The Hindu Daily Editorial Discussion 22/3/19 By - Ashish Singh
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Page 8 Page 9 When free speech is truly free What can India do to influence China on Masood Azhar? India-China dialogue has expanded but the two countries are not on the same page on terror Testing Israel's character Its true power is its capacity to make those in power accountable to those who don't have power Beyond the 'us-them' binary By calling the Christchurch attacker a terrorist,. The April election will determine whether Israel the New Zealand Prime Minister sent a powerful message Travesty of justice The Samjhauta blast case raises doubts about India's resolve to prosecute terror cases Back on track belongs to all its citizens or to the Jewish people alone .India and the Maldives must continue to build a shared strategic vision .world
Back on track GS PAPER 2 India and its neighborhood relations MALDIVES PAKISTAN NEPAL CHINA BANGLADESH INDIA MYANMAR LAOS Arabian Sea THAILAND Bay of Bengal SRI LANKA Indian Ocean ALAYSIA MALDIVES INDONESIA
India and the Maldives appeared to return to the old days of strategio till bonhomie when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her counterpart Abdulla Shahid in Male during a brief visit this week. It is the first full-fledged bilateral visit at the political level from India to the Maldives after the new government assumed office in the wake of the historic election last September. President Ibrahim Solih assumed charge after a multi-party, pro- democracy coalition led by his Maldivian Democratic Party was swept to power.
Mr. Solih's inauguration, which was marked by the attendance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was assumed to be a potential inflection point in the traiectory of bilateral ties with India. . The previous five years witnessed Male's disconcerting drift, under the aegis of the Abdulla Yameen government, into what many Maldivians felt was the stifling embrace of China. Chinese financing for infrastructure and construction projects poured in even as the functioning of the political Opposition and the judiciary was harshly curtailed. . All of this flux appeared to have been washed away on September 23, 2018 when the Maldivian electorate voted resoundingly for the coalition that backed Mr. Solih for President.
Yet it would be unwise for New Delhi to take the Indian Ocean nation for granted .There is indeed an opportunity for reset on numerous policies, and some of that has already happened. In December, when Mr. Solih visited India, a $1.4 billion financial assistance package for the Maldives was announced. .While the proximity of the Indian general election may have precluded any major policy announcements from New Delhi, the two countries have agreed to exempt holders of diplomatic and official passports from visa requirements, inked an MoU on Indian grant-in-aid for "high-impact community development projects" . and other agreements on energy efficiency and renewable energy, areas critical to the agenda of Mr. Solih.
At a broader level, the archipelago and the larger Indian Ocean region could expect more collaborative approaches on regional maritime security issues, including counterterrorism and trans- national crimes. However, Male is still grappling with the legacy of the Yameen administration's headlong plunge into the orbit of Beijing. The massive debts the Maldives incurred, by some estimates to the tune of $3 billion, linked to infrastructure investments need to be unwound.
Second, the multiparty alliance must hold firm despite immense political pressures that arise from varying visions for governance. Some tensions already seem to be bubbling to the top: on February 25, Mohamed Nasheed, former President and important coalition- builder in the MDP, tweeted about the country's Supreme Court "meddling in elections-again". For genuine peace and bilateral harmony to take root in the region, building a shared vision for the future of the Maldives is the immediate task at hand.
When free speech is truly free . Essay GS PAPER 4 .Ethics FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Since this term is invoked so quickly and so easily- witness little children saying they want their freedom to have ice cream! - it is important that we understand its diverse meanings in our everyday use of this term Here I want to understand what one of the most important expressions of freedom, free speech, could mean.
Paradoxically, there is an inherent tension between free speech and democracy. If free speech is understood merely as the freedom to say what one wants, then that is obviously not conducive to meaningful social behaviour. For example, one can spread falsehood about another in the name of free speech One can insult, lie, create harm and hatred through free speech. In these cases, free speech should rightfully be called rumour and gossip. Rumour, gossip, fake news and deliberate lying can be hidden under the guise of free speech.
The answer to the problem of defining what really constitutes free speech lies in understanding the meaning of 'free' in free speech What is really free in free speech? The freedom to say what one wants? We can't really say what we want all the time since all speech is constrained. We are constrained by language, words, concepts and grammar, and even by the physical contours of our mouth. . We are constrained by the biological and cognitive structures related to thought and its expression through language. Socially, we are not fully free to say what we want.
The real freedom in 'free speech' lies not in the freedom of the speaker to say what she wants but in the constraint on hearers to allow the speaker to say what she wants. Thus, when we demand the right to free speech, we are essentially demanding the right to stop others from not letting us speak The most important consequence of the idea of free speech is that it shifts the responsibility of free speech from the speaker to the hearer But does this mean that anybody can say what they want?
Can they slander a person through falsehood in the name of free speech? Is slandering a person the same as criticising the government or the nation? After all, our governments, independent of which party is in power, have effectively used the charge of sedition to stop certain utterances in public.
Criticism as a duty It is not free speech to purposefully slander a person. But criticising the government or nation is not the same as slandering an individual. Such criticism is not just a right, it is more a duty of democratic societies. In a true democracy, there is nothing that can be considered as slandering the government, even if a criticism may be wrong and unjustified. .That is because free speech is a tool to make democracy workable and it is not really about the individual freedom to say what one wants.
The power equation Thus, true free speech covers only those acts of speech which speak against power, and keep those in power accountable. It thus safeguards the most cherished democratic principle. Free speech by itself is not the essence of democracy but is the means by which any democracy can be sustained. Anybody who doesn't like to hear criticism of government or government representatives is being undemocratic. We dilute the importance of free speech when we use it to derive personal benefit or cause harm or do so in situations which are not about power.
What can India do to influence China in Masood Azhar? GS PAPER 3 . Security challenges GS PAPER 2 .India and its neighbourhood relations
Alka Acharya: I don't see why not. Yelling and screaming was not helping the issue. 01 think the significant thing to understand is that the Chinese have not provided any indication as to whether they are going to change on this particular issue. Whereas, on other issues they have -for instance blacklisting the organisation (JeM), or putting Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force Grey List . So, there are also various shades to China's stand and actions at the global level.
If India does not take a consistent position, or a position that appears to evolve into something, the Chinese are not going to take you seriously. While we say that China is not supporting us on this aspect, we also have our annual counter-terrorism exercise with China. I think that sort of mixed messaging doesn't work.
On the one hand, if you seem too conciliatory with China, then it may see that as a sign of weakness and therefore not change its position. Is this actually a larger challenge for India when it comes to China? A.A.: I don't agree that because China has chosen to block Azhar's listing, it amounts to its contradictory stand on other issues with us. China has tried to take a consistent position as to why it has to blacklist an individual, whereas it is taking a slightly different position with regard to the organisation (JeM).
The fact is that the India-China dialogue has expanded. It has now brought terror on board, but we need to be discussing this more because I don't think we are on the same page as far as terror is concerned. It is a part of the strategic dialogue and that's a start. We are together on many multilateral platforms, so we could start communicating our position to the Chinese much more clearly, but at the same time not permit this issue to derail what is a much larger process. 0
In India there is no stomach for any kind of dialogue with Pakistan. And yet with China, every time there is a pushback from China, this is pretty much in your face when China refuses to list Masood Azhar despite the kind of push India has made diplomatically after the Pulwama attack. How do you explain this dichotomy? A.A: In the last five years, the whole situation with Pakistan has become more rigid . So, if in the past we did see an attempt to balance no terror or no dialogue till the ar aetimet nae poana nao terror attack stopped, but at the same time you are opening up other channels. Increasingly, you are seeing that the Chinese are becoming more and more significant players in this region, so you are in a bit of a dilemma. Because you need to ensure that your relationship with China doesn't get derailed
.The larger issue is about communication. What is the communication that India has with China on this particular issue? At the end of January, we had the 8th India-China Joint Working Group Meeting on Counter-Terrorism. And if you look at the MEA website... it doesn't really inform you about what is going on. The Chinese can get away with that. But in India the government needs to communicate to the strategic community and to the public. You can't deal with the Chinese using Chinese methods and ignore how the system works at your end.
Do you think the diplomatic capital that India is using when it comes to the Azhar issue is worth it? J.J.: There are two parts to this. The first is, of course, this is an overkill, because we don't have the capacity to follow up. The kind of effort that we have to put into this is only worthwhile if we can follow up with other global capitals, even the small players, through the year.
. Therefore, I am sure many people in China do not take this internal wrangling very seriously. I think on the whole these charges are of necessity, purely political. So, you will have to say, 'Wuhan is in tatters' I don't agree with that. Wuhan was about something else. The second point is that we have not yet grasped that the China-Pakistan relationship is undergoing a major transformation, and we continue to take this anti-India perspective as the dominant one, which it is not. China is far too invested in Pakistan. Anti-India is lower down, it's not the top priority
J.J.: I agree that the China-Pakistan relationship is something that has transformed over time and I also agree with Alka that it's not the anti-lndia sentiment in China that really drives matters. I think where we have failed is in reassessing our relationship with Pakistan The more you disengage from Pakistan, the more of a free hand you give the Chinese. Trade is the only way we can fix things in many ways.
Alka, you said Wuhan is not in tatters. Yet we see no movement from China on India's NSG membership and on Azhar. On the other hand, India has torn down some of the irritants vis-a-vis China, whether it is sidelining the Tibetan leadership or not speaking about the Chinese building infrastructure in Doklam. Why do you say the Wuhan summit still carries some weight? A.A.: The answer to that would depend on your understanding of what Wuhan was all about It was an informal meeting between the two leaders to address what had become a dangerous impasse in the relationship. Two sides were eyeball to eyeball for 72 days. . This was a means to defuse that situation and evolve a modus operandi for ensuring that this relationship does not get derailed.
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