India and neighbors
India ships wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar: (The Hindu)
- India has begun shipment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Iranian port of Chabahar.
- The consignment would be the first to use the new route via Chabahar to access Afghanistan, even as India plans similar transfers in the coming months.
A landmark move
- The shipment of wheat is a landmark move as it will pave the way for operationalization of the Chabahar port as an alternative, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan.
- The shipment was part of India’s commitment to send 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan on grant basis. Kabul will be receiving the entire amount in six different instalments over the coming months.
- The consignment was flagged off by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani through a joint video conference.
Significance of the move
- The move is significant as it indicates that India remains firm in delivering on its regional commitment through partnership with Iran, despite Tehran’s ongoing tension with the United States.
- It will lead to new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries (India, Iran and Afghanistan) and the wider region.
- The use of Chabahar for wheat transshipment indicates the firming up of an alternative route to extend necessary support to Afghanistan, in the absence of overland transit rights by Pakistan.
Where is Chabahar Port?
- It is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman.
- It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
Chabahar Port Agreement
- It is a commercial contract for the development and operations of Chabahar Port, signed between Indian Joint Venture India Ports Global Pvt Ltd (a Consortium of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust) and Iran’s Arya Banader on 23 May 2016 in Tehran during the visit of the Prime Minister to Iran.
- Government of India and Port and Maritime Organization (PMO) of Iran signed the contract as authorizing Parties.
- The contract is for the period of 10 years.
- As per the contract, India will construct two terminals (five berths) at Chabahar Port.
- The MoU envisages construction of a multipurpose cargo terminal (600 mtrs length) and a container terminal (640 mtrs length).
Benefits to India
There are several benefits associated with the development of the Chabahar Port for India, some of them are following:
- Partaking in the Chabahar Port development will offer India an alternative and reliable access route into Afghanistan.
- It will aid to employ India’s earlier investment in Zaranj-Delaram road built in Afghanistan.
- It is also a consistent and more direct sea-road access route into Central Asian Region.
- Chabahar Port’s location at the Arabian Sea means that it would be able to skirt any challenges posed by developments in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.
- Close proximity to the Strait of Hormuz which facilitates about 40 per cent of the world’s oil trade.
- It will provide an access route to land-locked Afghanistan, that would be free of Pakistan’s control.
- It would give India access to markets and mineral resources in Afghanistan and central Asia.
- Provide access to Hajigak iron ore mine developed by Steel Authority of India.
- It will provide boost to the development of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
- Delaram access will provide India with a base to position itself after international troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.
- It will provide Market for farm products from Afghanistan.
- It will help in combating drug trafficking.
Limitations of the project
- The port also has few limitations as well, which are following:
- There will be disputes over tariffs and transit regulations.
- There will be massive burden from US on India which is seeking isolation of Iran after involvement of Iran in development of nuclear bomb.
- Chinese competition for port development offering an $75 million credit line for ongoing work on the port.
Can India use it to counter China?
- India won’t need to depend on China sponsored Road and Belt projects to connect with Central Asia.
- At present, central Asia is getting lot of connectivity projects sponsored under the China sponsored Road and Belt Policy.
- India is not a part of the endeavor and in this context, an own initiative will help India to avoid dependence on China sponsored Central Asian connectivity.
- It will undermine importance of Gwadar port in Pakistan developed by China.
- India can use the facility to monitor Pakistani & Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean Region as well as Gulf. It could be convenient location for India to monitor activities of Pakistani Navy.
Gateway to West Asia, South Asia and Central Asia.
- The port will familiarize India towards the markets of West Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe, projecting Indian economic and political influence towards those regions.
- Strengthening of relationships between India, Iran and Afghanistan, will provide a basis for future diplomatic overtures between all three countries.
- Economic integration is a cornerstone for achieving regional political cooperation and stability.
- Striking a balance between India’s good relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran, signaling to Iran.
- As the West forced ban on Iran has ended, there will be more growth of Iran bound trade.
- India has amplified its crude purchase from Iran ever since the end of the ban.
- With reducing remittance attraction and reciprocal commitment with Arab countries, Iran may get a higher role in India’s economic engagement.
- Hence, in future, there is higher scope and benefit for mutual trade between the two countries and the new port deal is very important as a trade facilitator.
- Underscores India’s leadership in South Asia, serves India’s objective of becoming the primary lender of credit for infrastructure projects across South and West Asia,
- It will help stave off Chinese influence in the region and therefore strengthens India‘s desire to be viewed as, and become, the regional leader of South Asia.
- It signals India’s desire to increase trade with the Central Asian states (Uzbekisan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), who, despite their historical tilt towards Russia and recent tilt towards China, have long courted India to increase its influence in their region, and balance Russian, China and Islamist influences.
- The port would link South Asia with Central Asia, Gulf, Europe and the Caucasus, and considerably cut conveyance costs and time, thereby proving to be a win-win situation for all the participants.
- Besides India solidifying its energy security by investing in Iran’s oil and gas projects and gaining access to Central Asian energy reserves.
Questions over delay: (The Hindu, Editorial)
- With rising commotion in the Indian judiciary system, there should be no further delay in finalizing the MoP for the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.
- The MoP is on hold since 2015 owing to lack of consensus on several fronts between the judiciary and the government.
What is The National Judicial Appointments Commission?
- The 99th Constitutional amendment was introduced to propose National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) to replace the collegiums system for the appointment of judges as invoked by the Supreme Court.
- The Parliament also passed the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014, to regulate the NJAC’s functions.
- The NJAC will be responsible for making binding recommendations to the President for the appointment of judges as to the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Procedures for the selection of the Judges of the higher judiciary according to National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014:
- The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, had laid down the following procedures for the selection of the Judges of the higher judiciary:
Supreme Court judges:
- Chief Justice of India: The Commission shall recommend the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as Chief Justice of India.
- This is provided he/she is considered fit to hold the office.
- Supreme Court Judges: The Commission shall recommend names of persons on the basis of their ability, merit and other criteria specified in the regulations.
- The Commission shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two of its members do not agree to such recommendation.
High Courts judges:
- Chief Justices of High Courts: The Commission shall recommend a Judge of a High Court to be the Chief Justice of a High Court on the basis of seniority across High Court judges.
- The ability, merit and other criteria of suitability as specified in the regulations would also be considered.
- Appointment of other High Court Judges: The Commission shall seek nominations from Chief Justice of the concerned High Court for appointments of High Court Judges or forward a list of such names to the Chief Justice of the concerned High Courts for his/her views.
- In both cases, the Chief Justice of the High Court shall consult two senior most judges of that High Court and any other judges and advocates as specified in the regulations.
- The Commission shall elicit the views of the Governor and Chief Minister of the state before making recommendations.
- The Commission shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two members of the Commission do not agree to such recommendations.
What is the Collegium System?
- The Collegium system is one where the Chief Justice of India and a forum of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court recommend appointment and transfers of judges.
- It has no place in the Indian Constitution.
- The system was evolved through Supreme Court Judgment in the Three Judges Case.
- The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other seniormost judges of the court.
- A High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other senior most judges of that court.
What is the three judge case?
- According to first judges case chief justice of India does not have primacy over executive in the matter of appointment of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.
- Second judges case decision made the judiciary the ‘de facto’ appointing authority of themselves curtailing the power of council of ministers under Article 74(1).
- In third judges case, nine judge Bench again confirmed that the opinion of the collegiums of judges have primacy in appointing and transfer of judges of higher judiciary. In light of this decision detailed Memorandum of Procedure was prepared, which took the form of present collegiums system.
What problems Indian judiciary is facing today?
- Lack of judges piles up a significant amount of cases which gets unnoticed for years.
- Lack of judges and inefficient management is the reason behind delay in justice delivery.
- Inadequate data on pending cases and lack of scientific maintenance of data makes it difficult to analyse problems and propose sustainable solutions for the judiciary.
- Judicial proceedings are prohibitively expensive which is a major drawback for the under privileged one.
- Judiciary lacks expertise in dealing with new age problems like Corp Tax, Cyber laws, International treaties, Climate change and its conservative attitude is exploited and corrupt go scot free.
- Corruption is also a major issue in judicial system as it is any other government department especially in lower courts increasing transparency and accountability corruption can be bought down.
- Absence of separate Commercial Courts to adjudicate on disputes of civil nature resulting in large number of pending civil suits related to various business and services related disputes in the high courts.
- The task of filling vacancies would be better served if a revised Memorandum of Procedure for appointments is agreed upon soon.
- A screening system, along with a permanent secretariat for the collegium, would be ideal for the task.
- The introduction of transparency should be backed by a continuous process of addressing perceived shortcomings. The present disclosure norm is a commendable beginning.
- Judges need to be careful of in their discharge of duties, punctuality.
- Transparent appointment process, e-gov, judicial accountability and All India Judicial Service can be starting points in the much needed reformation.
In a landmark order the Supreme Court has directed the High Courts to set up special centres for examination of vulnerable witnesses in criminal cases.
Supreme Court verdict:
- Vulnerable witnesses in criminal cases, often minor survivors of rape or victims of sex abuse, should testify without fear or intimidation in a conducive environment, the Supreme Court has said.
- The bench directed that at least two such centres in the jurisdiction of each High Court may be set up within three months from the date of order.
- The two Judge Bench was considering a Criminal Appeal filed by State of Maharashtra against the Judgment and order of acquittal of an accused in a rape case. The victim was a 14yr old deaf, dumb and mentally challenged girl.
- The order upholds the right of vulnerable witnesses to be protected while testifying in court and is in consonance with international norms in these matters
- A Bench of Justices A.K Goel and U.U Lalit found that vulnerable witnesses are often treated like any other witness of the State in a criminal trial.
- Victims often end up being ill-treated by the very system they had approached in the hope of justice.
- Delay and intimidating questions during trial in a hostile environment lead to fewer convictions.
- There should be special centres for examination of vulnerable witnesses in criminal cases in the interest of conducive environment in court so as to encourage a vulnerable victim to make a statement,” the Bench noted in its order.
- The Bench said every district should have a special centre, which would provide vulnerable witnesses a friendly atmosphere to testify.
- The Supreme Court referred to the Delhi High Court’s initiative to set up vulnerable witnesses deposition centres and issuance of guidelines
- The Bench observed that the directions of Delhi High Court and setting up of special centres for vulnerable witnesses are consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court in Sakshi V.Union of India and Ors(2004).
Delhi High Court guidelines:
- The Bench suggested that other high courts should adopt the Delhi HC’s ‘Guidelines for Recording the Evidence of Vulnerable Witnesses in Criminal Matters,’ with required modifications.
- The Delhi HC’s guidelines are filtered from the best practices followed by other countries and the police and precedents of the apex court and high courts.
- The practices include a screen or some arrangement by which the victim does not see the body or face of the accused; reducing cross-examination questions to writing and handing them over to the judge to be put to the victim in a language that is clear and not embarrassing; and sufficient breaks for victims of child abuse or rape while testifying.
Why there is need for separate complexes?
- The complex provides a separate entry for vulnerable witnesses, so that they do not come in direct with accused at any point of time.
- There are provisions for support persons, pre-trial court visit and facilities for pick and drop of the witnessss.
- The complex has been equipped with all facilities of audio-visual exchange for a free interface between the presiding judge, the witness and the accused without witness facing the accused.
- Enactment of stringent laws like Vishaka guidelines and the Criminal Law(Amendment ) Bill, 2013.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 :
- It provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences.
- The Bill received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013.
- This new Act has expressly recognised certain acts as offences which were dealt under related laws. These new offences like, acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking have been incorporated into the Indian Penal Code
- The most important change that has been made in the change in definition of rape under IPC.
- Although the Ordinance sought to change the word rape to sexual assault, in the Act the word ‘rape’ has been retained in Section 375, and was extended to include acts in addition to vaginal penetration.
Multilateral subjects set to top talks with Italy: (The Hindu)
India’s push for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and bilateral trade are likely to be on the agenda during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
- The visit marks the end of a chill in ties that set in 2012 after the killing of two Indian fishermen by a pair of Italian marines off the coast of Kerala.
- The visit, comes after both sides managed to contain the diplomatic fallout of the marine crisis.
Purpose of visit:
- The visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries.
- India’s push for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and bilateral trade are likely to be on the agenda during the visit.
- Italy and India are planning to strengthen cooperation to fight terrorism.
- Italy’s support for India’s candidature at the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016 was an important marker in multilateral collaboration and indicated Rome’s long-term commitment to supporting India’s role in the export control regimes.
- Italian supportive role in the EU and NSG will help our cause with the EU-India FTA (Free Trade Agreement) and out bid for NSG membership.
- India’s bid for membership at the NSG has so far been scuttled by repeated opposition from China.
- Apart from the NSG, India is also seeking Italian support at the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) meeting that begins on Monday in Buenos Aires, where India has been pushing for stringent measures against Pakistan on terror funding issues.
A difficult phase:
- The visit by an Italian PM comes after a decade. The period from 2012 to 2016 marked a difficult bilateral phase as the marines issue, which included two of Rome’s marines became a national debate in Italy.
- The case is now with the International Court of Justice, where a round of arbitral proceedings is expected to be completed by 2018.
- However, several meetings were held between the two sides as political ties warmed up following the change of government in Delhi in 2014.
- In July 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Mr. Gentiloni on the sidelines of G20 summit in Hamburg.
- Apart from the expected issues, Italy and India may also discuss the tension between the U.S. and Iran after President Donald Trump decertified the nuclear deal with Iran, where both Italy and India have strong contacts.
- As one of the signatories in the nuclear deal, Italy’s role is crucial in this matter.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG):
- NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
- Guidelines for the group were published in 1978 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which were to be applied to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not fall victim to a harmful nuclear fuel cycle or be used in nuclear explosive activities.
- The aim of the NSG Guidelines is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not pave way to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and that international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field is not hindered unjustly in the process.
- The NSG Guidelines facilitate the development of trade in this area by providing the means whereby obligations to facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation can be implemented in a manner consistent with international nuclear non-proliferation norms.
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR):
- The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime.
- It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.
- The MTCR was established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
- The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery system for nuclear weapons.
- MTCR is a group of nations which controls the transfer of missiles and related technology and keeps a check on its proliferation.
- Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the European Union (EU) with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17, according to Indian figures.
- There are more than 600 Italian companies with offices in India in areas ranging from fashion to textiles and textile machinery, auto components, energy and insurance.
- Italy also has a sizeable population of expatriate Indians numbering almost 200,000.
- India and Italy are fighting against terrorism and both the nations are committed against climate change.
- India’s exports to Italy are at $4.90 billion, while its imports are at $3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of $1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of 2017-18 fiscal, bilateral trade has reached $3.22 billion.
- Both the nations share common democratic values and share a rule-based approach to the international system.
- Ties between the business communities held strong over the years, creating solid bridges between Italy and India.
- Italy is among top defence manufacturers in Europe.
- Hundreds of Italian companies are in India and are also part of the Make-in-India initiative .
- Other sectors include renewable energy and green technologies — key assets on the way toward sustainable growth and development.
- India and Italy have shared efforts to have a signed declaration on terrorism at the G20 Hamburg Summit.
Strain in ties:
- The strain in bilateral India-Italy ties—caused by the arrest of the two Italian marines—had spilled over on relations between India and the EU, India’s largest trading partner and a key source of investment.
- India-Italy ties ran aground after the two marines, Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, were arrested on charges of killing Indian fishermen, mistaking them to be pirates.
- Italy contested India’s charge that the ship that the marines were on the Enrica Lexie was in Indian waters at the time of shooting.
- The Italian government was of the view that since the ship was in international waters, only the International Tribunal for the Law of the sea could apply, questioning the Indian government’s jurisdiction over the case.
The new great game as it unfolds: (The Hindu, Editorial)
- The Southern Asia will soon witness the unfolding of several new geopolitical operations.
United States Foreign Policy in South Asia: New geopolitical operations of India-Afghanistan-Pakistan and China
- The U.S emphasized on a conditions-based approach, expectations for strong Pakistani actions against Taliban and Haqqani network safe-havens, and a request for India to increase non-military assistance to Afghanistan.
- The US president also called on Afghans themselves to do more on tackling corruption, improving governance, and conducting their own nation-building.
- Without a strong and sustained commitment by the Afghans themselves, no US or international strategy can succeed.
- India has emphasized that it will not send troops to Afghanistan.
- Moreover, India’s capacity for increasing economic support to Afghanistan remains limited.
- Most importantly, Islamabad and Rawalpindi are especially suspicious of India’s role in Afghanistan as endorsed by the new US strategy.
- Pakistani reactions to reports of recent drone strikes along the Afghan–Pakistan border suggest that the drone issue could again impinge on US–Pakistan relations.
- Given that the two countries are not geographically contiguous and India cannot, for political and security reasons, transit trade through Pakistan.
- Afghanistan would remain at most secondary in China’s broader foreign and security policymaking, just as implementation of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor and management of relations with India would continue to draw significantly from China’s political-diplomatic resources allocated as a whole to South Asia.
What is the way ahead?
- India should stick to its decision of not sending its troops to Afghanistan while at the same time enhancing its training of Afghan security forces and reconstruction efforts.
- There is a need to pay attention on the complicated American geopolitical signaling in the Southern Asian region.
- The center needs to carefully design the key areas of its China policy for aligning Indo-China policy to suit U.S. interests would not help our long-term interests.
- Both geo-economically and geopolitically, the Indo-Pacific region is abundant with potential and possibilities for New Delhi.
- This is one crucial area where New Delhi and Washington, along with other regional stakeholders such as Tokyo and Canberra, could synergize political, diplomatic and military efforts to uphold rule-based rights of navigation and over flight in the area and promote free trade in the broader region.
What the return of quadrilateral says about India and emerging Asian geopolitics: (Indian Express, Editorial)
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed the idea of Asian democracies joining forces in 2006.
- Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar indicated India’s willingness to work with Japan and the United States deals with regional issues.
- U.S. investments in the power sector of Nepal will be in Indian interest. Regionalism will grow if there are higher comfort levels. Having Japanese or the Americans in room will be more helpful.
- Indications of regional partnership between India and Japan came also during Mr Abe’s visit, with both sides indicating willingness to manage the maritime domain from Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific zone.
India – Japan relationship
- In the context of 21st Century, among all the bilateral relations, Indo-Japan relations have all the potential to transcend this era into an ‘Asian century’.
- Commonalities such as shared democratic values, commitment to human rights, pluralism, open society and rule of law are foundation blocks of this global partnership.
Mutual importance for each other
- Varied factors have supported momentum of this partnership viz. India’s economic resurgence, its engagement with USA and its increasing interest and stakes in East Asia in the form of Look East Policy in 1992 and Act East Asia Policy in 2015.
- On similar lines, for Japan, India has emerged as an alternative economic partner and important constituent of Asia’s emerging security order.
- A transition of power is unfolding in Asian continent and the shape and substance of Indo-Japan relationship is one of its spin-off.
- Notwithstanding, strengthening of the Indo-Japan relations is not the only consequence of rise of china and USA’s shifting of regional policy in the form of “Rebalancing of Asia”.
- Factors like domestic perception of the alliance partner, which is amicable, have stimulated this relationship.
- Japanese perception of India has also been molded by the dissenting opinion of Radha Binod Pal- the Indian judge at famous Tokyo trials – who declined to convict Japan’s top military brass as war criminal proving that Japan’s imperial history has been discounted by Indian consciousness.
- In addition to this, personal bonding between Japanese PM and his Indian counterpart, who are leading single party majority government in respective countries, is a class by itself.
- Increment in china’s military expenditure was almost one and half times bigger in 2014 than defense outlay in 2010. This expansion is a cause of concern for both countries, since both countries are engaged in negotiation with China over Arunachal Pradesh (India) and Shenkaku Island (Japan).
- New Delhi and Tokyo are apt to hedge against USA’s possible failure in containing china’s growing assertiveness in the region in the backdrop of this era of power transition. This hedging strategy can be analyzed in three main categories-
- Firstly, increasing bilateral defence partnership against fear of American retrenchment,
- Secondly, economic engagement against an over-dependence on china and
- Finally, multilateral hedge against China’s rising influence in international and regional institutions.
- In the sphere of defense, in 2009, 2+2 dialogue (foreign and defense ministerial) were initiated.
- India has always supported freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters in sync with UNCLOS vis-à-vis South China Sea dispute and East China Sea issue.
- India invited Japanese navy to participate in annual Malabar exercise in 2014 with USA in pacific waters, reviving an earlier practice of joint India-USA-Japan trilateral exercise.
- Negotiations on possible trade in defense equipment from Japan, as per Tokyo deceleration, are in the pipeline.
- Indian interest is in Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft for surveillance purpose in the Indian Ocean is high.
- If this deal is realized, then it will signify for the first time Japanese export of defence goods and technology since World War II.
- 2011-12 India-Japan bilateral trade stood at $18.31 billion. The comprehensive trade pact between India and Japan aims to double bilateral trade nearly to $25 billion.
- Japan is looking to boost trade and investment ties with India. The reasons behind this interest in India is obvious. India offers a large domestic market base.
- Besides, mutual synergies between businesses in the two countries are driving initiatives-
- Firstly, Japan’s ageing population (23% above 65 years) and India’s youthful dynamism (over 50% below 25 years)
- Secondly, Japan is a relatively labour scarce, capital abundant country that complements India’s rich spectrum of human capital.
- Thirdly, India’s prowess in the software sector lends synergy to Japan’s excellence in the hardware sector
- India’s abundance of raw materials and minerals matches well with Japan’s capabilities in technology and capital to produce knowledge-intensive manufactured goods 5.
- India’s large domestic market has been the main factor for investments by Japanese companies.
- The majority of investments are in traditional fields like machinery, automobiles and auto parts. Japanese small and medium enterprises have begun to discover India as the new growth market.
- Japan and India share a common vision for the world. This is aptly illustrated by the fact that there has been an increase in the number of joint declarations, delegation visits and other business events between the two countries.
India Japan CEPA
- The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan came into force in August 2011.Despite this agreement India-Japan bilateral trade stands at measly USD16 billion as compared to Sino-Indian trade amounting to USD 70 billion and Sino-Japanese trade at whooping amount of USD 343 billion in 2014.
- The agreement had two major concerns, namely: the infrastructure in India, and non-tariff barriers in Japan. On the infrastructure front, the two countries are collaborating on the huge, US $90-billion Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project.
- The project agreement appears highly promising in the environment of the new manufacturing policy whereby India is targeting to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent within a decade, potentially creating 100 million jobs.
- Japan had invested in dedicated freight corridor west project, strategic port facility in Chennai, development of strategic assets including highways and dams in North East Region where India’s immediate neighbor is eyeing for territorial expansion.
- India and Japan are two powerful democratic forces in Asia which are searching for more options to work and prosper jointly.
- Economic front needs to be strengthened to reach “Low Hanging Fruit of Asia” wherein demographic dividend of the India and other Asian countries can be deployed to benefit Asia as whole.
- Both need to join hand to establish peace and order in not only disturbed region of Asia but of the whole world.
- India-Japan defense and security cooperation remains a work in progress.
Commercial papers have become one of the popular routes for corporates to raise funds when compared with loans from banks in recent times.
What is a commercial paper?
- Commercial papers have become one of the popular routes for corporates to raise funds when compared with loans from banks in recent times.
- A commercial Paper (CP) is an unsecured loan raised by firms in money markets through instruments issued in the form of a promissory note.
- CPs can be issued for maturities between a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of up to one year from the date of issue.
What is the current scenario in the banking system?
- ICRA pointed out that the glut in bank deposits post demonetisation has resulted in surplus liquidity in the banking system being parked by banks under reverse repo with RBI the during September 2017.
- While the deposit inflows have been strong, credit growth has remained weak for banks.
Why is CPs popular?
Because of the following reasons
- Surplus liquidity
- Short-term borrowing rates in money markets have significantly declined post demonetisation and are much lower than the lowest benchmark lending rates of the banks
- banks cannot lend below the benchmark lending rates, firms with good ratings have preferred to meet short-term working capital requirements
Will this spike in commercial papers be sustained?
- Issuance of commercial papers will continue to remain strong till there is surplus liquidity in banks and short-term rates continue to be significantly lower than benchmark lending rates of the banks
- He also noted that a bank or mutual fund with surplus temporary liquidity will prefer to subscribe to commercial papers and earn a slightly higher return in the short-term than parking funds under reverse repo.
- Roughly 33% of outstanding commercial papers have been subscribed to by banks.
What are the advantages of issuing CPs?
- Apart from being a cheaper source of funds, it helps meet funding requirements relatively quickly for better rated corporates.
- Procedural requirements for securing bank facilities and charge creation on assets is not required.
What are the key challenges with CPS?
- As the CP is an unsecured loan, the investor in commercial papers largely prefers highly-rated corporates or public sector entities in terms of credit rating.
- Lender appetite is limited to better rated companies.
- Commercial paper markets can be seasonal and vulnerable to liquidity conditions.
- Within the year, liquidity conditions can become tight in certain months such as the end of a quarter, because of advance payment of taxes and the like.
Prelims Related News
- Scientists have developed a novel vaccine candidate that may prevent HIV infection by stimulating an immune response against sugars that form a protective shield around the virus.
What has the scientist found?
- Researchers tried to create an HIV vaccine targeting gp120, but had little success as the sugar shield on HIV resembles sugars found in the human body and do not stimulate a strong immune response.
- Over 60 strains of HIV exist and the virus mutates.
- As a result, antibodies against gp120 from one HIV strain will not protect against other strains.
What is HIV?
- HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus.
- HIV after entering the human body gradually destroys the immune system, i.e. the ability to fight infections/diseases.
What is AIDS?
- AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
- It is the later stage of infection with HIV.
- It is a condition in which a group of symptoms appear as the immune system becomes very weak.
What are causes of HIV/AIDS?
- The virus transmission is facilitated when either partner has other sexually transmitted disease (STDs).
- The second mode is through the transfusion of HIV infected blood or the blood products.
- The third mode is through infected blood in needles, syringes and other such instruments.
- The third way is the transmission from an infected mother to her newborn.
What is National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)?
- The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, is being implemented as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/ AIDS in India.
- The programme was enforced with an objective of slowing down the spread of HIV infections so as to reduce morbidity, mortality and impact of AIDS in the country.
- Over time, the focus has shifted from raising awareness to behaviour change, from a national response to a more decentralized response and to increasing involvement of NGOs and networks of People living with HIV (PLHIV).
II, III and IV National AIDS Control Project:
- In November 1999, the second National AIDS Control Project (NACP II) was launched to reduce the spread of HIV infection in India, and (ii) to increase India’s capacity to respond to HIV/AIDS on a long-term basis.
- NACP III was launched in July 2007 with the goal of Halting and Reversing the Epidemic over its five-year period.
- NACP IV, launched in 2012, aims to accelerate the process of reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response in India through a cautious and well defined integration process over the next five years.
Objectives of NACP IV:
- Prevention services: Intensifying and consolidating prevention services, with a focus on High Risk Groups (HRGs) and vulnerable population.
- Intensive care: Increasing access and promoting comprehensive care, support and treatment.
- IEC services: Expanding IEC services for (a) general population and (b) high risk groups with a focus on behaviour change and demand generation.
- Strengthening Strategic Information Management (SIM): SIM helps in businesses and organizations categorize, store, process and transfer the information they create and receive.
What is NACO?
- The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was established in 1992.
- It is a division of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- It provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.
- It is the nodal organisation for formulation of policy and implementation of programs for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.
What is the legislation for HIV/AIDS?
- The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 21 March 2017.
- It aims to end the epidemic by 2030 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.
- The Bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.
- The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
- A person living with AIDS cannot be treated unfairly at employment, educational establishments, renting a property, standing for public or private office or providing healthcare and insurance services.
- The Bill also aims to enhance access to healthcare services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
- Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
- The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
- No person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status except with their informed consent, and if required by a court order.
- The State and Central government should ensure prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, and facilitate access to welfare schemes especially for women and children.
- Every person in the care and custody of the State shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.
- The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed’ off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.
- There is a need of major breakthrough in the research to produce a vaccine which would prevent and kill HIV enabling those who are affected, to lead a normal life.
- Until then, protected sexual intercourse, regular tests, awareness and prevention will boost our chances of tackling the deadliest disease in history
- Most importantly, the society should be more acceptable and free from the clutches of discrimination and hatred against the patient’s.