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1. Foreign Aid To Poor

1.1. Trends in ODA

  • In 1970, the United Nations agreed that economically advanced countries should provide 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) as ODA.

  • The commitment was further reiterated in the Millennium Development Goals (2000), and now in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG1- End poverty in all its forms everywhere).

  • Global ODA has grown from around US$40 billion in the 1960s to US$128  billion in 2012. Nearly two-thirds of ODA comes from five G8 countries that are consistently the largest donors by volume: the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa receives the greatest proportion of ODA (35% in 2011), followed by South Asia (17%).

  • However, questions have been raised whether the aid really reaches the poor of the world.

Why it does not reach the poor?

  • Foreign aid targets different goals - and to be effective, some types of aid must be directed to relatively rich places - who nevertheless are poor by global standards. For instance, aid to develop port facilities would go toward a coastal city, even if that city was already relatively prosperous.

  • Economic reasons: It costs more to move supplies and equipment to a remote area, hence funds are often utilized in the vicinity of developed regions rather than in remote and impoverished regions.

  • There have been instances where the aid was used to support despotic regimes. For example, in Zaire, Rwanda, Ethiopia, etc. where the donor seeks political favors in return or because it serves the purpose of the donor nation.

  • In many cases aid is also given to support the strategic allies, the commercial interests or political beliefs, rather than the interests of the local people.

  • Most recipient countries lack the right mechanisms to use aid effectively and efficiently to improve their economic conditions.

  • Corrupt governments receiving a large portion of their budget revenue from foreign aid often do not work to promote economic growth and the well-being of their people.



  • The aid in itself is not a growth promoter. It needs to be supported by taking various steps like-

  • The governments of the aid recipient countries need to be held accountable for the use of aid. The political will of the recipient government to reform their institutional structures and policies is a necessary condition for aid to be effective.

  • The donor countries may adopt conditional aid policies or recipient countries may be punished if they fail to perform actions they have agreed with on the aid contracts, like cutting down the overall amount of aid which would push the governments to act.

  • Donors can bypass a bad government in a recipient country by giving aid in terms of grants directly to development projects.

2. India-Asean


  • It is a proposed free trade agreement between the members of the AEAN and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand).

  • The negotiations were launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

2.1. Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025

  • It was adopted during Vientiane Declaration in 2016 with a vision to achieve a seamlessly and comprehensively connected ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of Community.

  • It will focus on five strategic areas to achieve this vision-

  • o Sustainable Infrastructure

  • o Digital Innovation

  • o Seamless logistics

  • o Regulatory excellence

  • o People Mobility

2.2. ASEAN ICT Masterplan

  • Launched in 2015, it has a vision to propel ASEAN towards a digitally-enabled economy that is secure, sustainable, and transformative; and to enable an innovative, inclusive and integrated ASEAN Community.

2.3. News Hightlight of the Declaration

  • On terrorism- Both sides, for the first time, explicitly mentioned cross-border terrorism with commitment of close cooperation in  areas like terror financing, people smuggling,  trafficking in persons etc.

  • On Regional Comprehensive Economic  Partnership- They agreed to target a swift conclusion to the comprehensive and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic  Partnership (RCEP) in 2018.

  • Economic assistance- Both sides will work to “further strengthen ASEAN-India economic relations through the full utilisation and effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area.

  • Promotion of stable and sustainable

  • The 4th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference was recently held at Rajgir in Nalanda district, Bihar as a part of the commemorative events to mark ASEAN-India 25 years of dialogue partnership.

  • The theme of the conference was “State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Traditions”

  • It has been organised by Nalanda University, in collaboration with the Centre for Study of Religion and Society, India Foundation, Ministry of External Affairs and the Vietnam Buddhist University.growth for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) was also agreed upon.

  • Physical and digital connectivity- They reaffirmed their commitment to enhance physical and digital connectivity in line with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the ASEAN ICT Master plan (AIMS 2020).

  • Cooperation in Maritime Transportation and encourage potential private sector participation in the development of seaports, maritime logistics network and maritime services.

  • Cooperation in aviation under the ASEAN-India Aviation Cooperation Framework through cooperation on technical, economic and regulatory matters between ASEAN and India.

  • Preserving Marine resources through their conservation and sustainable use in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and address threats to these resources including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, loss of coastal ecosystems, etc.

  • Cooperation in outer space through ASEAN-India Space Cooperation Programme.

2.4. Issues between India & ASEAN

  • There is an imbalance between many ASEAN nations and India because many of them are industrialised with manufacturing bases primed for exports, while India’s export sector remains weak and the government’s focus has shifted to boosting manufacturing domestically.

  • While the ASEAN member states have been disappointed that India does not take a proactive role in the region, India’s expectations regarding a more robust support for its regional outreach too have not been met.

  • India continues to privilege bilateral partnership rather than pursuing ASEAN as a multilateral forum.

  • India’s capacity to provide development assistance, market access and security guarantees remains limited and ASEAN’s inclination to harness India for regional stability remains circumscribed by its sensitivities to other powers specially China.

What India needs to do for better engagement in the region?

  • Service & Manufacturing can be worked upon to balance trade and investment relationship by drawing on each other’s inherent strength-

  • ASEAN nations like Vietnam are well-integrated with global value chains which India can use to give its own manufacturing sector a boost.

  • India can facilitate greater Indian service sector exports to ASEAN as well as supporting freer movement of people.

  • Digital technologies- Given the reluctance of ASEAN states to take help from Chinese giants in the field (due to concerns regarding china’s ability to own data), Indian IT sector may take some advantage.

  • Effective delivery of projects- India needs to focus on more effective delivery of projects it is already committed to. Example India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (The plan is to extend this highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in an attempt to project India’s role in the emerging transportation architecture.)

  • Improving Connectivity- With China having three times more commercial flights than India to Southeast Asia, improving air connectivity between India and ASEAN countries should also be high on the agenda. Besides, the Bay of Bengal can be used as an exploratory ground for the development of an India-ASEAN maritime framework.

  • Strengthening cultural connect-Tourism too can be further encouraged between India and the ASEAN with some creative branding by the two sides.

3. India Gets Entry Into Australia Group

What is Australia Group (AG)?

  • It was formed in 1985 in response to use of chemical weapons by Iraq in Iran-Iraq war of 1984.

  • It is a Multilateral Export control Regime and an informal forum of 43 countries (Including EU) which, through the harmonisation of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

  • Coordination of national export control measures also assists member countries to fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

  • It issues Australia group Common Control Lists related to chemical weapon precursors, Dual- Use chemical and biological related technologies, Human and Animal pathogens etc.

Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

  • It is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time.

  • It was adopted in 1992 by UN Conference on Disarmament and came into force in 1997

  • It is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquartered in Hague.

  • India is a signatory to CWC since 1993 and destroyed its stockpile of Chemical weapons by 2009 becoming third country (after South Korea and Albania) in the world to do so.

  • Egypt, North Korea, Palestine and Sudan are the only countries that have not signed to the convention.

  • CWC prohibits:

  • o Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.

  • o The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.

  • o Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.

  • o Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.

  • o The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”

  • Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC or BWC)

  • It is a legally binding treaty that outlaws biological arms.

  • It was adopted by UN in 1972 and came into force in 1975.

  • It bans: o The development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, and production of

  • Biological agents and toxins "of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;"

  • Weapons, equipment, and delivery vehicles "designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict." o The transfer of or assistance with acquiring the agents, toxins, weapons, equipment, and delivery vehicles described above.

  • India signed the convention in 1973 and ratified it in 1974.

4. India Israel


  • Both countries gained their independence from the UK within months of each other, but they headed in different directions for nearly four decades - India as a leader in the NAM maintained close relations to the Arab world and the Soviet  Union; Israel established close ties with the US and Western Europe.

  • Although India publicly kept a distance from Israel  until the late 1980's, there was in fact a great deal  of bilateral activities between the two countries in the preceding years.

  • Since the upgradation of relations in 1992,  defence and agriculture have been the main pillars  of bilateral engagement.  

  • The two countries recently completed 25 years of  diplomatic ties and this is only the second visit by  an Israeli prime minister after a gap of 15 years  since Ariel Sharon in 2003.

4.1. India-Israel Relations

  • Major exports from India to Israel include precious stones and metals, chemical products, textiles and textile articles, plants and vegetable products, and mineral products.

  • Major imports by India from Israel include precious stones and metals, chemicals (mainly potash) and mineral products, base metals and machinery and transport equipment.

  • Agriculture- Both have a bilateral agreement for cooperation in agriculture (India-Israel Agriculture Project).

  • Bilateral action plan (2015-18) aims to expand cooperation into new sectors such as dairy and water.

  • India has benefited from Israeli expertise and technologies in horticulture mechanization, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management particularly in Haryana and Maharashtra.

  • Israeli drip irrigation technologies and products are now widely used in India.

  • Defence & Security-

  • Israel is the third largest supplier of arms to India after Russia and the U.S

  • India imports critical defence technologies from Israel. There are regular exchanges between the armed forces and defence personnel.

  • Science & Technology- There are various MoUs between the two in various fields of Science and Tech (eg, space technology).

  • In January 2014, India and Israel held extensive discussions to establish an India-Israel Cooperation Fund aimed at promoting innovations through joint scientific and technological collaborations.

Grounds of Cooperation

  • Israel’s flexible export policy meets  Indian demands for technological transfer that have recently been an  important part of governments  overall developmental agenda.

  • Israel’s technological prowess remains unmatched in areas as  diverse as waste management and reprocessing, desalination,  agriculture, waste water recycling, health, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.

  • With Russian economy and its defence industry in shambles and US and Europe’s scepticism to supply India with defence weapons (given India’s refusal to sign NPT), Israel has gained importance since both are nuclear powers who have not signed the NPT.

  • India-Israel counterterrorism cooperation is quite robust and has been scaled up gradually over the last few years through a joint working group on terrorism. Intelligence-sharing in this realm has been the most important element of this partnership.

  • India could also benefit from Israel’s close relationship with US.

  • Tourism is also a growing aspect of bilateral relationship. Every year 30-35 thousand Israelis visit India for tourism business and other purposes and about 40,000 Indians visit Israel every year mostly for pilgrimage.


  • Difference in terms of Iran- Where on one hand Israel considers Iran an existential threat, India, on the other, has a historical relationship, and finds the cooperation useful for energy supplies, and an alternative route through Chabahar port to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

  • Different approach towards Arab world- While Israel has inherent differences with Arab countries, India has significant stakes there and India’s recent vote at the UN against America’s move on Jerusalem was a reflection of that underlying reality.

  • Stand on China- China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia, there are strong technology and investment linkages.

  • In terms of Pakistan, Israel’s interest lies in keeping open the possibility of relations, while there are serious tensions among India and Pakistan.

  • Differences in terms of technology transfer- There exist differences between India and Israel over issues related to technology transfer, end-user agreements and a proposed free trade agreement, more so given India’s policy of ‘Make in India’.

  • The free trade agreement (FTA) is stuck because of the concerns from the Indian domestic industry.


  • Indo-Israeli bilateral ties will increasingly be shaped by the rapidly evolving geopolitical realities in Asia and the Middle East. Israel will have to figure out its own response to this Asian flux.

  • Further though the breadth and depth of India-Israel ties is no match as of now for the Sino-Israeli one, which is largely driven by trade and commerce, New Delhi should be aware that Chinese influence will only grow in the coming years. Prioritizing economic and trade ties in India-Israel ties should be viewed as a priority.

5. India-Myanmar

India- Myanmar Relations

  • Bilateral Cooperation in Regional/ Sub-regional context: Myanmar's membership of ASEAN, BIMSTEC and Mekong Ganga Cooperation has introduced a regional/sub-regional dimension to bilateral relations and  imparted an additional significance in the context of our  "Act East" policy.

  • While Myanmar has been supportive of India's stand to various international organizations India has also supported Myanmar's association with SAARC as an observer.

  • Commercial Cooperation- India is the fifth largest trading partner of Myanmar.

  • India is presently the tenth largest investor with major investments in oil & gas sector.

  • Development Cooperation: India has provided grant in aid assistance including support for the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project; the Trilateral Highway Project; the Rhi-Tiddim road; supply of Bailey bridges, etc.

  • Defence & Security Cooperation- Various MoUs on Border Cooperation, training, Army, Air Force and Naval Staff Talks have been signed.

  • Disaster Relief: India has responded promptly and effectively to assist Myanmar in humanitarian relief operations following natural calamities along with financial assistance for relief and reconstruction work.

5.1. Significance of the Agreement .

  • Geographically India’s four states share border with Myanmar (viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram) which makes the agreement important for both the nation in following respects-

  • It will facilitate regulation and harmonization of already existing free movement rights for people ordinarily residing in the border areas of both countries increasing connectivity and interaction among the people.

  • It will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries.

  • It would allow India to leverage its geographical connections with Myanmar to boost trade and economy of the North-East.

  • The Agreement will safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the border which are accustomed to free movement across the land border.

6. Polar Silk Road

6.1. Important aspects of the Policy

  • Development of Arctic shipping routes which are likely to become important transport routes for international trade. It is referred to as “Polar Silk Road”.

  • It is being termed as an expansion of “Belt and Road Initiative” (a trade and infrastructure strategy spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and now Latin America).

  • China aims to participate in the exploration for and exploitation of oil, gas, mineral and other non-living resources in the Arctic as the region has an abundance of geothermal, wind, and other clean energy resources.

  • China will start to utilize fisheries and other living resources and participate in conservation as the Arctic has the potential to become a new fishing ground in the future.

  • China will support and encourage “its enterprises

  • Arctic Council

  • Established in 1966, as an intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.

  • The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum which addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and people living in the Arctic region.

  • Member: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

  • India and China have observer status. to cooperate with Arctic States in developing tourism in the region which is described as an “emerging Industry”.


  • China is not a member of Arctic Council that governs the matters of the region. China's  increasing prominence in the region has prompted concerns from Arctic states over its long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployment.

7. Iranian Protests

7.1. Causes of the protests


  • Iran’s economy has not been able to diversify its economy (which is heavily dependent on oil exports) and promote entrepreneurship causing consistent rise of unemployment, inflation and decline in per capita income.



  • Iran has a complex structure of government and only few parts of it, like the legislature and the presidency, are elected. Fundamental authority rests with Supreme Leader Khamenei, an unelected cleric.

  • Basic rights to free expression and protest are tightly controlled, and candidates who are seen as too subversive are barred from running for public office. Moreover there is political non-transparency and numerous cases of corruption.

  • People specially youths look up for modern life style, more freedom and opportunities in place of conservative Islamic rule.

  • There is a palpable disenchantment with Iran’s heavy military expenditure in Syria and Yemen while Iran itself facing economic crisis at home.


India and Iran

  • Iran holds a key position in India’s foreign policy for various reasons:

  • Geopolitical: access to Afghanistan and other central Asian countries, securing sea lane of communication, fighting terrorism, maintaining balance in the Middle East between Shia-Sunni and Arab-Israel conflicts.

  • Economic: Iran is the third largest exporter of energy to India, India is pursuing ambitious Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas- pipeline and investment in Frazad-b gas field, India is also developing Chahabahar port of Iran which has major economic and geopolitical significance.

  • Cultural: India and Iran has historical cultural ties. India has second largest Shia population which could be leveraged to strengthen better people to people contacts.

7.2. About Special watch list.

  • It is for countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom but may not rise to the level of the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC).


About CPC:

  • A country is labeled as a CPC after it engages in or tolerats systemic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious liberty. It is in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

  • The list includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.operate in the eastern border.

8. National Knowledge Network

8.1. About NKN

  • Launched in 2010 with National Informatics Centre (NIC) as the implementing agency.

  • It aims to interconnect all institutions of higher learning and research with a high speed data communication network to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative research.

  • NKN will facilitate advanced distance education in specialized fields like engineering, science, medicine etc. as well as enable an ultra-high speed e-Governance backbone.

  • It will bridge the existing knowledge gap in the country and help the country evolve as a Knowledge Society and also spur economic activities in the Knowledge domain.

  • It enables collaboration among researchers from international educational networks like TEIN4 and organizations such as CERN.

9. Raisina Dialogue

About Raisina Dialogue

  • It is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community, held annually in New Delhi since 2016. It has emerged as India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics.

  • Being a multilateral conference, it brings together global leaders in policy, business, media, civil society, defense and foreign policy.

  • The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of India.

  • This year's theme is Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idioms.

January International Relations

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