Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic decision to pull out of the SAARC summit is intended to signal that India will no longer countenance any pretence in India-Pakistan ties(PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic decision to pull out of the SAARC summit is intended to signal that India will no longer countenance any pretence in India-Pakistan ties(PTI)

Saarc is dead. Press on with connectivity

Saarc has become a byword for institutional dysfunction; South Asia remains the least integrated region in the world as the regional cooperation agenda was constantly hostage to India-Pakistan clashes. It may be time to rethink what regional cooperation will look like with India and like-minded countries joining together in creative ways rather
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 29, 2016 01:17 AM IST

We are seeing an extraordinary reset of India-Pakistan ties. Each day is marked by public recriminations from both sides and New Delhi is constantly exploring newer avenues of piling the pressure on Islamabad to retaliate against the attack at Uri. The latest is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to pull out of the Saarc summit due at Islamabad in November. It is a dramatic decision intended to signal that India will no longer countenance any pretence in India-Pakistan ties. For a long time both sides were content to keep up appearances in the hope that routinised contact can over time yield better understanding of the other’s position and influence behaviour. The Modi government has given short shrift to such an approach in an effort to unsettle the context in which bilateral ties operate in — which the NDA reckons imposes no costs on Pakistan and allows it to wage proxy war against India.

Read: Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan follow India, pull out of Saarc summit

The PM’s decision effectively ends Saarc as we know it. Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have joined the boycott, adding to Pakistan’s isolation in the region. Few will be shedding tears for the regional grouping though. Saarc has become a byword for institutional dysfunction; South Asia remains the least integrated region in the world as the regional cooperation agenda was constantly hostage to India-Pakistan clashes. It may be time to rethink what regional cooperation will look like with India and like-minded countries joining together in creative ways rather than be constrained by consensus-based institutional frameworks.

Read: Resolve differences through diplomacy: US tells India, Pakistan

India has called for a BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) meeting next month. The grouping comprises neighbours in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The agenda of isolating Pakistan makes sense only if India manages to be a driver of regional growth that leaves out its errant neighbour. For years, authoritative voices like former foreign secretary Shyam Saran have been urging New Delhi to open unilaterally its market to smaller neighbours as a goodwill gesture (which does not threaten India’s economic interests). He has called for according transit rights to other countries so that they can build economic links with each other through the Indian land mass. Others have called for cross-border energy grids and road rail, shipping and air networks to consolidate connectivity. This is grand project that now need political attention, particularly since China is pressing on with its impressive connectivity enterprises.

Read: Pak intelligence chief to skip SAARC meet in India over troubled ties

This is the front that New Delhi needs to focus on since retaliatory measures using water and trade are either reputationally risky or yield little. For instance, revoking the most favoured nation status to Pakistan will likely be mostly symbolic as the volume of official trade is only $2.2 billion. Indian diplomacy is moving into uncharted waters. A serious cost-benefit analysis, not populist measures, must guide policy.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
It is tempting in an electoral democracy to leverage group identities, particularly on the contested axis of religion (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
It is tempting in an electoral democracy to leverage group identities, particularly on the contested axis of religion (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

In polls, don’t disturb social harmony | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
The BJP, as well as parties which claim to be secular or represent minority interests, must exercise responsibility in their campaign, for Hindu-Muslim harmony is essential for national unity
Close
Rejecting a petition that sought action against former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister and one of the country’s senior-most leaders, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments opposing the Centre’s changes in the erstwhile state, a two-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench on Wednesday said that dissent cannot be considered sedition (PTI)
Rejecting a petition that sought action against former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister and one of the country’s senior-most leaders, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments opposing the Centre’s changes in the erstwhile state, a two-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench on Wednesday said that dissent cannot be considered sedition (PTI)

Scrap the sedition law | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
Dissent is, indeed, not sedition. Sedition, a colonial-era law, often used to implicate citizens who are exercising democratic rights of dissent, should have no space in the Constitution. Now rethink the legal framework itself.
Close
A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)
A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)

The dangers of populism

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Constitutionally suspect and economically unwise, reservation for locals evades the real crisis. Like the rest of India’s political class, Haryana’s leaders are evading the real crisis of jobs to offer prescriptions which may only make the problem worse.
Close
The party establishment has co-opted a set of G23 leaders. At the same time, the Congress leadership should recognise that its real challenge is not the dissenters, but the party’s failure to win the confidence of citizens in elections. (HTPHOTO)
The party establishment has co-opted a set of G23 leaders. At the same time, the Congress leadership should recognise that its real challenge is not the dissenters, but the party’s failure to win the confidence of citizens in elections. (HTPHOTO)

The challenge within the Congress

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 07:06 PM IST
If this rift in the Congress leads to a stronger opposition, it is good for democracy. But the challenge for the challengers is that they seem to lack the mass base outside the party and internal strength within the party to force a change in leadership.
Close
The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)
The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)

Women’s right to autonomy, justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 04:13 PM IST
There must be a greater effort at gender sensitisation across all levels of the judiciary to prevent such attempts to grant amnesty for violent crimes against women
Close
Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Discrediting secularism | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 06:55 PM IST
The Left and the Congress must carefully introspect about their political choices, for allying with extreme identity-based groups on one side will not help in their aim of defeating an identity-based formation on the other side
Close
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Boosting cyber capabilities

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:08 PM IST
A report indicating a Chinese attack on critical Indian infrastructure should lead to a review. Cyber experts have long pointed out this asymmetry in capabilities between India and its adversaries and how engagement in the cyber domain is not limited to rules of real-world conflict.
Close
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)

Housing must be climate-resilient

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:01 PM IST
Delhi recorded its second warmest February since 1901. To adapt to a warming world, India needs to construct buildings that are thermally comfortable; have natural daylight; and proper ventilation.
Close
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)

Reading the numbers right | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
India’s third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers, released on Friday, are interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least being the fact that while the GDP number was marginally lower than estimates, the gross value added (GVA) number was marginally higher
Close
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)

Covid-19: Open up vaccination for all | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
As this newspaper has repeatedly said: Approve more vaccines; make them available in the open market; and open up vaccination
Close
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)

The India-Pakistan thaw | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
The sudden announcement of the Indian and Pakistani armies recommitting themselves to the frayed 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) took many by surprise in New Delhi and Islamabad, especially as it came at a time when both countries have shown no signs of being able to agree on anything
Close
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)

The benefits of privatisation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
It can help the State to reassign funds, monetise its assets, and improve the competitiveness of firms
Close
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)

Keep an eye on global commodity inflation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:33 AM IST
Recent movement in global commodity prices suggests that we could be heading for a long-term rally after a benign run, followed by a collapse during the pandemic.
Close
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
Close
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP