Sociological Analysis on the reasons behind the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields

Abstract:

Areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM have pre-dominantly remained as choices for the males of the society and has seen much lower participation of women in the field. It is amply evident throughout the course of history where the society has systematically discriminated against girls and women from pursuing careers in the STEM field. In other cases, they have been navigated away from science and technology throughout the duration of their education, restricting them from not being able to take up these subjects and transform them into careers as adults. The gender gap in terms of pay, growth, and opportunities is high in professional fields like computer science, engineering, and mathematics, promoting and widening the gender pay gap in STEM. This paper aims to analyse the various sociological aspects which have consistently led to an increase in this gap between men and women, to try and provide solutions that can help bridge this divide which has been a barrier to achieving the potential that a diverse society of STEM researchers, academicians, scientists, data analysts can bring to humanity.

The Underrepresentation

We all know about Marie Curie, the first women to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. To date, there are only 57 women who have won the Nobel Prize since its genesis in 1901. Out of the 57, only 23 have won it in Medicine, Physiology, Physics and Chemistry. This number clearly outlines meagre representation in the whole STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) system across the world.

For decades, governments, international organizations, NGO’s, and private players have made significant and continuous efforts to increase the representation of women in the field of STEM. Unfortunately, they have been unable to come up with results. This Gordian knot with a patriarchal society on one side and the concept of a masculine culture in the STEM field on the other needs immediate address at two levels – at the foundational level, which is the society that demands policy changes and secondly at the institutional level, which needs swift address.

It is false and preposterous to state that women are not capable enough. Overall, research has indicated various intrinsic and extrinsic factors that have curbed women from moving forward in the STEM system. The factors include structural and interpersonal interactions that restrict growth. These factors range from internal to external opportunities, growth, job outlook, rewards, recognition and gender bias.  

In a 2018 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine, women experience a high level of sexual exploitation or assault at workplaces. From gender harassment to objectification, fear and the feeling of hostility at the workplace to being degraded to second-class status, the atrocities are diabolical and despicable in nature. The toll on mental and physical health is consequential. The report also states that the mounting result of sexual harassment in engineering, science and medicine has led to a significant impact on research output and growth among women scholars and scientists.  

According to the Pew Research Centre, women have categorized STEM workplaces as hostile. The confrontation environment as compared to their male colleagues. Discrimination based on gender is quite recurring and restraining. The insensitivity to recognize the women force in STEM restricts the women from growing and better opportunities in research and innovation. Safety at the workplace remains a big concern for women – thus the low numbers.

Various studies done across the world have reported that technology and science are male domains or territories, and researchers are predominantly males. The Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has reported the continuous perseverance of gendered paths in career choices. According to it, men are underrepresented in education, health and welfare, and women are underrepresented in STEM. 

The world is transforming swiftly, digitally. The opportunities in the field of STEM are immense and ever-growing. The lackadaisical attitude to shift from a patriarchal damaged workplace environment to an egalitarian surrounding with opportunities to grow is dreadful and needs a paradigm shift. The structural change in the talent pipeline for STEM opportunities shall increase women representation and ensure their valuable contribution. 

A study by the National Academies Press expresses, even though efforts are being made to deepen and expand the scope of opportunities for women in STEM, the concept of ‘Intersectionality’ has been ignored by policymakers. Intersectionality can be defined as “the process through which multiple social identities converge and ultimately shape the individual and group experiences.” The report states, “many employers, including those at educational institutions, have adopted programs and the policies aimed at improving equity and diversity in STEMM without considering the complex, cumulative ways in which multiple intersecting identities influence outcomes of the interventions.”

India: A Paradox

According to the United Nations (UN), women in India constitute about 14% of 280,000 scientists, engineers and technologists in research development institutions. With a population of 1.3 billion people and a rapidly growing digital economy, India needs to encash the growing digital base for generating employment and promoting innovation. To do so, it needs to turn inwards to plug the divide.

Almost 40% of Indians who graduate in the areas of STEM are women. While there has been an increase in girl enrolment for higher education in India, it is not proportionate to the women entering the workforce. One of the significant reasons and highly ignored is the gender pay gap. Despite being in equal positions, women get paid less than men for their research and discovery – a significant hindrance in growth.

India is an emerging super-power that has given the world great women leaders across domains not only has numbers in favour but the growth opportunities as a growing and dynamic economy to present itself as an epitome of an equal society barring culture, religion, ethnicity, gender or language. India needs to introspect and change from within as there is not just one path. To be AatmaNirbharBharat, the women need to be emancipated from the shackles of the patriarchal ancient minds. An environment full of opportunities, freedom, and social security shall promote gender equality. It is a must to incentivize institutions to improving infrastructure and bridging the imbalance to a state of equilibrium. Only then, women shall successfully be able to chase and achieve their goals and contribute to the development of science and the nation.

ENDNOTES:

  1. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/01/09/women-and-men-in-stem-often-at-odds-over-workplace-equity/
  2. https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/stem-and-the-digital-economy-for-women/#:~:text=The%20paucity%20of%20women%20in,of%20assigned%20stereotypical%20gender%20roles.&text=Moreover%2C%20lack%20of%20suitable%20workplace,from%20pursuing%20careers%20in%20STEM.
  3. https://www.nap.edu/read/25585/chapter/5#58
  4. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2019.00060/full
  5. https://www.businessinsider.in/careers/news/india-tops-the-world-in-producing-female-graduates-in-stem-but-ranks-19th-in-employing-them/articleshow/74117413.cms
  6. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/why-are-there-more-men-than-women-in-the-field-of-stem/article30653048.ece
  7. https://www.cbgaindia.org/blog/still-fewer-women-stem/

Sustainable Future: Digital India

Digital India (Image Source: Times of India)

Digital and Sustainable India:

The Digital India project is the core program of the Government of India which was launched on 1st July 2015 by PM Narendra Modi. It endeavours to metamorphose the nation into a digitally independent society, knowledge economy and self-reliance.  The backbone of the program stands on three fundamental pillars: the development of a secure and stable digital infrastructure, delivering government services digitally and universal digital literacy. 

India is among the top two countries globally on many key dimensions of digital adoption.
Data Source: McKinsey and Company (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/digital-india-technology-to-transform-a-connected-nation)

Standing true to its motto “Power to Empower”, Digital India has revolutionized operations and functioning of the government institutions and machinery by enhancing their ability and scope to address the grievances and desires of its statesmen by incorporating new technology. The concept of ‘Digitization’ has mammoth potential to reach the last mile and address social and economic obstacles ushering in an era of egalitarianism in society.

Pecuniary incorporation is scaling up. With the capability to develop a $1 trillion digital economy in the coming years, Digital India is empowering technological boost, structured thinking, enhancing networking capacity and sequencing digital initiatives. It is acting as a roadmap to enhance quality and accessibility with increased rural and remote electrification, reduction in data costs and increased internet penetration in urban and rural systems. 

Digital India is a working example, helping India achieve various objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s) agenda 2030. The government’s push to cashless transactions, e-governance, broader connectivity, e-literacy, boosting productivity and making documentation and information sharing easier, digitally, is broadening the horizons of the Information technology (IT) sector as well as reducing the everyday hassle and time consumption with everything at your fingertips from healthcare to education, finance to industries.

AatmaNirbharBharat, India’s story of self-reliance, with Digital India, an epitome of technological empowerment and self-sufficiency is a story of a low-cost initiative but with world-class precision. The biggest asset, it being citizen-centric, with the general mass involved in achieving the vision as custodians of the services it provides and committed to its fundamentals. The program challenges the paradigm set by previous initiatives and presents itself as the potential carrier of the very idea of technologically literate and empowered India.

India is the second-fastest digital adopter among 17 major digital economies.
Data Source: McKinsey and Company (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/digital-india-technology-to-transform-a-connected-nation)

India has recognized itself with Digital UPI Payments, Make in India, Start-up India, Skill India, Smart City and Metro Projects and Prime Minister Modi’s dream project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. A successful digital economy is an output of structured machinery with which these projects have identified themselves and been the key drivers of India’s digital economy. Digitization in India is past its pilot stage, and services are broadening in India.

India's digital leaders and laggards differ on critical aspects of digital strategy, organization, and capabilities.
Data Source: McKinsey and Company (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/digital-india-technology-to-transform-a-connected-nation)

Challenges:

India’s digital story is inspiring but there continues to be present fault lines obstructing the path of complete digitization.

  • A high level of e-illiteracy, particularly in the rural segment is a major problem
  • Lack of private participation in government programs
  • A significant digital divide between urban and rural sectors
  • Lack of initiative at the base level leading to delayed infrastructure development.

Advice:

  • Digital education must penetrate to the last mile
  • Bridge the divide between the urban and the rural sectors
  • Enhance cyber security and make programs more user-friendly
  • Introduction of local languages in these digital programs to widen the reach
  • Collaborate with private companies and partners to increase efficiency.

Conclusion:

The project is grand in size and vision. It is the right step towards a sustainable, developed and empowered India. Bridge the gap and uplift the under-privileged and stand true to the motto ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (Everyone’s support, everyone’s development).

Nationalism: A Calculated Risk

The Indian National Flag. (Source: Indian Defence Review)

Abstract:

Nationalism conventionally is perceived and seen as one of the great driving forces ostensibly the most powerful of all the movements in modern history. From the French Revolution to India’s Independence Struggle, from the Civil War in the United States to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the proposition or postulation of nation and nationalism has steadily grown as an inspirational driving force for mass movements and not kept itself restricted to a political ideology. The seeds of this very theory of nation and nationalism were never sown, they developed out of masses, particularly among those seeking revolution and their evolution to a free and prosperous society. This essay argues how the conceptualization of nationalism and the notion of collective identity albeit diversity, behind the formation of nations. This essay also rejects the concept of rising divisive majoritarianism and the endeavour of making India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and, asserts on the fact that majoritarianism is all about tolerance and amalgamation of diversity transcending across religion, race, ethnicity or colour.

Introduction:

Traditionally there have been two central theories around which the world revolved around: liberalism and realism. But, as complexity grew and people of different school of thoughts got together, there was a rise in ideas and demands in different sections of the society which believed in something so much that it became of part of human personality and social lifestyle. Theories and hypothesis are always emerging, resonating among people and striving against another supposition albeit, this can be disorientating and as soon as you think you have taken your stand, another appears.

It is fundamental to contemplate how theories play a character in explaining the world and how, based upon different periods and our state of affairs, one modus operandi may speak to us more than another, influence and adapt in our environment. By analyzing how a certain understanding of an issue becomes dominant, the aim is to expose and uncover the hidden assumptions it is based upon and open up other possible and pragmatic ways of being, thinking and doing.

Nationalism:

Nationalism is an ideology and crusade of a particular nation, to all intents and purposes with the objective of emphasizing and belabouring on the principle of sovereignty (self-governance) over origin or motherland. It accentuates the doctrine of sovereignty and that each nation should govern itself, free from external forces interfering in internal matters pertaining to laws or situations in a nation, and that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a group of people who have a collective identity and ideology and have the ability to mobilize resources. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity, based on shared social characteristics of culture, ethnicity, geographic location, language, politics, government, religion, traditions and belief in a shared history and to promote national unity and solidarity.

In execution, nationalism can be appreciated from both aspects of optimism and pessimism conditional to the context behind it and an individual’s interpretation and though process that situation or condition. It is responsible for independence movements such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Indian National Movement, the Greek Revolution, the Zionist movement that laid the genesis of the modern-day Jewish state of Israel. On the contrary, the contentious and tendentious annexation of Crimea by Russia and the radical rise of nationalism in addition to racial hatred towards the Jews predominantly the key factor in the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

English historian J. P. T. Bury argued: Between 1830 and 1870 nationalism had thus made great strides. It had inspired great literature, quickened scholarship and nurtured heroes. It had shown its power both to unify and to divide. It had led to great achievements of political construction and consolidation in Germany and Italy; “but it was more clearly than ever a threat to the Ottoman and Habsburg empires, which were essentially multi-national. European culture had been enriched by the new vernacular contributions of little-known or forgotten peoples, but at the same time such unity as it had was imperiled by fragmentation. Moreover, the antagonisms fostered by nationalism had made not only for wars, insurrections, and local hatreds they had accentuated or created new spiritual divisions in a nominally Christian Europe.”

The Birth of the idea of Nation

A nation can be expressed as “a fully mobilized or institutionalized ethnic group”. The foundation stone of some nations was laid on the idea of ethnicity or religion (nation-state) and some are associated with an affiliation with a social and political constitution (civic nationalism and multiculturalism). Theories apart, the fundamental visualization of a nation has been seen as an amalgamation of a culturally and politically diverse community that is compos mentis of its sovereignty, independence and self-sufficiency.

The notion of a nation cannot be separated from the doctrine and ideology of nationalism. The very essence of a nation lies in “unity and diversity” which is the basis of the idea of nationalism. Nationalism is one of the key factors playing a role in the formation of nation-states across the world, undertaken in countries as a revolution for progressive evolution and was calculated risk towards freedom, take for example the Greek Revolution or the Indian National Movement. ‘Ultimately, communities are nations when a significant percentage of their members think they are nations’.

A nation is the people and not a piece of a landmass. From an impressionistic point of view, history, culture, language, religion, ethnicity is accountable as strong pillars of the foundation of a nation but appreciation, cognizance, integration and approval of a declare that Y is a nation among the people of that presumed collective team and the belief of integration, of being a participant in it – is the crucial ingredient which became the reason for the formation of nation-states. ‘A group of individuals united in and by the false belief that they share a common history might act collectively and thereby initiate a common history’.

Nationalism and the Idea of India:

Nationalism in India bloomed as a belief during the Indian freedom movement which led the fight against the British rule for independence. Nationalism in India didn’t develop with the notion of people coming together and forming an alliance that may own/occupy a piece of land and declaring themselves as a nation but grew as a form of territorial nationalism which is accepting and inclusive of the ever-growing and dynamic diversity despite differences in linguistic or religious backgrounds. India became a sovereign nation on 15th August 1947 with the partition of the country into India and Pakistan.

India has seen unification under various rules, emperors and governments. From the Gupta Empire to the Mughal Empire, from the Maratha Empire to the British Indian Empire, it has always been a state of constant war and adversity. India’s concept of motherland is not limited only to its territorial sovereignty but as the birthplace of the Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic Civilization, as well as four major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

India acknowledges and paints the town red of its rich past, its kings and queens and the idea of ‘unity in diversity’. It celebrates the many kings and queens like Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Shivaji of the Maratha Empire, Maharana Pratap of Mewar, Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka of the Magadha Empire for their conquests, religious tolerance and resistance to foreign invasion.

The rise of the middle-class in the 18th century with the expanding British East India Company’s rule brought about collective and fiscal orientations. The emerging economic power among businessmen, traders and professionals became difficult for the British to digest and they became critical and intimidated of the rising prowess of certain sections of the society. The seed of Nationalism was never sown in India like in other European nations but came as a conscious desire of freedom which later fueled the fire of the rising anti-colonial sentiment.

The elite section of the Indian society (together with lawyers, government officials, doctors and similar groups) spawned an Indian identity and fed the growing nationalist sentiment of ‘Purna Swaraj’. The 1905 partition of Bengal escalated tensions between the British and various Indian revolutionaries and acted a catalyst for stimulating radical nationalist sentiments among people of all backgrounds coming together which grew into the Swadeshi movement.

Indian nationalism is a heterogeneous blend of nationalistic point of view as its citizens are culturally and religiously variegated. Ethnic communities are diverse in terms of linguistics, social traditions and history across India. The rise of the philosophy of Hindu Rashtra, which later became the backbone of the nationalist movement, believes in the idea of equality of all. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar coined the term Hindutva and described India as a Hindu Rashtra (a Hindu nation). The ideology demanded the revoking Article-370 of the Constitution that gave special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, adoption of a Uniform Civil Code and ending laws that gave special treatment to anyone. On the other side, there was the All India Muslim League founded in 1906-1907 where prominent leaders of this group like Mohammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), Maulana Azad, Allama Iqbad and various Deobandi clerics albeit backed the leadership and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi enveloped around the notion that Hindus and Muslims can’t live in the same nation and need distinct nations and identity.

Majoritarianism in India: Its about tolerance

‘The term majoritarianism is the newly founded cuss word in the current Indian political scenario, a derogatory loaded expletive bandied around recklessly by a pompous cabal of intellectuals to demonize the current Indian government as a callous juggernaut that rides roughshod over the rights of minorities.’

Comparing radical and divisive majoritarianism of Nazi Germany which was built around genocides and diabolic actions to this so-called idea of ‘Hindu Nationalism’ which beliefs in the idea of equality of all irrespective of cultural or economic background is like comparing apples to oranges and is preposterous in terms of accountability.

John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher used the phrase the “tyranny of the majority” to illuminate an authoritarian press in his monumental essay “Liberty”: “Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread…there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them…”

Nationalism in the genesis of a community which is conventionally non-violent, accepting and tolerant like the Republic of India fabricate an undisputedly unusual outcome of a country so diverse like none other. Indian majoritarianism means ‘unity in diversity’.


Sources

  1. Smith, Anthony. Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History. Polity, 2010. Pp. 9, 25-30; James, Paul (1996). Nation Formation: Towards a Theory of Abstract Community. London: Sage Publications
  2. Finlayson, Alan (2014). “5. Nationalism”. In Geoghegan, Vincent; Wilford, Rick (eds.). Political Ideologies: An introduction. Routledge. Pp. 100-102. ISBN 978-1-317-80433-8.
  3. Yack, ernard. Nationalism and the Moral Pshchology of Community. University of Chicago Press, 2012. P. 142
  4. Triandafyllidou, Anna (1998). “National Identity and the Other”. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 21 (4): 593–612.
  5. Krikorian, Shant. “The Demise of the USSR in the Face of Nationalism”. Prospect: Journal of International Affairs. University of California, San Diego
  6. Pierre James (2001). The Murderous Paradise: German Nationalism and the Holocaust. Greenwood. ISBN 9780275972424.
  7. J. P. T. Bury, “Nationalities and Nationalism,” in J. P. T. Bury, ed. “The New Cambridge Modern History Vol. 10 (1830-70)” (1960) pp 213-245, at p. 245
  8. Eller 1997
  9. Anthony D. Smith (8 January 1991). The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Wiley. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-631-16169-1.
  10. Norman, 1991, p. 53
  11. Archard, 1995, p. 475
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  14. Croitt & Mjøset 2001, p. 158
  15. Bose and Jalal 1998, p. 117
  16. Vivek Gumaste. Indian Majoritarianism. The Sunday Guardian

Lessons from the World – 2020

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”

– Vladimir IIyich Lenin

2020 is the year we all want to forget. But I ask you to remember it and learn from it. It taught us various lessons and made us feel so vulnerable and yet so strong.

Lesson – 1: Preparedness and Determination – Taiwan

Taiwan is situated next to the epicentre of the COVID-19 virus and is at constant loggerheads with its giant neighbour. The island nation neither bowed to the Dragon nor the Wuhan virus. It fought the virus and came as a clear winner in times of uncertainty.

Lesson – 2: Standing up for what is right and fighting for it – France

French President Emmanuel Macron took up the fight against radicalization. He put the Constitution above Faith and Reason above Religion even when he faced severe backlash from various countries across the globe. Freedom of Speech and Expression is the basic principles of any Democracy, and Mr Macron illuminated on that.

Lesson – 3: Learn to Move on – Israel

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco put behind their historical disputes and religious difference to rest, and formally established diplomatic relations with the state of Israel. Things go bad and they will, but you need to move on and put those disputes behind.

Lesson – 4: Choose your friends wisely – Nepal

Nepal got in a dispute with its all-time ally and trusted partner India and took sides with Communist China. Things went downhill for Nepal from there the country is in a political crisis while its parliament remains dissolved.

Lesson – 5: Fight for the Truth – Australia

Australia was the first country to call for a detailed investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Even with economic sanctions and military backlash from China, the Kangaroo didn’t budge and fought for the truth.

Lesson – 6: Mind your Own Business – Canada

There is a saying, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others”. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showered support for the protesting farmers in India and advocated that Canada will also support peaceful demonstrations. The ironic part is, when peaceful protest happens in Canada, brut force was used against the demonstrates by the Police. Mr Trudeau, don’t play with fire, you’ll burn your hands.

Lesson – 7: Take Everyone Along – India

The Elephant taught us to live with everyone in peace and harmony, respect every countries sovereignty and not interfere in others business. It taught us to move as a group and fight as a group.

If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.

Ratan Tata

The Kangaroo Hops into Malabar

China is the Zombie of the Indo-Pacific and is not happy with the “exclusive clique

On 19th October, the Indian Ministry of Defence issued a release on the forthcoming trilateral India-U.S.-Japan Malabar exercises, noting that this year’s iteration would include Australia. “As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy,” the press release stated. The exercise is expected to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea later this year.

Minister for Defence of Australia, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said “Exercise MALABAR 2020 marked a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence Force. High-end military exercises like MALABAR are key to enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities, building interoperability with our close partners, and demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Exercise MALABAR also showcases the deep trust between four major Indo-Pacific democracies and their shared will to work together on common security interests.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said “the announcement was another important step in Australia’s deepening relationship with India. This builds on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, to which Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Modi agreed on 4 June 2020, and which I progressed with my counterpart, Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar, this month when we met in Tokyo. It will bolster the ability of India, Australia, Japan and the United States to work together to uphold peace and stability across our region.”

Hon. Marise Payne (Minister of Foriegn Affairs of Australia) with Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Minister of External Affairs of India)

HISTORY

Exercise Malabar initially began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States. The annual Malabar series includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises. Japan joined the exercise as a permanent member in 2015, but Australia has not engaged since 2007.

It is the only exercise where all four members of the QUAD (India, Australia, United States, and Japan) engage in naval exercises, counter-piracy, counter-terrorism operations, and magnify inter-operability between each other with the principle aim of supporting a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

It also comes in response to the escalating tensions between China and QUAD members. Over the years, China’s expansionist policies have led to diplomatic and military aggravation among smaller nations in South-East Asia, Central Asia, India, and Japan. The whole geopolitical landscape has been drastically changing for the past two decades. A momentous paradigm shift can be seen among nations in South Asia towards the western world as China slowly flexes its economic and military muscles.

From left: Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister), Yoshihide Suga (Japanese Prime Minister), Donald Trump (Preisodent of the USA), and Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India)

WHAT SHOULD WE BE EXPECTING FROM THE KANGAROO?

Australia ups ante against China by accepting India’s invitation to the Malabar exercise. This exercise will bolster military ties and enhance military activities between the QUAD nations. China, in a statement, said that it has “taken note” of India’s announcement that Australia will join this year’s Malabar exercise. It has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Australia’s induction in the Malabar exercise was expected and perceived as a germinating affirmation of the seriousness of the reconvened QUAD. Initially, India was cautious of Canberra’s inclusion, has shed it amidist a monthslong border standoff with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army this year. There is now a consensus among major democracies in the world that China is a threat — to political systems and open societies, economic self-reliance, and a rules-based regime, particularly in the international seas.

China-Australia ties have gone for a toss amidst escalating trade disputes, which is likely to turn into a full-blown trade war. China has slapped massive tariffs on Australian imports, which has costed the businesses in the Commonwealth with massive losses in billions of dollars. Australia’s overwhelming reliance on China for its exports will cost it dearly over the years. The trade disputes have coincided with Australia’s push for an investigation in the coronavirus pandemic, which was impossible for the Communist regime to digest. 

A CHANCE FOR INDIA TO PUSH TIES WITH AUSTRALIA

Australian High Commissionar to India the Hon Mr Barry O’Farrel said “Australia and India have never been closer friends. Its a friendship with depth, marked by what I call the four Ds – Democracy, Defence, Diaspora and Dosti.”

After five decades of distant strategic relations, India and Australia began in the early 2000s to forge an increasingly cooperative defence and security partnership. The primary drivers were similar concerns about China’s rise, behaviour, and assertiveness, as well as converging views about the regional strategic landscape

Today, the bilateral relationship between India and Australia is far broader and more cooperative than it has been at any time in history. India has become Australia’s fifth-largest export destination (up from twelfth at the turn of the century), and Australia is now a top 20 trade partner for India.

“The Australia–India defence relationship now encompasses almost every major area of military partnership, namely (i) strategic dialogues, coordination, and intelligence exchanges, including those involving third countries; (ii) military exercises involving ground, air, and especially maritime forces that reflect a growing degree of interoperability; (iii) military-to-military exchanges and training; and (iv) defence commerce and technological cooperation. However, all four areas, and especially the last, are at a nascent stage of partnership with considerable room for improvement,” says Dhruva Jaishankar.

Australia’s escalating tensions with Beijing have shown up its reliance on China trade and propelled a push to increase links with Asia’s other giant economy, India. “We can sell India education, health care, and there’s potential in science and technology,” said Ian Hall, a professor of international relations at Griffith University in Queensland. “It’s much more the consumer market of India’s growing middle class than goods.”

Australia’s support to India during the LAC stand-off was unexpected which led a verbal spat between the Chinese and the Australian envoy to India. Chinese mouth peace Global Times termed it as Australia taking sides in the India-China conflict. According to Global Times “Chinese experts warned India of Australia’s instigation on the eased border standoff with China after Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell expressed support for India over the issue during a recent meeting with the Indian external affairs minister. The commissioner’s remarks claiming that “Australia supports continued moves by India for de-escalation” at the LAC (Line of Actual Control) and “opposes any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo” in an interview on Thursday after the meeting was seen by Chinese observers as Australia standing with India and shoving the blame against China while conveying its opinion over the China-India border tensions. “Taking sides on India is not a surprising move from Australia as it is consistent with the country’s role in the global picture – a stooge of the US and an increasingly-close partner of India.”

Stakes are high, and India must grab the opportunity to enter the Australian market, which will lead to an exponential boost in economic ties and promote the “Make in India” initiative. Grab the market when you can. India will never be a superpower if it stays neutral and silent. As I mentioned before, India needs to be the Bad Boy.

JIMEX-2020

The 4th edition of the Biennial Naval Exercise JIMEX between Japan and India

The India-Japan maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX-20, between the Indian Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), concluded on 28th September 2020. The JIMEX Exercise series started in January 2012 with an accentuation on Maritime Security Cooperation.

JIMEX-2020 Exercise being conducted in North Arabian Sea

JIMEX (Japan Maritime bilateral exercise) was initiated with the endeavor to aggrandize military cooperation and intensify maritime security synergy between Japan and India. In the 4th edition of JIMEX, the key focal point was on information sharing and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Indo-Pacific. The three-day war games were conducted in a “non-contact at-sea-only format.”

In all the editions of JIMEX, the 4th edition has been quite consequential. The exercise took place in the backdrop of emerging concerns over China’s growing military presence in the Indian Ocean Region and the South China Sea. It is the first armed exercise after India and Japan signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). According to the Ministry of Defence statement, “The Agreement establishes a framework such as the settlement procedures for the reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces.”

Clockwise: Stealth Destroyer INS Chennai, Teg Class Stealth Frigate INS Tarkash, Fleet Tanker Deepak, P8I Posiedon Aircraft

Amid escalating tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control LAC), which is likely to spiral further, with the ACSA agreement in place, the Indian Naval Forces now have access to the Japanese base in Djibouti and, the Japanese have access to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

This exercise though driven with an objective to enhance maritime security and cooperation, indirectly was propelled to give the Chinese a warning to stop its warmongering, constant bullying, and threatening. Chinese activities, particularly over the past decade, have consistently sought to destabilize peace and maritime trade in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Indo-Pacific.

In a statement the Navy said, “JIMEX-20 will showcase high degree of interoperability and joint operational skills through conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations. Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.”

Both nations have made steady progress in military cooperation. There has been a drastic increase in India’s maritime interactions with the QUAD countries on a bilateral basis and several bilateral, trilateral and multilateral military exercises with the US, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and various other countries in South-East Asia.

India is a peace-loving nation and has consistently spoken and worked to maintain peace and cooperation, but that does not mean it will continue to bleed as a consequence of foreign attacks. India needs a robust policy against countries that threaten its sovereignty. Sometimes you need to be the BAD BOY.

Djibouti : The Strategic Horn of Africa

China in the Horn of Africa to ringfence and New Delhi should be worried and prepared

Djibouti (Source: Wikipedia)

Djibouti is a tiny but strategically located country on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait which, is the gateway to one of the world’s busiest trade routes, the Suez Canal. 10% of oil exports and 20% of commercial goods pass through the narrow strait right off Djibouti’s coast on their way to and from the Suez Canal. It is also of prime importance due to its proximity to volatile regions in the Middle East and the rest of Africa. The Geo-strategic location is cardinal as it connects to the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean that are regarded among the most strategically important in the world. Escalating hostility around the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have drawn international powers to Djibouti and highlighted the Gulf country’s keen interest in the region. Djibouti’s strategic location on the Horn of Africa has driven the U.S., France, and China to establish naval bases there to expand their military and maritime presence.

Growing Presence of Communist China in Djibouti

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army attends the opening ceremony of China’s military base in Djibouti — its first overseas naval base — in August 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

The early morning hours of July 11, 2017, marked a watershed moment for the People’s Republic of China. In an official ceremony at the port of Zhanjiang, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Shen Jinlong, “read an order for the construction of China’s first replenishment base in Djibouti, and conferred military flag on the fleets.” With a salute, Shen ordered the ships carrying Chinese military personnel to set sail on their mission to Djibouti.

Since 2016, there were speculations and concerns regarding a prospective Chinese military base in Djibouti. At first, China proposed the hypothesis that the military facility was merely for logistical and support purposes. However, an official release from Beijing said, “the facility was meant to assist the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the discharge of its international obligations by facilitating Chinese escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and humanitarian rescue missions in Africa and West Asia.”

The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which 78 nations are a part of, was initiated by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is a foreign and economic strategy of China as it aims to create an economic and trade corridor extending from China’s west, through Central Asia, and finally into Europe.

Under this project, Chinese companies have financed and built massive infrastructure across African countries, particularly Djibouti. Africa’s largest port, railway service to Ethiopia, and the laying of cables under the sea that will transmit information and data across the region spanning from Kenya to Yemen are some projects which China undertook in Djibouti. But something that will leave you flabbergasted is that the government or companies of the host nation do not own these buildings, bridges, or infrastructure, but Chinese businesses do. Beijing puts its money where its mouth is, and cash-strapped African governments have turned east collectively. It has led China to establish a strong foothold in one of the most strategic locations on the continent. The world is watching China silently as China  consistently buys and establishing bases at key strategic places. The African nations welcomed the OBOR with warm hands, but over the years, China has started showing raison d’être. The OBOR is not an initiative to build and work together but a foxy way to fulfill Xi Jinping’s ambition to expand the Chinese Communist Empire.

Nothing Comes Free. Nothing. Not even good, especially not good.

                                 Lyndon B. Johnson

“The Chinese are thinking far into the long-term in Djibouti and Africa in general,” said David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia who was also the State Department’s desk officer for Djibouti as far back as the late 1960s. “Djibouti is one node in an economic chain that stretches across the northern rim of the Indian Ocean, from ports in Cambodia to Sri Lanka to Pakistan. They have a grand, strategic plan. We don’t.”

NEW DELHI must be WORRIED

New Delhi and Beijing aren’t on good terms. Tensions have been at an all level high since military clashes broke out on June 15, 2020. New Delhi must be concerned about China’s growing naval and military presence in the Indian Ocean Region and the Indo-Pacific. India must accept that China has surrounded her.

The “String of Pearls” is a geopolitical theory that emphasizes the formation of a network of Chinese commercial and military bases across the Indian Ocean. This theory, though, tries to develop this positive consensus about infrastructure development, maritime cooperation, and peace but is principally aimed at surrounding the country with the longest coastline in the Indian Ocean, India. Starting from the Chinese mainland, moving through Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and concluding at Port Sudan.

The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are among the most strategically important in the world. According to the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, more than 80 percent of the world seaborne trade in oil transits through the Indian Ocean choke points, with 40 percent passing through the Strait of Hormuz, 35 percent through the Strait of Malacca, and 8 percent through the Bab el-Mandab Strait. A significant concern of India in the Indian Ocean is energy. India is the fourth-largest economy in the world, which is almost 70 percent dependent on oil import, a significant part of which comes from the gulf region. China has directed its focus precisely on India’s Jugular that has slowly started bleeding.

It isn’t just the Indian Ocean. India’s concerns surround sovereignty as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is an eminent part of OBOR, runs through Indian sovereign territory of Kashmir. India needs to rapidly enhance its maritime capabilities, bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral exercises. India must emphasize its “Look East Policy” and engage in fruitful bilateral talks with countries in Africa, South-East Asia, and Central Asia. It’s only then India will be able to take on Chinese aggression.

Note: This article was published in Discordium Magazine on 3/10/2020 discordiummagazine.com

QUAD and the China Factor

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (also known as the Quad) is a strategic symposium between India, Japan, Australia, and the United States of America. It was initiated in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to establish this Asian Arc of Democracy. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, ostensibly due to Chinese pressure. It encapsulates high-level diplomatic talks along with intense military exercises between the member nations called the Malabar Exercise. The world contemplated the formation as retaliation to Chinese economic and military antagonism in the Indo-Pacific region.

Boosting Indo-Pacific alignment & India's Regional Role - Belt & Road News
QUAD Members include the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.

Why was the Quad established?

Two of the most popular hypothesis put forward explaining the establishment of the Quad are quite intriguing and thought-provoking.

The first hypothesis explains Quad as a form of military alliance formed to counter the Dragon. This theory explains the rising military and economic hegemony of China in South East Asia while emphasizing security in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific regions. This theory intimidated China to the extent that she had to take stern diplomatic action. Her coercive attempts persuaded Australia to opt-out of Quad in its early years of the establishment. The Dragon has been quite vocal about the Quad at the UN and is consistently trying geopolitical stunts in the Indo-Pacific to railroad the Quad.


The second hypothesis is more of a mockery. It has its roots in Chinese institutions and advocates that the Quad has nothing to do with China. It has negligible importance in the region and is trying to daunt China with the so-called “News Headline Games.” In 2018, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi sharply reacted to the meeting of the leaders of the Quad as a “headline-grabbing” stunt and that it is doomed to fail and will dissipate like sea foam. Wang also said “it was time the China threat theory was laid to rest asserting that Beijing’s contribution to the global economic growth was larger than the US, Japan, and the European Union combined. Those who do not have bias and practice double standards will see China’s development as an opportunity instead of a threat”.

What really matters to China when it comes to the Quad. It's not the  security pacts
From left: President Donald Trump(USA), PM Narendra Modi(India), PM Scott Morrison(Australia) and PM Shinzo Abe(Japan).

Why must India resuscitate and expand the Quad to counter China?
In the month of May, the Indian armed forces and the Chinese armed forces engaged in a serious military confrontation after almost 45years. This confrontation resulted in 20 casualties on the Indian side and 43 casualties on the Chinese side, pushing the bilateral relations between the two nuclear states at an all-time low and sparking massive tensions across the Line of Actual Control(LAC). This confrontation escalated to a point where both the militaries have been getting ready to engage in a war.
India will have to fight its battles courageously and display its prowess to counter forces undermining national security and sovereignty. A revival of the Quad and the introduction of like-minded states into a partnership to counter Chinese hegemony, hostility and establish a rule-based free Indo-Pacific.

India is the only country in the Quad that shares a border with Communist China. Along with ramping up military efforts, India needs to use strategies that nullify Chinese aggression and make it amply clear to any foreign power that the violation of the UN laws of Seas won’t be sidelined or ignored. India (including ASEAN, the US, Australia, Japan) must frame an absolute guideline to maintain stability, cooperation, peace, and tranquility in the Indo-Pacific region and at the same time counter any foreign aggression that violates the set guidelines.

India's Navy to Receive First of Four P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft  in April – The Diplomat
Boeing P-8 Poseidon of the Indian Naval Force

The Bold Chinese Border Claims

South China Sea - what you need to know | News | DW | 11.08.2017
South China Sea: Chinese claims and disputed islands (Source: Global Security, CSIS)

It would be utterly preposterous and embarrassing if we forget the obnoxious policy of the Communist regime “Grab and keep grabbing land” policy. China shares land borders with fourteen countries and maritime borders with four countries. The agape fact is, it has disputes with every neighbor. China, in the month of August, claimed right over 45% of the Pamir region of Tajikistan. As the Chinese historian, Cho Yau Lu said, “Pamir was outside China for 128 years due to the pressure of world powers” so according to this hypothesis, Pamir is Chinese and is a part of Communist China.

JapanSenkaku Islands and the Ryukyu Islands
VietnamChina claims large parts of Vietnam (on historical basis) particularly, Macclesfield Bank, Paracel Islands, parts of South China Sea, and the Spartly Islands
IndiaChina occupies 38,000 sq km of Indian territory that goes by the name of Aksai Chin. It also stakes a claim on Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh
North KoreaBaekdu Mountain and Jiandao
TaiwanChina claims all of Taiwan
MongoliaChina claims all of Mongolia on historical grounds
IndonesiaNatuna Islands and other parts of South China Sea
South KoreaThe Socotra Rock (Ieodo or Suyan Rock) in the East China Sea
SingaporeSingapore and China have disputes over some parts of the South China Sea
BruneiBrunei and China’s dispute is over southern parts of the South China Sea and some of the Spratly Islands.
MalaysiaThe Spratly Islands
The PhilippinesThe Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands
Border and Maritime Disputes with China

China’s expansionism policy is a serious threat to smaller nations with paltry military or economic power in comparison to China. The Quad needs to make China accountable and pay for its historic blunders ranging from human rights, aggressive military confrontations, threat to global security, and importantly, its growing hostility towards its neighbors.