Thursday, January 14, 2016

[Editorial # 40] Mixed legacy of the Obama years: The Hindu

[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
  • Unilateralism
  • Multilateralism 

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)


  1. Middle Class:
    the social group between the upper and working classes is called middle class.just 13% popu in the world are in middle class while 56% in lower class.
    foeeign policy:-Plan of Action made by one country with regards to diplomatic dealing.
    Unilateralism:- It is the doctrine which supports one sided action in international relations.
    Multilateralism :-It is opposite to unilateralism which supports participation of multiple stake holders with regards to decisions in internaitonal arena.

  2. 3. How is USA's political set up different from India?
    A. In India we follow parliamentary form of govt where the PM and the COMs are responsible to the parliament. However in US , there is presidential form of govt where the president is elected.In india PT(PRESIDENT) is the nominalor ceremonial head while in USA he is the real head of government.In india parliament is the representative body while in US it is called as congress which consist of House of representatives and senate similar to loksabha and rajya sabha in india.However in both the systems there are 3 organs of the state.There is clear demarcation of roles of Legislative, executive and judiciary in US howeever in india there is a friction exists between judiciary, executive and legislature.

    1. In India we have an integrated judiciary system. Whereas, in US, we have separate judicial system both at federal and state level .

  3. 4. How are the modes of appointment of the President of USA and that of the Prime Minister of India different?
    A.US: every party wii have its own members who stand for elections at local levels.The common pepple vote for them. The one who won the eleection will acquire all the votes of that state. These directly elected representatives known as electoral collage vote for their candidates.The one with majority or >50% votes will become president. If one coould not acquire 50% votes then negotiations will be held and some may even withdraw. Then the electoral college will again vote.The majority candidate will win the election.
    However in india it is FIRST PAST THE POST SYSTEM for the election of PM

  4. 5. What is Iran's Nuclear Program? Why is Mr. Obama being hailed for compelling Iran to roll back its nuclear program?
    A. Iran Nuclear programme was started in 1953 and still in process even after60 years of its inception.iran is proclaiming that it will use the nuclear material for a peaceful use ratherthan converting into atomic bomb.Sanctions by US, UN and EU were laid on iran which had crippled the economy during the years.
    The reason why Obama being hailed for compelling Iran to roll back is due to the following reason.
    political reasons:-
    the state voluntarily can impose ban
    lack of mistrust among the member states
    rise of ISIS which may anytime get the support and access to the technonoly
    security reasons:-
    nuclear weapons can be misused against Israel which is an ally of US.
    Till years iran has been running the operation for more than 18 years.
    less effective mechanism of secutity in middle east. The use of such sophisticated technology has to be preseved.

  5. • Middle Class: It is a class of people found socio-economically between the working class and the upper class. Measures of the constituents of the middle class vary from country to country. In America, the middle class constitutes about 25% to 66% of the households.
    • Foreign Policy: A country’s foreign policy consists of the strategies followed by a country to achieve its own goals and for its own means. A country’s foreign policy may be directed either towards a State or a non-State actor (e.g ISIS, UN, etc).
    • Unilateralism & Multilateralism: It was coined in opposition to the term ‘multilateralism’ which means an inclusive approach, one that considers the participation of all the parties. Unilateralism is an agenda which focuses on one sided action without consideration for other sides.

  6. Neighboring countries (Clockwise from North)

    1.Iran: Caspian Sea on the North and Arabian Sea on the South
    Neighbours: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan

    2.USA: Pacific Ocean on the West, North Atlantic Ocean on the East and Caribbean Sea on the South
    Neighbours: Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico.

    3.Cuba North Atlantic Ocean on the North and Caribbean Sea on the South
    Neighbours: USA, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico

    4.Ukraine: Sea of Azov and Black Sea in the South
    Neighbours: Russia, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus

    5.Syria: Mediterranean Sea on the Western border
    Neighbors: Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon

    6.Russia: Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan on the Eastern border
    Neighbors: USA, Japan, China, Mongolia, Kazakhastan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway

    7.China: East China on the Eastern border
    Neighbors: Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia

    8.Afghanistan: Landlocked country with a few lakes like Dashte Nawur, Abe Istada lake Neighbors:Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan.

    9.Israel: Bordered by Mediterranean Sea on the North Western front
    Neighbors: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan.

    10.Palestine: West Banka bordered with Dead Sea on South-east. Gaza Strip bordered with Mediterranean Sea on the North and North West.
    Neighbors: Consists of West Bank and Gaza Strip within the territory of Israel.
    Gaza Strip bordered with Egypt on the West. West Bank bordered with Jordan on the East.

  7. 3)
    1. United States elections throw up only two kinds of candidates, majorly, wither Republicans or Democrats, while in India, the voter has a plethora of parties to choose from, among other Independents.
    2. US is a presidential form of democracy while India is a parliamentary democracy.
    3. Understanding the voter is crucial for political parties in India, and they can often count on their “vote banks”. Given that the proportion of educated people is higher in US, the voters focus on national interest politics. However, in India, instead of casting their cote, the people vote their caste.
    4. In the US, the executive and legislative branches of the government are distinct and clearly demarcated. However, in India despite following the doctrine of Separation of Powers, different organs of the Government sometimes end up performing the function of the other e.g drafting of Rules to Acts by the Executive, legislative function of the judiciary in formulating rules for the Supreme Court, etc.
    5. US has dual citizenship (Federal and State citizenship), unlike India.
    6. Every State in the US sends an equal number of representatives to the Senate irrespective of the State population. India follows the principle of proportional representation, greater the population, more the representatives.
    7. There are differing civil and criminal laws of all States in the US, while laws passed in the Indian Parliament are binding on all of India, except Jammu and Kashmir.

  8. 4)
    Appointment of President in US:
    The President is elected every four years and can only be appointed for 2 terms. He must be atleast 35 years old and a native born US citizen and resident of US for atleast 14 years.
    During a primary election called ‘caucuses’, the party’s potential candidates are voted for by the people in different states through delegates bound to particular candidates. The official presidential candidate is the one who obtains more than 50% of the delegates votes. In case of none of the candidates gaining more than half of the votes, the delegates have to vote for the candidates again but are not bound to their own candidate this time.
    Then, the citizens again vote for their President through mediators called electors, who are pledged to one of the Presidential candidates. Number of electors of each State varies with the population.
    Upon casting of votes by the electors, the President is officially announced.

    Appointment of Prime Minister in India:
    He must be a citizen of India and either the member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. If he is neither then he must be elected to either of the Houses within 6 months.
    The Prime Minister must be above the age of 25 years if a member of the Lok Sabha or above 30 years if a member of the Rajya Sabha.
    The PM should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or Government of the State or under any local or other authority subject to control of any of the government.
    Although officially the President appoints the Prime Minister, he has limited choice and appoints only that person who is the leader of the party having majority in the House of the People.

  9. Middle Class- It is the socio-economic class between the upper class and the middle class. It consists of people who are skilled workers, professionals and business man. They could be classified and distinguished from the other two classes based on various factors such as aspiration, wealth, consumption.
    Foreign Policy- It is the strategy which is adhered by a Sovereign state while dealing with other sovereign state. It is primarily driven by national interests and encompasses various other factors ( location of state, international scenario, economic resources etc.) which finally leads to the formulation of foreign policy.
    Unilateralism- The doctrine which propagates that while dealing with foreign affairs, there should be minimalist consultation with other States and the state should have the ability to make its decision independently.
    Multilateralism- When more than two countries or organisations come together to achieve a common goal(peace, prosperity etc). Ex-Multilateral agreements

  10. Iran
    North-Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey.(Caspian Sea)
    East-Afghanistan Pakistan.
    South-East-Gulf of Oman.
    South-west-Persian Gulf.
    South-Strait of Hormuz.

    West-pacific Ocean
    East-Atlantic ocean.
    South-west-Gulf of Mexico.

    East-North Atlantic Ocean.
    West-Gulf of Mexico
    South-Caribbean Sea.

    West-Poland and Slovakia
    South-west- Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
    South-Black Sea.
    South-east- Sea of Azov.

    South-west-Jordan, Lebanon, Israel.
    West-Mediterranean Sea.


    East-Sea of Okhotsk,Sea of Japan.
    North-Arctic Ocean.
    Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, USA, Japan, China, Mongolia, Finland, Norway,Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia.

  11. Iran was found violating the non-proliferation treaty. It was found possessing two facilities that were not declared to International Atomic Energy agency. When asked by the Security council to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities it did not adhered to it which led to the imposition of sanctions.
    An Atomic bomb can be made from uranium and plutonium. The nuclear deal was basically to prevent Iran from putting these elements to make atomic bombs. According to the deal Iran has agreed to transform its plant into a center for science research. further it will reduce its enrichment to 3.7 and to limit its low enriched uranium to 300kg.
    In turn various sanctions that was imposed in Iran will be slowly lifted giving its economy a revival push and utilize its resources efficiently.
    Obama is being hailed as it eventually blocked one of the major state to become equipped with atomic bomb and further with sanctions being lifted it will help in realization of economic efficiency internationally.

  12. Cuba is 90 miles far from southernmost part of USA. Cuba was USA protectorate and victim of the Cold war. Cuba established itself by a communist regime which inflamed USA who tried even killing the Cuban prime minister through operation mongoose. Several ideological clash and differences between the nations saw cutting down of international relations between them. The Obama regime took a positive stride in bridging the relationship between these two nations.

  13. Passed affordable care Act.
    End of War in Iraq.
    assassination of Osama.
    withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    legalizing same sex marriage.
    Iran Nuclear deal.
    Credit card reforms, signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (2009).
    Public Lands Management Act (2009),Watershed protection and increased wilderness cover.
    Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009) which covers hate crime protection on the basis of victims sexual orientation, disability and gender.
    Assisted south sudan to declare independence.
    Launch of new horizon.

  14. Israel-Palestine dispute is a clear example wherein the victims (JEWS) of world war II have made (People of)Palestine their victims and justified it through their mournful past. The Arab nation is facing turmoil and due to lack of their economic structure have never progressed and on the other hand Israel is rising everyday. The dispute impacts the world because the biggest ally of Israel is USA and the foreign policy of USA is always for the benefit of Israel. USA being the Big brother of this century controls all the important drivers of the world.