Bharat Ratna to Karpoori Thakur :
Why in News?
Recently, the President of India announced that the Bharat Ratna would be awarded to socialist leader and former Chief Minister of Bihar Karpoori Thakur, posthumously. This comes at a time when three-day celebrations are being held in Bihar to mark his birth centenary
What is in this article?
– The Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, has been awarded to 50 individuals since 1954.
– Recent recipients include BJP leader L.K. Advani and late socialist leader Karpoori Thakur.
– The awarding of the Bharat Ratna serves to create national heroes and stimulate collective consciousness.
– It reinforces ideals represented by recipients and helps hold the collective together.
– L.K. Advani, a prominent BJP leader, played a significant role in modern Indian history, advocating for Hindutva ideology and mentoring Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
– His campaign for a temple in Ayodhya altered the course of Indian politics, challenging the constitutional order.
– Karpoori Thakur was a key figure in social justice politics in Bihar and the Hindi belt, challenging Congress’s dominance.
– Thakur’s recognition reinforces ongoing processes within the BJP, aligning with the party’s politics of Hindu consolidation and representation for intermediate castes.
– Previous Bharat Ratna recipients, like A.B. Vajpayee, M.G. Ramachandran, and B.R. Ambedkar, also reflect the political context of their time.
– Advani and Thakur symbolize different aspects of BJP politics, Hindu consolidation, and representation for intermediate castes.
Who was Karpoori Thakur?
• About: Karpoori Thakur, called as “Jan Nayak”, was a prominent Indian politician who served as the 11th Chief Minister of Bihar twice, from 1970-71 and 1977-79.
• Early Life and Political Foundation (1942-1967): He was a freedom fighter and a staunch socialist who worked under the guidance of stalwarts such as Jayaprakash Narain, Dr Rammanohar Lohia and Ramnandan Mishra.
• Represented the Nai community, listed as an Extremely Backward Class (EBC) among OBCs.
• Entered politics in 1952, serving as a legislator until 1985.
• Chief Ministerial Term and Policies: In 1977, during his Chief Ministership, Mungeri Lal Commission recommended reclassifying backward classes into extremely backward classes (including weaker sections of Muslims) and backward classes.
• In 1978, he introduced a groundbreaking reservation model, allocating 26% of reservations with specific quotas for OBCs, EBCs, women, and economically backward classes among upper castes.
• This reclassification was also seen as a percussor of the Mandal Commission report, advocating for 27% reservations for Other Backward Classes.
• Implemented wide-ranging policies, including the promotion of Hindi, and Urdu as the second official language, waiving school fees, and strengthening Panchayati Raj
What is Bharat Ratna Award?
About: Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. History and Evolution: Instituted in 1954, the award is conferred in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.
The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science, and public services.
But in December 2011, the government expanded the criteria to include any field of human endeavour.
First Recipients: The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and C. V. Raman, honoured in 1954.
Most recently, in 2019, it was awarded to Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hajarika and Pranab Mukherjee.
• It is not mandatory that Bharat Ratna be awarded every year.
• There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.
• The award has been awarded to a naturalized Indian citizen, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990).
• Recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister of India to the President.
• The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
• On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
• The Award does not carry any monetary grant.
• In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name.
• However, an award holder consider it necessary, using the following expression in their biodata/letterhead/visiting card etc. to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award: Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President or Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award.
SOCIAL ISSUES – Sanitation
Addressing Challenges in Sanitation Coverage: Insights from India
Improving sanitation coverage has been a significant public policy achievement in India over the past decade. Aligned with Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G) aimed to make India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2019. Despite impressive progress, challenges remain in ensuring sustainable sanitation practices and behavioral change.
Data and Behavioral Patterns:
Sanitation coverage in India has improved significantly, reaching 100% by 2019 according to government data. However, behavioral patterns and usage rates of toilets
remain critical factors for sustainability. Surveys indicate that the mere construction of toilets does not guarantee their use, with factors such as functionality, hygiene, and social norms influencing adoption rates.
Left-out Households and Unused Toilets:
Surveys reveal discrepancies between toilet access and usage rates across different regions and household sizes. A significant proportion of households remain left out, while some toilets are unused for defecation due to structural issues or social norms. Identifying and addressing these gaps is crucial for achieving sustained sanitation coverage.
Household Size and Social Norms:
Econometric models highlight the influence of household size and social norms on toilet usage. Larger households and communities with entrenched social norms may face challenges in adopting sanitation practices. Phase II of the SBM-G should consider these factors and prioritize multiple toilets for larger households and address social engineering through targeted campaigns.
Lack of Synergy in Program Implementation:
Despite substantial investments in sanitation programs, there is a lack of synergy and coordination among various initiatives addressing basic needs such as housing and
access to water. Uncoordinated efforts risk inefficiencies and undermine the impact of public spending. A holistic approach that integrates sanitation with broader development
goals is essential for long-term sustainability.
Achieving sustainable sanitation coverage in India requires addressing behavioral barriers, addressing gaps in infrastructure, and fostering synergy among development programs. By prioritizing community engagement, social engineering, and coordinated implementation, India can build upon its sanitation achievements and advance towards inclusive and sustainable development.
SOCIAL ISSUES – Health – Malnutrition
Empowering Women for Nutrition: The Uttar Pradesh Model
Manoj Kumar Singh, Agriculture Production Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh, highlights the state’s innovative approach to tackling malnutrition through women’s empowerment. This initiative, supported by community-based micro-enterprises led by self-help groups, focuses on producing fortified and nutritious foods for pregnant/breastfeeding mothers
Women’s Empowerment for Nutrition:
The collaboration between the Department of Women and Child Development and the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission has led to the establishment of decentralized production units for take home rations by women’s enterprises. These units, run by women’s groups, produce various variants of fortified foods for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) beneficiaries, creating livelihood opportunities for thousands of women
The project aims to improve nutrition outcomes by providing high-quality take home rations formulated with essential nutrients like milk powder, oil, vitamins, and minerals. Different formulations cater to diverse dietary needs, while packaging and labeling ensure product quality, safety, and consumer awareness.
Strengthening Demand: Collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) enhances product nutrition and diversity, increasing consumption through validated processes, production trials, and acceptability studies. Ready-to-eat meals in age-appropriate packaging come with nutritional information and cooking instructions, promoting healthy feeding practices
Fostering Innovation and Sustainability:
Efforts are underway to develop app-based solutions and QR code tracking for production units, enhancing capacity building, supply chain management, and monitoring. Pilot projects aim to strengthen local markets by training women to produce nutritious products for broader consumption, ensuring sustainability and community impact.
The Uttar Pradesh model demonstrates the transformative power of women’s empowerment in addressing malnutrition through community-based micro-enterprises. By fostering innovation, sustainability, and multi-stakeholder collaboration, this initiative offers a scalable solution for long-term nutrition improvement, highlighting the importance of holistic approaches to public health challenges
India – Myanmar relations
What is in the article?
The Arakan Army is considered an ethnic armed organization (EAO) based in Myanmar. It is part of the Three Brotherhood alliance and has been involved in conflicts with the
Myanmar military. Some reports suggest that the Arakan Army receives support, including funding and military equipment, from China.
Why the India-Myanmar Relationship is Significant?
Gateway to Southeast Asia: Myanmar serves as a land bridge connecting South Asia to Southeast Asia. The proximity of Myanmar to India’s northeastern states establishes a
strategic link and facilitates regional connectivity. Bay of Bengal Connectivity: The maritime boundary shared by India and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal enhances opportunities for maritime cooperation, fostering economic and strategic collaboration
Regional Power Balancing: Given the geopolitical complexities in the region, a strong relationship with Myanmar helps India avoid any potential regional power imbalances
that could arise from the influence of other major players. India’s proactive engagement with Myanmar serves as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the region
Strategically Significant Neighbourhood: Myanmar is a large multi-ethnic nation, located in a strategically significant neighbourhood. The developments within the nation
have repercussions for its five neighboring countries: China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.
Neighbourhood First Policy: The approach towards Myanmar under India’s “Neighborhood First” policy underscores the significance of cultivating a robust,
cooperative, and mutually advantageous association. Act East Policy: Myanmar is a key component of India’s Act East Policy, a diplomatic initiative aimed at fostering economic, strategic, and cultural relations with the AsiaPacific region.
Multilateral Engagement: Myanmar’s membership of SAARC, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, andMekong Ganga Cooperation has introduced a regional dimension to bilateral relations
and imparted added significance in the context of India’s “Act East” policy.
Areas of Collaborative Cooperation:
Bilateral Trade: India ranks as Myanmar’s fifth-largest trading partner, registering bilateral trade at USD 1.03 billion in 2021-22. Both nations seek to enhance bilateral trade, creating economic opportunities for industries in areas like agriculture, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and energy Energy Cooperation: Myanmar holds significance for India’s energy security. With an
energy portfolio of over USD 1.2 billion, Myanmar is the largest recipient of India’s investment in the oil and gas sector in Southeast Asia.
Investment in Infrastructure: Infrastructure projects, such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the Sittwe Port, aim to boost connectivity, trade, and
Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project: The project aims to connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe port in Myanmar by sea. India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project: The project aims to establish a road link between the three nations, with the highway beginning in Moreh in India’s Manipur state, passing through Myanmar, and ending at Mae Sot in Thailand. Strategic Defense Partnership: India and Myanmar maintain a close defense partnership, with India providing military training and conducting joint exercises with the
Myanmar Army. India-Myanmar Bilateral Army Exercise (IMBAX) is aimed at building and promotingcloser relations with armies.
Capacity Building Measures: Developmental assistance: India has extended USD 2 billion in soft loans. It has offered to help Myanmar with developmental assistance in the areas it wants rather than be prescriptive. India is also providing assistance in setting up institutions for higher learning and research, namely the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology, Advanced Centre for
Agricultural Research and Education, etc. India also offered to provide support in capacity building in disaster risk mitigation as well as in strengthening Myanmar’s National Disaster Response Mechanism. Humanitarian Assistance: India’s humanitarian assistance to Myanmar during crises, such as providing COVID-19-related aid, demonstrates the strength of bilateral relations
and reflects a commitment to regional well-being. India has responded promptly and effectively in rendering assistance following natural calamities in Myanmar like Cyclone Mora (2017), Komen (2015), and the earthquake in Shan State (2010)
Cultural and Historical Ties: India and Myanmar share cultural ties in terms of Buddhist heritage and shared history of colonialism. These ties form a foundation for stronger diplomatic relations and mutual understanding. Indian Diaspora: People of Indian Origin in Myanmar constitute about 4 % of the total population of the country. The Indian diaspora plays a vital role in Myanmar’s economy
through business ventures, trade, and investments.
What are the Key Issues in the India-Myanmar Relationship?
Internal Security Concern:
India – Myanmar border is highly porous, poorly guarded, and located along a remote, underdeveloped, insurgency-prone region and proximate to an opium-producing area.
This vulnerability has been exploited by terrorist organizations and insurgent groups operating in the northeastern region of India. Instances include the supply of trained
personnel and the trafficking of arms through this porous border. Indian rebel groups from the northeast had established camps in Myanmar’s border
villages and towns.
According to a paper published by Anuradha Oinam of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), several insurgent groups such as the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), and small groups of Kukis and Zomis have built camps in Sagaing Division, Kachin State, and Chin State (in Myanmar).
The Free Movement Regime (FMR): The Indian government is considering terminating the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar. While advantageous for the local population and instrumental in enhancing IndoMyanmar relations, it has faced past criticism for inadvertently facilitating issues such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and arms trade.
Triangular Power Struggle in Myanmar: Three years post a military coup that stripped Myanmar of its modest democratic gains, the country remains entangled in internal strife.
‘Sick Man of Southeast Asia’: Myanmar perceives no signs of improvement, with the military regime, political entities, and ethnic organizations perpetuating the cycle of violent conflict. This civil unrest appears to offer little prospect of a decisive triumph for any party involved.
Civil Liberty Index: Myanmar has been assigned a score of 0 in the civil liberty index, which measures the extent to which citizens enjoy civil liberties.
China’s Influence: China is Myanmar’s largest investor as well as the biggest trading partner. China has solidified its influence in Myanmar not only through economic ties and trade but also by leveraging soft power, particularly through significant infrastructure projects.
The task of mitigating Chinese influence within Myanmar has proven challenging for India.
Infrastructure Project Delays: Over time, a growing trust deficit has emerged in IndiaMyanmar relations, attributed to India’s reputation for consistently prolonging the implementation of diverse projects. The prolonged delays in the timely execution of collaborative infrastructure projects, notably the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the Sittwe port, crucial for bolstering connectivity, have become impediments to fostering economic cooperation
.Rohingya Crisis: The Rohingya crisis is a humanitarian and human rights tragedy that has strained the relations between India and Myanmar. They have fled to neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh and India, seeking refuge. India has cited security concerns, such as the alleged links between some Rohingya and terrorist groups, as well as the burden on its resources and social harmony, as the reasons for its stance