Thursday, June 9, 2016

India’s World – Brexit and its consequences

UK is all set to hold a referendum to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. This is as per the promise made by the British PM Cameron. He had promised to hold a referendum over the Brexit issue. Britain wants to leave the group as it had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. However, experts have warned that a vote by the UK to leave the EU would pose a serious threat to global growth. It would reverse the trend of increased global trade, investment and job creation.
What is happening?
A referendum will be held on 23 June to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union.
What is a referendum?
A referendum is basically a vote in which everyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.
What is the European Union?
The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.
What does Brexit mean?
It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.
Why does UK want to leave the EU?
Many in the United Kingdom are of the opinion that the EU has transformed a lot over the years. They think that since several countries have joined the union, the EU’s hold over everyday aspects of these countries has increased. Many think that Britain is better off without the EU as it is being constrained by it. Some of the constraints involve imposing many rules on Britain’s business and shelling out billions of pounds in the form of EU fees without much gain in return.
Would it affect the global economic growth?
No, say few experts. In fact, economics is not the real issue here. Politics is a bigger issue here. As far as the UK is concerned, roughly about 40% of the trade of UK is with EU and largely two countries-Holand and Germany. Hence, this would not make any big difference.
Why Britain should not leave EU?
  • Britain avoids exporter tariffs and red tape, important as 45% of British exports go to the EU. As a member, Britain can obtain better trade terms because of EU’s size.
  • By staying with EU, Britain can fight for better regulations.
  • Leaving doesn’t mean reduced immigration. Countries that trade with the EU from outside have higher rated of immigration, including from EU countries.
  • At international summits, Britain is represented twice- by the foreign secretary and the EU high representatives.
Why Britain should exit?
  • It will be able to secure trade deals important countries such as China, India and America.
  • It saves money which could be used for scientific researches and for building new industries.
  • Leaving will return control over areas like employment, law, health and safety.
  • Currently, Britain has little influence within the EU. By leaving EU, it can have a stronger influence for free trade and cooperation.
Impact on India:
This would affect the flow of FDI. The impact on Indian FDI to the UK could potentially be over two time periods: the short-medium term and the long term. The short-medium term covers the interim period before the referendum, and is likely to see FDI decrease temporarily, the deterrents being the potential financial instability and a legal regime overhaul. If the UK votes to leave the EU, FDI may fall in the long-term as well.
Also, India, unlike the British, sees the EU primarily as an economic and trading bloc, not a political organization, and Indian businesses are acutely aware of the potential of instability that a Brexit. There are over 800 Indian companies in the UK, the top 10-15 of whom contribute $4 billion to the British economy. Indian companies see the UK as the springboard to Europe. The language and legal system give Indians a comfort level. Many Indian information technology companies based in the UK with large work forces and offer services to Europe will be hit too. 

The ministry of women and child development wants a shift in focus from female sterilization to male sterilization.

The Ministry of Women and Child development wants to shift the focus of family planning from female to male sterilization,in order to correct the patriarchal discourse present in society while also adopting the medical best practices.
The reasons for the move :
1) Men of a household push their wives for tubectomy as they think vasectomy will hurt their pride and masculinity.
2)Medically Vasectomy is preferable to Tubectomy as it is more safer and comparatively easier process. Their are no side effects and lesser chances of post operation complications like bladder problems.
3) Vasectomy is cheaper then Tubectomy
4)Tubectomy is more invasive then Vasectomy and recovery period is longer
India needs a combination of both surgical intervention as well as contraceptive interception to control population
1)Only a push for sterilization can get controversial as consent may not be there (like the 80's imbroglio),also threat of botched operations is there because of presence of targets by Ministry. And to add to it is the risk of quackery.
2)Incentivising the usages of contraceptives like condoms,copper-t ,mass awareness campaigns in rural areas,urban slums and even schools is required 
Both along with focus on women empowerment and gender sensitization can help in family planning. 

Quest for another holy grail

India’s 30-year-old effort to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council has been characterised as the pursuit of a diplomatic holy grail. The chance of success in that pursuit has been receding like a mirage, though there have been tantalising signs of progress. A similar, but less intense effort is on to seek admission to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a body which should have included India in the first place. Here again, there is no sign of India being invited, even as the 10-year moratorium on new membership has expired. India has now embarked on another quest, this time to seek membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Prime Minister himself has travelled to Switzerland to seek support and he will also go to Mexico for the same purpose. It is surprising that India is investing much diplomatic effort on this issue when there is little chance of India being invited to the group.
An American initiative
India seeking membership of the NSG is like Russia seeking membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation: the NSG was invented to prevent Indian advance towards possession of nuclear weapons after the technology demonstration test of 1974. If India joins it, the very nature of the NSG will change and dilute its fundamental position that all members should be signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Though the U.S. has stated repeatedly that it would like to see India in the NSG, it cannot be expected to be a party to the fundamental alteration of the NPT regime.
Interestingly, it was a U.S. think tank which brought up the topic in a Track II discussion with some of us in 2007. The suggestion was not that India should be given membership of the NSG, but that India should join all multilateral export control regimes like the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (which it is set to join later this year), the Wassenaar Arrangement for control of conventional weapons and the Australia Group for control of chemicals that could contribute to chemical and biological weapons. It appeared then that the whole proposal was to drag us into Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group by presenting them as a package. We had refrained from joining both, though they were open for us from the beginning, for our own reasons. Our response to the U.S. proposal was guarded as we did not want a bargain on all the groups together. We did, however, emphasise that India’s membership of the NSG would be helpful as it had received an exemption from the NSG guidelines. As a member of the group, we could contribute to the discussion if it sought to amend the guidelines in any manner. In other words, it was not an Indian initiative to press for admission to the NSG.
U.S. President Barack Obama formalised the proposal in 2010, as though it was a concession to India, in his bid to win various contracts, including nuclear supplies. Perhaps, he was aware that a decision on the NSG was not in his hands, but promised to take up the matter with the others just to win some goodwill in the process. As was expected, the fundamental requirement that every member should be a signatory to the NPT was brought up not only by China but several others. There was similar opposition in the case of the exemption from NSG guidelines at the time of the nuclear deal also, but our bilateral efforts and heavy lifting by the U.S., including a final phone call from the U.S. President to his Chinese counterpart, resulted in the exemption. The strength of the argument was that this would be a one-time exemption with no strings attached.
No great gains in the offing
Interestingly, the NSG is an informal grouping, which is referred to in the International Atomic Energy Agency documents only as “certain states”, and there is no precise procedure for seeking admission. But since the group takes all its decisions by consensus, it follows that new members should also be by consensus. For those outside the group, there is an outreach programme which is being pursued vigorously. The outreach programme is meant merely for conveying information and not for consultation. New Delhi hosted an outreach meeting a few years ago, but it was found that the exercise was not of much use in influencing the guidelines.
The pursuit of membership of the NSG by India at the highest level has aroused suspicion that India is aiming to be in the group to deny entry to Pakistan. Such an interpretation is the result of lack of any clarity as to the benefits that will accrue to India by joining the NSG. In fact, membership of the group will not immediately open up nuclear trade as India has already pledged not to transfer nuclear know-how to other countries. If we attempt to dilute the guidelines to liberalise supply, it will be resisted by the others. Membership of the NSG will only mean greater pressure on us to sign the NPT and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and commit in advance to a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which would impose restrictions on existing stockpiles of fissile material.
China has given scant attention to the NSG guidelines and has violated them in the case of Pakistan by claiming to act under an agreement reached before China joined the NSG. Unlike India, Pakistan has not even sought an exemption from the NSG. To say, therefore, that India and Pakistan should be equated on nuclear matters is unreasonable, to say the least. But the NSG did not even challenge the supply of two new reactors to Pakistan by China. The NSG’s ineffectiveness in countering proliferation makes it even less attractive as a group India should join.
The green signal for India to join the MTCR came when Mr. Modi was in Washington purely by coincidence, as the last date for filing objections happened to be that day. Italy had held up its approval on account of the Italian marines issue, but did not file a formal objection because of the decision to let the marines go home. Membership of the MTCR, which restricts the weight and range of missiles, is being projected as clearing the way for NSG. This is not likely because of China except that we can now threaten to veto China if it applies for membership of the MTCR.
When India is not anywhere near the permanent membership of the Security Council and even APEC membership remains elusive, the high-level pursuit of NSG membership may give the impression that India is unrealistic in its expectations from the international community. Support from Switzerland and Mexico will not make any difference as there will not be a vote on the issue. The U.S. may reiterate its support, but the objection will come from China and even some others. It will be better for India to concentrate on one or two fundamental objectives rather than fritter away our diplomatic resources on matters of marginal interest.
T.P. Sreenivasan is a former Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and followed the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Vienna.