The Hindu Editorial Analysis
27 September 2021

​​​​​1. India must cooperate with U.S. on vaccines, trade, and leverage Quad for regional stability

  • Source: The Hindu - Page 6/Editorial: Back in the game
  • GS 2: IR

Context: In March 2021, the QUAD leaders held first virtual summit in which 3 Working groups were created viz. The Quad Vaccine Partnership, The Quad Climate Change working Group and The Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group. In a recently held 1st ever in-person Quad Summit during the PM Modi's New York visit in for the UNGA session few steps are taken in continuance to these working groups.

    • Following on the heels of the first virtual summit of the four leaders in March 2021, this meeting builds upon the intention of the Quad member nations — India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan — to ensure an Indo-Pacific region “free from coercion and disputes... solved in accordance with international law”.

 

Steps taken during the QUAD meeting -

    1. Developments after the formation of Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group.

  • Quad Senior Cyber Group, 2021:
    • For Implementation of shared cyber standards;
    • Development of secure software;
    • Building workforce & Talent;
    • Promoting the scalability and cyber security of secure & trustworthy digital infrastructure.
  • Space Cooperation(2021) begins

    • Sharing of Earth observation satellite data and analysis on climate change risks and the  sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
    • It will help in monitoring & adapting to climate change, disaster preparedness, in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • [Remember  - Some geospatial data is already shared under BECA]
      1. Quad Fellowship: It will bring 100 exceptional Masters & doctoral students(25 from each countries) in STEM to study in the US.

        • It will develop  a network of S&T experts committed to advancing innovation  & collaboration in the private, public, and academic sectors in their own nations and among Quad countries.

        • A first of its kind scholarship program, operated and administered by philanthropic initiative  & in consultation with a non-governmental task force comprised of leaders from each Quad country.

      2. Technical Standards Contact Groups: The Quad will establish contact groups on Advanced Communications and AI focusing on standards-development activities as well as foundational pre-standardization research.

      3. Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative: to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components.

        • It will help ensure Quad partners support a diverse and competitive market that produces the secure critical technologies essential for digital economies globally.

      4. Support 5G Deployment and Diversification:

        • a Track 1.5 industry dialogue on Open RAN deployment and adoption, coordinated by the Open RAN Policy Coalition.

        • Quad partners will jointly facilitate enabling environments for 5G diversification, including with efforts related to testing and test facilities.

      5. Monitor Biotechnology Scanning: The Quad will monitor trends in critical and emerging technologies, starting with advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and bio-manufacturing. In the process, we will identify related opportunities for cooperation.

    1. Developments after The Quad Climate Working Group:

      1. Green shipping Network: The Quad countries will launch a Quad Shipping Taskforce and will invite leading ports including Los Angeles, Mumbai Port Trust, Sydney(Botany) and Yokahama, to form a network dedicated to greening ad decarbonizing the shipping value chain.

      2. Clean Hydrogen Partnership:  identification and development of delivery infrastructure to safely and efficiently transport, store, and distribute clean hydrogen for end-use applications, and stimulating market demand to accelerate trade in clean hydrogen in the Indo-Pacific region.

      3. Quad-Low emission shipping corridors: 2-3 such corridors would be developed by 2030.

    2. Developments after ‘The Quad Vaccine Partnership: Pledge to donate 1.2bn vaccine dozes globally in addition to doses financed through the COVAX initiative.

      1. India:

        • Production at Biological E Ltd.(Hyderabad) - It will produce 1 bn doses of COVID-19 vaccines by 2022.

        • India resumed the supply of vaccines to the COVAX initiative.

      2. Japan: $3.3 bn provided through COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan program, Japan.

      3. Australia: to provide $212Mn in grant aid to purchase vaccines for south Asia & the Pacific and $219Mn to support last-mile vaccine rollout.

 

Apart from this an infrastructure coordination group is launched:

  •  
  • 2021 - Quad Infrastructure coordination group: for Meeting the significant infrastructure demand in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Significance: A response to Chinese BRI.
    • Lead on High end infrastructure: This represents thousands of projects, including capacity-building, across more than 30 countries in support of rural development, health infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, renewable power generation (e.g., wind, solar, and hydro), telecommunications, road transportation, and more.

 

Significance of the Meeting:

  •  
  • Importance for Indian economy: It seeks to revive India's economy and its strategic role in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Revival of Vaccine Alliance: The US received Mr. Modi’s assurance that as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, India would resume supplies to the global COVAX pool under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme. In the early months of 2021 India halted its export due to  the 2nd wave and around the same time the U.S. also invoked its Defense Production Act, effectively preventing the export of raw materials for vaccine manufacture in a bid to prioritise domestic production.
  • Newer Vision for Quad: Long-pending conversations on trade, defence ties and more.
  • Strengthening the Alliance: Reaffirmation by Mr. Biden that India remained a ‘Major Defence Partner’, making it a key nation with which Washington could share information and strengthen cooperation in advanced military technologies, including, for example, a recent project to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • 'A force for Global Good' - PM Modi: Issues of global concern, including the ongoing pandemic, climate change, technology cooperation, supply chains and security, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific were themes that came up at the Quad gathering.
  • Peace in Indo-Pacific:  It intends to ensure an Indo-Pacific region “free from coercion and disputes... solved in accordance with international law”. Further, while India has sought to disassociate its role as a member of the Quad from the recently announced Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) partnership, there is little doubt that the creation of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia under the AUKUS framework will have significant and positive implications on India’s strategic calculus regarding the Indo-Pacific region.

 

Conclusion: This is a time for India to rapidly deepen cooperative initiatives with the U.S. regarding vaccines and trade and continue engaging vigorously with the Quad for regional stability. That is the optimal strategy to navigate the uncertain global ecosystem that it now finds itself in.

 

Expected Question: Discuss the significance of the recently held Quad Summit in New York. (150 Words)

 

    1. Rajasthan’s law does not validate child marriages, but helps rights of underage brides

      • Source: The Hindu - Page 6/Editorial: Needless row

      • GS 1: Society - Women & Women organizations

Context: Recently Rajasthan Legislative assembly amended the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act is, to allow women above 18 years to submit the memorandum for registration on their own to the competent authority, thereby allowing their marriages to be registered.

    • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a review of the bill to amend the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, passed in the Assembly last week, in view of its likely impact on minor children.

    • The NCPCR said the bill could ‘legitimise’ child marriages.

 

The Earlier Act:

    • Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act was enacted in 2009.

    • It provided for compulsory registration of all marriages. It is largely similar to the enactments in other States, and is based on the Supreme Court’s verdict in Seema vs Ashwani Kumar (2007), which directed that all marriages in India should be registered.

    • The original law itself did not exclude registration of child marriages. Earlier, it was the duty of the parties to the marriage to submit a memorandum on their marriage to the registrar if they were both above 21 years; and if younger, it was the duty of the parents or guardians.

 

Changes after the new amendment:

    • It changes the age at which the obligation to register shifts from the parents or guardians to the parties to the marriage.

    • The amendment changes this age limit to 21 for men and 18 for women.

 

Significance:

    • This does not amount to validating or legitimising child marriage: It is difficult to see this change authorising the bride herself to participate in the marriage registration after the age of 18, as one that permits child marriage.

    • It will help in protection of women's rights: Registering such a marriage may help establish the legal rights of the underage party and those of any children born and deter any attempt to deny the marriage later.

    • Help in Litigation: It may even help prosecution of those solemnising child marriages and implement provisions relating to maintenance and residence of the girl whose marriage is invalidated later.

    • Adequate precautions already there: Nothing prevents the marriage registrar from alerting the child marriage prohibition officer after registering the marriage.

    • Preventing Child rights in case of Child marriage: Even the Supreme Court observed that even though registration itself could not be proof of a valid marriage as such, it would have “great evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of parties to the marriage”.

 

However, More Can be Done:

    • There is a case to revisit Child Marriage laws comprehensively: the issue made by the Opposition and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights may occasion a reconsideration of the legal framework dealing with child marriages that continue to take place despite a statutory prohibition.

    • Current Child Marriage act: According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage act, 2006, all marriages are void only if a child is compelled OR is enticed out of the keeping of the lawful guardian.

    • Even Under the Rajasthan law: child marriages are not void, but only voidable at the instance of one of the parties, who may approach the court for nullifying the marriage within two years of attaining majority.

Conclusion: One must note that there was never any specific prohibition on registering child marriages.

 As a fallout of this controversy, Parliament ought to consider the Law Commission’s recommendation to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to make child marriages below 16 years void, and those solemnised when either party was between 16 and 18, voidable.

 

Expected Question: Discuss the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage act, 2006. Has it been successful in reducing the incidence of child marriages effectively in India? (250 words)