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26 April 2017 Editorial


26 APRIL 2017 

Murder at noon

On Maoists attack in Chhattisgarh's Sukma

The deadliest attack in seven years is a reminder of the Maoists' strength

Monday's ambush of a Central Reserve Police Force battalion in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district is a tragic reminder of the failure of the Indian state to effectively address the security challenge the Maoists continue to pose. At least 25 CRPF personnel were killed near the Burkapal camp in south Sukma while out on duty to provide protection for road construction on the Dornapal-Jagargunda belt when the Maoists struck. This is the deadliest such attack in the past seven years. In April 2010, in neighbouring Dantewada district in the same Bastar division of the State, 76 CRPF personnel had been killed in a Maoist strike. Besides confirming the strong Maoist hold in the region, Monday's attack also raises questions about the Standard Operating Procedures and precautions adopted by the CRPF. Around 300 armed insurgents swooped down on the battalion around 1 p.m., when the soldiers were taking a break for lunch and their guard was presumed to have been down. According to initial estimates and eyewitness accounts, the Maoists used automatic weapons that they had stolen a month ago when they ambushed and killed a dozen CRPF men not very far from this encounter site. The site of the attack too carried a message. The road under construction will provide easy access to the backward region, where Maoists have for long held sway. It has been a long-held strategy of the Maoists to blow up infrastructure that enables connectivity, such as roads and bridges, or establishes the presence of the state, such as schools.

The response must be to double down to extend the presence of the administration in Bastar, to break the isolation and reach social services to the people. There is also a need to boost the morale of the security and police forces. The recent spate of attacks and ambushes indicates a breakdown in intelligence-gathering, possibly on account of a lack of effective coordination between the State police and paramilitary forces. It may have had no bearing on the attack, or the probability of averting it, but the fact that the post of the Director General of the CRPF continues to be vacant is a lapse amplified by the tragedy. The inadequacies are more grave than this administrative oversight. The State police forces in Maoist-affected areas have more or less abdicated their duties of law and order, leaving the job almost entirely to the paramilitary forces. The Centre needs to urgently put in place, in mission mode, measures to strengthen, expand and arm the State police, most of all in Chhattisgarh. This needs the State governments to show far more political will to persuade local communities than they currently do. The Maoists long ago lost the argument with their murderous ways; but the political and civil establishment is yet to win that argument by addressing the people's security and welfare needs, and their concerns about extractive state policies.


A call for reform

On IMF's quota system 

The IMF could turn irrelevant unless it reforms to keep up with rival global institutions

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has demanded reforms to the International Monetary Fund's controversial quota system, shedding light on the problems facing the Bretton Woods institution in today's global economy. Quotas determine the size of contingency funds at the disposal of the IMF to lend to countries in need of help, as well as the power of individual countries to influence lending decisions and tap into the funds themselves. Though developing countries hold less than half the overall quota at the moment, with their rapidly increasing economic heft they have demanded a greater share - with limited success. In this context, speaking at the spring meetings of the IMF, Mr. Jaitley reiterated the need to reform the quota system further. Else, he warned, the legitimacy and credibility of the IMF could be eroded. The 15th General Review of Quotas (GRQ), the most recent attempt to revise the size and composition of the system, was to be completed by October 2017, but the deadline has now been extended to 2019. The delay was not unexpected, given the poor precedent set by the long delay in adoption in 2016 of the previous GRQ (originally approved in 2010). That had doubled the overall size of the quotas to $659 billion (from $329 billion) while allotting an additional 6% of quotas to the developing world. But with the rise of competing global institutions ready to meet the capital needs of the developing world, the patience of countries such as India may be tested more easily.

Also at stake is the potency of the IMF in keeping up with the changed fundamental needs of developing economies. The developing world is looking beyond the short-term crisis management tools that the IMF, as the sole international lender of last resort, has traditionally offered them for decades now - albeit in an unsatisfactory and politically biased way. China, for instance, with its steadily rising influence on the global economy, has grown to be the focal point for economies seeking alternative sources of capital to fund their long-term growth needs. This month, Mr. Jaitley announced that India is seeking $2 billion from the New Development Bank, set up by the BRICS countries in 2015 with a more equitable power structure, to fund infrastructure projects. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, launched in 2014, could be an even bigger threat to the IMF's influence given its larger membership, lending capacity and international reach. In this environment of competition, the IMF will have to do more than just superficially tinker with its asymmetric power structure and outdated quota system. Else, it could be slowly but steadily pushed into irrelevance. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether India will continue to push for reforms at the IMF even as it simultaneously seeks to diversify its funding base, or whether it will assume a bolder stance in openly favouring one over the other.






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