Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)
1] How does the regime change and political crisis in Myanmar threaten regional security and peace? [2023/15m/200w/2c]
The regime change and political crisis in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, pose significant threats to regional security and peace in several ways.
The political turmoil and violence in Myanmar have led to a severe humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people, including civilians and ethnic minorities, have been displaced, and many have sought refuge in neighboring countries like Thailand and Bangladesh. This places a strain on regional resources and stability.
Since the coup, the peaceful protests have met disproportionate responses from the military junta, including “excessive and lethal force, live ammunition, grenades, and the so-called less-lethal weapons.” Police and soldiers massacred protesters in cities and towns across the country. This caught the attention of the international community, which condemned the junta’s serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, and now expects ASEAN to intervene efficiently to end the violence.
Regional economies are interconnected, and Myanmar plays a role in the regional economy. The crisis in Myanmar can disrupt trade, investment, and economic relations, affecting the prosperity and stability of neighboring countries.
Myanmar’s political crisis also has regional and global geopolitical implications. As countries take sides or try to influence the situation, it can lead to increased tensions and rivalries in the region, contributing to instability.
Moreover, the Golden Triangle, which includes parts of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, has long been associated with drug production and trafficking. A destabilized Myanmar could exacerbate these issues, leading to a rise in drug-related problems and organized crime, which can threaten regional security.
The regime change and political crisis in Myanmar have profound and multifaceted implications for regional security and peace. And addressing these challenges requires both regional and international cooperation and diplomacy to find a sustainable solution and restore stability in Myanmar and the broader region. [295 words]
2] Account for the rise of European Union as a highly influential regional organisation. [2023/15m/200w/3b]
The rise of the European Union (EU) as a highly influential regional organization can be attributed to a combination of historical, political, economic, and institutional factors.
The EU’s origins can be traced back to the aftermath of World War II when European nations sought to prevent further devastating conflicts. The Treaty of Paris in 1951 established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which marked the beginning of European integration. The memory of two world wars provided a strong impetus for regional cooperation and peace.
The establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC) through the Treaty of Rome in 1957 laid the foundation for economic integration. The Common Market, which allowed for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people, promoted economic growth and stability.
The creation of the Single European Act in 1986 and the adoption of the euro as a common currency in 1999 further deepened economic integration. These measures enhanced economic efficiency and facilitated trade, investment, and cross-border economic activity.
The EU’s ability to respond to crises, such as the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s and the debt crisis in the early 2010s, demonstrated its capacity to manage complex challenges. Crisis responses showcased the EU as a stabilizing force and enhanced its influence in conflict resolution and economic governance.
The development of a CFSP and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) allowed the EU to speak with a unified voice on international issues and participate in peacekeeping missions and crisis management.
The EU’s institutional structure, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council, has enabled effective decision-making and policy implementation. The Lisbon Treaty in 2009 further streamlined the EU’s institutions, making it more efficient and coherent.
As one of the world’s largest trading blocs, the EU’s economic leverage has enabled it to negotiate favorable trade agreements and exert influence on global trade regulations.
The EU’s rise as an influential regional organization is a testament to its ability to adapt, expand, and evolve in response to changing global dynamics. It remains a key player in global affairs, and its influence extends beyond Europe’s borders, impacting a wide range of international issues. [358 words]
3] Russian-Ukraine crisis has cast a dark shadow on the energy needs of the member states of the European Union (EU). Comment. [2022/15m/200w/4c]
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has become the defining moment of 21st-century Western politics as the question is not just confined to the distribution of power but extends to access to resources.
Many EU member states heavily rely on Russia for their energy needs, particularly natural gas. Russia is one of the largest suppliers of natural gas to the EU, with pipelines running through Ukraine, such as the Nord Stream and the Yamal-Europe pipelines. The crisis has raised concerns about the security and reliability of energy supplies from Russia, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine can potentially disrupt gas flows.
The Russian-Ukraine crisis has highlighted the vulnerability of EU member states to potential energy supply disruptions. In the past, gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine have resulted in gas supply interruptions to EU countries. This has prompted the EU to seek diversification of its energy sources and routes, reduce dependence on Russian gas, and strengthen energy security measures.
The energy crisis has accelerated efforts within the EU to transition towards renewable and sustainable energy sources. The EU has been actively promoting renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency measures, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through initiatives like the European Green Deal. The crisis has underscored the importance of decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, including gas imports from Russia, and promoting self-sufficiency in energy production.
The Russian-Ukraine crisis has brought energy security concerns to the forefront for EU member states heavily dependent on Russian energy. The crisis has highlighted the need for energy diversification, increased renewable energy production, and enhanced regional cooperation to mitigate risks and ensure a more secure and sustainable energy future for the EU.
4] Explain India’s relations with the European Union in the context of Brexit. [2021/15m/200w/4c]
India and the EU are strategic partners and share common worldviews. Both support multipolar, liberal and just world order.
With Brexit bringing a paradigm shift, India will have to revisit its relations with Europe. India can explore opportunities in service sectors like IT, architecture, research and development and engineering in both markets as the EU-UK pact does not cover services.
With the UK being among the largest source of foreign direct investment to India, the Brexit deal will have a significant ripple effect back in India. According to experts, while the Brexit paves way for a free trade agreement (FTA) between New Delhi and London, it might take the sheen away from India’s planned FTA with the EU.
India’s services sector is likely to make gains from the curbs on the free movement of professionals between the two markets. According to the Brexit trade and security deal, UK nationals will no longer have unrestricted freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU and vice versa, although both sides will have tariff-free and quota-free access to each other’s market.
Sectors such as IT, R&D, architecture and financial services are likely to shine for India. Brexit is also expected to add new dots to the IT map of India. The UK will also want new trading and service partners, many of whom will not be from EU countries. Hence, India can meet the upcoming requirement, as the accent may be more focused on verticals like technology with extensions towards cyber security. There’s a strong possibility of UK-India investment in this sector.
The UK’s exit from the EU marks the start of a new era for international relations and business. It remains to be seen what this will mean for all the countries involved. [295 words]
5] Explain the success of ASEAN as a regional organisation. [2021/15m/200w/4b]
In the book, The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace, Kishore Mahbubani noted that when the organization was founded 50 years ago, the five original member states — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand — had “massive” distrust of one another, and according to him, “Southeast Asia was a hotbed of conflict.”
While the region was dealing with several violent forces during the commencement of the ASEAN, it also gave ASEAN the first issues to resolve and a reason to come together and test itself.
The second ingredient to ASEAN’s success was a balance of power within the organization. Transnational organizations often lose legitimacy because of great power dominance, when powerful actors dominate organizations and turn them into tools that serve individual interests. ASEAN could have been easily dominated by Indonesia. But Indonesia made a conscious effort to not dominate.
ASEAN has provided its member states with a better negotiating platform than they could have achieved on their own. Their economies have been boosted by the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement and by ASEAN’s free-trade agreements with other major economies such as China, India, Japan, and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Moreover, ASEAN has created an indispensable diplomatic platform that regularly brings all the great powers together and provides conducive environments for them to talk to each other. ASEAN has emerged as the indispensable platform for great-power engagement in the Asia-Pacific region precisely because it is too weak to be a threat to anyone; as a result, all the great powers instinctively trust it. This even allows for dialogue with North Korea.
Like any other regional organization, ASEAN is not without its challenges. The organization has faced problems such as political instability, economic inequality, and environmental issues in the recent past. However, ASEAN has shown a remarkable ability to overcome these challenges and continues to make progress. [310 words]
6] Critically analyze the role of ASEAN in the promotion of regional peace and security through economic cooperation and trade. [2020/15m/200w/4b]
ASEAN has used the interdependence brought by economic cooperation and trade to promote regional peace and security. Since its formation, ASEAN has remained alive through a major shift in the regional strategic environment of Southeast Asia.
One of the most important ways that ASEAN has contributed to the stability of the region is through the promotion of economic cooperation and trade. Various free trade agreements helped the region reduce tariffs and other trade barriers. It has increased trade and investment in the region, thereby helping to create jobs, to raise incomes, and in reducing poverty.
The economic cooperation also ensures that there is growth of trust among the member states. With mutual investments and stakes involved, there are vested interests in the political stability of the region, and thus conflicts are often contained.
We can see the working of functionalism in the case of ASEAN. The cooperation in the economic sector has had a spillover effect on the political and social relations of the region, and now the stakes are too high for any member country to not cooperate. In a real sense, it has become a security community. Over a period, it has developed informal processes to resolve regional problems in non-violent ways and provided a regional situation in which bilateral disputes are resolved by conducting peaceful negotiations.
ASEAN Way is a unique product of the region and continues to influence the conduct of international relations in Asia-Pacific. [239 words]
7] Evaluate the role of BIMSTEC in multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation. [2019/10m/150w/1d]
BIMSTEC consists of the littoral states of the Bay of Bengal. The coincidence of the foreign policies of India, Bangladesh and Thailand gave birth to this organization. It is an Inter-regional organisation, bringing the capacities of SAARC and ASEAN together.
BIMSTEC divides its agenda into 6 sectors i.e. Trade and investment; Transport and communication; Energy; Tourism; Technology and Fisheries.
The free trade agreement for the region is in its final stages and will promote more intra-regional trade, investment and cooperation. There is an active focus on inland connectivity of the region, including the development of ports. Around 1/4th of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay of Bengal every year. Thus, BIMSTEC’s focus on trade and connectivity would be helpful for all the members, including land-locked Nepal & Bhutan.
We also see an active discussion on the hydro power-sharing agreements which would help countries sell electricity to each other. There is huge potential in the sectors of tourism and fisheries, which remains unexploited, and with its huge IT sector, India has much to offer in terms of technological cooperation.
With the most important factor in the region i.e. Indo Pak rivalry, not part of the organization, the multi-sectoral cooperation is truly possible and will benefit both the large as well as small economies. India is the biggest member of BIMSTEC and should make an active effort to ensure its success. [229 words]
8] Since its inception the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has failed to deliver on its promise. What initiatives should be taken to reinvigorate the organisation? [2018/15m/200w/3c]
SAARC members are natural allies, they are geopolitically bound and culturally synchronous. But the organisation could not hold the fragile security dilemma of the South Asian Nations, especially India and Pakistan. After 2016, post a terror attack originating from Pakistan, SAARC has been left in stagnation, and all the small member countries have reiterated the need to reinvigorate the organisation.
One of the major structural problems is the provision of decisions by unanimity in its charter. This should be changed to majority consensus which can allow a country to stay away from any one scheme it finds problematic and still be part of the whole. Moreover, the prohibition on the raising of bilateral issues reduces the possibility of solving conflicts among and addressing concerns of, the member states.
There is a need for smart borders or seamless connectivity in the whole region. It includes not only roads and bridges but maritime, railway, telecom, and the rest of it. A strategy can be formulated to manage water through common basin management. Similarly, there are great prospects for intra-state electricity trade among the SAARC countries. The SAARC working group on energy also reflects this objective.
It should be realised that SAARC is not a political forum, hence Indo-Pak rivalries should be kept aside while dealing with other important issues like intra-regional migration, migration to regions like West Asia, climate change, energy, connectivity etc. the region is facing. Political will for regional connectivity will decrease the level of conflict, insecurity and underdevelopment in South Asia. [252 words]
The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)