IASbhai Editorial Hunt
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EDITORIAL 66:“Pandemics without borders, South Asia’s evolution“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Kanak Mani Dixit
Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist based in Kathmandu, is founding Editor of the magazine, ‘Himal Southasian’
Pandemics without borders, South Asia’s evolution
Rather than deliver an autocratic wasteland, the epidemic should be an opportunity to transform the region’s politics
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:3:Regionalism : Economy
As the region from the Indian Ocean to the Himalaya is hit by recession, more than half a century’s effort against poverty could be wasted.Elucidate-(GS 3)
This article speaks about the urgent need of good governance approach.
- Free Trade
- Empowering local communities
- Upscaling Regionalism
Holding the largest volume and density of poverty in the world, the countries of South Asia are looking into an abyss of distress and discontent.
DIRE SIGN :
The coddling of the middle class and neglect of the majority underclass, so starkly seen during the pandemic response, points to all that has gone wrong in our electoral democracies; no country of South Asia is presently a formal dictatorship.
1. SOUTH ASIA’s WAKE UP CALL:
South Asians should take the pandemic as a wake-up call beyond public health, on ills ranging from:
- plastic pollution to global warming,
- extinction of species,
- hijacking of the commons,
- dirty water,
- toxic air,
- a weakening of the welfare state,
- infrastructural exceptionalism — and the rapid conversion of our
- demographic diversity into the worldwide sameness of a suburban mall.
2. MAL-GOVERNANCE :
- POPULISM : The response of the regimes has been to entrench themselves further, and they are shifting blame on mal-governance to the pandemic even as they tighten state control through surveillance, repressive laws and radical populism backed by ultra-nationalism.
- FEDERAL DEVOLUTION : The public’s fear of the virus is allowing Presidents and Prime Ministers to press on with top-down rule, whereas the lockdown should be the time to generate momentum towards federal devolution and Gandhi’s empowering ‘gram swaraj’ — a term that must be revived without a sense of embarrassment.
3. SOFT POWER CORRECTIONS :
- CENTRALISATION : The trajectory of India, with its galloping centralisation, removes governance from the people’s reach.
- INEFFICIENCY : In both India and Pakistan, the two large countries of South Asia, ending insensitivity and inefficiency in governance require power and agency to pass to the provinces/States.
- SELF-ANALYSIS : Self-correction is only possible in smaller, devolved polities.
- SCIENTIFIC TEMPER : India has shone in the world because of its soft power:
4. A REFORMATTING :
- EMPOWERING LOCAL COMMUNITIES : Internally, power must devolve from the capital to the provincial units of the two larger countries (Pakistan and India), as well as empowerment of local governments all over (as done in Nepal under the 2015 Constitution, but not yet fully implemented).
- REVIVING ECONOMIES : Externally, the countries of South Asia must bring down the hyper-nationalist mind barriers to allow porous borders, thereby reviving historical synergies in economy, ecology and culture.
- GROWTH FORMULA : This is essential for both social justice and economic growth, and cannot happen without a palpable reduction in military expenditures that will come with abandonment of the national security state.
- EVOLUTION OF POLITY : South Asian regionalism requires resuming the evolution of the subcontinental polity that was terminated in 1947 with Partition.
5. UPSCALING REGIONALISM :
Regionalism would lead to collaborative battles against pestilence, and for wealth creation through trade, comparative advantage, and economies of scale.
- REGIONALISM : would help fight plastic pollution in our rivers, battle the air pollution that wafts across our frontiers, promote cooperation in natural and human-made disasters, and boost the economies of the geographical “periphery” of each country.
- REDEFINE SOFT-POWER : Instead, it is the path for India’s own socio-economic advance, and the way to garner international recognition of its soft power.
- BONDING : Internal devolution and cross-border bonding has always been a necessity but impossible for some to contemplate.