[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 14th January 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer -writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]
In a speech long on past achievements and short on policy promises for his final year in office, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his seventh and last State of the Union address to a House of Representatives chamber on Tuesday. Equally dedicating his time at the pulpit to defending his two-term record in office and to laying out a vision consistent with the liberal paradigm of the Democratic Party, Mr. Obama posed four definitive questions, the answers to which he said would determine how much progress the U.S. would make in the years ahead. First, on how the U.S. middle class finds sufficient opportunities in the new economy to secure its prosperity; second, on how the U.S. harnesses the power of technology to tackle climate change; third, what are the means to secure the safety of Americans at home and abroad without getting trapped in any military “quagmires”; and fourth, how could America's leadership foster a less hateful, less anti-minority brand of national politics? In the face of the Republican Party’s attitude of “rancour and suspicion”, Mr. Obama has deftly navigated a path forward on domestic priorities including healthcare reform, economic revival, and sustainable technologies in the energy sector. Yet his record on foreign policy is more patchy and complex. The partial realisation of the dream of America leading a multilateral world sits rather uncomfortably with notable cases of stasis and deepening conflict.
An unequivocal feather in Mr. Obama’s cap is the détente with Iran, which, on his watch, has rolled back its nuclear programme, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and helped the world step back from the brink of war. So too is the revival of formal diplomatic ties with Cuba last summer which, after more than 50 years of isolation and economic embargo, witnessed the relaxation of travel restrictions but awaits a nod from the Republican-controlled Congress before trade can be fully opened up. At the macro level, seven years since the end of Bush-era unilateralism, the adoption of multilateral, regionally focussed and hemispheric political models have certainly come into vogue under the able guidance of the Obama machine. Yet, even as multilateralism has thrived, bilateral crisis-resolution has taken a back seat. With Russia, the legitimate concerns of an important strategic player are reduced to sound bites and talking heads on U.S. news channels. Consequently in Ukraine and Syria there is often a hair-trigger situation. Washington’s China engagement was more reactive than proactive, and led to more aggressive positions in the region. The unravelling security prospects of Afghanistan and the festering Palestine-Israel conflict were inconsistently addressed over the two presidential terms. India, though, turned out to be the classic partner for Obama’s America — there was enough bilateral economic depth to keep ties strong, and the shared idiom of pluralistic democracy held the two nations together in a close but light strategic embrace.
1. Explain the following terms: (50 words)
- Middle Class
- Foreign Policy
2. Map work: Trace out the following in the map and study their location (water bodies, neighbouring countries )
Iran, USA, Cuba, Ukraine, Syria, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine
3. How is USA's political set up different from India?
4. How are the modes of appointment of the President of USA and that of the Prime Minister of India different?
5. What is Iran's Nuclear Program? Why is Mr. Obama being hailed for compelling Iran to roll back its nuclear program?
6. Where is Cuba located? How far is it located from USA? What is the history of US-Cuba relationship?
7. What were the significant achievements of President Obama's tenure?
8. What is Palestine-Israel dispute? Do you think this dispute is impacting the world? If yes then how?
9. India and USA have a lot in common for their relationship to turn sour. Analyse (200 words)