India-Philippines relations

Context:

India and the Philippines inked four pacts providing for cooperation in a number of areas, including the defence and security, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with President Rodrigo Duterte, covering the entire gamut of bilateral relationship.

Introduction:

  • Modi arrived in Manila on Sunday on a three-day visit to the Philippines, during which he will attend the 15th India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit.

Focus areas:

  • Four agreements were signed between the two countries, which covered areas of defence, agriculture, small and medium enterprises and tie-up between think-tanks.
  • President Duterte is also committed to improving the public health system and wants Indian infrastructure companies to pitch in his flagship “build, build and build programme”.
  • Both the sides are interested to have private and public enterprises to cooperate in the defence sector, including on the off-shore patrolling vessels.
  • Modi contributed two Indian rice seed varieties to the gene bank of the international rice research centre in the Philippines which he said is working towards mitigating global poverty and hunger by improving the cultivation of the key grains.
  • Identifying terrorism as a major threat facing the two countries and the region, the two leaders also resolved to expand bilateral cooperation to effectively deal with the challenge.
  • The Philippine’s president asks Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invite Indian generic medicine companies to sell their products to the Philippines
  • American branded medicines are much more expensive compared to the generic medicine produced by India.
  • India is the largest provider of generic medicine, accounting for 20% of global exports, based on volume.

Significance of bilateral relationship:

  • The pact on defence cooperation was a significant outcome as it will boost cooperation in various spheres including in the areas of logistics.
  • The other pacts will facilitate deeper cooperation in areas of agriculture and micro and small industries.
  • It will lead to a “robust” relationship with India and particularly sought greater Indian investment in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated rice field laboratory named after him International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos in Philippines.
  • India is setting up regional centre of IRRI in Varanasi to develop high-yielding rice varieties to increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.
  • The MoU provides for cooperation in fields of rice production and processing, dryland farming systems, multi cropping system, bio-organic farming, arming, solid and water conservation and management, soil fertility, agro forestry, sericulture, livestock improvement etc.

“Flood-tolerant rice”

  • Scientists at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, briefed the PM on flood-tolerant rice varieties, which can withstand 14-18 days of submergence and provide 1-3 tonnes more yield per hectare in flood-affected areas.
  • The flood-resistant rice varieties that can withstand 14-18 days of submergence would help farmers and enhance their income.
  • Salinity tolerant rice varieties will help farmers where the soil is saline, for example Kutch.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) :

  • IRRI is international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to Green Revolution in 1960s. It was established in 1960 and has offices in 17 countries. It aims to reduce poverty and hunger hunger, improve health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming
  • IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centres in world that form CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnershipof organizations engaged in research on food security. It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia.
  • Large number of Indian scientists are working in IRRI.

India-Philippines relations: Background

  • Diplomatic relations between India and Philippines was established in 1949.
  • A treaty of friendship was signed between the Philippines and India on 11 July 1952.
  • The relationship with the Philippines was intensified after the Look East Policy

India-Philippines present relations:

Trade and Commerce:

  • Economic relations have been relatively very slow and uneven to date.
  • Various Joint Working Groups have been set up on Trade and Investment, on agriculture, on Health, on Tourism and on Renewable Energy.
  • India is part of the Regional Economic Comprehensive Negotiations (RCEP) which will contribute to economic integration.
  • India and Philippines are likely to post Asia’s fastest economic growth rates in the coming years as their working age population keeps expanding.

Political social security and Defence:

  • ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit have provided an excellent platform for regular meetings between leaders and from both countries.
  • The Philippines supported India’s candidature for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the term 2011-12.
  • India sought the support of the Philippines to get membership of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
  • Indian navy and coast guard ships continuously visit the Philippines and hold consultation with their counterpart.
  • Training courses in both sides by armed forces intensified.
  • India backed the Philippines in its dispute with China over islands in South China Sea.

Culture:

  • Philippines culture had Indian influence.
  • Both countries have cultural exchange programmes.
  • The Philippines is also emerging as destination point for Indian Students.
  • Many words in Tagalog language is from Sanskrit.

Counter Terrorism:

  • Both the sides have a joint working group on counter-terrorism that meets regularly.
  • India’s growing counter terror cooperation with the Philippines has positive implications for both countries.
  • India’s finance assistance to ($500,000) to the Philippines to fight the Islamic state signals a reworking of its ASEAN outreach.

India’s growing role in the South east region:

India has recently decided to extend financial assistance to the Philippines in its fight against the IS-backed rebel groups in Southern Philippines. This recent engagement with the Philippines is important to India’s growing role in the South-east region in following ways:

Geo-politically:

  • It would create a support group in the region for India’s efforts for the expansion of UNSC .
  • It presents an option to S-E Asian nations to look up to against a bullying China;
  • It would strengthen the leadership role of India to mentor the like-minded nations of S-E Asia on international platform like WTO, UNCTAD, UN etc.
  • It sets into motion an informal endeavor towards a multi-polar world by creating options other than US, Russia and China as a global watchdog
  • It vindicates India’s moral stance against state-sponsored terrorism, radicalisation and religious extremism;

Economically:

  • It would create an amicable view of India in the S-E region to help it in seeking favourable terms of trade, like concessions, under bilateral agreements , FTAs etc
  • It would serve India’s N-E region better with respect to opening of economy and ensuring the security;
  • Strategic: India has been constantly raising its voice against rising terrorism and radicalism. As the problem has become evident in Philippines, they can join the fight and invite more nations to reach an amicable solution for the problem.

Way ahead:

  • India’s engagement with the Philippines is also a key in Southeast Asia where China’s rise has already created serious challenges.
  • Further intensification in bilateral relations in matters related to defence, agriculture, trade and commerce is necessary.
  • ASEAN summit is the possible opportunity for both the nations to boost their bilateral relations.
  • India needs to play a more proactive role in the Asia, Pacific and South China Sea areas where China has been playing increasingly dominant role.
  • Philippines can be used as a gate way for Indian pharmaceuticals companies’ entry into ASEAN markets.
  • Geo-political: Being a contender with China over several issues in the South China Sea, improved strategic partnership between both nations can be a strong contender to string of pearls policy
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