THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 11, July – 2017

A) The Hamburg Tussle

The gathering in Hamburg of the G20, a group of twenty developed and developing countries, last week was not unlike a large family event: some catching up, some patching up, and that unpredictable, rich uncle who needs to be managed and kept in good humour. The success of summits such as this should be judged with regard to the emerging global context: with the world’s most powerful country, the United States led by a President who wants to redefine the world order in narrow transactional terms; with economies changing due to digitisation and automation; with the strength of a country’s electoral process increasingly tied to its cyber security; with migration on an unprecedented scale; and with terrorism decentralised and dispersed. The G20 meetings in Germany reflected all this, either through the dynamics between the leaders or in the wording of official statements that emerged from them. The summit also provided a much-needed opportunity for bilateral meetings, some of which went well beyond the ordinary renewal of commitments among countries. The meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was their first after the election hacking scandal and Mr. Trump’s inauguration, while the interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping came amid the face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies in Doklam. Most remarkable was the fact that the G20 managed to pull together a joint communique at all, given Mr. Trump’s recalcitrance on trade and the environment and the tension between interlocutors. It is reported that the French President Emmanuel Macron was pivotal in bringing about unanimity by getting the U.S. on board. Yet the final statement did not hide the fact that the U.S. policy currently runs against the global consensus, noting America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement but declaring that the other 19 countries recognise the pact is “irreversible”. Even so, a sentence about the U.S. saying it would help countries access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently struck an odd note. In terms of trade, members committed to fight protectionism while recognising “legitimate trade defence instruments”. While the G20 dynamics may have been strained, world leaders have clearly moved up the learning curve on how to handle Mr. Trump since his first international tour of West Asia and Europe in May, which saw rifts over the U.S.’s commitment to NATO, climate change and trade. The scale and violent nature of the protests in Hamburg too was notable, with tens of thousands showing up, and several hundred police officers injured. These were yet another reminder that all is not well with the world, and that the undercurrents of discontent developing countries have long been familiar with have now lowed west. The G20 and other international groupings must work to mitigate their underlying causes through dialogue and responsive measures.

B) Targeting trawling

Sri Lanka’s legislative amendment to prohibit bottom trawling, a destructive fishing practice, is a welcome move despite its likely near-term consequence of deepening the fisheries conflict in the Palk Bay region. Bottom trawling in the island nation’s territorial waters will now attract a possible two-year prison term and a fine of 50,000 Sri Lankan rupees. The practice, which involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea floor, is known to cause great depletion of fishery resources, and curbing it in the interest of sustainable fishing. The initial reaction from Tamil Nadu has been one of concern and consternation. Political parties claim the amendment is draconian, and that it is targeted at the State’s fishermen who regularly use hundreds of trawlers in Sri Lankan territorial waters. This criticism is way of the mark. In recent years, some fishermen in northern Sri Lanka have also adopted bottom trawling. If this practice continues to gain ground even among local fishermen, the long-term consequences on fishing resources in the contested Palk Bay region will be irremediable. The amendment is aimed at curbing local trawlers as well as deterring trawlers from Tamil Nadu. An appropriate response from Tamil Nadu would be to expedite the conversion of its trawlers to deep sea fishing vessels, and not merely condemn Sri Lanka. Fishermen from both countries have been in talks for a long time to resolve the conflict. Sri Lankan fishermen want an immediate end to incursions by Indian trawlers, and those from Tamil Nadu insist on a three-year phase-out period. The proposal to ban bottom trawling is two years old, but the amendment has come at a time when a Joint Working Group set up by both countries last year is in place. Tamil Nadu fishermen are arrested from time to time by the Sri Lankan Navy, and their vessels seized. If more are arrested and slapped with two year jail terms after a summary trial, as the law now envisages, it may create new flashpoints. Ultimately, the solution lies in the transition from trawling to deep sea fishing, for which a beginning has been made. The Central and State governments plan to provide 500 deep sea fishing boats with long lines and gill nets this year, as part of a plan to replace 2,000 trawlers in three years. However, the question is whether Sri Lanka can be expected to wait for this plan to be fully implemented before enforcing its bottom trawling ban. Even while bracing for an escalation as a result of protests from Tamil Nadu, both countries should ensure that the situation does not disrupt regular meetings of the JWG. Besides the fisheries conflict, they need to discuss marine conservation, thus giving equal importance to protecting livelihoods and sustainable fishing.

Words/ Vocabulary

1) Patching up

Meaning: Restore peacefully or friendly relations after a quarrel or dispute.

Example: They sent him home to patch things up with his wife

Synonym: piece of cloth, plot of land.

2) Unprecedented

Meaning: Never done or known before.

Example: The unprecedented move would have brought a smile.

Synonym: unusual, unparallel

3) Bilateral

Meaning: Having or relating to two sides.

Example: In three instances the muscle was bilateral, and in one on the left side only.

Synonym: mutual, reciprocal

4) Face-off

Meaning: A direct confrontation between two people or groups.

Example: In such a face-off, not even the teachers union would side with the board.

Synonym: argument, challenge

5) Communique

Meaning: An official announcement or statement, especially one made to the media.

Example: The country’s foreign ministry issued a communiqué.

Synonym: press release, bulletin

6) Recalcitrance

Meaning: unwilling to obey orders

Example: Indeed, one of the prices of a victory won in the face of French and German recalcitrance has been a slide in UK support for the single currency.

Synonym: revolt, sedition

7) Interlocutors

Meaning: A person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.

Example: This is the response I wrote to one of my interlocutors in the comments.

Synonym: speaker, commentator

8) Unanimity

Meaning: the state of being unanimous

Example: There is almost complete unanimity on this issue.

Synonym: unanimous, settlement

9) Legitimate

Meaning: Conforming to the law or to rules.

Example: His claims to legitimate authority.

Synonym: legal, genuine

10) rift

Meaning: A serious break in friendly relations.

Example: The rift between the two branches of the legal profession.

Synonym: split, separation

11) Undercurrents

Meaning: An underlying feeling or influence

Example: Collectively, the soldiers let out a singular cry of anger, with undercurrents of anguish.

Synonym: condition, detail

12) Mitigate

Meaning: Make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful.

Example: Drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem.

Synonym: ease, diminish

13) Trawling

Meaning: An act of fishing with a trawl net or seine.

Example: They had caught two trout on the lazy trawl up-lake.

Synonym: drift net, fishing

14) Depletion

Meaning: Reduction in the number or quantity of something.

Example: The depletion of the ozone layer.

Synonym: lessening, weakening

15) Curbing

Meaning: A check or restraint on something.

Example: Plans to introduce tougher curbs on insider dealing.

Synonym: restriction, cutting.

16) Draconian

Meaning: Excessively harsh and severe.

Example: The Nazis destroyed the independence of the press by a series of draconian laws.

Synonym: strict, severe

17) Irremediable

Meaning: Impossible to cure

Example: The conflict between the two decisions is irremediable.

Synonym: irreparable, irretrievable

18) Deterring

Meaning: Discourage (someone) from doing something by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.

Example: Strategists think not only about how to deter war, but about how war might occur.

Synonym: avert, prohibit

19) Expedite

Meaning: Make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly.

Example: He promised to expedite economic reforms.

Synonym: advance, further

20) Incursions

Meaning: An invasion or attack.

Example: In case there is an incursion into our territories, we have to repel such attacks.

Synonym: invade, engage

21) Envisage

Meaning: Form a mental picture of (something not yet existing or known).

Example: He knew what he liked but had difficulty envisaging it.

Synonym: imagine, predict

23) Escalation

Meaning: A rapid increase; a rise.

Example: The present escalation of global warming.

Synonym: growth, boom, acceleration

Other Hindu Editorials to read:

THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 10, July – 2017

THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 8, July – 2017

THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 7, July – 2017