The BRICS test for India’s multipolarity rhetoric (The Hindu)

 The challenge before New Delhi is to choose between a China-centric or a West-centric world order, or balance the two.

India’s Multidimensional Identity and Geopolitical Dilemmas:

  • India participates in multiple global forums, necessitating strategic balancing among them: BRICS, SCO, Quad, G-20, G-7, and the global South.
  • Involvement in non-western multilateral forums like BRICS, SCO, and the global South responds to post-World War II institutions’ perceived undemocratic structures.
  • India’s connections to these forums are based on developmental, historical, and geographical factors.
  • China’s presence complicates India’s alignment due to its significant influence in these forums.
  • India’s aspirations for participation in forums like G-20, G-7, and Quad place it within emerging geopolitical divisions.
  • This positioning could either position India as a bridge between divisions or expose it to heightened geopolitical challenges.
  • Current global dynamics are fostering the emergence of competing blocs, with China and Russia’s alignment potentially conflicting with the existing order led by the U.S. and allies.
  • India historically opposes bloc formation in favor of equitable global governance and multipolarity.
  • Multipolarity, in India’s understanding, emphasizes equity, inclusion, and representation rather than ideological bloc rivalries.
  • Despite opposing bloc politics, India might still be drawn into such dynamics due to global circumstances.

Need of the Hour: Keeping China in Mind while Pursuing Multilateralism:

  • As India pursues a multipolar world and alternative global governance, a critical question emerges: whether its actions inadvertently contribute to China’s global rise.
  • While China and India see value in non-western institutions, their ultimate objectives significantly differ.
  • China’s size, economic impact, Belt and Road Initiative, and diplomacy grant it substantial influence, particularly within expanded BRICS.
  • India’s limited resources might challenge its ability to match China’s influence in these forums.
  • Strengthening non-western institutions could indirectly aid China’s revisionist objectives while weakening the post-World War II global order.
  • Multi-polar world necessitates strong alternative forums and potential de-dollarization, which might unintentionally boost China’s rise.

The Way Ahead: Multilateralism Motivated by National Priority:

  • India faces the complex task of choosing between a China-centric and a West-centric world order, or achieving a balanced middle ground.
  • India’s primary goal is to advocate for a more representative and equitable global governance system.
  • Balancing this goal with safeguarding national interests is crucial.
  • India should carefully manage China’s influence in non-western forums without alienating other countries in the global South.
  • New Delhi confronts the intricate challenge of managing its presence in non-western forums, countering China’s influence, and meeting western expectations in Eurocentric forums.

2- The debate over India’s smartphone manufacturing dreams (The Hindu)

Context: Production-linked incentives (PLI)

Why in news: Recently a former governor of RBI has criticized the PLI scheme for phone manufacturing


More about the news:

  • Raghuram Rajan, along with two other economists, expressed concerns that the PLI scheme may not be driving India towards becoming self-sufficient in manufacturing.
  • They argue that the scheme, focused on attracting companies to India, is leading to an ecosystem of low-level assembly jobs that depend heavily on imports of components, rather than promoting value-added manufacturing.
  • Government has labeled Rajan’s arguments as a collection of “half-truths” built on “shoddy comparisons.”

PLI Scheme’s Objective:

  • To encourage companies, particularly in sectors like electronics manufacturing, to set up operations in India.
  • The scheme provides financial incentives based on a percentage of revenue generated, aiming to boost domestic production.
  • India’s manufacturing sector faces challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, outdated labor laws, and skill gaps.
  • The PLI scheme aims to address these issues by offering incentives and subsidies to attract investments.

India’s success in smartphone manufacturing:

  • Smartphone manufacturing has shown significant growth under the PLI scheme, with companies like Micromax, Samsung, and Foxconn benefiting.
  • The scheme has propelled mobile phone exports and reduced imports, demonstrating its positive impact on the electronics sector.

Few concerns:

  • Import Dependency Concerns:
  • Rajan’s criticism centers on the fact that while mobile phone exports have surged, India’s dependency on importing components like screens, batteries, and circuit boards has also increased.
  • He argues that this indicates a reliance on low-level assembly rather than true value-added manufacturing.
  • Quality of Jobs and Economic Impact:
  • Rajan contends that focusing on assembly jobs limits the creation of well-paying employment opportunities and hampers the broader economic multiplier effect that robust manufacturing sectors can provide.


  • The core disagreement revolves around the long-term impact of the PLI scheme.
  • While government believes that, the scheme’s benefits will become more evident as the supply chain and assembly ecosystem develop, critics questions whether it will truly establish India as a manufacturing and supply hub that adds significant value.
  • The debate raises the issue of opportunity cost, as resources allocated to the PLI scheme might have been invested in other critical areas such as education, which would also contribute to the nation’s economic growth.
  • The contrasting viewpoints highlight the complexity of India’s manufacturing journey.

3- Drilling in the North Sea — history and environmental concerns (The Hindu)

Context: Climate pledge of UK

Why in news:  Drilling project in North Sea for oil exploration


More about the news:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s endorsement of new fossil fuel drilling off Britain’s coast has sparked concerns among environmental experts amidst global efforts to combat climate change.
  • The move aims to enhance Britain’s energy independence and is being overseen by the North Sea Transition Authority (NTSA), responsible for regulating oil, gas, and carbon storage industries.

Offshore Drilling in the UK North Sea: A Historical Perspective:

  • The 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf and the 1964 UK Continental Shelf Act established rights over continental shelves, paving the way for North Sea exploration.
  • British Petroleum (BP) was awarded the first exploration license in 1964, leading to discoveries of natural gas in 1965 and commercial oil in 1970.
  • The UK North Sea witnessed significant exploration and extraction in the 1970s and 1980s, with over a hundred installations, but also tragedies like the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster.
  • The 1990s brought discoveries in the West of Shetland area, and production peaked in 1999, declining significantly by 2022.

Challenges and Concerns of Offshore Drilling:

  • Environmental and Climate Impact: Offshore drilling raises concerns about climate change, ocean warming, and rising sea levels. It poses direct risks to marine biodiversity and indirect ones due to carbon pollution leading to acidic oceans and harming ecosystems.
  • Lack of Climate Preparedness: UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) highlighted insufficient preparation for climate change in the second National Adaptation Programme (2018-2023). There’s “very limited evidence” of adequate adaptation implementation.
  • Paris Agreement Compatibility: UK’s climate actions do not fully align with the Paris Agreement. While its rating is “almost sufficient,” new oil and gas extraction plans clash with the 1.5°C temperature limit set by the Paris Agreement.

Impact on Climate Goals:

  • The endorsement of new fossil fuel drilling contrasts with global efforts to mitigate climate change. The expansion of fossil fuel extraction runs counter to the urgency of reducing carbon emissions to meet international climate targets.
  • Licensing more oil and gas exploration, while pursuing climate commitments, raises concerns about the UK’s commitment to transitioning to a low-carbon future.


  • The UK’s decision to endorse new fossil fuel drilling in the North Sea raises questions about its commitment to addressing climate change and transitioning to renewable energy sources.
  • Despite global efforts to combat climate change, the move highlights the challenges of balancing energy security, economic interests, and environmental sustainability.
  • As the world confronts the imperative of curbing carbon emissions, such decisions carry implications for the UK’s role in shaping a sustainable future.

4- Why the National Research Foundation needs to make an impact(Indian Express)

Context– Anusandhan National Research Foundation

Why in news: Parliament recently passed the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF-2023) Bill.


More about the news:

  • The Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF-2023) Bill was recently passed by the Parliament with the aim of providing strategic direction for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in India.
  • The Bill’s success will depend on its implementation and how well it addresses long-standing issues related to funding and bureaucratic processes in the research ecosystem.

Challenges in the Research Ecosystem:

  • Inadequate Funding: India’s Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) stagnates at about 0.7% of GDPfalling short of the benchmark of 2% for maintaining a competitive advantage. This contrasts with countries like Israel, South Korea, the US, and Germany, which invest over 3% annually.
  • Funding Allocation: The ANRF’s planned investment of Rs 50,000 crore over five years must not replace budget allocations for the science and technology ministry. Effective funding is critical to achieving research goals.
  • Private Sector Contributions: The Bill seeks substantial private sector contributions to bridge the funding gap. However, India’s private sector contribution to GERD (35%) falls behind countries like the US and UK (over 50%). Encouraging private sector collaboration faces challenges, including CSR rules and broader acceptance of private funding for research.
  • State Government and Public Sector Contribution: The share of state governments and the public sector in GERD (10%) needs significant increase to boost research funding.

Bureaucratic Challenges and Administrative Processes:

  • Bureaucratic Labyrinth: Researchers face challenges due to bureaucratic procedures impacting the research environment. The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020 highlights the need for timely funding, flexibility, and accountability in research activities.
  • Administrative Overheads: Despite recognition of the need to ease bureaucratic processes for research, funding, administrative overheads have increased since 2020.
  • Procurement Restrictions: Procurement restrictions for research equipment to prioritize domestic industry have resulted in delays, hindering timely research.

Global Research Trends and Timeliness:

  • Competitiveness: The rapid pace of technological advancement and transition from research labs to markets, especially in high-tech sectors, highlights the need for India to remain competitive.
  • Administrative Overhaul: Outdated bureaucratic rules and regulations hinder India’s competitiveness. Speedy advancements in areas like semiconductor technology and quantum computing underscore the need to overhaul administrative practices.

ANRF’s Potential for Reforms:

  • Fresh Approach: The ANRF should take a fresh approach to address long-standing bureaucratic challenges and streamline administrative processes.
  • Recalibrating Practices: The administrative structures under ANRF should lead to a recalibration of attitudes and practices, aligning with India’s research potential.
  • Overcoming Complexities: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to simplify application requirements for scientific projects and to prioritize scientific exploration over government procedures emphasizes the need for definitive reforms.


  • The ANRF-2023 Bill’s success in achieving its stated goals will rely on overcoming funding challenges, fostering private sector collaboration, and most importantly, addressing the bureaucratic labyrinth that hampers research endeavors.
  • By fostering a culture of efficiency, flexibility, and innovation, ANRF has the potential to reshape India’s research ecosystem, tapping into its vast potential and fostering a competitive edge on the global stage.

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