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1. India-France Relations

1.1. Important Developments during the Visit

  • The two countries signed 14 agreements including those in the field of education, environment, urban development and railways, etc. Important strategic engagements were-

  • The Joint Vision Statement on the Indian Ocean Region has been laid down.

  • Indian PM and the French President co-chaired the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the two leaders also inaugurated a solar power plant at Dadar Kala village in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The two leaders welcomed the signing of the "Agreement for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces”, which seeks to extend logistical support on reciprocal access to respective facilities for Indian and French armed forces.

  • The “Industrial Way Forward Agreement” was signed between French utility EDF and India’s NPCIL for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur.

Background

  • India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is based on three pillars of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation. Important relations between the two are-

  • Institutional Dialogue relating to strategic areas- India-France Strategic Dialogue takes place between NSAs from both sides. Joint Working Group on Counter, Cyber Dialogue, etc. are the other active mechanisms.

  • Defence Cooperation- Regular exchange of visits at the level of Services Chiefs takes place. The three services also have regular defence exercises, viz. Exercise Shakti (Army), Exercise Varuna (Navy), Exercise Garuda (Air Force). Also, a civil nuclear cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries in 2008 during the visit of Indian PM to France.

  • Economic Cooperation- France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India. The trade surplus remains in India’s favour for the past ten years with Indian exports to France in 2016.

1.2. Importance of France for India

  • Partnership in the Indian Ocean- The agreement for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between the two is important given the wide range of French military bases in the Indian Ocean (Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, and Reunion Island). It can be a force multiplier for India. The development gains importance with increasing Chinese presence in the region.

  • Partnership in ISA- The ISA, first treaty-based international organization to be based in India, is a major Indo-French initiative which is a crucial step towards our commitment towards renewable energy.

  • France’s support on international platforms- France is among the countries that have consistently supported India’s permanent membership to UNSC. Further, France support for India’s inclusion in the Wassenaar Group is also worth mentioning. Paris was one of the only Western capitals to comment on the legitimacy of India’s concerns vis-à-vis the refugee crisis in its border regions with Bangladesh.

  • Nuclear Cooperation- After the nuclear tests in May 1998 when India declared itself a nuclear weapon state, France was the first major power to open dialogue and displayed a far greater understanding of India’s security compulsions compared to other countries. It refused to sermonize India after the tests, and publicly opposed U.S. sanctions.

  • Defence Cooperation- Defence cooperation with France began in the 1950s when India acquired the Ouragan aircraft and continued with the Mystères, Jaguar, Rafale, Scorpène submarines, etc.

  • Cooperation in Space and Technology has continued since the 1960s when France helped India set up the Sriharikota launch site, followed by liquid engine development and hosting of payloads. Currently, other

  • projects include joint satellite mission – TRISHNA (for eco-system stress and water use monitoring) and also accommodation of French instrument on India’s OCEANSAT-3 satellite.

  • Other areas of cooperation include their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in France and India.

  • Given its expertise in the sphere of urban planning France is also helping in the Smart Cities Mission. The three such smart cities are Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry.

Way Forward

  • Even though above specified areas provided a robust basis for engagement, it remained primarily at a government-to-government level. In recent years, it was clear that for a wider partnership, strengthening business-to-business and people-to-people relationships was essential. Also, the trade between India and France, although growing, is yet to reach its potential.

  • As per the speculations France intends to be India’s gateway to Europe and to make India France’s first strategic partner in Asia.

  • The underpinnings of global geopolitics are being rapidly altered with China’s rise, the West being consumed by internal problems and Russia, the “America First” priorities of the US Administration, and growing threats to globalization. With such background India and France seek each other as desirable strategic partner.

2. India Germany Relations

Key areas in India Germany Cooperation:

  • Germany is the most populous country in Europe and its location at the centre of the continent gives it a natural role as a bridge between East and West Europe. It is a global-centre and a pivot for R&D and skills.

  • Strategic Partnership: India and Germany have a 'Strategic Partnership' since 2001, which has been further strengthened with the Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) at the level of Head of Governments

  • India-Germany cooperation on cleaning the river Ganga: The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and GIZ Germany signed an Implementation Agreement for Ganga Rejuvenation in 2016 under which Germany committed €3 million for data management and capacity building to deal with the pollution.

  • Bilateral cooperation on the issue of UNSC expansion within the framework of G-4, consultations with each other in G-20 on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development, etc. and other regional and international issues such as UN issues, International Cyber Issues, Disarmament & Non-proliferation, Export Controls, East Asia, Eurasia, etc.

  • Defence Cooperation: India-Germany Defence Cooperation Agreement (2006) provides a framework for bilateral defence cooperation.

  • Economic & Commercial Relations: Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe.

  • Germany is the 7th largest foreign direct investor in India since January 2000.

  • An MoU on Indo-German Solar Energy Partnership was signed in 2015 under which German Government is to provide concessional loan of Euro 1 billion over the next 5 years.

2.1 Importance of Indo-German cooperation

  • India and Germany have complementarities that can make them effective partners. While German expertise lies in engineering state-of-the-art products, the futuristic technologies require IT innovations where Germany will need India’s IT expertise. India can be a market for high end German goods and in turn a source of skills.

  • India can benefit from the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of the Germany and has thus set up a fast track mechanism to promote the cooperation among both the countries.

  • Germany is phasing out its nuclear power plants and replacing them with renewable energy. Since India is also planning to meet 40 per cent of its energy requirement by renewables by 2030 there is a large scope of bilateral cooperation in energy sector through organisations such as International Renewable energy agency.

  • Germany’s support is also important for balanced agreement on climate change, taking into account climate adaptation and mitigation as well as finance and technology transfer.

  • The two countries also share security concerns with Germany affected through refugee crisis and India’s concerns arising from Pakistan sponsored terrorism.

Conclusion

  • With the rise of protectionist trade measures in USA India and Germany both have shown commitment to an international order based on mutual respect and rules, and cooperate for free and fair trade and investment.

  • Further there is a large scope of cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, innovation and science and technology, cleaning of rivers, skill development (Skill India Mission), urban infrastructure, water and waste management, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine etc.

3. India-Vietnam

3.1. Related Information

Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP)

  • It is the R&D unit under the aegis of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

  • Established in 2010, under the aegis of Department of atomic energy.

  • It promotes global nuclear energy partnership through collaborative research and training programs.

United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea

  • It was signed in 1984 and came into force in 1994.

  • The law set the guideline for nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, for businesses, environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

  • The law led to introduction of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which prevents the fishermen to exploit the fish resource of other country.

  • Within the EEZ, coastal countries have the right to use the marine resources within 200 nautical mile from their shore.

  • The law made the provision for landlocked countries by providing right to access the sea through the territory of the neighbouring coastal country.

3.2. More on News

  • The visit also marks 45 years of diplomatic  relations between Vietnam and India.

  • Both inked three agreements pertaining to-  o Civil nuclear energy MoU was signed  between Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, India (GCNEP) and  the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute  (VINATOM).

  • Work Plan for the years 2018-2022  between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and  Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.

  • MoU on Economic and Trade Cooperation for enhancing economic relations.

  • Both stressed the need for freedom of navigation, over-flight and resolving the  South China Sea disputes on mandate of United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea. (UNCLOS).

3.3. India Vietnam Relations

  • India and Vietnam have enjoyed close ties based on their shared history of fighting against colonial rule. In addition, there is a deep cultural connection between the two as well.

  • Strategic - Vietnam is also an important partner in Southeast Asia and is currently the country coordinator for India with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc.

  • Defence and Security- India has been training the Vietnamese military in operating its Russian-built Kilo-class submarines and SU-30 fighter jets.

  • After the signing of the MoU on Defence Cooperation by the two Defence Ministers in November 2009, the relations have grown from strength to strength.

  • Vietnam called on India to play a more proactive role in Southeast Asia while India on the other hand reiterated the importance of international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in settling the South China Sea issue.

  • Economic- India is now among the top ten trading partners of Vietnam. Indian companies registered 17 new projects with a total capital of US$98.12 million in the areas of food processing, fertilizers, auto components, textile accessories etc.

  • In terms of Multilateral Cooperation, apart from ASEAN, India and Vietnam closely cooperate in other regional forums such as the East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Europe Meeting besides the UN and WTO.

3.4. Vietnam’s Importance for India

  • Act East Policy- Vietnam is an important element of India’s Act East Policy, which aims to re-invigorate its historical ties with countries in Southeast and East Asia. Also, as a member of ASEAN, it is an important enabler for India’s growing trade and investment ties with the rest of Southeast Asia

  • Physical Connectivity- With the election of a civilian government in Myanmar, there are ample opportunities for closer connectivity between India and Vietnam via Myanmar and existing transit routes in Cambodia and Laos.

  • Energy Cooperation- India’s growing economy needs energy resources and Vietnam has rich hydrocarbon reserves. India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been searching for oil in disputed waters off Vietnam, though China objected to this.

3.5. India’s Importance for Vietnam

  • Security Reasons- Responding to China’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea, Vietnam has called on India to play a more proactive role in Southeast Asia.

  • Capacity Building is another area in which India has been helping Vietnam through Line of Credit, Scholarship, conducting programs for Vietnamese defense personnel, etc.

3.6. Way Forward

  • There are yet various areas that may be improved. For example, India-Vietnam bilateral trade is a miniscule one compared to Vietnam-China bilateral trade, which is around $70 billion. It is important to help trade and investment pick up in the bilateral context between the two. This could in turn also give fillip to the bilateral strategic engagement, making the relationship a more comprehensive one.

4. India Jordan

4.1. MoUs signed during the visit

  • Framework agreement on Defence Cooperation

  • For cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine between India and Jordan

  • For setting up of the next generation Centre of Excellence (COE) in Jordan.

  • For long term supply of Rock Phosphate and Fertilizer/ NPK

  • Visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport holders

  • Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP)

  • Manpower Cooperation Agreement

  • Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement

  • Twining Agreement between Agra and Petra (Jordan), etc.

4.2. India Jordan Relations

  • Political Relations- In 1950 the two countries  established full-fledged diplomatic ties.

  • Commercial Relations- India-Jordan trade is  governed by an agreement signed in 1976. A  Trade and Economic Joint Committee  constituted under the Agreement promote  and monitor the progress.

  • Defence- Jordan has provided critical support  to India during the 1991 evacuation of citizens from Iraq and also during the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria. o Both face the threat of extremism. Jordan has recently launched the Aqaba process to promote deradicalisation in which India is an active participant.

  • Cultural Relations- There is immense interest in Jordan for Indian art and culture, especially Bollywood films.

  • iaspora- Jordan is home to more than 10,000 Indians, who are employed in various industries.

  • The exchange of bilateral visits at high political and senior official levels declined significantly after King Abdullah’s productive visit in 2006. The relationship has failed to realize the huge, untapped potential.

4.3. Importance of Jordan for India

  • To access Palestine (West Bank) -One can visit Palestine only either through Israel or Egypt and Jordan. Due to political issues between Israel and Palestine, Jordan becomes an important connecting point with West Bank region of Palestine.

  • Like India, Jordan has special ties with both Israel and Palestine. This can be further important for supporting India’s ‘De-hyphenation’ policy towards the two countries.

  • Both the countries share the view that nations must coordinate their positions to fight against the misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and justifying terrorism. Jordan is crucial to India’s effort to gather regional intelligence and enhance counter-terrorism cooperation.

  • India can leverage Jordan’s unique strategic location in the Levant, with access to the Red Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.

  • Jordan also plays an important role in India's food and energy security through provision of fertilisers and phosphates. It also has one of the largest deposits of oil shale.

  • The improving relations between the two countries is a testimony to India’s “Think West” policy where Jordan has an important place.

5. India Africa Development Initiatives

India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI)

  • It was set up by Government of India in 2008 as an autonomous not-for-profit Trust, to facilitate Overseas Indian philanthropy into social and development projects in India.

  • It has largely been unsuccessful in mobilizing funds.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

  • It was established in 1975 by 15 West African countries via the treaty of Lagos to promote regional economic integration.

  • EBID is an international financial institution with two funding windows to promote private sector activities and fund the development of the public sector.

  • It is headquartered in Lome, Togolese Republic.

5.1. Other Related news

  • The India Development Foundation of verseas Indians (IDF-OI) was closed to  enhance synergies in channelizing Diaspora's contributions to Government of India's flagship programmes such as National Mission for clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat Mission

  • Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) has decided to provide a $500 million credit facility to ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) to fund various development projects in the western-south Africa.

5.2. Development initiatives between India and Africa:

  • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program which aims at capacity building, skill development, transfer of technology and sharing of experiences with the partner countries. Around 5000 scholarships have been offered to officials from African countries under this.

  • Pan-African e-network: This programme is a joint effort of India and African Union with an aim to provide satellite connectivity, tele-education and tele-medicine services to the African countries by linking them with top educational institutions and super-speciality hospitals in India.

  • Techno-Economic Approach for Africa–India Movement (TEAM–9):

  • It was launched by India in 2004 together with eight energy and resource-rich West African countries viz. Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and India.

  • The initiative aimed at engaging the underdeveloped, yet resource-wealthy countries of West Africa, which required both low-cost technology and investment to develop their infrastructure.

  • Focus Africa: Launched by India in 2002-03, the main objective of the programme is to increase interactions between the two regions by identifying the areas of bilateral trade and investment.

  • Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA): It is an International Trade centre supported project which aims at increasing value of business transactions between India and selected East African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania) with the ultimate objective to create jobs and income opportunities for people in East Africa.

  • Cooperation with African Development Bank (AfDB): India joined AfDB in 1983 and has contributed to its General Capital increased and has also pledged capital for grants and loans.

Development Assistance:

  • India extends development assistance through the Line of Credit extended by the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of India and the traditional technical assistance predominantly managed by the country’s ministry of external affairs.

  • In India Africa Forum Summit (2015), India announced a US$ 10 billion line of credit to help financing the projects in African countries, capacity building, IT education, and higher education.

  • Training institutes: India has set up over 100 training institutes in different African countries, encompassing areas ranging from agriculture, rural development and food processing to information technology, vocational training, and entrepreneurship development.

Other Initiatives:

  • Solar Mamas: It is group of rural women solar engineers from Africa who have been trained under Government of India-supported programme to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages.

  • As a part of Light up and power Africa initiative, the African Development Bank has entered into partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to scale up solar energy in Africa.

6. India Usa Solar Dispute

Background

  • India launched National Solar Mission in 2011 under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) to deploy 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 which was revised in 2015 to be 100 GW.

  • The government offered financial support of up to Rs.1 crore per MW to the implementing agency for setting up large solar capacities by placing orders with domestic manufacturers.

  • U.S. complained to the WTO in 2013, saying the programme was discriminatory and U.S. solar exports to India had fallen by 90 per cent from 2011 and filed a suit in WTO.

  • India lost the solar dispute in 2016, after the WTO’s highest court the Appellate Body upheld a ruling that Domestic Content Requirements (DCRs) under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) violated several core provisions on national treatment and trade-related investment measures as they favour.

National Treatment

  • Under national treatment, governments are required to treat imported products on par with the domestically manufactured products.

  • Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs)

  • It is one of the Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods which prohibits trade-related investment measures, such as local content requirements, that are inconsistent with basic provisions of GATT 1994. domestic products over imported products.

  • Subsequently India agreed to implement the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) recommendations  by 14 December 2017 and filed a report before DSB claiming that it had brought about changes in rules and procedures under the JNNSM and power purchase agreements no longer mandated domestic sourcing of cells and modules

  • US continued to disagree with India’s claims of  compliance thus necessitating the setting up of the  compliance panel.

Implication

  • If India is found not to have complied, Washington could ask the WTO for permission to impose trade sanctions on India but the legal process in WTO dispute system is likely to continue for a year or more.

  • Such disputes have wider implications not only for India but also for many developing countries that are struggling to switch to green economy. Domestic content requirements are envisaged to generate jobs to lift millions of people from abject poverty.

7. US IMPORT DUTY HIKE ON STEEL AND ALUMINIUM

7.1. Impacts of the import duty hike

For America domestically

  • It will increase the domestic steel price by 5 per cent, leading to an increase cost for industries such as car and engineering.

  • This may create inflationary pressure, leading to high-interest rates and dollar appreciation.

Global impact

  • The largest supplier of steel and steel products to the US is China, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Japan. These are the most affected countries, they may take retaliatory measures. These may escalate to global trade wars.

  • These actions are violative of the WTO rules, they will further weaken the multilateral trade architecture.

  • The US duty on steel and aluminium also mean that the surplus would have to be dumped in some other countries at a lower price.

7.2. Impact on India

  • The move will not directly impact India in the short term because-

  • Indian steel and Aluminium exports to the US is less than 5% of total exports in 2017.

  • Expected growth in domestic consumption would offset any reduction in exports to the US

  • However, if it escalates and other countries start doing the same then world trade will get hit and that will impact India. The Asian producers, seeing demand here, may dump their products here or create import surges.

8. Afghanistan Makes A Peace Offer To Taliban

Background

Kabul Peace Process

  • It is a gathering of 23 nations, the EU, U.N. and NATO intended to discuss security and political issues in the Afghanistan. 

  • The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. It was ancient focal point of the Silk Road and migration. It is an important geostrategic location, connecting East and West Asia or the Middle East.

  • Afghanistan consists of various ethnic and religious satraps like Pashtuns- Sunni (located in Western Frontier Province of Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan), Hazara- Shia (Iran’s side), Uzbeks and Tajiks (located in central side).

  • Afghanistan has been in a state of turmoil for the last 40 years including a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and withdrawal in 1989.

  • The Taliban came to power in 1996 and were later ousted from power by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in an effort to counter Al-Qaeda in 2001.

  • The Taliban has steadily expanded its reach since U.S. and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014 and transitioned to a support and counterterrorism role even after the formation of National Unity Government (NUG)

  • In current Kabul peace process, Afghanistan has offered that in exchange for a ceasefire, the government will allow Taliban members to have a “peaceful and respectful life”, political recognition, prisoner release, passports to Taliban members and visas to their families, as well as office space in Kabul.

8.1. Challenges in Afghanistan peace process:

  • Number of war and civilian casualties due to suicide bombings are on the rise after the international coalition forces embarked on Operation Resolute Support to “advise, train and assist” the Afghan forces and not to participate in war since 2014.

  • Rise of IS: Despite the Afghan government’s claims of cracking down on militants, threats from the IS and Taliban have only grown both of which have a goal to destabilise the state that and throw the country into further chaos.

  • Failure of USA’s strategy: USA has failed to evolve a cohesive strategy regarding military aid to Pakistan, troop presence in Afghanistan, indiscriminate use of airpower or infrastructure building in the country.

  • Role of Pakistan: Pakistan has direct links with the Taliban and its allies in the Haqqani network and provides safe havens to terrorist groups within it territory.

  • Legitimacy of the National Unity Government (NUG) seems eroded due to conflict between Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani, corruption, lack of implementation of Electoral reforms and refusal of Taliban to talk to Afghan government which it thinks as artificial, foreign imposed and not representative of Afghan people.

  • All these factors have contributed to regrouping and strengthening of Taliban which controls more than half of territory in the country.

Conclusion

  • The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has welcomed the offer and said it “strongly supports the vision for peace through intra-Afghan dialogue”.

  • India supports Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process which has also gained approval from Russia and China.

  • United States has also launched a new regional strategy wherein it has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban, in a bid to break the stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

  • But most importantly The Taliban has refused to negotiate with the government until all foreign forces leave, and still refer to themselves as a government in exile.

9. Tibet Factor In India China Relations

Historical background

  • Tibet is bordered by Chinese Turkestan and Mongolia in the north; by China in the east; by Burma, India (Sikkim), Bhutan, and Nepal in the South; and by India (Punjab and Kashmir) in the west.

  • 1912- Tibet declared itself an independent republic after a  military conflict with China.

  • 1951- China forced Tibet to sign “Seventeen Point  Agreement” which guaranteed Tibetan autonomy and respect  the Buddhist religion but also allowed the establishment of  Chinese civil and military headquarters at Lhasa.

  • 1954- India ceded India’s British-inherited extraterritorial  rights in Tibet and accepted its annexation without any quid  pro quo.

  • 1959- Dalai Lama and his ministers fled to India and established the Tibetan exile administration (Central  Tibetan Administration) in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie. As a consequence, India and China went to war in 1962.

  • 1965 – Chinese government established Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) making it essentially a province within the People’s Republic of China.

  • Currently, the CTA functions from McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsala and India has played role in rehabilitation of Tibetans.

9.1. Tibet as a bone of contention between Indian & China

  • Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951 eliminated a buffer between the two Asian giants and transformed the border dispute in to a rivalry. Further, the entry of Chinese troops in Tibet in the wake of 1956 made the problem more critical.

  • Recently, China's military build-up and infrastructure development in Tibet, as well as reported plans to divert or dam rivers that rise in Tibet and flow into India, have raised India's anxieties in the past.

  • Conversely India has been unable to assuage China's insecurities about its possible use of the presence of the Dalai Lama in India and its large Tibetan refugee population to create trouble for China in Tibet.

Conclusion

  • On one hand experts suggest that India should gradually reclaim its leverage over the Tibet issue by emphasizing its acceptance of China’s claim over Tibet in 1954 in lieu of grant of genuine autonomy to that region.

  • But on the other hand, some experts suggest that Tibet has changed a lot since 1959 and India should change its Tibetan strategy proactively considering factors such as:

  • Infrastructure development in Tibet for e.g. Beijing-Lhasa railway line,

  • Demographic shift in Tibet with Beijing populating areas with majority ‘Han’ Chinese workers,

  • China’s promotion of Sino-friendly Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and

  • Decline in number of refugees from Tibet suggesting it has changed a lot since 1959.

  • There is an urgent need for community outreach, surveys and a referendum, if necessary, to map what the Tibetan community in India wants in its future as India’s current approach of playing Tibet card may be out of sync with reality.

10. Amendment In China's Constitution

Background

  • This is the first amendment to the country's fundamental law in 14 years.

  • The People's Republic of China enacted its first Constitution in 1954, during Mao's era.

  • From 1988 to 1999, amendments included replacing the phrase "planned economy" with "socialist market economy," and incorporation of Deng Xiaoping Theory.

  • The most recent amendment in 2004 protected private property and human rights and gave constitutional authority to the Theory of Three Represents.

  • National People's Congress (the Chinese Legislature) has amended the constitution and has scrapped the two term limit on Presidency and Vice-Presidency. The amendment empowers President Xi Jinping to possibly remain in office for life.

10.1. Requirement for Constitutional amendment in China

  • A constitutional change is either proposed by the NPC Standing Committee or by more than one-fifth of all NPC deputies, and then requires the approval of two-thirds or more of NPC deputies during the annual session.

 

Details

  • The current amendment of 2018 is to include Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era in the preamble of the constitution. Prior to Xi, only founding fathers of PRC i.e. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping had their personal ideologies engraved in Constitution.

  • National Supervisory Commission, as an anti-corruption super agency, has been included as a new type of state organ in the Constitution.

  • There is a change in China's Foreign policy to replace the old approach of zero-sum game with win-win cooperation like China's Belt and Road Initiative.

10.2. China Under XI’s Leadership

  • As a paramount leader, Xi Jinping holds all the 3 strongest positions of the country i.e. he is the General Secretary of Communist Party of China (Only One party exists in China), President of the People's Republic of China (since 2013) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

  • He started anti-corruption campaign which resulted in exit of most of his rivals.

  • The One Belt One Road project, which extends to more than 60 countries, is his brain child.

  • He propagated China Dream vision as 'great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation'.

  • Under his tenure, China has become more assertive in the South China Sea region.

  • He became the first Chinese President to attend World Economic forum in 2017 in Davos.

10.3. Development of 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics'

  • Mao Zedong's Philosophy was to integrate the universal theory of Marxism-Leninism with China's specific conditions. Mao said that peasants should be the bulwark of the revolutionary energy, led by the working class in China.

  • Deng Xiaoping Theory was to integrate the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought with the concrete practice of socialist modernization and develop it under the new historical conditions.

  • Jiang Zemin's “Theory of the Three Represents” propagated that CPC must always represent 3 values i.e. the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China.

  • Xi Jinping Thought- It includes-

  • Following "socialism with Chinese characteristics" with "people as the masters of the country".

  • To adopt new development ideas based on science.

  • To promote the one country two system for Hong Kong and Macau with a future of "complete national reunification" and to follow the One China Policy and 1992 consensus for Taiwan.

  • To strengthen national security and for that the Communist Party of China should have absolute leadership over China's People's Liberation Army.

11. South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP)

11.1 Details about the MoU

South Asian Seas Programme

  • It is one of the 18 Regional Seas Programmes of UNEP. The South Asian Seas Action Plan was adopted in March 1995 and today enjoys the unqualified support of the region’s five countries (Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

  • The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising the South Asian seas region.

  • Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be the nodal agency to respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India.

  • ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be the national emergency response centre for marine incidents.

11.2 About SACEP

  • It is an inter-governmental organization, established in 1982 by the governments of South Asia to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region.

  • It also serves as the secretariat of South Asian Seas Programme (SASP).

  • The Governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the members of SACEP.

12. Indus Water Treaty

12.1 More about the news

  • This was the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) that looks into the sharing of the Indus waters since the Indus water treaty (IWT) was signed by the two countries in 1960.

  • Pakistan expressed concerns over India’s Pakal Dul (1000 MW), Ratle (850 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects  — located in Chenab basin – contending they violated IWT.

  • India’s stand is that designs of the projects are in accordance with the treaty. These are run of the river  projects which is allowed under the treaty.

About Indus water treaty

  • As per the treaty, control over three eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over  three western rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, for irrigation, power generation and transport.

  • It is said to be the most successful water treaty in the world. As, it has survived various India-Pakistan wars and other issues. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty.

  • The Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission also solves disputes arising over water sharing. It had last met in Islamabad in March 2017.

  • The World Bank’s role in relation to “disputes” and “differences” with respect of IWT is limited to the designation of people to fulfil certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties.

12.2. Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

  • It involves two units each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated in the banks of River Padma and it is being constructed under a contract signed by Russia and Bangladesh in 2005.

  • 90% of the cost is being provided by Russia which Bangladesh is required to pay back in 30 years with a grace period of 10 years.

  • It will be the first Nuclear Reactors in Bangladesh and makes it third country in South Asia to have a civil nuclear plant after Indian and Pakistan.

  • The Rooppur NPP will be Water Energetic Reactor of 3+ generation technology i.e. it has been developed using the ‘post Fukushima’ safety standards for a nuclear power plant.

13. Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

13.1. Important Aspects of MoU

  • The Rooppur NPP will be built by Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation osatom and the Nuclear Power

  • Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will assist in construction, installation and infrastructural assignments.

  • Russia will implement designing, manufacturing, and supply of the  equipment, construction, erection, start-up, and adjustment, commissioning.

  • India will provide the personnel training, consultation support and participate in the construction and erection activity and non-critical materials supply to the site in Bangladesh.

  • It is the first initiative under an Indo-Russian deal to undertake atomic energy projects in third country and is being developed by Rosatom on a turnkey basis under which the contractor will complete the whole

  • As of 2016, India has signed civil nuclear agreements with 14 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Namibia, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.project and will be liable to any problems arising in the plant.

13.2. Significance for India

  • India’s partnership with Russia in developing Roopur NPP despite India not being a member of NSG is very significant. It enhances India’s stature as a responsible nuclear partner.

  • This is the first time that India will participate in nuclear power project abroad thus boosting Make in India initiative through manufacturing some nuclear power reactor equipment in India.

  • It may also strengthen India’s case for entry into NSG and United Nation Security Council as a permanent member.

14. AUSTRALIA’S 457 VISA

More about the news?

  • It has been replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa which would help enable hiring of overseas employees.

  • TSS visa has two main streams. A short-term stream that enables hiring of temporary expat skilled workers for maximum of two years. The second stream is a medium and long-term stream where expats can be hired for up to four years.

  • Short term TSS visa holders are not eligible to apply for permanent residence. The medium or long term TSS visa holder may apply for permanent residence, after having held the TSS visa for a minimum period of three years.

15. Un Broadband Commission For Sustainable Development

More on Report

  • The report sets out specific actions for policymakers and regulators, addressing four key themes:

  • Healthy investment climate

  • Lower infrastructure supply costs

  • Better functioning ICT markets

  • Liberating demand for the wider digital economy to encourage supply and investment.

Why in news

  • Recently, report of the Expert Group to the Broadband Commission recommended to close the broadband gap.

  • UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

  • It was established in May 2010 by ITU and UNESCO as Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

  • Following adoption of the UN's Sustainable

  • About International Telecommunication Union (ITU) • Based in Geneva, it is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.

  • As the global focal point for governments and the private sector, it's role in helping the world communicate spans 3 core sectors: radio communication, standardization and development.

  • They allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide.

  • Development Goals in September 2015, the Commission was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

  • To boost the importance of broadband on he international policy agenda and expand broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets.

  • Report: 'State of Broadband' is an annual report released by commission.

15.1. Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2025 Targets

By 2025-

  • All countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.

  • Entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.

  • Broadband-Internet user penetration should reach:

  • 75% worldwide

  • 65% in developing countries

  • 35% in least developed countries

  • 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.

  • 40% of the world's population should be using digital financial services.

  • Gender equality should be achieved across all targets.

  • For more about Digital divide, refer to December CA,

16. Videsh aya pradesh ke dwaar

Details

  • It is a part of the enhanced public diplomacy outreach to take the objectives of the foreign policy to the common people.

  • The Ministry will have direct interaction with the Local Media to communicate foreign policy priorities in simple terms, highlight the benefits accruing to the common people through diplomatic efforts and bring the domain of foreign policy closer to the people.

  • It also intends to create a pool of media professionals interested in foreign policy and guide them on connecting with the MEA.

17. Study In India Program

Objective

The ‘Study in India’ programme’s primary objective is to target foreign students by branding India as an attractive education destination.

17.1. Details of the Program

  • Meritorious foreign students will be given fee waiver.

  • Deserving students will be selected by the Institution based on their merit e.g. the top 25% student will get 100% fee waiver in tuition fee.

  • The expenditure on the fee waiver will have to be borne by the Institute concerned, based on cross-subsidisation or through its existing funding.

  • No additional cash flow from Government is proposed for the same.

March International Relations

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