Headline : Explained: Jammu and Kashmir state to two UTs — today, later
- The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be officially bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh on October 31. The day will mark the beginning of the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level.
- This marks an important milestone in the history of J&K and culminates the process that started on August 5 with the landmark announcement for emasculation of Article 370 as well as end of statehood for J&K
- The period between August 5 and October 31 has been used by the state administration and the Home Ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
- This is the first time that a state is being bifurcated into two UTs. In the past, there have been instances of a UT becoming a full state or a state being reorganised into two states.
Slow process of Reorganization
- As of now, the state administration has implemented all that is mentioned in the Reorganisation Act as it is.
- For full-fledged bifurcation of States, the Reorganisation Act gives a period of one year. But, reorganisation of states is a slow process that at times can take years.
- Issues relating to reorganisation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, which was bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana in 2013, are still being brought to the Union Home Ministry for resolution.
Implication of the official bifurcation
- Post the official bifurcation the Centre will be in direct control of police and law & order in J&K from 31st October.
- It also puts an end to J&K’s flag and constitution, symbols of the state’s special status.
- The Lieutenant Governors of the two UTs will take oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
- On the ground, the two UTs will get their own Chief Secretaries and other top bureaucrats, their own police chiefs and key supervisory officers.
Impact on laws that governed the state of Jammu & Kashmir
- Legislative restructuring is a work in progress, with a lot remaining to be done. While 153 state laws are to be repealed, 166 have been retained.
- The exercise of repealing Acts that mention “applicable to all of India but not the state of Jammu and Kashmir” will also have to be undertaken.
- Further, there is a massive legislative exercise of making state-specific insertions into the 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two Union Territories.
Impact on staff
- While the bureaucratic structures are in place, the staff of the state administration are yet to be divided.
- As of now, the Home Ministry has issued an interim order to maintain the station of all staff in the lower bureaucracy as it is.
- This is to ensure that the two UTs keep on functioning without any hiccups beginning October 31. However, a subsequent reorganisation of staff will take place in due course.
Filling the political void
- It is early days, but the Centre hopes to slowly fill the political void created following the arrest of almost all notable politicians and prominent workers of mainstream parties in the Valley.
- A new political alternative being catalyzed by the Centre is starting to take shape in Kashmir.
- Several young aspiring politicians are ready to look beyond the abrogation of Article 370, and willing to start afresh a dialogue with the people and engage with the Centre.
- The government is also banking on the emergence of a new crop of political leaders from panchayats and municipal bodies.
EU MPs in J&K
- European Union parliamentarians visiting Kashmir termed the dilution of Article 370 an internal issue of India and said they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism.
- The 23-member delegation also condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal by militants in Kulgam district.
- They also acknowledged that terrorism is a severe problem in Kashmir and named Pakistan as its source.
Section : Editorial Analysis
Headline : One tribunal for all river water disputes: why the proposal, how it will work
- The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by Lok Sabha.
- It seeks to streamline the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
- The Bill cleared by Lok Sabha seeks to make amendments to the Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act of 1956, that provides for setting up of a separate tribunal every time a dispute arises.
- Once it becomes law, the amendment will ensure the transfer of all existing water disputes to the single Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal with different Benches in states.
- All five existing tribunals under the 1956 Act would cease to exist.
What changes after the amendment?
Dispute resolution system:
- Under the 1956 Act, a separate tribunal was needed to be set up every time a dispute arises.
- Once it becomes law, the amendment will ensure the transfer of all existing water disputes to the single new tribunal.
- The current system of dispute resolution would give way to a new two-tier approach:
- Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC):
- Under the new system, the Centre would set up a DRC once states raise a dispute.
- The DRC would be headed by a serving or retired secretary-rank officer with experience in the water sector and would have other expert members and a representative of each state government concerned.
- The DRC would try to resolve the dispute through negotiations within a year (extendable by another 6 months) and submit a report to the Centre.
- Only if the DRC fails to resolve the dispute will the matter be referred to the tribunal.
- Bench constituted by the tribunal:
- If the DRC fails to settle the dispute, it would be referred to the permanent tribunal.
- The chairperson would then constitute a three-member bench that would consider the DRC report before investigating on its own.
- It would have to finalise its decision within two years (extendable by another year).
- The decision of the tribunal would carry the weight of an order of the Supreme Court.
Time taken to settle the disputes:
- Under the 1956 Act, nine tribunals have so far been set up. It has taken 17 to 27 years to resolve disputes by these tribunals.
- Only four of them have given their awards.
- Though the tribunal was supposed to give its award within three years (extendable by another two years), the tribunals have taken much longer to give their decisions.
- For example, the dispute over Cauvery waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu took 28 years to settle.
- The Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal was set up in April 1986 and it is still to give the final award.
- The minimum a tribunal has taken to settle a dispute is seven years, by the first Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal in 1976.
- The multiplicity of tribunals has led to an increase in bureaucracy, delays, and possible duplication of work.
- The amendment is bringing a time limit for adjudicating the disputes.
- All disputes would now have to be resolved within a maximum of four-and-a-half years.
About: Inter State Water Dispute Act, 1956
- The Parliament has enacted Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valley thereof.
- Setting up of Tribunal: When any request under the said Act is received from any State Government in respect of any water dispute on the inter-State rivers and the Central Government is of the opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, the Central Government constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute.
- Note: The 2019 amendment Bill seeks to modify this to have a single permanent Tribunal with multiple benches constitutes as and when necessary to adjudicate the disputes.
- Make recommendations to government: The Tribunal so constituted investigates the matters referred to it and forward to the Central Government a report setting out the facts as found by it and giving its decision on the mattes referred to it.
- Sole body to adjudicate disputes: Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, neither the Supreme Court nor any other Court shall have or exercise jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to a Tribunal under this Act.
- Final and Binding: The Central Government shall publish the decision of the Tribunal in the Official Gazette and the decision shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute and shall be given effect to by them.
- Judicial Review: However, the Supreme Court, while hearing a civil suit in the Cauvery dispute, had said the decision of that tribunal could be challenged before it through a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.
- Implementation: The Central Government may establish any authority/body for the implementation of the decision or directions of the Tribunal.
Section : Polity & Governance
Headline : For Naya Kashmir Editorial 6th Aug’19 IndianExpress
Kashmiri leaders also sought progress:
- Naya Kashmir was a memorandum that Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah submitted to the King of erstwhile Kashmir kingdom Maharaja Hari Singh in 1944.
- It outlined a plan to convert J&K from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy, called for universal franchise, freedom of expression and press, ability of women to work in all trades and professions, and a detailed economic plan.
- That vision of social justice, economic progress and poverty reduction wasn’t achieved, and is highly relevant for Kashmir today.
Low economic complexity in Kashmir:
Kashmir is an economic infant with low economic complexity.
Government finances poor:
The state accounts for less than 0.7 per cent of India’s GDP.
The fiscal deficit is more than twice the prescribed ratio and government debt is 50 per cent of GDP.
Private Credit to GDP is less than Bihar and the J&K Bank is a shame.
Hardly any private sector:
More than 30 per cent of families directly work for the government.
There is no wage premium in handicrafts; carpet weavers get Rs 150 a day while construction labour costs Rs 600 per day (and comes from outside the state).
Less than five per cent of fruits and nuts are processed.
Private investment last year was less than Rs 1,000 crore.
There is only one listed company and only one company with a paid up capital of Rs 10 crore.
There is no employer in the Kashmir Valley who pays provident fund and no private employer with more 1
Their 28 employment exchanges cost almost Rs 50 crore a year to run and have given few jobs to anybody in a decade.than 500 formal employees.
The real Kashmiri aspirational Youth hoping for progress:
- Most Kashmiri elites have economically diversified away from the Valley but the masses can’t exit.
- The masses have lost their voices because of Kashmir’s economic infancy and democracy controlled by few politicians.
- While the political royalty speaks about the threats to civilisation, the Kashmiri youth, which is more skilled, entrepreneurial, and aspirational than the past generations, is looking for progress.
Economic complexity needed in kashmir:
Such a situation is hardly fertile soil for economic vibrancy.
Some economists say that the only predictor of sustained economic success is economic complexity.
Kashmiris should spend the next decade creating the economic complexity that blunts passions by creating interests (jobs, skills, enterprises, assets, income, growth).
What should be done?
- A 10-year strategy for education, employment and employability that leverages India’s economic complexity is the need of the hour.
- Kashmir needs a new skill university that spreads higher education with employability.
- We should convert Hari Niwas into a world class hotel management institute in partnership with ITE Singapore or EHL Lausanne.
- We must double the direct flights and directly connect Srinagar to Jammu and Delhi with a three-hour and 12-hour train.
- We need revamped employment exchanges that operate a digital job site that offers job matching, assessments, apprentices, and online degrees.
- Massive funds must be committed to infrastructure and cluster creation.
- We need a massive design and distribution mission for handicrafts and fruits that raises the realisation of actual producers.
- Most importantly, we must get the huge, skilled, and motivated Kashmiri diaspora to return and reduce informal self-employment by creating more formal wage employment.
- India and J&K are tremendously and permanently intertwined.
- When one does well, the other does well.
- And when we both do well, we are unstoppable.
GS Paper III: Economy
Section : Editorial Analysis
Headline : US ends Cold War nuke treaty with aim of countering China
- The USA has withdrawn from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed in 1987.
About INF Treaty
- The missile crisis of 1970s and 80s represented the high-point of cold war, with both USA (and its NATO allies) on one side and USSR on the other, building up their nuclear arsenal.
- In this backdrop, the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 aimed to arrest the global arms race of the time.
- The INF treaty put an obligation on the parties (USA, NATO allies and Russia) to eliminate and permanently abjure all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
- The INF treaty does not cover missiles launched from air or water.
- As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed nearly 2,700 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of 1991.
Background to US withdrawal:
- Russian missile development:
- The United States has since 2014 been alleging that Russia was in violation of its INF Treaty obligations.
- It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the US and its allies, particularly in Europe.
- Chinese missile development:
- The US officials said that China also was making similar noncompliant weapons, leaving the US alone in complying with the aging arms control pact.
- Russia was also concerned about the treaty as it prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding.
- With worries over Russian and Chinese missiles, the US suspended its own obligations under the INF Treaty in early 2019 and formally announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty.
- Russia also announced that Russia will be officially suspending its treaty obligations as well.
- With the expiry of 6 months since US announced its intention to withdraw, the US has now formally withdrawn from the INF Treaty.
US to develop intermediate range missiles:
- After exiting the treaty, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned.
- The US plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under the INF.
- However, some experts say that the US is now years away from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the INF agreement.
New START treaty under threat:
- Arms control advocates worry that America’s exit from the INF treaty will lead the two nations (US and Russia) to also scrap the larger New START treaty, which expires in early 2021.
- Trump hasn’t committed to extending or replacing New START, which beginning in 2018 imposed limits on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.
Calls for inclusion of China in arms control agreements:
- The US administration claims that with China’s growing arsenal of nuclear warheads, Beijing can no longer be excluded from nuclear arms control agreements.
- Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland.
- US President Trump has expressed a desire to negotiate a trilateral arms control deal signed by the US, Russia and China.
About: START Treaties
- START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the US and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet, in short) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
- The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and bombers.
- It had a duration of 15 years. Reductions mandated by the treaty were to be completed no later than 7 years after its entry into force, and parties were then obligated to maintain those limits during the next 8 years.
- START includes an intrusive verification regime consisting of a detailed data exchange, extensive notifications, 12 types of on-site inspection, and continuous monitoring activities designed to help verify that signatories are complying with their treaty obligations.
- It was signed in 1991, and entered into force in 1994 (delay in enforcement was due to break up of the Soviet Union).
- Start-I played an indispensable role in ensuring the predictability and stability of the strategic balance and serving as a framework for even deeper reductions.
- By the time of the treaty’s expiration, the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals were significantly below those stipulated in the treaty.
- START I proved to be excessively complicated, cumbersome and expensive to continue, which eventually led the United States and Russia to replace it with a new treaty in 2010.
- The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was signed in 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011.
- The treaty capped deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs at 1,550 while the deployed missiles and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions were limited to 700.
- Both Russia and the United States announced that they met New START limitations by 2018, meeting the due date set by the treaty.
- New START does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provide for continuous information on their locations and on-site inspections to confirm that they are not added to the deployed force.
- Non-deployed missiles must be located at specified facilities away from deployment sites and labeled with “unique identifiers” to reduce concerns about hidden missile stocks.
- New START’s verification regime includes relevant parts of START I as well as new provisions to cover items not previously monitored.
- The treaty’s duration is ten years from entry into force (i.e till 2021) unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement and can be extended for an additional five years.
Section : International Relation
PSIR Optional : Justice as Fairness by Shubhra Ranjan
Headline : Open up the Supreme Court Editorial 9th Apr’19 TheHindu
Delhi HC judgement said RTI applicable to higher judiciary:
- In 2009, the High Court of Delhi handed down a landmark judgment dealing with the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
- It held that the Office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was a “public authority”, and therefore, subject to the provisions of the Act.
- Information held by the CJI — including, in the context of the case, information about judges’ assets — could be requested by the public through an RTI application.
But SC stayed it:
- When the case reached the Supreme Court, a stay was granted.
- In April, 2019, a five-judge Bench of the apex court finally heard the case on merits, and reserved judgment.
- Expansion of issues under consideration:
- By this time, the issues under consideration moved beyong Delhi HC’s ruling on the status of the Chief Justice as a public authority and the disclosure of judges’ assets.
- It also involved the question of whether the correspondence of the Collegium was subject to the RTI.
- Office of CJI and higher courts should be subject to RTI:
- The answer to the basic question, i.e. whether or not the Office of the CJI is subject to the RTI Act, is a clear yes.
- The Delhi High Court judgment noted that, “all power — judicial power being no exception — is held accountable in a modern Constitution”.
- A blanket judicial exemption from the RTI Act would defeat the basic idea of “open justice”.
- The courts are powerful organs of state, and their workings have to be as transparent and open to public scrutiny as any other body.
- Some private information could be withheld as per RTI Act itself:
- It would be incorrect to say that bringing the judiciary under the RTI Act destroys the personal privacy of judges.
- The RTI Act itself has an inbuilt privacy-oriented protection, which authorises withholding the disclosure of personal information unless there is an overriding public interest.
- For example, disclosure of assets is arguably justified by an overriding public interest, but information related to medical details or marital status need not be revealed.
- Correspondence of the Collegium:
- The most complex issue regarding information from the judiciary involved the disclosure of the correspondence of the Collegium.
Collegium and its working:
- India is one of the few countries where judges have the last word on judicial appointments, through the mechanism of the Collegium.
- The Collegium includes the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, who collectively constitute the selection panel for judicial appointments to the Supreme Court (and the three senior-most judges when it comes to the High Courts).
- The Collegium itself is not mentioned in the text of the Constitution: it arose out of a judgment of the Supreme Court, and in response to increased executive interference in judicial appointments.
- The Collegium system of appointments arose, therefore, as a tool to secure and guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
Collegium system facing criticism:
- However, the Collegium has come under increasing criticism.
- A major point of critique was its opacity: it was increasingly being perceived that judicial appointments were too often made in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner.
- For example, certain lawyers were ruled out from being recommended to High Court judgeship because of being in a live-in relationship without being married.
More transparency promised:
- In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down a constitutional amendment establishing a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which would have replaced the Collegium.
- However, the apex court vowed to evolve a system where concerns of transparency were addressed.
- A small step towards this was made in the recent years, when the resolutions of the Collegium began to be published online.
Fears that disclosing correspondence of collegium would destroy Judicial Independence:
- During the arguments of the case related to judiciary and RTI, the Attorney-General of India (AG), who represented the Supreme Court before the Constitution Bench, argued that disclosing the correspondence of the Collegium would “destroy” judicial independence.
- The CJI who was hearing the matter also agreed, noting that disclosing the reasons for rejection of a judge would “destroy” his or her life or career.
Such fears are unjustified:
- This line of argument is difficult to accept.
- It was first argued that only collegium system can secure judicial independence by ensuring judicial primacy in the appointments process.
- Once that is done, it is unacceptable to then argue that the only permissible way in which this system can work is by making it immune to transparency.
Court must be transparent and accountable as it controls all appointments:
- If the SC has instituted a process of appointment that makes itself the final arbiter of judicial appointments, then it must also ensure that that same process meets the standards of accountability in a democratic republic.
Transparency in judicial appointments is a feature of all major democracies:
- A look at judicial appointments elsewhere suggests that transparency in appointments is integral to the process.
- In the United States, for example, candidates for judicial appointments in the federal judiciary are subjected to public confirmation hearings by the Senate.
- In Kenya and South Africa, the interviews of candidates taken by judicial appointments commissions are broadcast live.
- The public, thus, is in a position to judge for itself the selection process.
- This is crucial to maintaining public faith in the impartiality of the institution.
Collegium cannot be above scrutiny:
- The Collegium in India has immunised itself from any form of public scrutiny.
- The nomination process is secret, the deliberations are secret, the reasons for elevation or non-elevation are secret.
- This creates an extremely unhealthy climate, in which rumours are rampant about judicial integrity as well as executive interference.
- What truly destroys an insititution like the SC is not transparency but erosion of trust due to lack of it.
- The Collegium’s recent decisions to recommend a set of names for elevation, and then hastily backtrack on them without any publicly stated reasons, dealt a serious blow to its reputation for impartiality and independence.
- The only way to salvage this is to open up the court.
- A judiciary that is confident of itself and of its place in the democratic republic should not be worried about subjecting judicial appointments to public scrutiny.
- The occasional discomfort that might come from the harsh public scrutiny is more than outweighed by the cleansing value of transparency.
GS Paper II: Polity
Section : Editorial Analysis
Headline : Steps to cement ties with China Editorial 10th Apr’19 IndianExpress
Focus must remain on foreign policy even in election season:
- Even as India heads into a general election, it is important to keep focus on and not lose track of how the country must shape its foreign policy over the coming five years.
- Suggestions, inputs, advice on these issues will be valuable to whichever government is formed.
- Within the larger foreign policy matrix, India’s relations with China constitute one of our most important challenges in the national security arena.
- Thus, analysts continues to be pay attention regarding the next steps in India-China ties.
Possible next steps in India-China ties for the new government:
- Regular high level interaction:
- Given the nature of China’s polity, which is highly centralised, it will continue to remain important to drive the relationship from the top down.
- Therefore, there should be intense political interaction, starting with the top leadership and filtering down to the ministerial level and then senior official level.
- It will be essential to have an early visit to India by Chinese President in the second half of 2019 to keep up the momentum from the Wuhan Informal Summit of April 2018 as well as to impart new impulses with the new government in India.
- Informal summits also useful:
- The positive aspect of the informal summit format (like the Wuhan Summit) is that it permits just the two leaders to interact with each other over significant amounts of time, thereby enabling strategic communication on all relevant aspects.
- Such an exchange of views is indeed of significant value, especially amongst nations which need to build upon mutual trust.
- Enhanced military-to-military interaction and cooperation
- It will be important to enhance military-to-military interaction and cooperation between India and China.
- Currently, the exchanges are mainly between the armies of the two countries.
- It will be essential to expand this to the navies, which are meeting on the high seas more often.
- Such exchanges should go beyond mere symbolism (like study visits, port calls) and aim at getting a better understanding of the doctrines, practices and assessments of the other side.
- On the border, there is a need for new confidence-building measures, which will aim at defusing the increasing close proximity situations that have been witnessed in the recent past. Additional Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) may also have to be put into place.
- More balanced trade:
- To address the increasingly adverse balance of trade India experiences with China, it is essential to work with the Chinese government to ensure greater market access in China for Indian pharmaceutical products, particularly our cheap formulations.
- Also, we must look at the “invisible” part of our payment balance with China and make a focused effort at attracting more Chinese tourists.
- Marketing Incredible India in China will be a first step, but we shall also have to work with Chinese travel agents, the various airlines which fly between our countries, the new online agencies as well as the social media methodology to popularise India as a tourism destination.
- If such an effort is indeed made, our mountains and our beaches, our temples and our heritage sites, our Buddhist trail as well as our wildlife sanctuaries are likely to be hugely popular with the Chinese.
- It is important to acknowledge that China has rediscovered Bollywood, as seen by the success of recent movies in China.
- While Bollywood will continue to tap the Chinese market on its own, since the government is important in China, India should offer whatever assistance may be required by our filmmakers in marketing their ware in China.
- Films are important since they are a vehicle for promoting mutual trust and understanding between societies and peoples, while at the same time helping earn our movie-makers important markets and foreign exchange.
- India’s other export which is reaching out to millions of ordinary Chinese folk is yoga.
- We must continue to promote yoga in China and, once again, this is best done through the private sector, but the government could consider effecting policies which promote this export.
- It is significant that in order to celebrate International Yoga Day in China on June 21 each year, our official outposts in that country are able to bring in as many as 8,000 to 10,000 people at each of the many events in China.
- It will be essential to engage China in the field of sports, where they are extremely strong.
- We can encourage Chinese coaches in table tennis, gymnastics, track and field, as well as shooting, archery and swimming to come to India and train our youngsters.
- We shall benefit from such assistance.
- Cooperation on global issues:
- On global issues, India has established the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in partnership with France with its headquarters in India. China, which is an important manufacturer of solar panels and other related equipment, must join the ISA at an early date.
- This would be a win-win proposition for both countries and will provide an excellent example of how the two can work together in international organisations.
- Now that Japan and Saudi Arabia have joined the ISA, it is time to step up our encouragement to China to participate in this important area of environmental policy where we have no fundamental differences.
- India must continue working with China to convince them that they must remove their hold at the UN Security Council on the listing of Masood Azhar under the 1267 sanctions.
- The negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are now mainly between India and China.
- We must ensure that RCEP has a strong commitment with respect to services and the movement of natural persons which is important for India.
- Simultaneous stronger ties with other players in the region:
- It is important to understand that better relations with China do not mean we have to go slow in our relations with other countries — whether the ASEAN or Australia, Japan or the US.
- Putting our links with China on a firmer footing can be done simultaneously with stronger ties with other players in the region.
GS Paper III: International Relations