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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

30 Jun, 2022

23 Min Read

PARTNERS IN THE BLUE PACIFIC

GS-II : International Relations Indo Pacific Region

PARTNERS IN THE BLUE PACIFIC

US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom have launched the new initiative known as ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ for effective and efficient cooperation with the small island nation of the region.

It aims to enhance cooperation in the area of the climate crisis, connectivity, transportation, maritime security and protection, prosperity, health, and education.

  • The Pacific Island countries (small island nations of the pacific) are the cluster of 14 nations located largely in the tropical zone of the Pacific Ocean between Australia, Asia, and the Americas.
  • They include Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, Federation State of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Samoa, Niue, Solomon Islands, and Fiji.

PARTNERS IN THE BLUE PACIFIC INITIATIVE

  • It is a five-nation informal mechanism to support the pacific islands and boost diplomatic and economic relations in the region.
  • It focuses mainly on enhancing prosperity, resilience, and security in the pacific through closer cooperation.
  • This initiative is to direct more resources either individually or together toward the pacific island countries to counter China’s aggressive outreach.
  • Member partners in this initiative will elevate pacific regionalism and forge stronger ties with the pacific island forum.

IMPORTANCE OF THE PACIFIC REGION

  • Based on physical and human geography islands of the pacific region are divided into three distinct parts which are Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Though they are some of the smallest and least populated states, they have some of the largest exclusive economic zone (EEZs) in the world. Example Kiribati has EEZ larger than India’s.
  • With large EEZs, they have great economic potential as they can be used to exploit the wealth of fisheries, minerals, energy and other marine resources present there.
  • The pacific island countries, united together by shared economic and security concerns, account for as many votes in the United Nation and also act as a potential vote bank for a major power to mobilize international view.
  • Pacific has been geographically significant because of its ability to control world supply and access. In the colonial era, the world powers would compete to get control over these strategic islands’ territories.
  • Some of the major nuclear weapon test sites of the US and France are located in this region.

CHINA’S ROLE IN THE PACIFIC

The pacific zone is important for the expansion of China’s maritime and naval power.

  • China has signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands and the Chinese military base is present in the southern pacific, close to the US island territory of Guam and right next to New Zealand and Australia.
  • China is also pushing its game-changing agreement called “Common Development Vision” to dominate crucial shipping lanes.
  • The Taiwan factor plays a major role in China’s pacific calculus as China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway territory, and is preparing for what seems like an inevitable military invasion.
  • China has provided $1.5 billion in foreign aid to the region through a mixture of grants and loans.
  • At the time when Quadrilateral dialogue emerged as a major force in the region, the need to influence the Pacific Island countries has now become more important for China.

STEP TAKEN BY USA TO COUNTER CHINA

  • The US and its allies have started the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a trade-boosting play in the region with 14 nations.
  • G7 has come up with a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative by promising to raise 600 billion dollars to fund development projects in middle and low-income countries.
  • US seeks to strengthen the QUAD alliance and explore the Quad working with ASEAN.
  • US has also developed security partnerships with Australia, and the UK (AUKUS) for the region.
  • The US maintains and deploys its largest fleet ‘The Seventh Fleet” for maintaining peace and security in the region.

Indo- Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)

  • It is a US-led economic grouping consisting of currently 14 nations launched by US president Joe Biden on May 23, 2022.
  • Launched in Tokyo, on the eve of the QUAD summit. Its founding member includes Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the USA. Recently joined by Fiji.
  • Together these countries account for 40% of global GDP.
  • IPEF rests on 4 major pillars:
    • Trade
    • Supply chain resilience
    • Clean energy and decarbonization
    • Taxes and anti-corruption measures.
  • It's an open initiative for other countries to join at any time.

PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRY & INDIA’S RELATION

India is expanding its outreach to the Pacific Island region that falls organically into China’s maritime strategic expansionist policy.

  • India has started providing soft development loans to the islands in South Pacific.
  • A huge Indian diaspora is present in the Pacific country which strengthens India’s relationship with this region, nearly 40% of Fiji’s population is of Indian origin and more than 3000 Indians live in Papua New Guinea.
  • India participated in the Pacific Island Forum as one of the key dialogue partners of the forum. In the India -Pacific Island Forum held in Jaipur, India extended the limits of its Act East Policy to the South Pacific region.
  • Also, all the 14 Pacific Island countries support India’s Permanent Membership in the United Nations.
  • The formation of an action-oriented Forum for India and Pacific Island Countries is also strengthening its tie with pacific nations.

India doesn’t have a permanent military base in the Pacific Island region and its Eastern Fleet based in Visakhapatnam has operations up to the Strait of Malacca. Also, presently India has permanent diplomatic postings only in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Given the limitations, India’s ambition in the Indo- Pacific can be enhanced by expanding its diplomatic outreach to the strategic islands and advancing the SAGAR initiative for cooperation in the blue economy.

Source: The Hindu

Lancet Study On Road Safety and India’s Road Safety

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions

Lancet Study On Road Safety and India’s Road Safety Measures

The Lancet study highlights the urgency of implementing a safe system approach that can effectively address road injury death by 2030 and the number of lives that can be saved through intervention in road safety risk factors.

The report uses mortality data from the Global Burden of Disease 2017.

This is the first-time country-wise reports are presented based on four parameters drunk- driving, helmet use, speeding, seat -belt use.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE REPORT

  • Steps taken to check vehicle speed on road in India could alone have the biggest impact on ensuring road safety by saving 20,554 lives annually.
  • The major four risk factors such as speeding, drunk driving, and non-use of crash helmets and seat belts could prevent 25%to 40%of the 13.5 lakh fatal road injuries worldwide every year.
  • In the case of India, intervention to check to speed could save 20,554 lives and the promotion of crash helmets could save 5,863 lives, and encouraging the use of seat belts could save 3,204 lives.
  • There were no estimates for drunk driving available to assess in India either due to poor reporting or inadequate data maintenance.
  • According to Road Transport and Highway Ministry 2020 report, there were 1,31,714 deaths due to road accidents and speeding accounted for 69.3% of death, non-wearing helmets result in 30.1% of death and no use of seat belts caused 11% of death.

ROAD ACCIDENT

  • Road injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally for all ages and the first cause in the 5-29 years age group deaths.
  • Approx. 14 lakh people die each year and up to 5 crores are injured by road injuries across the world.
  • India accounts for almost 10% of all crash-related death while accounting for only 1% of the world’s vehicles.

IMPACT OF ROAD ACCIDENT

  • Economic Impact

India's socio-economic cost of road traffic accidents for the year 2019 was in the range of USD15.71 billion to USD38.81 billion, which amounts to 0.55–1.35% of the Gross Domestic Product.

  • Social Impact

At the individual level, road crash injuries and even deaths cause a severe financial burden and push entire households into poverty and the already poor into debt.

Every road accident death causes exhaustion of nearly seven months’ household income in poor families and pushes the children of victims into a cycle of poverty and debt

  • Gender-Specific Impact

Women in the families of victims carry the burden across poor and rich households, often doing up extra work, assuming more greater responsibilities, and performing caregiving activities.

About 50% of women were severely affected by the decrease in their household income after a crash.

About 40% of women also reported a change in their working area post-accident.

RELATED INITIATIVES

  • Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety 2015

This declaration was signed at the second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety which was held in Brazil. India is also a signatory to the Declaration in 2015, to reduce road deaths by 50% in five years.

Signatory countries plan to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.6 i.e. half the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030.

  • UN Global Road Safety Week

It is celebrated every two years, the fifth edition was held from 6-12 May 2019, which highlighted the need for strong leadership for road safety.

  • Decade Of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030

In September 2020, United Nation adopted this resolution with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic injuries and death by 2030.

India’s Initiative for Road Safety

Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019

  • It provides compulsory insurance to all road users through the creation of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and cashless treatment for accident victims during golden hour i.e. within 1 hour of an accident.
  • It encourages Good Samaritans to proactively play their role by making them non-liable to any civil or criminal action against them.
  • Formation of a National Road Safety Board that would technical advice and assistance to the central government on road safety standards, and traffic management. It is in line with the global practices found in countries like the United States, Sweden, and Australia.
  • It increases penalties for traffic violations.

National Road Safety Policy 2010

  • It is a multi-pronged strategy to address road safety in India based on the 4 “E’s i.e. Education (promoting awareness), Engineering (safer road and vehicle infrastructure, including the application of smart transportation), Enforcement of safety laws, and Emergency care including trauma care.
  • Under this, National Road Safety Council (apex body), State Road Safety Council, and District Road Safety Committee are formed to take decisions on the matter of road safety.
  • Public campaign for road safety through electronic and print media.
  • Identification of black spots and accident-prone areas and rectifying them by the adoption of correct means.
  • Improving Road accident data collection and proper database management and carrying out Road Safety Audits.
  • Improving Vehicular Safety Standards example trucks prohibited from carrying protruding rods, Car crash standards made mandatory, Anti-locking Brake systems (ABS) mandatory on heavy vehicles, etc.
  • Training of the drivers and Refresher course for Drivers in unskilled sectors.
  • Quick response ambulances in every 50km on National Highways by the National Highway Authority of India.

Other measures

  • E-challan- digitally induced challan on the identification of vehicles breaking rules through installed cameras.
  • Speed detection device (Radar Gun) – already been introduced in Chandigarh, New Delhi.
  • Strict and heavy fines are imposed on drunk and drive violators or those breaking road safety norms.
  • Raised platforms and safety humps, roundabouts, and optical markings are adopted to reduce road accidents.
  • Supreme Court directive in 2014 to ban the sale of alcohol on highways to restrict drunk driving.

Limitations

Despite proper acts and policies, road safety is still a major concern due to

  • poor enforcement of laws,
  • lack of human resources to check on violators,
  • high corruption in RTO offices, bribery on breaking traffic rules,
  • absence of proper training or testing facilities for drivers,
  • cameras and electronic detection devices limited to a few big cities,
  • inadequate vehicular safety standards,
  • lack of funds to erect proper road safety infrastructures and
  • lack of proper awareness and education regarding road safety measures among drivers and masses.

Way forward

For ensuring better road safety and achieving the target of reducing road accident deaths to 50% by 2024, high priorities have to be accorded to:

  • Mandatory formation of State Road safety Board to ensure minimum standards of design, construction, operation, and management of road safety.
  • Formation of District Road Safety Committees with the involvement of local people to address the local road safety issues.
  • Strict implementation of laws by authorities.
  • Center-state coordination on creating necessary safety infrastructures on national and state highways.
  • Ensuring scientific data collection for the adoption of a more indented and focused approach towards road safety.
  • Road safety awareness and education program.
  • Implementation of the recommendations of the Sundar committee which advised 1% of the total proceeds of cess on petrol and diesel to be diverted into Road Safety Funds, decriminalization of road accidents that makes the hospitals reluctant to accept road accident victims, and formation of National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board with experts drawn on various fields including road engineers, medical care, automobile engineers, etc. to ensure road safety.

Source: The Hindu

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