal which can become Phase 1 of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.
➢ A harmonious and growing relationship with the US is a sine qua non to achieve the following objectives:
✓ Sustaining capital inflows to supplement indigenous investment efforts
✓ The need to take advantage of rapid scientific and technological developments in the world which provide an opportunity for India to leap frog its technological development
✓ The need to ensure that the country’s growth is not constrained by scarcity of natural resources.
➢ While common goals and values are at the core of the relationship between the two countries, the increasing synergies in the economies of the two countries are a catalytic factor
• Energy :
➢ US India launched Strategic Energy Partnership, in 2018, to enhance energy security, bolster strategic alignment etc.
➢ Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company are looking to finalize the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors.
➢ Also, India has started importing crude and LNG from the US in recent years, with total imports estimated at $6.7 billion — having grown from zero.
• Science, technology and innovation:
➢ It is one of the strong pillars of cooperation between two. E.g. During COVID-19, Indo-US Virtual Networks for COVID-19 were established to provide a platform to enable Indian and American scientists from academia, to carry out joint research activities.
➢ Both are set to launch joint mission of NASA and ISRO, the world’s first dual-frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite in 2022.
• India’s Foreign policy: India- US strategic ties is facilitating India’s foreign policy agenda of establishing itself as an emerging regional and global power.
• To counter China:
➢ The recently signed basic defence agreements (LEMOA,COMCASA,BECA) may empower India to check Chinese expansionism which threatens a large number of countries in its neighbourhood and beyond, and which has been challenging several established norms and aspects of international relations.
➢ Close defence and military cooperation between India and US as well as with other like-minded nations in the future helps to counter Chinese aggression in the region
• Strategic Convergence in the Indo-Pacific: A close partnership between the United States and India is central to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
• Diaspora and people to people ties: Strength of Indian diaspora in US is around 4.5 million which is around 1% of its population. Indian diaspora is a source and agent of soft power, an effective public diplomacy tool and is acknowledged for its work ethos, discipline, non-interference and peaceful living with the locals.
Challenges in India-US strategic ties:
• Trade related issues with USA: It was manifested in USA policies under former President Trump, like removal of India from its list of developing countries and taking off India from list of beneficiary-developing countries under its scheme of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by US.
• Tariffs war: Since 2018 both countries were engaged in tariffs war. E.g. In 2018, the US imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imports from various countries, including India. India’s refusal to remove the 20% tariffs on ICT products caused the trade deal between India and USA to delay which remains still pending.
• WTO disputes: India USA are involved in WTO disputes on issues like, Capping prices of medical devices by India, greater Indian market access for American agriculture and dairy products etc.
• IPR: India is also on U.S.’s “Priority Watch List” which identifies countries posing challenges to American intellectual property rights. Also, The US wants India to strengthen patent regulations, and to ease the limitations American companies investing in India face.
• U.S.’s soft policy towards Pakistan: US President said US’ relationship with Pakistan is a “very good one” and in 2019, U.S. decided to resume The International Military Education and Training Programme (IMET) that had been a central pillar of the U.S.-Pakistan military cooperation for years.
• USA frictions with Iran, Russia: Putting unilateral curbs on Russian and Iranian imports into India through CAATSA would impinge on India’s relations with Iran, Russia, both relations in which India has strong stakes.
• Divergence of interests in Afghanistan: In the backdrop of Afghan Peace deal, if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, it will directly strengthen the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which means Pakistan’s profile in Afghanistan will be lifted.
• India’s policy of Strategic Autonomy: Critics express that the defence agreements imperil India’s long-held foreign policy of strategic autonomy by paving the way for U.S. bases or ports in Indian territories, or unduly binding India to U.S. systems and procedures.
Despite the differences in some areas, the upward trajectory in India USA relations indicates a sense of greater nuance to the need for institutionalisation of bilateral ties — towards not only graduating the bilateral dynamic away from over-dependence on chemistry between the top political leadership, but also design frameworks in a manner that maximise convergences between the two countries.
Conclusion: India’s China challenge, regional and global aspirations, and increasing role in multilateral fora – and a growing acceptance of and reliance on U.S. cooperation in these spheres – all but ensure the two countries will continue to find convergence in the long term.