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14 Feb 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis

1) Towards A New World Order


  • CONTEXT: The World Economic Forum (WEF), held at Davos last month, has become a Mecca for all forms of new capitalism. 
  • It started in 1971 with the noble objective of improving the state of the world, but now serves as a platform for, world leaders, billionaires, professionals at the top of the business pyramid, senior government ministerial delegations, and others, who gather to change the world. 
  • This is the 49th year of the congregation. The messages from Davos drift like snowflakes, on the agendas of the developed world.

 

  • WORLD’S MOST COMPLEX AND INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS: Social inequalities and the grim problems of stark and continuing poverty are at the epicentre of the new world. 
  • The latest Oxfam Report presented at Davos points out that 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people. 
  • The emergence of billionaires and oligarchs in different parts of the world coincides with increased poverty among the already poor people, especially children. 
  • These realities make observers question the tenability of stakeholder capitalism as a concept.
  • The ugliest face of this capitalism was visible during the 2007-2008 economic crisis, first in the U.S. and thereafter across the European Union. 
  • At that time, it appeared as if the global economy was on the verge of collapse.
  • One of the chief characteristics of economic development is the intensification of energy use. 
  • There is an unprecedented concentration of high energy density in all economic development strategies. 
  • The bulk of the energy continues to be generated from non-renewable sources. 
  • The developed world’s, and China’s, central objective is to capture energy-generating resources from across continents and put them to use to push GDP growth to greater heights. 
  • In the process, sustainability is becoming a casualty.

  • HOW DO WE DEFINE ENERGY? In physics, energy is defined as ‘work done’ or, in other words, the force that moves all objects. 
  • It is important to understand the philosophical implications of one of the great laws of physics — the Laws of Thermodynamics. 
  • The first law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it merely changes form and is always conserved. 
  • The second law states that when ‘work is done’, only a part of the energy is consumed, the balance is lost. The lost part is called ‘entropy’ and it is proven that entropy always maximises. 
  • This whole phenomenon also leaves behind inert material as waste. The higher the use of energy, the larger the amount of waste generated. Entropy, like time, is always unidirectional, it only goes forward.

 

  • EXCESS CONSUMPTION: Egregious consumption of energy by the developed world has been accompanied by the disposal of residual products (‘e-waste’) on the shores of many African and Asian countries. 
  • As a result, the poor in the developing world are, unwittingly, drawn and exposed to toxic, hazardous materials like lead, cadmium and arsenic. 
  • Hence, the ‘globalisation’ phenomenon has turned out to be nothing other than exploitation of the developing world, with most countries being treated as a source of cheap labour and critical raw material.
  • Most, if not all, transactions are based on the arbitrage between price and value difference, from which only the ‘middleman’ gains, not the primary producer.
  • Countries in the developed world, and China, are ferociously using up finite raw materials without care or concern for the welfare of present and future generations. 
  • Certainly, there has been significant technological progress which has brought about revolution in the fields of healthcare and communications, but there is also a dark side to this. 
  • High expenses and Intellectual Property Rights load the system further in favour of the rich. 
  • To demonstrate how deep the rot is, one can look at the pernicious plan to set up a carbon credit system. Under this, countries with high energy consumption trends can simply offset their consumption patterns by purchasing carbon credits, the unutilised carbon footprint, from poor developing countries.
  • To sum up, these are tough issues and solutions are not easily available. 

 

  • NORDIC COUNTRIES: ‘Nordic Economic Model’, which pertains to the remarkable achievements of the Scandinavian countries comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and allied territories.
  • The total population of the Nordic countries is estimated at almost 27 million people. 
  • These nations are among the richest in the world when measured in terms of GDP per capita.
  • They also have large public sector enterprises; extensive and generous universal welfare systems; high levels of taxation; and considerable state involvement in promoting and upholding welfare states. 
  • UN reports also indicate that the Nordic countries are the happiest countries in the world. The U.S., in contrast, is in 19th place.
  • Taking the Nordic model as a template, there are some ingredients that could be part of a new ‘enlightened global order’. 
  • These should include — effective welfare safety nets for all; corruption-free governance; a fundamental right to tuition-free education, including higher education; and a fundamental right to good medical care.
  • This also has to involve shutting of tax havens. In Nordic countries, personal and corporate income tax rates are very high, especially on the very rich. If a just, new world order is to arise, taxes everywhere should go up.

 

  • HOLDING COMPANIES RESPONSIBLE: When it comes to the corporate sector, there are some new perspectives. 
  • In traditional business accounting, ‘bottom line’ refers to the financial year’s profit or loss earned or incurred by the company on pure financial parameters. 
  • However, following vigorous debates, a new format has emerged under which a company’s performance is measured through four ‘Ps’. 
    • The first is ‘P’ for ‘profit’. 
    • The second ‘P’ is for people — how the company’s actions impact not only employees, but society as a whole.
    • The third ‘P’ is for planet — are the company’s actions and plans sensitive to the environment? 
    • The four ‘P’ is for purpose, which means the companies and individuals must develop a larger purpose than ‘business as usual’. They must ask: what is the larger purpose of the company, apart from generating profits?
  • Using big data and text analytics, a company’s performance can be measured in terms of all the four ‘P’s and a corporate entity can be thus held accountable.
  • Market capitalisation need not be the only way to measure the value of a company.

 

  • CONCLUSION: Much work is yet to be done to uplift the global economic order, but the important point is that new tools are now emerging. 
  • What is required is a global consensus and the will to make the planet more sustainable, so that all individuals can live with justice and equality, ensuring that not a single child is hungry or seriously unwell because of poverty or lack of affordable medical help.

 

2) On A First Good Step


  • CONTEXT: The conviction of Hafiz Saeed by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan 
  • It is the direct result of the intensifying gaze and pressure of the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog against terror financing. 

 

  • REASON BEHIND THE BAN: It was the FATF’s placement of Pakistan in the “grey list”, and repeated warnings of Pakistan’s non-compliance with FATF norms.
  • This led to a crackdown against Saeed and his Jamat ud Dawa/Lashkar-e-Toiba last year. 
  • Charges were laid against him and several others of the JuD under Pakistan’s 1998 Anti-Terrorist Act, leading to the conviction. 
  • FATF in a couple of days were to decide if Pakistan should be ‘blacklisted’ & that forced the authorities to sentence him for five and a half years in prison. 

 

  • INDIA’S RELAINCE ON FATF: In recent years, Delhi, which named Saeed and the LeT as the mastermind of the Mumbai 2008 terrorist attacks, has come to depend much on the FATF
  • FATF is a multilateral body powered by the United States Treasury. India wanted FATF to get Pakistan to act against terrorists and terrorist groups that have India in their crosshairs.
  • In this respect, the FATF has proved more effective than the listing of such entities by the UNSC 1267 committee. 
  • The designation of Saeed and Masood Azhar under 1267 has given India diplomatic victories to crow about 
  • But little relief on the ground from these vicious men or the terrorist networks associated with them, especially in Kashmir. 
  • FATF blacklisting could get Pakistan excluded from the global financial system, from banking and non-banking lenders.
  • A country whose economy is on life support from IMF would have an impact far more devastating if it gets blacklisted.

 

  • DISMISSING CONVICTION AS COSMETIC: It is not wise of Delhi to dismiss Hafiz Saeed’s conviction as cosmetic, done to keep off international pressure. 
  • That seems to suggest that such pressure has little value, even though Delhi frequently asks the world to use its influence on Pakistan to act against terror groups on its soil. 
  • It also downplays the work of the FATF, which is doing more than most to rein in Pakistan’s free radicals. 
  • Of course the “efficacy” of Hafiz Saeed’s conviction will need to be tested against actions Pakistan takes as a result of this conviction. 
  • Saeed, who has spent most of the last dozen years in and out of house arrest, and had for the most part received a free pass from the judiciary. It continues to have powerful patrons who would like to take India back to the 1990s in Kashmir. 
  • The recent “escape” of Ehsanullah Ehsan of the Pakistani Taliban, named in the 2014 massacre of children at the Army Public School in Peshawar, is a timely illustration that Pakistan’s pact with violent proxy groups can be broken only by structural changes.

 

  • CONCLUSION: Saeed’s conviction is no small thing. 
  • This is the first time Pakistan has been forced to convict a man running a proxy army for its military and nurtured as a VIP for years, as a terrorist under its own law. 
  • India should welcome the sentencing as a good first step.

 

3) Should women be given command posts in the Army?


  • Last week, in response to an ongoing hearing in the Supreme Court on permanent commission for women officers, the government cited “physical” and “physiological limitations” in granting command positions to women officers in the Indian Army. 
  • To this, the Supreme Court responded that there is a need for administrative will and “change of mindset”. In a conversation moderated by Dinakar Peri, Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain and Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda discuss this question. 
  • Excerpts: Could you provide an overview of the reasoning behind the government’s stand?
  • Lt Gen Hasnain: Till September 2019, permanent commission for women was restricted to only two departments: the Army Education Corps and the Judge Advocate General’s branch. 
  • In September, the Defence Ministry announced that it is opening this up to eight other arms and services from April this year, for women already selected for the Short Service Commission. So, permanent commission now is open in 10 departments, or what you call arms and services. 
  • Now, women’s careers can be furthered only if they get what are called command assignments or criteria appointments. The question is, how do you define a criteria appointment? 
  • The Indian Army is what is called a command-oriented Army. That is, anyone who has to be given further positions up the chain of command has to first be experienced in command at the level of a full Colonel, a unit command. So far, this was denied to women. That is the main issue.
  • My opinion is that the time has come for us to at least experiment, if nothing else, and that experiment needs to be done first with the Services — Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. 
  • In all these there are women who have been commissioned for the last 30 years as Short Service Commissioned officers. Many of them have commanded workshops. Some of them are in a position to be selected. 
  • The focus is on the word selected because they have to be selected through their confidential reports, a board of officers, a promotion board, which will determine whether they are fit to command. Only then will they command a unit.
  • Gen Hooda, apart from the point about gaining acceptability from other soldiers, the government has argued that there are other issues such as motherhood and domestic obligations. Do you believe that these are stumbling blocks in women holding command positions? For the last 30 years we have had women in the Army.
  • Lt Gen Hooda: There are challenges — domestic issues, fitness, pregnancy — all that has been quoted by the government in its affidavit. But this is an argument we had 30 years ago when we were inducting women into the Army. All these issues have been handled by the Army in a very mature manner over the years.
  • Coming specifically to the issue of whether they should be given command or not, there is very little justification in saying that while women officers can be company commanders, platoon commanders, second in command, [they should be excluded] when it comes to command appointments, commanding a unit, only on the basis that they are women. 
  • This argument doesn’t hold water. As Lt Gen Hasnain said, there is a board of officers to decide whether promotions to the rank of Colonel can take place or not for a particular officer. It’s not as if all male officers get automatically promoted as Colonels. 
  • In some cases, in some services, less than 30% of male officers are promoted to the rank of Colonel. The decision is made by a board of officers. Let the same board of officers decide whether a woman officer is fit to command a unit. Women should be judged on the basis of their professionalism and on the basis of merit.

  • The Commanding Officer holds a very significant position in the Army. What distinguishes the command positions and what’s the way forward to have women in these roles?
  • Lt Gen Hasnain: Let’s understand it from a career management angle as well as a functional angle. What are criteria appointments which someone has to fulfil before they can be promoted to even higher ranks? 
  • These appointments can be directly in command of troops or many times they are also not in command of troops. For example, there can be appointments in the Army Education Corps and the Judge Advocate General’s branch or such things where you have a certain responsibility, but you are not directly commanding troops. 
  • There are arms and services such as the Army Service Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where you have resources under your command and you have a large number of personnel under your command. 
  • In the Engineers Corps, a criteria appointment could be to set up an appointment such as the Commander Works Engineer who is responsible largely for projects of maintenance, of a lot of construction assets, and things like that, and very little responsibility for the personnel under you. So, there is a whole range of such responsibilities.
  • But the one important aspect is that the difference between a sub-unit command and the command by a Commanding Officer is that the Commanding Officer is the place where the buck stops. 
  • So the question many are asking is, do women have it in them to be able to accept that kind of responsibility? And will they be able to exercise that authority over male personnel under them? 
  • Now, this has only been experienced in sub-units where there could be 100-120 men serving under a lady officer of rank of a Major or Lieutenant Colonel and they have done extremely well in those appointments. So there is nothing wrong in giving them command assignments. 
  • That is why I said let’s experiment with it. Give it a five-year period, and if you find something drastically wrong, which I’m sure you will not, then maybe you can give it a review. 
  • But on the face of it, denying them this opportunity only on the basis of their gender is not legally correct, I think, though of course the Supreme Court will decide that. I don’t think it is morally correct. 
  • Because now that you have given them permanent commission, you’ve given them this on the basis of the assumption that they are equally good [as men], they’re responsible, and they can be developed to become better,  I think it’s incumbent on the organisation to actually repose a certain level of trust in them and give them these command responsibilities.
  • Gen Hooda, you had written that there is some merit in not having women in combat roles. Can you elaborate on this?
  • Lt Gen Hooda: I think there is some justification in not permitting women in combat roles at this time. There are issues about soldiers and officers living on the front lines. Officers and their men all live together in, say, one bunker along the Line of Control. 
  • So, there are issues and if you are going to induct women in Combat Arms, try and shield them from some of these more difficult roles. At this stage, it could only invite more resentment regarding why we are having women in Combat Arms. We should keep that debate for later. 
  • Let’s start with mainstreaming those arms and services where women already are present. You had mentioned stressful conditions like working in close proximity on the front lines. Now we’re talking about command positions, but combat roles in front line combat will come up after that. How can these issues be addressed?
  • Lt Gen Hooda: We need to look at things in a more practical manner. We’ve already started inducting women as permanent commission in some of the supporting arms and services. We need to completely integrate all the people in the Army, and that includes women officers. 
  • It’s ridiculous that we are fighting battles in court. The Supreme Court might give some judgment based on its wisdom. But within the Army, if we can internally resolve these issues, that will be a much better approach. 
  • So let’s look at both sides of the debate. And the fact is, you have to integrate women better in the Army, you have to give them their professional aspirations, their personal aspirations have to be met. Let’s start debating this and see how everyone can be pulled together. 
  • Frankly, some of the arguments that have been made in the Court — I dare say I’m using this word with a little caution — are regressive, and don’t reflect the reality on the ground today.
  • What were your efforts in this direction? Lt Gen Hasnain: That’s a good question. I admit that I started with a negative mindset myself, way back in 1991. But my mind changed very early because of the demonstrated capability on the ground. 
  • In almost every arm and service, I visited in my own division on the Line of Control, I saw a detachment of engineers working feverishly on a particular operational track and the person commanding that detachment and spending time on the deck of the bulldozer at night, for three to four weeks with the men, was a lady officer. 
  • Thereafter, there have been many occasions where I’ve seen young women, convoy commanders, who’ve done a marvellous job under the most challenging circumstances in cases of ambushes on the Uri-Baramulla road.
  • Lt Gen Hooda: I will give you two stories. In 2005, I took over command of the Brigade from Lt Gen Hasnain, and we had this earthquake in September 2005. My Brigade Major wasn’t there [in Uri]. The officer below him, the captain who is called the G3, was injured. And we had no officers there, we were completely cut off. 
  • The Education Officer, Captain Rosie, performed the role of Brigade Major and she handled the whole operational side. Hats off to the way she handled it. So, I have no doubts about women officers handling responsibilities during a crisis. 
  • Then we had Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Commanding Officer of a unit, when I was the Army Commander, who was killed while fighting terrorists in September 2015. When my wife went to pay condolences, his wife said she wanted to join the Army. She was 35 years old, 10 years older than anybody who can get commissioned into the Officers Training Academy. 
  • We took up her case. She got commissioned in 2017 as a Lieutenant in the Ordnance (Corps). Now, the inspiration we get from her story is beyond words. Generals, in retrospect, would you have taken orders from a woman officer?
  • Lt Gen Hasnain: Without blinking an eye, if someone above me, whether man or woman, was someone who demonstrated capability and leadership qualities, there is no question that I would not accept directions, orders. 
  • In the Army, we are trained to do that. It’s just a mindset [regarding women], we need to overcome that. I would have overcome it almost immediately. Lt Gen Hooda: Soldiers respect professionalism, good leadership, irrespective of whether it is demonstrated by a male or female officer.

 

4) On envoys visit to J&K: Managing perceptions


  • The Centre’s decision to take another group of envoys on a guided tour of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and the stated hope of the Ministry of External Affairs that these tours will become a regular feature, point to a belief that these visits have been productive. 
  • Clearly, the government, which has been under considerable international pressure to lift restrictions in the former State, has managed to arrange these three visits without any incident.
  •  The delegations have been taken to meet with local groups, and shown a glimpse of ‘normalcy’ in the Kashmir Valley, with shops open, people out on the streets, and boating on the Dal Lake. 
  • After these tours, no envoy has come forward with any negative account, which indicates that at least for the moment, the government’s narrative has prevailed. The visits have also smoothed other diplomatic exchanges. U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Juster’s trip to J&K paved the way for President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit.
  • The latest visit by European Ambassadors was timed just before Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar travels to Brussels to prepare for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip next month for the EU-India summit. 
  • However, the government must recognise that these gains in the immediate present are superficial in the absence of a change in the situation in Kashmir.
  • It would not have escaped anyone’s attention that these tours are tightly controlled, and the people meeting the foreign guests in the confines of the Raj Bhavan are handpicked by the government. 
  • In fact, European delegates who accepted New Delhi’s invitation on this trip had earlier opted out in order to request freer access and meetings with leaders in detention, but the government refused to relent. 
  • The chimera of ‘normalcy’ seems patently fragile: the visit had to be postponed by a day due to a bandh call in the Valley; and just a day after the visit, the Internet was snapped once again due to security concerns. 
  • It is also puzzling how the government, which has repeated often that J&K is an “internal affair”, squares it up with this new policy of conducting tours for the international community. 
  • The truth is, managing India’s image is important, but the government’s primary responsibilities still lie within its borders - responsibilities to the people of J&K, who have yet to see a return to normalcy; to those detained in and outside J&K, including sitting Member of Parliament and octogenarian Farooq Abdullah. 
  • Farooq Abdullah, against whom little evidence of wrongdoing has been furnished; and to the people of India as a whole, who are yet to see a credible path to the peace and prosperity that was promised when the momentous decision on Article 370 was announced last August. 
  • It is their legitimate expectations, not those of the international community, that must be a priority for the government. What should worry India is the ground reality in Kashmir, not the views of other countries.