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1. Maharashtra’s Public Cloud Policy

1.1. India’s Soft Power

  • Soft power has become an important instrument in public diplomacy and complements official diplomacy efforts such as Act East Policy, the Connect Central Asia policy, and developing strategic aid and trade partnerships in Africa.

  • Increased cultural exchanges are more likely to increase public knowledge and appreciation of India in foreign countries.

  • Use of hard power generally carries with it mass global public disapproval whereas soft power lends itself more easily to the information era and constitutes a country’s principal asset.

  • Though the hard power of geopolitics remains prevalent, increasingly countries vie—for influence, for investment, for retention and attraction of both native and foreign human talent—in the realm of soft-power.

  • Soft power is critical not only for a nation’s role in the world, but also for purposes of identity and, ultimately, prosperity. For example: a country with reasonably radiant soft power will appear attractive to its diaspora, thereby reinforcing imp French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited India ortant links both for talent and for wealth. Manifestations of India’s Soft power Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) is nodal government agency responsible for India’s soft power projection.

  • Incredible India Campaign: It was conceptualized in 2002 for India’s brand building and to create a distinctive identity for the country in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism.

  • In 2006, the Ministry of External Affairs set up a Public Diplomacy Division to promote India overseas.

  • Ancient Medicine systems and Yoga have also become increasingly popular in the developed world. Celebration of the International Day of Yoga on the 21st of June globally is also a very effective manifestation of our soft power outreach.

  • Efforts to reach out to Indian Diaspora and building connections with foreign business interests and foreign aid and development programme.

  • Use of Social Media and IT to not only connect with youth but also build “nation-brand” India. Organising campaigns for Make in India, holding trade fairs abroad and organizing events such as Raisina Dialogue has also added to presence of India as soft power across world.

  • Project Mausam and Spice Route projects to revive India’s traditional connections with the Eastern Africa and to the South East Asia and the opening the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that spanned across Asian continent and parts of Europe respectively. 16   Background

  • Historically India- Canada did not enjoy a very close relation, a situation that the government tried to mend in 2015 when India’s PM visited Canada (first visit to Canada by India’s head of government in 42 years).

  • During this trip a landmark nuclear energy deal with Canada was secured for the supply of uranium over a five-year period, formally ending a long-standing moratorium on Canadian exports of nuclear materials to India.

  • Also, the issue of Khalistan kept India-Canada ties on ice through three decades from 1980s.

  • India has also exercised its soft power through growing influence of Bollywood, educational scholarships extended by MEA, extending humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to help mitigate the adverse impact of natural disasters. Challenges

  • Since ‘soft power’ is perceived to be an intangible ingredient of a state’s power, it is difficult to measure the definite impact of these measures.

  • Further the soft power so far has functioned independently of government policies, without the backing of a focused policy or adequate backing with financial resources.

  • Along with this critics of Soft power say that soft power cannot substitute hard power and it helps only if the country has built up its conventional sources of economic and military power.

 

Conclusion

  • In conclusion, soft power can undoubtedly play an important role in generating goodwill. However, India’s use of soft power has been hampered by key limitations such as paucity of resources, especially in comparison to countries like China, and the lack of a clear strategy due to internal contradictions.

  • Besides, soft power by itself will not suffice in the absence of palpable economic and hard power. For instance, South East Asia and Africa may have strong strategic convergences with India, and yet it is China’s economic prowess that gives it the decisive edge.

2. India-Canada

  • Recently, the Canadian Prime Minister visited India. Details Extensive talks were held on key issues of counter-terrorism and extremism as well as ways to boost trade ties by investing in mutual growth. Both sides agreed on working together on Climate Change, Oceans, Space and Clean Energy.

  • Further, six pacts were signed on energy cooperation. Both leaders agreed to expand the scope of the Canada-India Ministerial Energy Dialogue with a particular focus on electricity, energy efficiency and renewables. Canada implicitly shared India’s reservations on China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative.

  • The two sides agreed on their analysis of the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Canada also assured its support for India’s bid in Nuclear Suppliers Group. India Canada Relations Politically there have been various high level visits between the two countries. Strategically their relations are thin. Canada has little to offer in terms of assisting India with core strategic objectives that include China, Pakistan, the subcontinent, maritime security in the Indian Ocean rim and beyond.

  • Trade and Economy- The two-way trade has increased from C$ 4.2 billion in 2010 to C$8.02 billion in 2016. o The total Indian FDI in Canada in 2016 was C $2811 million, while Canadian FDI in India was C$ 1210 million. o Talks are going on concluding of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Cooperation in Energy sectors- The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), which was signed in June 2010, came into force in September 2013.The Appropriate Arrangement (AA) for the NCA was signed in March 2013, under which a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was constituted. 17 

  • International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) It is a 7200 km long multi-modal transport project established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation among the Member States. This corridor connects India Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, and then is connected to St. Petersburg and North European via Russian Federation.

  • Irritants between the two countries Khalistan factor is the biggest issue between the two countries due to the perceived proximity of the Canadian PM with extremist supporters. Various developments in Canada in relation to the Khalsa extremists and their supporters have made India questioned their stance many a times.

  • In terms of trade, despite an increase in overall trade the situation does not reflect the true potential. India accounts for only 1.95% of Canada’s global trade. Businesses between the two countries have been sluggish given the differences in industrial structures and geography. On the energy front, limited cooperations exists despite Canada’s strengths in the area.

  • Education Sector- MOU on Cooperation in Higher Education was signed in June 2010, which covers student and faculty exchange, research and curriculum development, organization of workshop and seminars, etc.

  • S&T and Space- ANTRIX, the Commercial arm of ISRO, has launched nine nano-satellite under a commercial arrangement with University of Toronto - Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) among many others. o The PSLV-C23, which was launched in June 2014 carried two Canadian satellites

  • Indian Diaspora- Canada is home to over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who comprise more than 3% of its population. o Four PIOs now hold Cabinet berths (up from two of Ministers of State in the last Cabinet).

  • Potential of Cooperation Being an open economy Canada is an attractive destination for both the students and professionals. Here, the Indian diaspora can play a crucial role in further creating opportunities. In terms of energy security since Canada has sizeable reserves of oil and gas, over time it could become a key partner in India’s quest for energy security. On the security front, a stable balance of power in the wider Indo-Pacific will serve both Indian and Canadian interests. There is a common perspective on freedom of navigation and over-flight “throughout the Indo-Pacific region” and respect for international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Given the Chinese increasing rise in the Arctic region where Canada stands a stakeholder, closer institutional collaboration and intelligence sharing is also the need of the hour. Conclusion As a capital, technology and innovation-rich economy and an open, inclusive and multi-cultural society, Canada is highly relevant to India. It is sharpening its role as a Pacific Ocean power. India’s commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific should deepen geopolitical affinity. Thus mutual interests are likely to impel the two nations to strengthen their strategic partnership. However, for this vision to turn into reality, the Canadian leadership needs to demonstrate greater sensitivity to India’s core concerns.

3. INDIA JOINS ASHGABAT AGREEMENT

About Ashgabat Agreement

  • The agreement, aiming to establish international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf, came into force in 2016. It is an agreement between the Governments of Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan agreed upon in 2011 in Ashgabat. Qatar was also part of agreement initially but subsequently withdrew in 2013. Kazakhstan and Pakistan joined the grouping in 2016. India had deposited the Instrument of Accession in April 2016. The Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan (ITK) railway line will be the major route under the Ashgabat Agreement. It had become operational in December 2014 and has also been included as part of INSTC.

  • Significance Ashgabat agreement also aims to synchronize with the Eurasian railway connectivity project and International North–South Transport Corridor encompassing ship, rail and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. 18 

  • World Government Summit It is an annual event held in Dubai that brings together leaders in government for a global dialogue about governmental process and policies with a focus on the issues of futurism, technology and innovation, as well as other topics. It was formed in 2013 by a team of experts with the goal of improving the lives of the seven billion people.

  • MoUs Signed During Visit To institutionalise the collaborative administration of contractual employment of Indian workers in UAE For Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector To enhance cooperation between both the countries in financial services industry. To establish multi-modal logistics park and hub in Jammu comprising warehouses and specialized storage solutions

  • India’s trade with Afghanistan is likely to touch $5 billion after Ashgabat projects and INSTC comes into operation because Afghanistan is diverting its trade from Karachi to Chahbahar and Bandar Abbas port in Iran. Joining the Ashgabat Agreement would make it easier for India to reach out to Central Asia’s strategic and high-value minerals including uranium, copper, titanium, ferroalloys, yellow phosphorus, iron ore etc.

3.1. INDIA-UAE

Background

  • India and the UAE enjoy strong friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. The UAE occupies a key place in India’s

  • West Asia policy. India and UAE have last year elevated their relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement and have move beyond just buyer-seller relationship. Lately there have been various official visits between the two countries like the Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was invited as chief guest for Republic Day.

  • Importance of UAE Energy Security: UAE is the 5th largest import source and accounts for about 6% of our total crude imports. Agreements signed related to energy security o Acquisition of 10% participating interest in the offshore Lower Zakum oil and gas field o To operationalize the filling up of a strategic petroleum reserve cavern in Mangalore

  • Investment: The UAE government has committed USD 75 billion towards developing Indian infrastructure. o Emirates Airline announced to help Andhra Pradesh develop its aviation sector o The NIIF entered into an agreement with a Dubai based firm for investment up to USD 3 billion.

  • Important trading Partner: Bilateral trade with UAE stood at around USD 50 billion last year with UAE’s investments in India in areas ranging from smart cities to real estate.

  • Indian Community- More than 2.5 million Indians live in the UAE, which is among the largest number of expatriates anywhere in the world, repatriating $13.6 billion a year to India.

  • Shared Security Concern- The two countries have a common interest in ensuing maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region.

  • Further, given the current state of flux in West Asia, India sees the UAE as an important partner to maintain peace and stability in the region. In this background India looks to enhance security cooperation with the Gulf countries including the UAE to counter terrorist threats and combat online radicalization.

  • Defense- Defense exercises are increasingly undertaken. For example, ‘Desert Eagle II’, a ten day air combat exercise, was held in May-June 2016 between the air forces of India and UAE

  • Maritime security- India approved the bilateral pact on maritime education and training and a MoU to facilitate and promote maritime transport, simplification of customs and facilitation of use of existing installations for the disposal of waste.  

  • It will also act as a counter to the nearby Gwadar port in Pakistan, which China is developing. o Economically- The Port also has a special economic zone, where about $1.8 billion investments are being made by some Indian companies.

  • Energy Security- India informed Oman’s ruler about the strategic oil reserve that India plans to build and invited Oman to participate in the project.

  • o The Omani side briefed India about its own strategic oil reserve project in Ras Markaz near the port of Duqm.

  • o Improving India’s ties to West Asia- Duqm can become a stepping stone for India’s greater involvement with the region, which can enable India to ensure better security and safety of the 7 million strong Indian Diaspora.

4. Tapi Gas Pipeline

About TAPI project

  • The pipeline is proposed to supply natural gas by TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL) from Turkmenistan to India. The supply route runs from Galkynysh field (Turkmenistan) – Daulatabd -Herat – Kandahar – Chamman – Zhob – DG Khan – Multan - Fazilika (Pak-India Border). Nearly, 33 billion cubic metres of gas to be pumped annually, by the beginning of year 2020. The project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and transit fee would be incurred by India to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Significance of the Project It will reopen a historic route that reconnects South Asia to Central Asia. It will bring India and its neighbours much needed energy at competitive pricing, and could easily supply a quarter of Pakistan’s gas needs, about 15 per cent of India’s projected needs, as well as Afghanistan’s requirements. TAPI will provide an alternative supply source of gas with dependable reserves leading to enhanced energy security by further diversifying the fuel basket to the benefit of Indian economy. It may contribute to reconciliation in Afghanistan, by creating economic opportunity for the Afghan people. It could create jobs in the war-torn country thus playing a strategically crucial role for the peace and security of the region. The project also could help to improve relations between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan reducing chances of conflict between these two nuclear powers, further helping them find ways for cooperation.

4.1. Challenges Finance:

  • Nearly, 85 % of the project cost is expected to be incurred by Turkmenistan, which is currently facing economic hardship due to decline in global energy prices, further resulting into low energy export earnings.

  • Security: The route of TAPI gas pipeline in Afghanistan and Pakistan are hotbeds of terrorism and regional conflict (Baluch separatists fighting the Pakistan army). Moreover with the proposed withdrawal of NATO (especially US) forces from Afghanistan, further intensifies the security questions. Asian Development Bank (ADB) It was conceived in the early 1960s as a financial institution that would be Asian in character and foster economic growth and cooperation. As a multilateral development finance institution, ADB provides:loans, technical assistance and grants. Its clients are member governments, who are also shareholders. In addition, it provides direct assistance to private enterprises of developing member countries through equity investments and loans. It is composed of 67 members (including India), 48 of which are from the Asia and Pacific region. Its top 5 shareholders are : Japan(15.6%) ,United States(15.6%),People's Republic of China(6.4%), India(6.3%) and Australia(5.8%) 21

4.2. Geopolitics:

  •  Diplomatic relations of India and Pakistan have been on unexpected rupture. Moreover, growing ambitions of China in terms of economic and military power, may put the TAPI project into jeopardy

4.3. Way forward Larger participation:

  • Turkmenistan may allow India acquire stake in Upstream sector (industry finds and produces crude oil and natural gas) to ensuring that any deliberate gas supply disruption from Pakistan could be avoided.

 

Complementary projects:

  • Turkmenistan may also allow international oil and gas companies to acquire stakes in its onshore oil/gas fields in order to assist the TAPI project.

5. Instability In Maldives

5.1. Financial Action Task Force

  • It is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 and housed in OECD headquarters in Paris. It has 37 members currently and India is also a member. Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

5.2. Way forward

  • India should involve in political mediation between the government and Opposition, to restore order in Maldives and facilitate conditions for the upcoming elections due in next few months. A democratic Government would be in the best of interests for both Maldives as well as India. India must get considerable international support for the same.

6. Proposal To Put Pakistan On Fatf Watch-List

6.1. More about the news

  • Putting a country in “grey list” does not involve a direct legal or penal action but involve increased scrutiny from watchdogs, regulators and financial institutions. Pakistan had earlier been on the FATF ‘grey list’ from 2012 to 2015, following a detailed assessment by Asia Pacific Group (APG) in 2010 and lack of follow-up action by Islamabad to curb terror financing. Now Pakistan is required to submit an action plan to FATF to curb terror financing and money laundering by May. If the FATF approves the action plan in June, it will make a formal announcement about placing Pakistan on the grey list. Should Islamabad fail to submit an action plan, or if the FATF does not accept it, the group can place Pakistan on its blacklist or "Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories" (NCCTs), along with North Korea and Iran. The decision was long overdue given Pakistan’s blatant violation of its obligations to crack down on groups banned by the Security Council Resolution 1267 sanctions committee that monitors groups affiliated to the Taliban such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network.

7. Trans-Pacific Partnership-11 (Tpp-11)

Background

  • TPP was a free trade agreement between USA and 11 other Pacific Rim nations i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and was signed in 2016. However, USA withdrew from it.

Details

  • The agreement has now been renamed as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPATPP). Enhanced policy space (Country-Specific) and regulatory flexibility will be provided in the new deal in terms of 'withdrawal', 'accession' and 'review' in contrast to the old deal. The chapter on Intellectual Property will also see significant change. The ratification process has also removed 85% cumulative GDP threshold, and now the deal will come into force if 6 out of 11 countries ratify it. This deal is yet to be ratified.

About NDB

  • NDB is an initiative of BRICS countries signed into Agreement during the sixth BRICS summit in Fortaleza in 2014 and it came into existence as a legal entity in Ufa Summit in 2015. The five member states have an equal share. The core purpose of the NDB is to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development in BRICS countries.

About AIIB

  • AIIB is a multilateral development bank with 84 countries as members. It is headquartered in Beijing. AIIB was proposed at an APEC summit in Bali in 2013 and started its operation in January, 2016. China, India, Russia and Germany are the four largest shareholders of the Bank with 26.06%, 7.5%, 5.93% and 4.5% respectively.

8. Aiib Approves Loans For Projects In India

8.1. Significance for India

  • India needs huge investment in energy, roads, housing, urban development and other infrastructural projects. Borrowing from AIIB is preferred as:

  • It charges about 1-1.5 per cent interest with long term repayment including five-year grace period.

  • The Bank provides lending on liberal terms allowing the government to decide on how to use that money. With AIIB is investing in various projects including Mumbai Metro, Andhra Pradesh new capital Amaravati's development and irrigation network in West Bengal, India emerged as the top borrower of the Bank.

9. New Development Bank Funded Project Of Rajasthan .

  • Recently, Indian government signed a Loan Agreement for financing of Rajasthan Water Sector Restructuring Project for the Desert Areas, with New Development Bank This project will rehabilitate the 678 km long Indira Gandhi Canal system built during 1958-63. Need for NDB Slow pace of reforms at international financial institutions resulting in not fulfilling of the desire of major developing countries to play a bigger role in global governance. It demonstrates the viability and dynamics of the BRICS despite all the skepticism and criticism in recent years. To develop and deepen local capital markets in its member states by providing loans denominated in local currency in addition to US dollar. A financial institution which is fast, agile and responsive to the rapid pace of change in technology and the needs of its clients.

10. Logistics Hub In Assam

10.1 Significance of the hub

  • Jogighopa will become India’s gateway to South-East Asia as well as to the rest of the North-East The current transit corridors from mainland India to the North-East region pass through an area known as the “Chicken’s Neck”—a narrow tract of land in India between the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Since it is close to these borders and cannot be expanded, the North-East region requires an alternative route for providing connectivity to the rest of India. The Indo-Bangladesh road route, along with the National Waterways-2, provides such an option.

Febrauary International Relations

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