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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS FROM HINDU 2nd DECEMBER 2017 Abhishek Srivastava
Scripting another Asian narrative Japan is filling the vacuum created by the U.S.'s withdrawal from the region . Japan : an economic powerhouse within a geostrategic pygmy. But China's muscular ascent combined with the capriciousness of a Trump-led U.S. is causing Tokyo to slough off its diplomatic slumber and rethink its role in Asia From proposing new security dialogues, to taking the lead in developing multilateral trade agreements, it is beginning to pick up some of the slack left by the U.S Japan is in a potentially explosive neighbourhood, and it no longer believes that a wholescale reliance on the U.S. for a defence umbrella is sufficient to secure its best interests. . Military normalisation is one prong of Japan's new foreign policy, and the constitutional revision would merely recognise the legality of Japan's long extant Self-Defense Forces (SDF) Offensive weapons and preemptive strikes would remain outlawed.
Countering China Tokyo needs to use its strengths, its capital, its technological know-how and its democratic credentials to influence countries across the region and beyond. .It needs to beat infrastructure sugar daddy China at its own game. Japan is a trading heavyweight too, and is attempting to stake leadership on the With the U.S.'s departure from trade negotiations, Japan has become the principal . At November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, Japan got the . It wants to lead rule-making on trade in the Asia Pacific, rather than let China set the regional platform with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). driving force keeping the deal alive. 11 countries still involved to agree on the "core elements" of a deal. agenda with alternatives to TPP such as the Beijing-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) . At the same time, Japan is stepping up aid and investment in Southeast Asia. A train line near Manila, a seaport in Cambodia, and assistance in the reconstruction of Marawi City in the Philippines are some examples.
Japanese investment in major Southeast Asian countries is estimated to have averaged $20 billion per year, from 2011 to 2016. .Japanese sales pitches to countries in the region always have one eye on China, emphasising advantages in areas where Beijing is vulnerable such as safety,reliability and solutions that deliver benefits to local populations. Looking to India . China's $900 billion, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a gauntlet that Japan has picked . Japan and India have announced an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, aimed at creating sea . In addition, Japan is cooperating with India in third country infrastructure projects such up by turning to the only country in the region with the heft to match China. India. corridors linking the countries of the Indo-Pacific to Africa. as Iran's Chabahar Port, Sri Lanka's Trincomalee port, joint development of the Dawei port along the Thai-Myanmar border.
. Japan has bagged the $17 billion contract to build India's first high speed railway line, linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad . Tokyo is also investing in development projects in the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. And Japan's Diet gave the go ahead to a Japan-lndia civil nuclear energy deal earlier this year. . The possibility of purchasing Japanese submarines and search-and-rescue planes to help the Indian Navy is being discussed. Creating a Quad' . A free and open Indo-Pacific, a phrasing that places India as a major actor in the Pacific, is an idea being proselytised by Japan in conjunction with the U.S . This is a response to concerns over the expansion of the Chinese navy and Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea, waters through which a huge majority of Japanese energy supplies transit It is against this background that Tokyo's championing of the Quadrilateral dialogue with the U.S., India and Australia aimed at creating a community of democratically oriented interests in the region must be understood .
Tokyo wants to use the bilateral ties it is developing to create a multilateral architecture in the region Like Germany in post-World War Il Europe, Japan is aware that unilateral moves by it invariably conjure up images of militarism and expansionism However, without making genuine amendments for its past aggressions, Japan's attempts to shape the future of the region will remain constrained
Accident-prone The apathy over enforcing road safetyrules must stop . The most effective measure to keep roads safe is enforcement of rules with zero tolerance to violations. - But it is not an administrative priority in India. Even the periodic directions of the Supreme Court in a public interest case, Dr. S Rajasekaran v. Union of India, have not produced any dramatic change in the official attitude. . In spite of the court setting up the Committee on Road Safety to help implement its recommendations, -it is mostly business as usual for the police in enforcing road rules, for engineers tasked with forming roads and pavements, and transport officials in charge of licensing The death of 1,50,785 people in accidents in 2016, which represents a 3.2% rise over the previous year, indicates the scale of the challenge.
Governments should be called to account on these, and civil society must ensure that they act without compromise. The most important among these is the Road Safety Action Plan that each State and Union Territory must announce by March 2018, and roll out after giving due publicity . .Enforcing rules relating to lane-based driving, using CCTV cameras to penalise offenders, and conducting safety audits along with experts. The absence of a scientific approach to accident investigation in India remains a major factor in fixing responsibility This was pointed out by the Sundar Committee of the Ministry of Road Transport in 2007 Supreme Court provide directs the States to form a District Road Safety Committee headed by the Collector before January 31, 2018 - It should ensure that someone is accountable when citizens file complaints or hazardous conditions.
. Court-appointed Committee on Road Safety has written to States on the need to prosecute every case of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, seeking imprisonment and fine, to treat driving on the wrong side of the carriageway as an offence under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, . which can lead to imprisonment, and not merely under the Motor Vehicles Act. Stringent penalties have a lower chance of being imposed, compared to fines that are proportionate to the offence remain hazardous due to poor engineering. indifference. . Yet, even the existing minor penalties are not being imposed, and road conditions . This is proof of the apathy of the system. It's time to shake the system out of its
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