The Hindu Editorial Analysis
14 September 2021

1. Talking amid conflict| China and the U.S. must engage each other without expecting quick results on all issues

  • Page 6/ Editorial
  • GS 2: IR

Context: The Power struggle and Poor Relations between the world’s two biggest powers, the U.S. and China, in the past five years.

Reasons for Political Tensions:

    • The trade war launched by the Trump administration.
    • South China Sea issue.
    • Taiwan issue.
    • Changing structure of world economy
    • Both sides have clashed on issues including human rights in Xinjiang & Hong Kong.
    • The contentious inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
    • Commitments on Climate Change.

 

Attempts for resolution

    • Ties have remained strained despite meetings between top officials, in Alaska and then in Tianjin.
    • U.S. President Joe Biden called his counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday, the first time they spoke since a conversation in February not long after Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

 

Strategies:

    • US's Strategy:
      • Part of the Biden administration’s stated broader approach of competing with China where required but cooperating where possible.
      • The U.S. has sought Chinese cooperation in Afghanistan after its disastrous exit, which has been celebrated by the state media in China, and also on climate change, which is a priority for this administration.
    • Chinese Strategy: It seeks concessions on some of the issues before it agrees to discuss working together on others.
      • In the July talks in Tianjin, Chinese officials presented two “lists” of demands to the U.S., including unconditionally revoking visa restrictions on Communist Party members and withdrawing an extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech firm Huawei who is on trial in Canada.
      • The Chinese side has also demanded the U.S. change its stance on the COVID-19 inquiry, where Washington has led calls for a more transparent investigation.

Future of these relations:

    • With the U.S. unlikely to agree to China’s preconditions, the state of relations is likely to endure.
    • On Coupling different Issues together: If the Chinese argument that it is unrealistic to insulate points of discord from a broader relationship is not entirely unreasonable, it is notable that Beijing’s officials have rejected that precise argument with regard to the strained relations with India, which has said cooperation on trade and other fronts cannot continue while the LAC remains in crisis.
    • If cooperating while in conflict appears an unreasonable proposition for China when it comes to ties with the U.S., it is unfathomable how it expects India to take a very different stand on bilateral relations.

Expected Question: Discuss the impact of the 'new cold war' between the United States of America and China on India and the world. (250 words)

 

  1.  

2. In Manipur, a case for asymmetric federalism| Institutionally accommodating tribal distinctiveness as an enduring good will promote the State’s integrity

  • Page 7/OPED
  • GS 2: Federal Issues

Context: Asymmetric Federalism is a normative idea and an institutional arrangement which supports the recognition and provision of an expansive ‘self-rule’ for territorially concentrated minority groups.

Attempts to Bring Symmetry in Indian Federalism:

    • J&K: The dissolution of Article 370 in 2019 which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special constitutional status.
    • North Eastern Region: Intermittent attempts to dilute and dissolve the omnibus Article 371 which, among others, gives expansive constitutional powers to Nagas over land and resources (Article 371A), and to Manipur’s Hill Areas Committee (Article 371C) over tribal identity, culture, development and local administration, are exemplars.

 

Main Idea against Asymmetric Federalism:

    • Risk of Separatism: The flawed idea that giving distinctive constitutional status to territorially concentrated minorities fosters separatist tendencies which over time inhibit national/State integration, development, and peace.
    • Majoritarianism: Antagonists of asymmetric federalism increasingly rallied around the majoritarian idea of a monolith, homogenous nation.
    • Experience: Charles Tarlton, the American political scientist who developed the idea of asymmetric federalism in the mid-1960s, was mindful about its destabilising potential, if not properly harnessed. Ex: unsuccessful experience of east European communist states to ‘hold together’ in the 1990s spawned deep suspicion about asymmetric federalism.

 

Constituent assembly debates:

    • The idea of ‘autonomous’ district councils was proposed by the Gopinath Bordoloi Committee, a sub-committee of the Constituent Assembly which sought to accommodate the distinctive identity, culture and way of life of tribal groups in the Northeast by envisioning ‘self-rule’.
    • Distinctiveness Approach: Members like Jaipal Singh and B.R. Ambedkar recognised tribal distinctiveness and underscored the need for separate institutional accommodation.
    • Integrationist approach: Kuladhar Chaliha, a prominent member from Assam, for example, broached an integrationist approach when he openly advocated assimilation of tribal groups.
  • Doubts over self-rule: This approach is also informed by a deep suspicion over the ability of tribal groups to self-govern and institute a semblance of ‘law and order’ given — to wit Chaliha — their practice of “summary justice”.
  • Integrity and Security of India: Chaliha reinforced his integrationist push by contending that tribal “self-rule” would leverage “tribalstan” or “communistan” and would be inimical to India’s territorial integrity and security.

 

Recent examples of Integrationist approaches:

    • This approach has been conveniently invoked to delegitimise continuing demand for constitutional asymmetry in Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and in various other places in Northeast India.
    • Manipur legislations: This integrationist approach resonates powerfully in two recent attempts by Manipur’s government to (i) stall the introduction and passage of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and (ii) induct nine Assembly members from the valley areas into the Hill Areas Committee.
      • This actively mobilised to ramp up majoritarian support for dissolution of long-standing constitutional asymmetry enjoyed by the hill people.
      • It amounts to transgression of a domain exclusively reserved for the President of India under the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972.
      • This was withdrawn due to Stiff opposition faced by Chief Minister Biren Singh.
      • The attempt to increase membership of the six district councils to 31 members each and secure more powers to the councils by giving more developmental mandate are welcome. Yet, the reservation of one-fourth of the seats to socio-economically backward communities may complicate delimitation of constituencies. Earmarking merely three nominated members for unrepresented tribes/women is also simply not enough.

 

Expected Question: What do you mean by Asymmetric federalism? Does it go against the principle of equality and democracy? Critically analyze. (250 Words)