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Today’s Talk on Editorials November 24, 2017- Civils360

Reaching out to neighbours-The Hindu

Background: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping founded on 8 August 1967 by five southeast Asian nations to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region through multilateral cooperation. The formation of the ASEAN evolved from an informal gathering later termed as “sports-shirt diplomacy” to a more rules based organisation and the membership increased to ten. Today, ASEAN is considered one of the most successful intergovernmental organisations in the developing world because of its key agreements like ASEAN Free Trade Area Framework Agreement, ASEAN Charter etc.

  • SAARC was formed with similar aspirations to ASEAN but over time has failed to deliver. It has been unable to integrate the region through trade and connectivity and continues to be stuck in the struggles of regional politics and rivalry and stagnates from historical distrust.
  • ASEAN focused on a limited range of issues, but over time its mandate expanded to climate change, disaster management, counter -terrorism, drugs and human trafficking.Its success emerges from the fact that it has been able to solve the intra-ASEAN disputes faster and in an effective manner. ASEAN’s comparative success in conflict management is the use of alternative dispute resolution, through justice or mediation. If ASEAN countries favor bilateral conflict resolution, the principle of non-intervention at times pushed them to use the International Court of Justice to resolve territorial disputes like the sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan in 2002.
  • However, in the case of SAARC the political conflicts, deep mistrust and military conflict between India and Pakistan have frustrated regional cooperation.For example, Pakistan acts as an opposition to India’s role in Afghan.It also turns down India from joining  Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement .Also, due to the hostility and state sponsored terrorism of Pakistan, there has been institutional vacuum in SAARC’s functioning.
  • Trade in ASEAN has grown rapidly and it has focused on promoting rapid economic growth and modernization. It has created the Comprehensive Investment Agreement which ensures liberalization and protection of cross-border investments operations. However, trade amongst the SAARC members stands at 3.5% of their total volume of trade.
  • ASEAN has further planned to improve connectivity by conducting a feasibility study  on the development of a rail link from Singapore to Kunming in southern China to enhance seamless connectivity among the ASEAN nations to boost intra-regional trade and people-to-people connectivity where as South Asia sees its Connectivity schemes like BBIN corridor stalled due to apprehension of Bhutan. In short, ASEAN has behaved pragmatically and sensibly whereas South Asia has been bogged down by bilateral animosity and the bitter legacy of partition.
  • India is trying alternate ways to improve its diplomatic relations with SAARC-Pakistan approach, encouraging new organisation that bridges the gap between South Asia and South East Asia through BIMSTEC.

Role of Technology in contemporary world- Hindustan Times

Background: From the early seventies to late nineties of the past century, there has been a technology boom across the world. It resulted in increased internet penetration and the advent of social media have further revolutionized means of communication, heightened transparency during information dissemination, networked billions across the world dissolving geographic boundaries, and have enhanced avenues of economic collaboration; thereby creating an ideal environment for a world with an equitable globally participatory democracy.

  • However the report by Freedom House, an organisation that quantitatively measures rights across the world has found that every single region across the world experienced a democratic recession for the eleventh straight year. The past decade saw a reversal of the democratic gains from the nineties and reverted back to authoritarian regimes; besides populists and nationalists gaining strongholds among majority of the established democracies. For example, BREXIT, America First Policy.
  • Unexpectedly, technologies of our times have played a larger than imagined role in the creation of this political landscape. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and driverless automobiles have replaced high volume, lower skilled jobs replacing with fewer, higher skilled, higher income jobs, thereby creating high levels of unemployment, previously unseen inequalities, and mass public dissatisfaction.
  • For example, labour bureau of India states that employment generation in the top eight formal sectors stood at a meager 1.35 lakhs, against almost 1.5 crore annually entering the job market.Also, leading economists like Thomas Picketty have found that our income inequality has reached the highest levels since the British Indian days of 1922.
  • Social media platforms and big data driven personalized messaging campaigns have been used for campaigning by the electoral parties for their own interests.They are more interested in campaigning rather than about proper governance through technology.It results in an isolationist and sectarian worldviews