Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)
1] Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) performs an important role in India’s strategic balancing act to withstand the dominance of China in Asia. Discuss. [2023/15m/200w/6c]
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the QUAD, is a strategic forum comprising the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.
One of the primary objectives of the QUAD is to address the growing influence and assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region. China’s actions in the South China Sea, border disputes with India, and its Belt and Road Initiative have raised concerns among QUAD members. For India, which shares a long and contested border with China, the QUAD provides a platform to collaborate with like-minded nations to ensure regional stability and counterbalance Chinese influence.
The QUAD facilitates security cooperation among its members. India, as a member, benefits from intelligence sharing, joint military exercises, and discussions on regional security issues. These activities help India build its capacity and enhance its preparedness to address security challenges, which could include countering Chinese aggression if necessary.
Beyond the security dimension, the QUAD has also expressed interest in promoting economic and infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region. This is seen as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has been criticized for debt traps and strategic influence. India, with its Act East Policy, can leverage QUAD initiatives for economic and infrastructure development in the region, which aligns with its strategic interests.
It’s important to note that while the QUAD offers strategic benefits for India, it also involves navigating complex geopolitical dynamics and maintaining a delicate balance in its foreign policy. India’s participation in the QUAD aims to ensure a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region that is conducive to its own interests and regional security. [262 words]
2] Examine the Geo-strategic points of contention in the bilateral relationship between India and China. [2021/15m/200w/6b]
India and China are both two giants of Asia. While the one is ready to take on the world, the other is preparing itself soon. Additionally, both share borders and interests, be it in South Asia, Central Asia, the Indo-Pacific or Africa.
The major conflict between India and China is the Chinese idea of five fingers which claims several Indian territories, from Ladakh in north to the Arunachal Pradesh in the north-east.
China shares cordial relations with India’s arch-rival in the region, Pakistan, and the relations reached a new depth when Pakistan and China initiated the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion-dollar project. While the said purpose is to promote connectivity, for both China and Pakistan, the project also entails strategic goals as well. CPEC also goes through the Pakistani-administered region of Kashmir, and as India has made a claim of taking “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” back and called the project illegal. This is seen as a direct threat by the Chinese and Pakistanis to the CPEC project.
In the south, India is apprehensive of China’s greater engagement with Sri Lanka. Recently, India raised the issue of a Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 stopping in Sri Lanka. China has been accused by several international scholars for surrounding India through involvement in various small countries, forming a string of pearls. In Central Asia and the South China Sea, both India and China have their eyes on the resources.
India and China are two post-colonial countries with mostly similar global goals but different approaches leading to a rise in conflicts. Better communication can bring in mutual understanding which would benefit the countries, region and global community as a whole. [275 words]
3] Explain the defence and foreign policy options of India to address the challenges emerging out of the current India-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). [2020/20m/250w/7a]
Before the ongoing Galwan Valley stand-off in Ladakh, there had been no major border issues between the two countries in the 21st century, except for the Doklam stand-off, which was resolved peacefully. However, India has been continuously facing new kinds of challenges in its dealing with China.
India needs to decrease its economic overdependence on China and address the unfavourable balance of trade. This would mean a slew of measures that will restrict or scrutinize Chinese activities in the economic, technology, telecommunications, public diplomacy and education sectors.
Delhi is reportedly considering further measures to curb and scrutinize imports, including preventing Chinese goods from being routed through third countries. There have also been reports that Indian state-owned oil companies will no longer use Chinese tankers to ship crude oil or petroleum products. On a more positive note, the Indian government is providing incentives for Indian and foreign companies to manufacture in India, and to reduce dependence on Chinese imports in particular sectors like solar power, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
India along with countries like Japan and Australia Is already working towards supply chain resilience to ensure security against any disruption caused by China. On the same line, India Is also being approached by US, Australia and Japan who share the same ideals. QUAD has been formed to ensure democracy and peace in the Indo-Pacific region. India invited Australia to the MALABAR exercise which could be seen as the military counterpart of the QUAD.
Lastly, India needs national security that’s decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realities. [259 words]
4] Describe briefly China’s ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’ Initiative and analyse India’s major concerns. [2019/20m/250w/6a]
Even though OBOR focuses on enhancing China’s engagement and connectivity with other countries in a more globalised world. Due to the lingering border disputes with China, there seems to be an enduring ‘trust deficit’ or mistrust in the India–China relationship. India’s concerns with respect to OBOR can be seen in the following three areas.
First, it worries that OBOR would help China to make headway in India’s homeland and its traditional sphere of influence. The Indians are very sensitive to the proposed ‘China–Bangladesh–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor’, through which Chinese influence could penetrate into the northeast regions of India and threaten its security.
In addition to traditional security concerns, there are also growing non-traditional security issues between the two countries. The ChineseSouth–North Water Transfer Project diverts the flow of a number of major Tibetan rivers, upon which India and Bangladesh rely, to irrigate northern Chinese plains.
The second concern is that China’s maritime Silk Road could help China develop its presence in the Indian Ocean—the so-called ‘String of Pearls’ strategy. 70 percent of China’s oil imports go through the Indian Ocean. With the increasing dependence on imported oil from the Persian Gulf, India has a definite advantage over China in the Ocean as Beijing has to face the ‘Malacca predicament’ and the politically turbulent South China Sea for its energy transportation. China’s Maritime Silk Road, once fully materialised, could also pose a threat to future Indian naval power projection and regional influence.
There is also an Indian concern with the overall India–China geopolitical competition. China and India are the two most populous and largest developing countries in the world. Both countries have been rising rapidly in recent years. But this has led to growing strategic competition between them in the Asia-Pacific, South Asia and beyond. They compete for natural resources in the world marketplace and are rivals for regional influence in Southeast Asia, the South China Sea, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
India- China relations are always on the move. China’s expansionist attitude gives India no reason to trust the initiative as a partnership instead of encroachment. [353 words]
5] What are the current issues in Brahmaputra River water sharing between India and China? [2019/15m/200w/6b]
An asymmetrical relationship exists between China and India in the Brahmaputra Transboundary water river dispute, whereby China is the upstream riparian with a stronger economy and military while India is the middle riparian, and downstream from China.
In 2015, China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu, while three other dams at Degu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed. India does not have a water-sharing agreement with China, but both sides share hydrological data. In 2017 Delhi did not receive any hydrological – the scientific study of the movement, distribution and quality of water – data for the Brahmaputra river from upstream China this monsoon season, despite the agreement. There are also suspicions in India that China could divert the waters of the Brahmaputra to its parched regions during dry seasons.
In recent years, particularly in northeastern India, fears are also growing that China could suddenly release a huge amount of water. There have also been increasing incidents of landslides blocking rivers and unleashing sudden floods in the Himalayas. This has made Information ever more crucial.
The power asymmetry between the riparians of the Brahmaputra basin has made the task of accessing water resources data complex, although the states have signed bilateral memoranda of understanding to enable data and information sharing. Under these asymmetrical conditions, incentives exist for both sides to securitise their dispute—for China to use water as leverage against India in border negotiations, and for India, as the weaker party, to use securitisation as a tactic to gain attention and offset China’s greater aggregate power. [258 words]
6] Critically examine India’s position on South China Sea Dispute. [2019/15m/200w/8b]
The South China Sea disputes involve China along with several states in the region and encompass issues such as overlapping territorial claims and access to critical resources like energy and fisheries. Within this turbulent environment, India has been expanding its influence by implementing its Look East Policy (now Act East Policy).
The fundamental perspective of Indian interest in the South China Sea is underscored by the growing arc of Indian strategic interests in tune with its increasing trade and economic engagements. ASEAN and East Asia form the fastest-growing component of India’s economic interests and an area of acute economic and strategic interest. This has led to strategically linking the ocean spaces of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean; a term has been coined – the Indo-Pacific Ocean – to highlight seamless connectivity.
The region also is important from an energy security perspective. For instance, India and Vietnam signed an oil and gas exploration agreement, in addition to significantly upgrading their military and trade relationship.
Given the stakes, it is natural that India will gravitate toward the security and stability of this expanded geo-economic and geo-political space at the confluence of the two major oceans.
On the other hand, China accused India of getting involved in the South China Sea dispute despite China urging India to stay out. It lays claim to 85 percent of the contested region and has been reclaiming and militarizing features in its possession. Hence, from New Delhi’s perspective, it is imperative that the South China Sea does not turn into a ‘Chinese lake.’ [258 words]
7] Critically assess the evolving convergence of India and China in the areas of trade and environment. [2018/15m/200w/8b]
Globalization has created many compulsions for countries when they operate in the international sphere, and at times it also forces the countries to cooperate.
In terms of trade, for long the global economic order has worked in favour of the West. India and China have therefore worked together in trade negotiations under WTO. The Doha round of talk is a golden example of the same.
There is also increasing protectionism by the USA. This is witnessed in the America First policy, the trade war and its efforts to undermine WTO. India and China can work together to either reform WTO or create an alternative.
In the areas of environment also the global sphere of influence has forced cooperation between India and China. Both are part of BASIC countries and also LMDCs (Like-Minded Groups of Developing Countries).
However, the cooperation is less than optimal. China tends to engage in international climate governance with a more proactive approach, while India, constrained by its development level, has continued to emphasize the traditional stance of a developing country.
In a multipolar world of increased interdependence, taking hard lines has become difficult. Former foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale calls the present state of India’s relations with other countries as issue-based alliances, rather than non-alliance. [208 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)