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1. India-Japan Relations

History of ties

  • In the year 2000 the first-ever visit of an Indian defense minister to Tokyo and the declaration of a “global partnership.”

  • A series of reciprocal prime ministerial visits peppered the following years, with a “strategic and global partnership” inaugurated in 2006, a “Quadrilateral Initiative” in 2007.

  • A joint declaration on security cooperation in 2008 (Japan-India relations are rooted in their similar perceptions of the evolving environment in the region). An announcement of their “fundamental identity of values, interests and priorities,” alongside initiation of a “2+2” dialogue of foreign and defense ministers, was made in 2010.

  • Unprecedented Japanese arms sales to India were put on the table in 2013, Tokyo returned to the U.S.-India Malabar naval exercises in 2014 after a long absence, an agreement on joint research and development of defense equipment was reached in 2015, and a landmark civil-nuclear deal was signed last year.

What Importance does the summit hold?

  • Converging Indo pacific interest-India and Japan share similar interest in Indo pacific hence called for a free, open, transparent, rule based and inclusive Indo pacific region. Both place ASEAN at the centre of Indo Pacific but also call for others countries presence like US, Australia etc.

Why India Japan is anchoring for Indo Pacific?

  • Key to Global security-The region is home not only to the world’s fastest-growing economies, but also to the fastest-increasing military expenditures and naval capabilities, the fiercest competition over natural resources, and the most dangerous strategic hot spots.

  • The convergent economic and strategic imperatives- What China is doing in Indo pacific has been a continuous concern for both the countries. It is disturbing the regional order through an expansionist behavior.

  • Maritime security concern- Indo-pacific is both strategic as well as an economic domain comprising important sea-lines of communication that connect the littorals of the two oceans. An open and free indo pacific is need of the hour for trade and cooperation.

1.1. Areas of Cooperation

  • Increased Economic Cooperation- The biggest take away was the $75 billion currency swap that Japan Offered to India 50 percent higher than the last swap.

  • Both appreciated the progress made under Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in 2011 as it has helped in boosting bilateral trade.

  • Japan had pledged Rs 33,800 crore in government and private sector investments.

  • Japan has been one of the biggest sources of investment flows into India, accounting for $28.16 billion in FDI between April 2000 and June 2018.

  • Connectivity through Huge Infrastructure projects

  • Within India- Japan has been a leading financial donor in the form of ODA (Official Development Assistance) to India.

  • It continues to maintain a high degree of interest and support for India’s mega infrastructure

  • projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and the Ahmedabad- Mumbai High Speed Rail system. The joint statement underscores the importance that Japan attaches to these projects.

  • North East integration- India’s Act east policy has North east development at its core. Japan promises to undertake several projects in the region under north East Forum. It has security (chicken neck corridor) and developmental implications for India.

  • Outside India- Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGR) announced in 2017 and joint projects in some third countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka and in Africa as well will be taken jointly.

  • Defence ties- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a strategic dialogue between India, United States, Japan and Australia will be carried out.

  • Trilateral naval exercise called Exercise Malabar involving the United States, Japan and India will be carried on continuous basis.

  • Till now India and Japan had a 2+2 dialogue at the secretary-level now they decided to have a 2+2 dialogue mechanism between Defence and Foreign ministers. This is aimed at giving political muscle to the existing diplomatic, security and defence cooperation. Both are concentrating on sharing Japanese defence technology with India.

  • They announced the commencement of negotiations on an Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreement. This agreement, as and when it comes into effect, would enable Japanese ships to get fuel and servicing at Indian naval bases.

  • Global Partnership- They will support each other at UNSC, climate, disaster risk management, SDG’s etc.

1.2. Weaknesses in the relation

  • In spite of CEPA India Japan trade it has not produced the anticipated results. In 2011-12, the total volume of the bilateral trade was $18.43 billion, but it declined to $13.48 billion during 2016-17.

  • The defence technology sharing is still a thorn. The US-2 amphibian aircraft has been on the back burner.

  • Both have diverging interest with respect to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

  • Both countries do not have a specific China policy.

  • India needs to strengthen its naval power vis-à-vis China and hasten its pending projects in the Indian Ocean.


Way Forward

  • Both need to work on trade, defence and regional issues. A strong Indo- Japan will arrest the inconsistency being witnessed in the region thus contributing to peace and prosperity in the region and the world.

2. India-Russia Relations 

2.1.State of India Russia Relations

  • Cold war period lay the foundation of the Indian Russian relations especially the signing of India Russia Peace and Friendship treaty of 1971. For India, Russia has been at the fulcrum of its strategic interests which it manifested by inferring special and privileged strategic partnership status to this relation. The relation between the two has been one of ‘Multidiverse partnership’, highly influenced by their defence relations. Various aspects of their Multidiverse partnership include-

  • Defence partnership- For India, Russia remains the sheet anchor of India’s security policy. The defence ties, one of the highly influential aspect of their relation, rest on 3 features of technology transfer, joint development, marketing & selling and export of equipments, an agreement nonexistent with any other country. This arrangement has provided significant enhancement to India’s indigenous defence manufacturing.

  • For example, besides providing us a range of equipment from tanks to fighter aircraft and frigates, the Russians have helped us perfect our ballistic missiles and build a ballistic missile submarine. They have leased us a nuclear attack submarine, and are a crucial partner in the ongoing BrahMos program.

  • Economic Relations- It is an important pillar of the relations yet there remains a lot of scope to improve it further. India and Russia are exploring various ways for enhancing bilateral trade.

  • Energy Security- In Energy sector Russia has built nuclear reactors in India (kudankulam reactors), adopted strategic vision in nuclear energy, offered oil, gas and investment opportunities in the fuel sector of Russia e.g. Sakhalin I etc.

  • Space technology- India and Russia have a four-decade strong relationship in the field of space. The former Soviet Union launched India’s first two satellites, Aryabhata and Bhaskar. It has provided India Cryogenic technology to build heavy rockets.

  • Regional balancing- Russia is more inclined to align itself with India’s interests. It has supported India on Kashmir. The two shared the opposition to Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Russia is India’s solution to the China problem. It has observed a self imposed moratorium in selling offensive weapon to China. Also it has maintained an arms distance from Pakistan.

  • International standing- Russia has supported India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC. It has been favoring S-400

  • The Russian-built S-400 Triumf — identified by NATO as the SA-21 Growler — is the world’s most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range surface-to-air missile system.

  • It is considered much more effective than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system developed by the US.

  • The S-400 is a mobile system that integrates multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control centre.

  • It can be deployed within five minutes, and is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defense.

  • It can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400 km, at an altitude up to 30 km.

  • Indian entry to Nuclear Supplier Group. In international grouping it sponsors India’s membership e.g. Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Also, both are members of important organizations like BRICS.

  • Cultural Relations- This is one the crucial aspects of cooperation between the two. From people to people contacts (through programs like ‘Namaste Russia’) to sharing educational brilliance of both the countries through institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre, both the countries have had good cultural links.

  • India Russia relations have remained close but they have lost intensity of India-Soviet relation. Recently, we have seen a definitive decline in India Russia Relation.

Why this downturn?

  • Changing Geopolitical Order- With rise of China, America see a threat to a global liberal order it created. Thus America is reasserting itself by dismantling this order through an America first policy. India is reacting to this change by adopting an enhanced partnership with US as China is becoming a real threat in the neighbour. For Russia it has been a period of great hostility with West, thus pushing it to align with China.

  • Defence partnership- India has been recently diversifying its defence relations with US, Israel etc. Russia’s share of Indian defense imports fell from 79 percent between 2008 and 2012 to 62 percent between 2013 and 2017. India withdrew from Russia’s fifth-generation fighter aircraft project because of delays and differences over cost, technologies and flexibility for future upgrades. India has signed logistic agreements like LEMOA, LSA with US. India US has seen enhanced interoperability between the two militaries a result of agreements and exercises between the two. India Russia relation lacks this aspect.

  • One Dimensional Trade-Trade has been one-dimensional i.e. defence based. Despite a 42 percent boost from the previous year, trade still only touched $10.7 billion in 2017-18 — compare that to India’s trade with China ($89.7 billion), the United States ($74.5 billion), or even Germany ($22 billion). There are a number of issues that hinder India-Russia trade – connectivity issues, distance, weak banking links, cumbersome regulations on both sides and Russia’s restrictive visa regime.

  • Regional Fallouts- Russia’s developing relationship with Pakistan has got under India’s skin. Driven in part by concerns about Afghanistan, Moscow’s diplomatic and military exchanges with Islamabad have witnessed an uptick. Russia and Pakistan conducted a military exercise in September 2016, reportedly in disputed territory. Moreover, Pakistan and Russia have since formed a joint military consultative committee and signed a military training agreement. Moscow has also sold attack helicopters to the Pakistani military.

  • Russia is showing inclination towards Taliban in Afghanistan while India continues to have concerns about the group.

  • Russia’s partnership with China has further complicated its relations with India. Despite assurances to the contrary, Moscow has sold advanced military technology to Beijing. It has endorsed China’s One Belt One Road and has urged India to overcome its objections to it. There has also been concern about Moscow leaning toward Beijing in forums like the BRICS.

  • Amidst this came the much-awaited Summit between India Russia which has more or less tried to arrest the downturn in the relation.

What has this summit achieved?

  • Re-established the trust and cooperation- This meet along with an informal meeting at Sochi has regained the mutual trust, confidence and close understanding of each other’s position. Both countries have pledged to cooperate and converge on all major issues which are essential in rebuilding the multi polar world order.

  • Reinforced Defence-The major breakthrough was the materializing of the S-400 deal despite threats of sanctions by US under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). It’s the biggest arms deal in recent times. Both sides realized that Military and Military-Technical cooperation is essential to their strategic partnership. The meeting of the Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical cooperation in December 2018 is a step to increase this cooperation. The continuation of INDRA Exercise, the Military Industrial Conference and High-Level Committee on Cooperation in High Technologies (2017) will bolster the cooperation between the militaries and industry.

2. Breathing new life into trade

  • Both countries evaluated the two way USD 30 billion investment goal to be achieved by 2025. In 2017 trade between both countries increased by 20%. Both the sides agreed to actively promote joint projects in third countries in sectors such as railways, energy and others.

  • In 2018 there will be a first meeting of Strategic Economic dialogue between NITI Aayog and Russian ministry of economic development. A consultation on the Free Trade Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and its member states, on one side, and India will start. A MoU between National Small Industries Corporation of India and the Russian Small and Medium Business Corporation was signed in order to give a fillip to small and medium industries.

  • For increasing connectivity both sides called for the development of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC). Iran, India and Russia transport links will be explored to increase connectivity. The early launch of the Green Corridor project aim at the simplification of customs operations in respect of goods being transported between India and Russia. Also, there are talks of the signing of an FTA between Indian and the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU).

  • International North South Transport Corridor

  • It is a multimodal network of land and sea routes for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

  • Major objective is to improve trade connectivity between the connecting cities (countries).

  • It is expected to substantially reduce time taken and cost for transport of goods between India and Eurasia once fully functional and increase economic activities between India and the resource-rich Russia as well as markets of Europe.

  • Interstate ties will be promoted like Assam and Sakhalin etc and participation by regional delegations in major events like Saint Petersburg International

  • Economic Forum, Eastern Economic Forum and Partnership/Investment Summits and also welcomed the intention to organize and hold the .

  • A joint Declaration – "India-Russia Economic Cooperation: The Way Forward was signed. Also the decision to hold the first ever India-Russia Start-Up Summit in december. The idea to launch an online portal that would enable startups, investors, incubators and aspiring entrepreneurs of both countries to interact and provide relevant resources to expand and enable globalization of start-ups is promoted.

2.3. Strengthening Energy and science & technology

  • Both countries aimed at widening the energy relations by strengthening the nuclear energy and also diversifying it to hydro, renewable energy, piped gas, LNG, oil etc.

  • Both sides will cooperate in development of oil in Russia including its arctic shelf and joint development of projects on the shelf of the Pechora and Okhotsk Seas.

  • Cooperation is promoted in India’s ongoing investment in Vankorneft and Taas-YuryakhNeftegazodobycha in Russia and the participation of the PJSC Rosneft oil company in the Essar Oil capital.

  • Both sides expressed their interests in Science and technology. They aimed to increase academic, research and development work between both the countries. Russia will support India in its first man mission to space i.e. Gaganyan.

2.4. Other Areas of Cooperation

  • International Cooperation- Respect for International Law and multilateral trade-Both sides reaffirmed "equality, mutual respect and non-interference as universally acknowledged norms of international law basis for a just , equal and multipolar world order. Both sides favored strengthening of multilateral trade regimes.

  • Regional Balance- In Afghanistan both countries sided a Afghan govt led peace process supported through Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Moscow Format and joint developmental activities etc. On Syria and Iran both political solutions based on UNSC resolution 2254 and underlined the importance of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in Iran.

  • Terrorism and chemical war- They rejected the possible arms race in the space. Efforts and initiatives are aimed at preserving the role of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, and preventing the politicization of the activities of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Both sides called for importance of adopting the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, pending in the United Nations.

  • Reiterated support- Russia has backed India’s entry in NSG and UNSC permanent membership. Both will advance low carbon economy and promote Sustainable Development Goals. They will establish Regional Security architecture that provides equal and indivisible security to all countries in Asia and in the regions of Pacific and Indian Oceans. BRICS, SCO, G20 etc. will be strengthened together.


  • India Russia today needs each other more than ever in this changing geopolitical landscape and both has to learn the art of balancing in order to sustain the newly found bonhomie.

3. African Continental Free Trade Area

3.1. Potential Gains

  • A bigger and integrated regional market for African products.

  • Improved conditions for forming regional value chains (RVCs) and integration to global value chains (GVCs).

  • Elimination of challenges associated with multiple and overlapping trade agreements. African countries are set to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area or AfCFTA, the biggest free trade agreement in the world since the World Trade Organization.

Where do India Africa Relations trade relations stand today?

  • Since 2000, the economic cooperation between India and Africa has increased, helped by the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) process.

  • Over the years we are witnessing robust trends in trade relations, wherein bilateral trade has increased five-fold in a decade – from $11.9 billion in 2005-06 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16.

  • However, the recent trends show a steady decline in the India-Africa trade from 2013 to 2017. In 2014-2015, the total India-Africa trade stood at US$71.5 billion, which went down to US$56.7 billion in 2016-2016 and has further dropped to US$51.96 billion in 2016-2017.

  • Also, India’s investment has been witnessing a slump since 2013 i.e. $14 billion in 2016-2017, from $16 billion in 2011-12.

  • The increasing Mega Regional Trade Agreements like RCEP etc. are negatively impacting India-Africa trade. Africa’s exports to India will decrease because there will be erosion of preferences and increased competition in the MRTA markets.

  • India’s exports to the African countries have been majorly dominated by petroleum products. Therefore India needs to diversify its export basket.

How India-Africa trade relations can benefit from the AfCFTA

  • One Stop Trade Bloc- AfCFTA will provide a number of opportunities for the Indian firms and investors to tap into a larger, unified, simplified and more robust African market. AfCFTA is projected to increase intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by 2022; from 2010 levels. It is critical for

  • India to view Africa not just as a destination for short-term returns but as a partner for medium and long-term economic growth. India’s exports to Africa could increase by US$4.3 billion (or 10 percent) by 2022 if AfCFTA is established.

  • Geo-Strategic advantage- Increased engagement in terms of trade between India and Africa can balance out increasing Chinese engagement in Africa. It can boost India’s economic relations with Africa which is developmental partnership based unlike Chinese extractive engagement.

  • Geo economic gains- India hugely depends on energy resources for energy security. Africa is huge resources and untapped potential. A trade bloc like AfCFTA can provide an unlimited opportunity to invest and use these resources. More engagement will spill to the blue economy as potential and strategic area of future cooperation.

  • Decline of WTO- With WTO declining a largest trade bloc like this is need of the hour where India can actively engage, diversify and develop along. Africa and India suffer from similar problems of unemployment, poverty, malnutrition, hunger; illiteracy etc thus can work together on one platform to fight these issues.

  • Complimenting other steps for better trade- India is also working on other projects for improving economy and trade with the region like Asia Africa Growth Corridor. Engaging with AfCFTA with enhance and compliment such efforts and benefit both the regions in the long run.

4. Europe's Answer To China's Belt And Road

4.1. More on news

  • The EU will combine a principled approach to connectivity and recognition that Asia, which is home to very diverse countries in terms of economic models and level of development, with concrete action based on three strands:

  • Creating transport links, energy and digital networks and human connections;

  • Offering connectivity partnerships to countries in Asia and organisations;

  • Promoting sustainable finance through utilising diverse financial tools.

  • It will offer a different approach to that taken by Beijing with its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The EU emphasis is on sustainability, proposing that investments should respect labour rights, not create political or financial dependencies, and guarantee a level playing field for businesses.

  • A better-connected Europe and Asia through transport links, energy, human and digital networks will strengthen the resilience of societies and regions, facilitate trade, promote the rules-based international order, and create avenues for a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

  • The new strategy will give Asian and European states a much clearer idea on the basis of which the EU wishes to engage with them, and what they can expect.

5. 12th Asia-Europe Meeting

5.1. About ASEM

  • It is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between 51 Asian and European countries plus two institutional partners (the EU and the Association of South East Asian Nations - ASEAN). India joined the forum in 2008.

  • The first summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand. It also seeks to strengthen the relationship between regions and spread peace, respect and equality.

  • It aims at promoting a more global vision among European and Asian policymakers by allowing them to exchange views on political, economic, financial, social and cultural issues. ASEM also aims at stimulating a wide range of contacts and dialogue between the two regions on topics such as education, social protection and employment, and co-operation on the protection of cultural heritage.

6. Us To Withdraw From Russia Missile Pact

Why US want to withdraw?

  • Russian Violation- Russia has breached the treaty as it has developed an intermediate-range ground-based cruise missile, known as 9M729, or SSC-8. With this Russia can launch a nuclear strike on NATO countries at very short notice.

  • Military Imbalance vis-a-vis China- China is developing and deploying intermediate range missiles as it is not under the purview of the INF. China’s Dong Feng-26 ballistic missile, which has a range of 3,000-4,000 km, was deployed in 2015, allowing it to target most US bases in the Pacific.

  • Weakness of the treaty- INF like many arms control treaty faces enforcement lacunas as parties take advantage of absence of verification process.


What it means for the world?

  • American push for unipolar world-America under its American first policy is trying hard to dismantle the very multipolar world system it created for its hegemony. As it has worked more in the favor of China vis-à-vis US. Withdrawing from the cold war arms treaty is one such way to re-establish American supremacy.

  • Restarting Arms race- The global nuclear arms control architecture is crumbling today as it is no longer able to respond to the underlying shift in global power realities. U.S and Russia are more or less equally responsible for reneging on their arms control promises. Now U.S and Russia can build their weaponry unhindered hence encouraging proliferation.

  • Resurgence of European Rivalry-The day INF Treaty is gone; Russia will find itself completely unbound in its efforts to reshape the conventional and nuclear military balance in Europe. Russian land-based missile systems are also mobile, and can be readily transported from the far eastern border with China to the European theater.

6.1. Implications for India

  • Asia pacific new war theatre- If the US deploys a new INF in Asia, to deter China, Beijing is bound to react. Asia will go in intense competition have implications for Indian national security.

  • New technological requirements-The focus of a potential new arms race will be less on traditional nuclear armed missiles, but precise hypersonic equipped with conventional warheads. Russia and China have already invested in the development of hypersonic systems.

  • Impact on Indio-Russia partnership- India’s traditional defence cooperation with Russia may come under intense US scrutiny and pressure as US conflict with Russia deepens e.g. S-400 missile sanctions. Also Russia China may be forced to work together casting shadow on Russian- India defence ties.Thus, India needs to revise its national security policy and diversify its defence ties.

History of Arms Control treaties

Before 1945

  • The industrial revolution has led to the increasing mechanization of warfare, as well as rapid advances in the development of firearms.

  • The 1817 Rush–Bagot Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom was the first arms control treaty of what can be considered the modern industrial era.

  • The Hague Convention of 1899 that led to rules of declaring and conducting warfare as well as the use of modern weaponry, and also led to the setting up of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

  • After the World War I, the League of Nations was set up which attempted to limit and reduce arms.

  • The 1925 Geneva Conference led to the banning of chemical weapons (as toxic gases) during war as part of the Geneva Protocol.


1945 onwards

  • After World War II, the United Nations was set up as a body to promote and to maintain international peace and security.

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency was set up in 1957 to promote peaceful uses of nuclear technology and apply safeguards against the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed to prevent further spread of nuclear weapons technology to countries outside the five that already possessed them.

  • The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and Soviet Union in the late 1960s-1970s led to further weapons control agreements.

  • The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention was signed banning the manufacture and use of chemical weapons. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties were signed, as START I and START II, by the US and Soviet Union, further restricting weapons.

  • The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1996 banning all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes, but it has not entered into force due to the non-ratification.

  • The United Nations is preparing for entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, which has been ratified by 89 nations, pending ratification by Russia and China and United States.

October International Relations

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