The Great Americans Arms Bazaar
- US President Donald Trump has been an aggressive salesman for American defence manufacturers during his foreign tours and to visiting heads of foreign countries in his first year in office.
- Promoting the sale of U.S. arms could soon become a key result area for the country’s embassies around the world, according to a Reuters report earlier this month.
- Arms supply has been a key tool of U.S. strategy for years. Mr. Trump wants to make arms sale itself a strategy.
The existing policy :-
Arms transfers by the U.S. happen primarily through :-
- Foreign Military Sales
- Direct Commercial Sales
- Foreign Military Financing
All controlled by stringent laws, the most important of them being the Arms Export Control Act.
- The U.S. government sells defence equipment worth about $40 billion every year under Foreign Military Sales.
- Direct Commercial Sales are worth around $110 billion a year, in which a foreign buyer and the American seller negotiate the deal directly.
- Foreign Military Financing is done through American grants. Of the roughly $6 billion under that head, $3.7 billion goes to Israel each year. Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan have been other significant recipients of Foreign Military Financing in recent years, followed by 50 countries that receive smaller amounts totalling $1 billion.
Arms supplies to foreign countries is critical to the U.S. for at least three reasons:
- It is a key leverage of global influence
- It reduces the cost of procurement for the U.S. military by spreading the cost.
- By employing 1.7 million people the defence industry is a key component in the country’s economy and consequently, its politics.
But the sale of weaponry, traditionally, is guided less by commercial considerations rather than strategic ones.
The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State is the lynchpin of this process whereas the other players are :-
- The Department of Defence
- The White House
- The U.S. Congress
How a US Arms sales happen ?
- Each proposed sale is vetted on a case-by-case basis and approved only “if found to further U.S. foreign policy and national security interests”, according to the Bureau’s policy.
- The actual process of a sale could be long-winded, and could take months even after it is approved in principle.
Step by Step and Key Role Players :-
- They are very concerned that their partners have the ability to buy what they seek, within their means.
- Second, then they assess the capability. For exp :- If someone asks for F-35, they have to ensure that they have the money, the capability to operate it and protect the technology as well as they can. So if they conclude that they cannot sell F-35s, they have at least 10 different types of F-16 fighters that we match with the capability and importance of the partner country.
- Then The process of initial assessment of selling arms to any country involves the State and Defence Departments. There are around 100 military officers attached to the State Department and around the same number of diplomats assigned to the Pentagon, who help in such decisions.
- It is also sought to ensure that the systems sold to one country do not end up with a third party.
- The White House, through the National Security Council, plays a key role in this process.
- Once all of them are on the same page on a particular proposal, Congressional leaders of the House and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations are informally consulted.
- Once they are on board, the sale is formally notified. Significant sales require a tacit approval by lawmakers.
Changes Mr. Trump wants :-
Mr. Trump has not hidden his disapproval for the American strategy, which he thinks has been a big failure. His views on defence partnerships are in line with this thinking.
- He wants to reduce the Foreign Military Financing to the least, except for Israel.
- He wants American partners to buy more weapons from it, and it is also a move towards reducing trade deficits with key partners such as South Korea and Japan.
- He is hammering NATO partners to ramp up defence spending and believes that all these partners have taken the U.S. for a ride.
- He has little patience for linking human rights to arms sales. The fact also is that the actual practice of American arms supplies does not often live up to its professed objectives. The Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine weapons supplies for Syrian rebels reached the Islamic State and al-Qaeda for instance, and Mr. Trump has ordered the discontinuation of the programme.
- The President is pushing for a liberalisation of U.S. arms sales to partner countries, guided less by any grand strategic vision, but by commercial and domestic political calculations.
- He is seeking to flip the equation between commercial and strategic calculations behind arms sales in favour of the first.
Challenges For America to make India as a major Defence Partner :-
- The honorific title of ‘major defence partner’ notwithstanding, the traditional American propensity to link sales to operational questions such as inter-operability and larger strategic notions dampens possibilities.
- India’s robust defence partnership with Russia is a major irritant for American officials.
Opportunity for India & America :-
- If Mr. Trump manages to emphasise the commercial benefits of arms sales, and de-emphasise the strategic angle, it could lead to a change in the dynamics of the India-U.S. defence trade, and bilateral trade in general.
- India, always wary of military alliances, will be more comfortable with weapons purchases as commercial deals.
- For America, India could be a reliable, non-proliferating buyer of its arms.
- The U.S. also has a trade deficit with India.
Capacity Building for Primary Health Care :-
Contentious element of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017
- Section 49, Subsection 4 of the bill, It proposes a joint sitting of the Commission, the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine
- The debates around this issue have been ranging from writing-off the ability of Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homoeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners.
- Currently, AYUSH practitioner can’t cross-practise allopathy due to restrictions
How can AYUSH help?
- India’s primary health system is struggling with a below-par national physician-patient ratio (0.76 per 1,000 population, amongst the lowest in the world) due to a paucity of MBBS-trained primary-care physicians
- And the unwillingness of existing MBBS-trained physicians to serve remote/rural populations
- There is an urgent need for a trained cadre to provide accessible primary-care services
- AYUSH practitioners can help to improve this situation
Issue of AYUSH cross-prescription
- The issue has been a part of public health and policy discourse for over a decade, with the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 calling for multi-dimensional mainstreaming of AYUSH physicians
- There were 7.7 lakh registered AYUSH practitioners in 2016, according to National Health Profile 2017 data
- Their current academic training also includes a conventional biomedical syllabus covering anatomy, physiology, pathology and biochemistry(important for primary health care system)
- Efforts to gather evidence on the capacity of licensed and bridge-trained AYUSH physicians to function as primary-care physicians have been under way
The 4th Common Review Mission Report 2010 of the National Health Mission
- It reports the utilisation of AYUSH physicians as medical officers in primary health centres (PHCs) in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand as a human resource rationalisation strategy
- In some cases, it was noted that while the supply of AYUSH physicians was high, a lack of appropriate training in allopathic drug dispensation was a deterrent to their utilisation in primary-care settings
What should be done?
- The focus should be on deploying a capacity-building strategy using AYUSH physicians upskilled through a bridge-training programme
- This will help to deliver quality, standardised primary health care to rural populations
- Example: The Maharashtra government has led the way in implementing bridge training for capacity-building of licensed homoeopathy practitioners to cross-prescribe
Is capacity-building of licensed AYUSH practitioner enough?
- AYUSH is only one of the multi-pronged efforts required to meet the objective of achieving universal health coverage set out in NHP 2017
- Current capacity-building efforts also include other non-MBBS personnel such as nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives and rural medical assistants, etc..