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    JAPAN – Partner in India’s development

    Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan– “I intend to make the “Confluence of the Two Seas” – the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean – open, peaceful and abundant, and we shall further advance peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region in the 21st century”.

    The Indo-Japanese relationship, remarkably free of any strategic dissonance or bilateral dispute, traces its roots to the introduction of Buddhism in Japan in the sixth century. Buddhism and the intrinsically linked Indian culture had a great impact on Japanese culture, still felt today, and resulted in a natural sense of amicability between the two nations.

    Japan played a key role in India’s freedom struggle by providing invaluable succour and support to nationalists like Rashbehari Bose and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Indians always recall this support with gratitude. The Japanese, in their turn, remain grateful about what they see as brave support extended by Judge Radhabinod Pal who was the lone judge in the 11 member international military tribunal that returned a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’ in the trial of Japan’s top 25 wartime leaders after World War II.

    Political relations between the two nations have remained warm since India’s independence. Japanese firms in fact are some of the first firms to invest in India. The most prominent Japanese company to have an investment in India is automobiles multinational Suzuki, which is in partnership with Indian automobiles company Maruti Suzuki is the largest car manufacturer in the Indian market.


    For a politically rising Japan that is beginning to shed its pacifist blinkers, India is central to both its economic-revival and security-building strategies.
    Asia’s balance of power will be determined principally by events in East Asia and the Indian Ocean. In this light, the emerging Indo-Japanese entente is likely to help shape Asia’s strategic future as much as China’s ascent or America’s Asian “pivot.” Japan and India, as Asia’s natural-born allies, have a pivotal role to play in preserving stability and helping to safeguard vital sea-lanes in the wider Indo-Pacific region — a region defined not only by the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but also by its significance as the global trade and energy-supply hub.

    The two maritime democracies are seriously concerned by mercantilist efforts to assert control over energy supplies and the transport routes for them. So, the maintenance of a peaceful and lawful maritime domain, including unimpeded freedom of navigation, is critical to their security and economic well-being.

    Containment of China has been identified as one of the drivers leading to this intensification of cooperation and greater understanding between the two countries.


    Indo-Japanese proximity has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years by particular emphasis on India’s Look East policy. (Look East policy initiated in 1991 marked a strategic shift in India’s perspective of the world and represents its efforts to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia in order to bolster its standing as a regional power and a counterweight to the strategic influence of China.)

    The level and frequency of India-Japan official engagement have become extraordinary. In addition to holding an annual Prime Minister-level summit, the two also conduct several yearly ministerial dialogues: A strategic dialogue between their Foreign Ministers; a security dialogue between their Defense Ministers; a policy dialogue between India’s Commerce Minister and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; and separate ministerial-level energy and economic dialogues. And, to top it all, they also hold a trilateral strategic dialogue with the United States.

    Japan has quietly extended financial and technical support to a clutch of infrastructure projects in India, ranging from the Metro in several cities to industrial corridors, dedicated freight corridors, highways, bridges and power plants, besides initiatives in a host of other areas, including water & sanitation, health, education and agriculture.

    The visit of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Nov-Dec, 2013 was a landmark event as it symbolizes a watershed in the already fast-developing partnership between Asia’s two leading democracies. This bonhomie was extended further with Shinzo Abe attending India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26th January, 2014 as its chief guest.

    Shinzo Abe, who is known for his hawkish foreign policy, is friendly towards India. It was under his leadership that Japan signed the Strategic and Global Partnership with India in 2006. His historic speech on the Confluence of the Two Seas and his concept of Democratic Security Diamond underscore that India is perceived as an important partner. The National Security Strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines released in December 2013 articulated that “Japan will strengthen its relationship with India in a broad range of fields, including maritime security”.


    For India, Japan is a critical source of capital and commercial technology. Indeed, there cannot be a better partner for India’s development than the country that was the first non-western society to modernize and emerge as a world power, spearheading Asia’s industrial and technology advances since the 19th century.

    Japan’s heavy-manufacturing base and India’s services-led growth — as well as their contrasting age structures — make their economies complementary, opening the path to generating strong synergies. India’s human capital and Japan’s financial and technological power can be a good match to help drive India’s infrastructure development and great-power aspirations, and catalyze Japan’s revival as a world power.

    Japan and India, as energy-poor countries heavily reliant on oil imports from the unstable Persian Gulf region, are seriously concerned over mercantilist efforts to assert control over energy supplies and the transport routes for them. So the maintenance of a peaceful and lawful maritime domain, including unimpeded freedom of navigation, is critical to their security and economic well-being.

    India — the world’s largest arms importer that desperately needs to develop an indigenous arms-production capability — is forging closer defense ties with Japan, including co-developing weapon systems and working together on missile defence.

    Going ahead….

    First and foremost, the India-Japan Global and Strategic Partnership, which hitherto was largely confined to Japanese assistance in infrastructure projects in India, is now set for a push in the political aspects of the bilateral relationship with security and strategic overtones. This has been institutionalized by a mechanism of regular consultations between the two sides’ national security advisors.

    Secondly, the two countries also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the rare earths sector and shared “the strong resolution” that the commencement of commercial production of rare earths by Indian and Japanese enterprises should take place at the earliest. India-Japan also agreed on paving way for civil nuclear agreement giving boost to India’s ambitious nuclear power programme.

    Thirdly, the two countries decided to put a deeper emphasis on military-to-military exchanges, joint exercises and prepared an ambitious roadmap in this regard. Consequently, Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) are engaged in regular bilateral exercises.

    Fourthly, the two countries are in process of finalizing defense deals. India’s navy is also reportedly interested in Japanese patrol vessels and electronic warfare equipment. The deal is significant for a variety of reasons. On the surface, it’s another indicator of burgeoning cooperation between India and Japan on security matters. The deal is doubly significant in the context of India’s relations with Japan because once India clinches the deal, it will become the first country to purchase defense equipment from Japan since the latter’s self-imposed ban on defense exports began in 1967.

    Fifthly, in the regional context, India has invited Japan to participate in infrastructure development programmes of the country’s northeast states, an area where China is sensitive to even Indian actions given its contested territorial claims in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. India is hoping that a new economic and transport corridor involving India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and possibly even Thailand would take shape in the future.

    Sixthly, on the recent Chinese policy of declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), the two countries jointly underscored the importance of freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the recognized principles of international law and the relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). With this India has finally sided with Japan at the expense of China on the ADIZ controversy.

    Recent agreements post Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in December, 2015

    The biggest surprise was a breakthrough on a nuclear cooperation agreement under negotiation since 2010. A breakthrough was seen on nuclear energy cooperation that paves the way for companies such as Westinghouse Electric Co. and General Electric Co. to sell equipment to India.

    The deals are bringing India, which formally avoids security alliances, further into the U.S. military orbit. Japan will join India and the U.S. as a regular member in the biannual Malabar naval exercises to “help create stronger capabilities to deal with maritime challenges in the Indo- Pacific region,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. Next year, India and Japan will hold a second round of trilateral diplomatic talks with Australia, another U.S. ally.

    Both signed pacts to share classified intelligence and pave the way for a long-pending deal to export Japan’s US-2 amphibious aircraft to India.

    Japan agreed to help finance infrastructure projects in India, including roads in its northeastern states, one of which is the disputed area of Arunachal Pradesh. In recent months, India has pushed ahead with plans to build a $6 billion highway and populate the remote region it has neglected since fighting a war over it with China five decades ago.

    A $15 billion deal for Japan to help build India’s first high-speed rail link and $12.4 billion in Japanese financing and export insurance to spur investment in India were also finalized.


    Indo-Japan relations have gone from strength to strength in recent years. In fact, Japan is the only country in India’s foreign policy outreach in the past one decade with which India’s relations have constantly been on an upswing.

    India has been specially chosen for an imperial visit to signal Japan’s commitment to forge closer ties. Japan is already doing more for India than any other economic partner of this country: it is the largest source of aid, and is playing a key role in helping India to improve its poor infrastructure.

    India’s relations with Japan have begun to take the flavor of India’s relations with Russia and the US where the two sides are cooperating on virtually everything under the sun – defense, energy, nuclear, trade, investment, science and technology, infrastructure, health, people-to-people contacts, railways, cyber security and tourism, apart from political and strategic issues.

    These are just one sign of a shift from emphasizing shared values to seeking to protect common interests. This camaraderie is poised for growth and acceleration in near future.

    Indian Civil Services: A Perspective

    India’s Civil Services have been referred to variously, depending on who the referrer is. If he is an academic, he would be faithfully restricting himself to the textual term, civil services. He would certainly keep in his mind the historical and Constitutional evolution of different aspects of this institution; he would proudly remember that this integral and hallowed limb of the Indian body politic was visualized as a permanent, neutral, apolitical and, above all, a well informed entity, driven by an inquiring and scientific temperament and spirit; this body was expected to be fired by unflinching commitment to service of the people, always ready and available to render the requisite service; it was expected to be manned by men and women of absolute integrity with a high level of both academic as well as practical intelligence; while at the service of the people, its members were to be not only the path finders but also the social harmonizers, conflict-busters; this would earn them the most profound respect of all in the society, the heart- felt from those who are at the lowest rung. These true masters of civil servants would elevate their status from public servants to being emancipators. The terms civil servant and public servant would thus become interchangeable and synonymous.

    Initial years of the working of the scheme in the 50’s/60’s witnessed almost near application of the tenets as envisioned in the preceding lines. This period of about two decades of its functioning on the ground saw the emergence of a highly scholarly, dedicated, public service-oriented, magnanimous, accessible and intellectually and morally honest and upright Indian Civil Service which set a great benchmark for the future civil servants. It is certainly not to say that this period did not have civil servants below the benchmark or the later period/s did not have its jewels. These periods were essentially different in terms of policy/ programme initiatives and objectives: the first two decades were the founding and building days of the nation, and the civil servants were also driven by the spirit of builders and pioneers; they were looked upon with great hope and admiration by a people who were dreaming of a new and resurgent India, a powerful and prosperous India, a self-sustaining and confident India. While the process of building the edifice of an economically, socially and militarily strong nation was a continuing endeavour, the flavour and orientation of the policies and progammes was adjusted to the new demands on the nation. Banks, mines, insurance and a few other services/systems were nationalised to mop up greater resources for funding scores of development and poverty alleviation progammes (119 at one stage) and also subsidising massive green revolution efforts like associated R&D , irrigation, fertilizers, etc. While subjects like Science and Technology, Space, Nuclear Energy, Power, Rural Devlopment, to name a few, apart from huge old sectors like Railways, Defence, Communications, demanding ever-increasing investments/expenditure, were very much a part of the priorities of the country, many more got added in the subsequent decades as the country progressed on the path of multi-pronged development. It must be remembered that the country had also to fight three wars forced on her during the first two nascent decades of Independence. While wars take a heavy toll on the country’s economy and resources, the war fought in 1971 was preceded by influx of millions of refugees from the eastern neighbour, impacting the employment, food and price management scenario. All this confronted the Indian Civil Service in their face, unprecedented in content and magnitude. The civil servants of the 70’s faced this challenge successfully and earned the appreciation of a grateful nation.

    These were also the years when India hosted a number of international meets, like, Non-aligned Nations Conference/s, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet, Meetings of several UN and other multilateral bodies apart from scores of bilateral meets at regular frequencies, events like Asian Games, International Trade Fairs and Festival of India in different parts of the world. In addition to these, there were umpteen deparmental meets of pan Indian and international nature all the year round. New Delhi became one of the most favoured destinations of national and international events, being the capital of federal India and being one of the founding members of the Non-aligned Group of Nations. As the largest democracy on earth, India wanted to play a significant role in world affairs, and hence its determined urge to spread its presence on a wider spectrum of global engagements. With this kind of proactive perspective which the country had set for itself, the Indian Civil Service had to be a multi-disciplinary body of most dedicated professionals. One can imagine the magnitude of challenges which this institution had to address and which it did so admirably.

    However, this Service manifested some vulnerabilities and faultlines in subsequent years with changes in policies and programmes and with shifts in the political complexion at the Centre and the States. While with the onset of liberalisation of the economy the civil services had to respond to new demands on their professional and academic expertise and acumen apart from displaying their determination to rise to this unique expectation, coming to power in States of people with different political, social and economic agenda and ideologies brought with them unexpected and unusual challenges and strains to the civil services.

    This led to people having flawed perceptions about these services. Policy changes gave to the country higher growth rate, next only to that of China; there was, however, no acknowledgement of the role of the civil servants in making this achievement possible with their hard work, dedication and commitment. Instead, they were blamed for whatever went wrong with the development profile. Some stray cases of irregularity and alleged cases of corruption were thrown up to malign the entire institution. Delays in disposal of administrative matters, peoples’ requests for several benefits/facilities, grievances, applications for setting up of industries, enterprises in different sectors, non-performance or deficient performance under umpteen programmes/services, etc. earned the civil servants the negative epithet of ‘babus’ who delayed matters as a matter of habit or routine, also at times for extraneous reasons; this syndrome was often referred to as ‘red tapism’, another negative comment on the work culture of the civil service.

    One of the critical refrains against the service has been its inaccessibility. While several instruments and mechanisms have been evolved over the years to promote better interaction between the civil servants and the public, there have been occasions when the people and media have reasons to feel that the civil servants have not been available for help and service; rather, it has at times been alleged that they have behaved in an authoritarian manner, earning them the unsavoury reference of ‘bureaucracy’ and the civil servants referred to as ‘bureaucrats’

    Another important dimension to the evolution of the service came about with the introduction of Panchayati Raj, first in the 50’s and later in a more authentic and statutory manner in the 90’s when the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution were enacted. With these amendments, Panchayats were assigned several functions (initially 29 and later 50) and decision-making in these areas passed on to them; civil servants’ powers and authorities in these areas also passed on to these elected bodies in varying degrees. Thousands of Panchayat functionaries have been receiving training in their new dispensation; this has certainly necessitated a new adaptation regime on the part of the civil servants, urging them to become ‘public servants’ in the true sense of the term.

    This brings forth a perceived desire on the part of some civil servants to share publicity with the political functionaries. While there is no mention of any prescription or proscription in this regard in the scheme visualised for the service, it has been considered desirable to avoid any such temptation, keeping in view that the service is strictly apolitical in nature. It would be interesting to relate an actual incident to buttress this point: in the 1970’s when the writer of this piece was an Under Secretary to the Govt of India and was, along with his Joint Secretary, waiting in his Minister’s office in connection with Parliament Questions, TV crew entered the office to interview the Minister; the JS advised the US to be away from the exposure range of the TV camera; this was the sensitivity attached to apoliticality of the service.

    Understanding of the scheme of Indian Civil Service being not the same with all political parties coming to power either at the Centre or the States, their relationship with them would vary; some of them have had very difficult times managing a cordial and mutually respectful relationship due to this factor. In the distant past, this relationship broadly matched the scheme. But later, instances of conflict between the permanent executive, i.e., the civil service, and the political executive did occasionally surface, particularly in the States. (There have been some instances even recently). It was also observed that some civil servants were perceived to be closer to a certain political dispensation, and thus they invited prejudicial treatment at the hands of the other political outfits.

    However, the truth of the matter has been that the service, while traversing through the above potholes and ditches, has essentially retained its basic character of being neutral and apolitical, well informed and educated, committed to serving the public and nation’s interests, and retaining an enquiring and scientific temper. While it has to steer clear of the hazards as mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, it has to keep striving for equipping itself with the best practices in the field of public service and governance in different parts of the country and the world. It has not only to keep learning all the time to upgrade its skills and professional knowledge, but also to diversify its expertise matching the requirements of a fast growing economy and future world power. Apart from the initial elaborate induction training programme which the concerned Academies of the Services have for their officers/probationers, the Government of India is having a massive continuing education/orientation programme for civil services officers in the best institutions of the country and the world. These include opportunities for doing Post-Graduate Diploma/Master’s/PhD programmes in the best foreign Universities/Institutions; there is also a provision for study leave for higher education in the country as well as abroad with full salary at home. This enables the civil servants to interact with participants from different countries in the world and to enrich their experience. The underlying objective is to evolve the Indian Civil Services into a dynamic, progressive, thoroughly professional and humanistic body of public service-oriented members, having absolute moral and intellectual integrity and honest service of the nation at heart.

    Interview Guidance Programme in progress

    1. Remember that the Civil Services Interview is FORM (BIODATA) DRIVEN and not content driven. Observe how questions emanating from aspirant’s personal background and hobbies form the basis of questions asked in the mock interview.
    2. Current Affairs forms a crucial area for asking questions. Basic understanding of International and national affairs, Polity, Economy, Society, Environmental issues, Recent government and international policies and their implications is necessary.
    3. Nothing you wear to an interview is more important than your smile.

    We inculcate a love of learning in our students

    V P Gupta, CMD of Rau’s IAS Study Circle, explains why his institutes are the premier destination for cracking the civil service exam.
    etpanache@timesgroup.com (as featured in Economic Times Panache on Thursday, 5th May 2016)


    The IAS examination, also known as the Civil Service Examination, is one of the most prestigious examinations in India. Rau’s IAS Study Circle, established in 1953, is a pioneering institute in the field. In a telephonic conversation, V P Gupta, CMD of Rau’s IAS Study circle, discusses the institutes and their excellent track record over the years:

    ETP: What is Rau’s IAS study circle?
    VPG: We specialise in preparing students appearing for the civil service examination. We are a one-stop institute for civil service examinations.

    ETP: What separates it from the other institutes?
    VPG: The unique factor about us is our ‘student to teacher’ ratio. We have smaller batches to facilitate better a student-teacher relationship. We have around 70-80 students in each class.

    ETP: How do you make sure that your students receive nothing but the best?
    VPG: We aim to inculcate in our students the love of learning. The one thing that most students go through is performance anxiety. They must understand that preparation is the key to excel in anything. It is important for them to believe in themselves. A method we use is association of the study matter with physical reality, be it history, geography or sociology. When we visualise what we study and connect it to a thought process, it increases retention power. The other important part is creating a mood for learning. Learning should be fun and not dull and boring.

    ETP: What about students who are unable to attend classes?
    VPG: For those who aren’t able to attend classes, there is well structured study material, which most of the students appearing for the IAS examination use. Besides full-time classes we also have separate lectures for those that need help in particular subjects.

    ETP: How have your students fared in the last IAS examination?
    VPG: Three hundred people out of 1,100 odd students that qualified in the examination were from our reputed institute.

    ETP: Will the institute expand to other parts of the country?
    VPG: We are scaling but at a slow rate. At present we have three institutes in Delhi, Bengaluru and Jaipur. There are plans to move to other metropolitan cities, maybe in a year’s time.

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