Synopsis: India’s Vaccine diplomacy will raise India’s Stature at the global arena.
- Till now, India has supplied Covid19 vaccines to Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles. The initial supplies of Covid19 vaccines have been sent free of cost.
- It is expected that India will be distributing vaccines to other countries including Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
- By supplying vaccines at quick interval, India has delivered on the commitments it made to these countries.
What is the significance of Vaccine diplomacy?
First, it will lead to new kind of diplomacy based on the common good and common interests of the South Asian people.
Second, India’s prevailing good reputation over manufacturing medicines will only increase in the south Asian region. This will increase the scope of Medical tourism in India.
Third, Sale of Covid19 vaccines will be economically beneficial. For example, Countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh have started negotiating for commercial agreements with manufacturers for more quantities.
What is the way forward?
India should refrain from entering into contest with China for supply of vaccines to its Neighbours. Because,
- First, Vaccines are a global common good.
- Second, the demand for anti-COVID 19 immunization across the world is increasing. it is the responsibility of all countries with the capability to manufacture the vaccine to make it available equitably to all.
- Third, Immunization is in every country’s interest, as it is crucial to restore the movement of people and goods across nations, to build a global immunity prior to COVID19 situation.
Why Chinese forces are weakening?
Syllabus Topic – International Relations – India and its neighborhood
Synopsis: In the beginning of this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed his armed forces to be “combat-ready to act at any second”. However, in reality Chinese forces are facing too many inside challenges.
Why China is becoming aggressive?
First, Policies of new US President Joe Biden favours freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and Taiwan straits. By this aggression, China wants to show its confidence and military preparedness in response to new U.S. policies.
Secondly, China is preparing for possible military conflicts due to its aggression in South China Sea, Taiwan and Ladakh.
Thirdly, after a series of setbacks in Ladakh, China’s Western Theatre Command (WTC) has realised that it is still not well prepared. It suffered a high number of casualties in the June 15 Galwan valley clash. Moreover, the Indian Army also captured the strategic mountainous heights at Rezang La and other passes.
Reasons for poor performance of Western Theatre Command (WTC) in Ladakh
As mentioned above, Chinese WTC forces were outperformed by Indian troops in Ladakh. It brought many weaknesses of WTC in light, i.e.
- Chinese troops have not faced any combat for the last 41 years. They crumbled when faced with strong opposition by Indian forces.
- Chinese forces are facing promotion related issues. It has negatively affected their morale.
- For example; many senior officers are not getting promotions due to doubt over their loyalty to Mr Xi.
- Chinese soldiers are not able to face the extreme high-altitude climate.
- Recently, 10,000 troops from the WTC were moved to lower locations due to fatigue and other complications.
Issues facing Chinese forces
- Firstly, Promotions in Chinese army are based on the loyalty to Chinese President Xi.
- Secondly, most of the recruitment are forced due to the policy of compulsory military service. Personnel forced into military lack of motivation to fight a war.
- Third, the Chinese army is more of a political force and lack professionalism.
- Fourth, the concept of Joint Theatre Command has been introduced to promote to deal with regional threats. This idea is not feasible due to lack of coordination between different Chinese forces.
Chinese forces have shown too much aggression everywhere recently, but in reality, it is suffering from many issues from inside.
New transition in India-Nepal relations
Synopsis: Recent Joint Commission Meeting in Delhi was a positive development for bilateral relations of India and Nepal.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali visited New Delhi for the sixth meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission.
What was discussed in the meeting?
In this joint meeting discussions on the following project and assistance took place. It will strengthen India-Nepal relations: –
- India assured an early delivery of vaccines to Nepal, in its fight against the pandemic.
- Cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu wide-scale railway line, were discussed.
- Further easing of cross-border movement of people and goods through ICPs was discussed.
- Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Birgunj and Biratnagar were inaugurated recently. These ICPs have helped in the smooth association of people and trade.
- These ICPs will ease trade and transit for Nepal, since it is dependent on India’s seaports for majority of trade.
- Nepal has shown support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council (UNSC) to redirect the changed balance of power.
However, India declined Nepal’s request of including boundary issues in the commission meeting. India suggested finding a fresh mechanism for that purpose.
What are the possible reasons behind this positive development?
- India is not getting involved in any internal political conflict of Nepal and willing for deeper engagement with all sections. It has sent a positive signal in Nepal.
- After a brief period of friction, PM Oli is himself trying to reach India now. This policy change is also a result of China’s hyper-interventionism in Nepal’s politics.
With the increasing demand for restoring the monarchy, Nepal cannot afford to enter another round of political volatility. India has always played a positive role in Nepal, a good India-Nepal bilateral relation in this regard is mutually beneficial.
Vaccine Maitri: India Vaccine diplomacy exercise
Why in News?
India will officially start its vaccine diplomacy with the name “Vaccine Maitri” under its Neighborhood First policy.
- Vaccine Diplomacy: It is the use of vaccines to increase a country’s diplomatic relationship with other countries.
Key Features of Vaccine Maitri
- India will supply Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to its neighboring and key partner countries Under its Neighborhood First policy.
- Bhutan and Maldives will be the first to get the vaccines followed by Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.
- Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will also get doses once they give necessary regulatory approvals.
- Pakistan has not been named as a neighboring country which will get the vaccine.
- Vaccine will be Supplied to the partner countries in a phased manner, keeping in mind the demand.
Earlier Diplomacy measures by India:
- India had earlier supplied Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and Paracetamol tablets as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves and other medical supplies to a large number of countries during the pandemic.
- Under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials(PACT) programme, India has also provided training to several neighbouring countries to enhance and strengthen their clinical capabilities
- PACT programme: It has been launched for supporting COVID-19 vaccine development activities in partnering countries.
- The initiative is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC) and Clinical Development Services Agency(CDSA) under the aegis of the National Biopharma Mission and Ind-CEPI Mission of DBT.
Kalapani territorial dispute between India and Nepal resurfaced
Kalapani territory is one of the major disputed border areas between India and Nepal. But the dispute is not yet resolved by mutual terms and usually resurface time and again. In this article, you can read about the details of the dispute and the steps that India should take.
Introduction: Present development
Nepal has raised the Kalapani boundary dispute during the recent Joint commission meeting with India.
Dispute intensified in November 2019, when India published a revised political map after the reorganization of J&K, depicting Kalapani as the region of India.
Nepal immediately issued an objection to the map. Nepal government released a map mentioning Kalapani -Lipulekh- Limpiyadhura as a territory of the Darchula district of Sudurpashchim province of Nepal.
About Kalapani territory
Kalapani is the eastern most region of the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, administered by India.
It is located at the China-Nepal-India tri-junction and is a strategically important area. So Kalapani was regarded as an ‘observation zone’ for troops. For example, by stationing Indian troops at Kalapani, India can observe the movement of the Chinese troops and push them back if required.
Apart from that, Kalapani serves as an important pass for the Kailash Mansarovar route.
Since 1962, Kalapani has been guarded by the Indian security forces. But According to Nepal, King Mahendra with the helping tendency offered Kalapani to India temporarily for security purposes during the 1962 India-China war.
This debate intensified in the 1990s after Nepal restored its democracy.
What is Kalapani Dispute? Historical aspects and conflicting claims by both the countries
The key reason for the Kalapani dispute is the disagreement between India and Nepal over the origin of River Kali, flowing through Kalapani region.
British India signed the Treaty of Sugauli with the Kingdom of Nepal after the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816. In this treaty, they demarcated the Kali River as Nepal’s western boundary with British India.
But the source of Kali has become a main cause of contention.
River Kali is known as ‘Kali’ at the upper reaches, ‘Mahakali’ at the middle portion and ‘Sarjoo’ or ‘Gogra’ at the lower areas. This aggravates the confusion about where it belongs
The two contrasting views:
- Nepal’s stand:
- Nepal was of the view that the river which flows to the west of Kalapani is the main River Kali. They also believe that River Kali was originating at either Limpiyadhura or the nearby Lipulekh pass, which are both within the Nepalese territory.
- India’s stand:
- India believes that the River Kali originated from a smaller rivulet named Pankhagad. It was lying on the southern portion of Kalapani. Hence it is the true border, and the territory was lying in India.
- The revenue and administrative records of the nineteenth century showed Kalapani as a part of India.
- Nepal’s stand:
Other territorial disputes between India and Nepal
The disagreements between India and Nepal are not limited to Kalapani but also the other areas like Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Susta;
- It is a fertile area consist of alluvial soil located in the Terai regions West Champaran district, Bihar of India.
- Susta region is located on the banks of the Gandak river. The Gandak river is also called as the Narayani river in Nepal.
- During the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the west side of the Gandak river belongs to Nepal and the Eastern part of the river belongs to India.
- But due to frequent change of course by the Gandak river, the Susta region at present belongs to the Eastern part (I.e., belongs to India). This is not accepted by Nepal.
Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura region:
- Both Lipulekh and Limpayadhura (Limpiya pass) located on the Nepal-Tibet border
- Lipulekh Pass connects the Indian state of Uttarakhand with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. Lipulekh is the shortest route to reach Taklakot, a Tibetan township of China.
- Nepal claims that the Indian army has encroached on both regions during the 1962 territorial offering of King Mahendra.
First, In the 1980s, both countries set up a Joint Technical Level Boundary Working Group. It succeeded in the demarcation of all territories except Kalapani and Susta. Both governments have to create such a joint working group to resolve the dispute.
Second, establishing a permanent mechanism to reduce the disputes further so that the disasters caused by the rivers and floods in the regions of India-Nepal can be mitigated effectively.
Third, India has to convey to Nepal’s leadership about the friendly environment that 6 to 8 million Nepali citizens living in India and the benefits of open borders enjoyed by citizens of both countries.
Fourth, Mutual respect is the key: The Nepal government has to broaden the view and has to stop the territorial nationalism and pulling out the China card whenever they negotiate with India.
The India-Nepal relationship is a unique relationship, built by friendship and cooperation with cultural and civilizational links. The border dispute is one of the important issues to solve to take ahead India and Nepal relations to another level. But to be successful forgetting the mistakes and claims of past along with a fresh start is key to both the countries.
New opportunities for India in Afghanistan
Synopsis: Change of power in the US has provided India with an opportunity to re-engage with Afghanistan.
- The National Security Advisor(NSA) Ajit Doval paid a 2-day visit to Kabul. It was the first trip to Afghanistan, by a top Indian official, since the start of Doha Talks between Taliban and Afghan republic representatives.
- Both sides discussed efforts for building regional consensus on supporting peace in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism cooperation.
What has been the course of events in Afghanistan?
- The US has agreed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan after an agreement with the Taliban.
- Although the dialogues between the Taliban and the Kabul delegation were still ongoing, President Ashraf Ghani is suspicious of Taliban’s intentions. It is due to Taliban’s refusal of a ceasefire and a high level of violence.
Now the Presidency in the US is changed. It will be tough foreign policy tasks for the Biden Administration, to take onward the Afghan process started under the Trump government.
Why are India’s stakes in the Afghanistan Peace process?
The main concern of India is linked to Pakistan’s involvement in the process;
- First, Pakistan has been key to bring the Taliban to the talks table. Thus, at present, it has an upper hand compared to India.
- Second, Pakistan’s intelligence agency has friendly relations with the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
What Opportunities does India have to increase its presence?
The Change of power in the US has provided an opportunity to both India and the Afghan government, to raise apprehensions about the Afghan process to Washington.
- Firstly, Kabul will pressure for the conditions for talks that the Taliban must agree to a ceasefire. Afghan Foreign Minister is looking for India’s help in this.
- Secondly, the new administration in the US is expected to be more sensitive to the concerns of other participants in Afghanistan. For example, concerns of women and rights groups about the return of the Taliban.
- Thirdly, External Affairs Minister of India said that Delhi might increase “military assistance” to Afghanistan.
- Now is the right time for India to increase its presence in the Afghan peace process. India should rethink the “temporary” closure of the Indian consulates in Afghanistan.
Importance of Reviving SAARC
Synopsis- SAARC has become dysfunctional and not able to meet since las 6 years. Reviving SAARC is crucial for countering common challenges in the region, amid COVID pandemic.
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia founded in 1985 with 7 member nations.
- The group was established to promote regional economic growth through active collaboration. But in past years there has been deadlock type condition especially due to India-Pakistan conflict.
- In 2016, the Summit schedule in Pakistan got canceled in the backdrop of the terrorist attack in Pathankot and Uri. Since then, no SAARC meeting has been held.
Why SAARC failed?
The last physical SAARC summit was held in 2014 and subsequently, summits could not be held after that. The reasons for a dysfunctional SAARC are;
- First, India-Pakistan bilateral relations–Enmity between India and Pakistan is one of the main reasons why SAARC is not prospering. This long-standing conflict has impacted other meeting of SAARC as well, making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies, to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group.
- Second, the novel coronavirus pandemic and China’s aggressions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) put a new spotlight and shadows for SAARC meeting.
India’s position on not attending SAARC is particularly confusing. It has been attending SCO meeting even after clashes with China and engaged with Nepal even after boundary related issues.
Why reviving SAARC can be helpful in countering the common challenges?
- Pandemic Challenges–.
- First, South Asia’s experience of the pandemic has been very unique. The COVID-19 has provided a window for introspection and for scaling up preparedness for inevitable pandemics in the future.
- Second, a Collaborative approach is also necessary for the distribution and further trials needs for the vaccine as well as developing cold storage chain.
- Third, the pandemic’s impact on South Asian economies– The economic consequences of COVID -19 on South Asia are proving to be even greater than the health Challenges in the region.
- China’s Factor in SAARC– Amid India- China border tensions, as part of its global expansionism, China is chipping away at India’s interests in South Asia, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure.
- China expanding footprints in South Asia by investments in trade, tourism, BRI, and other programs should be given attention. All SAARC members except Bhutan, are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners of China will be hard placed to help individually.
- Only a matter of time before china, it may hold a meeting of all SAARC countries except minus India and Bhutan for they are all part of the BRI, and even that they will be invited to join RCEP, which India declined.
- To make SAARC more effective the organization must be reformed and member countries must reach a consensus regarding the changes required.
- The tragedy of Covid-19 provided an opportunity for India to demonstrate its compassionate face to secure a region at peace with itself
- In dealing with the challenge from China too, both at India’s borders and in its neighborhood, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure.
Synopsis: India is unwilling to interfere in the political turmoil of Kathmandu and Beijing on the other hand is making efforts to preserve the unity of ruling party in Nepal. Stances of both the countries are very different from their traditional foreign policies.
Interventions in the happenings of neighbouring countries have been a permanent feature of Indian and Chinese foreign policy.
- China’s intervention in Nepal is a part of its interventionist strategy across Asia and beyond.
- Big nations like China and India always interfere in other nations but ward off possible threats to their own sovereignty. For example, India countered intensely the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the farmers’ distress.
On what factors does India’s national sovereignty depend upon?
The national sovereignty has always depended on the ability of the nation to secure it by its widespread national power. Big nations tend to intervene more, and the smaller ones find ways to manage this through the politics of balancing against their large neighbours.
- First, India has to carefully manage the unavoidable and active interaction between the domestic political processes of India and its neighbours.
- Active and direct intervention in the domestic politics of neighbours must be a sensible exemption rather than the rule in India’s regional diplomacy.
- Second, the bitter past of partition leave the domestic political connotations of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan knotted together and complicate their relations as distinct sovereign bodies.
- Third, the concept of national sovereignty and effectiveness of third-party intervention is limited by circumstance. Outside mediations in the domestic politics of neighbours are rarely successful and yield unplanned penalties.
What are the steps to be taken?
It is extremely hard for even the most powerful nations to make the smallest states agree to do what is right on issues such as democratic governance, minority rights and federalism.
- India can only encourage and not force Colombo and Kathmandu to respect the rights of Tamils and Madhesis but given the complex web of linkages across South Asian borders, Delhi can’t avoid dealing with these challenging issues either.
- India should try to be a dependable partner and reliable friend and should be committed to strengthening bilateral ties “on the basis of mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity” as promised by the minister of external affairs to the political leaders in Sri Lanka.
- Delhi’s constant quest of this agenda could help India in managing the multifarious dynamic with its neighbours a little better.
India’s counter-coercive strategy against China
Synopsis: India has done quite well in countering Chinese moves in eastern Ladakh with its coercive strategy.
There is an opportunity for middle powers like India to redefine their position in the world order as decline and rise of Chinese and American powers continue.
- Alexander L. George, an American political scientist, is best known for his work on coercive diplomacy. The happenings in eastern Ladakh can be understood with reference to four variations of coercive diplomacy:
- A gradual turning of the screw.
- A try-and-see.
- A tacit ultimatum.
- A full-fledged ultimatum.
How the four variations of coercive diplomacy were used in the border standoff?
- China attempted to alter the existing status quo in eastern Ladakh, this resembled gradually turning the screw and then waiting to see India’s reaction.
- India adopted a try and see approach. India wanted to engage in mild forms of coercion that involved the building up of forces to achieve parity on the ground.
- IAF was displaying its capabilities in Ladakh indicating that India wanted PLA to restore the status quo without any threats.
After India failed to compel the PLA to withdraw by mid-july, it had two options according to Alexander George’s escalatory ladder:
- First, India could have issued an indirect or tacit ultimatum that would involve an unspoken and firmly controlled tactical action, by this means signifying resolve and intent.
- Second, it could issue a full-fledged ultimatum followed by multi-dimensional military action that could lead to a limited conflict.
What approach did India took to handle china?
At the operational and strategic level, the Chinese did not expect the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force to mobilise and get into their operational roles at high altitude with effortlessness.
- Indian Army lowered the psychological high ground gained by Chinese by occupying key heights overlooking Chinese PLA.
- At the strategic level, India’s political establishment did not push the panic button and synergised politico-diplomatic-military approach was adopted.
- India has militarily recovered well, diplomatically played ruthlessly and strategically postured skilfully in spite of the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic. However, it is too early to predict the course of events; it can only be fair to say that India has done well in countering Chinese coercion in Ladakh with its own brand of counter-coercion.
Approach of India and China on Nepal’s political crisis
Synopsis: Beijing and New Delhi are adopting different approach towards China after Nepal’s prime minister decided to dissolve Parliament.
The Supreme Court has given Mr. Oli some time to explain his actions. It is yet to decide on putting a stay on the election process.
- Ever since Nepal adopted its new Constitution in 2015, there have been quite a few instances where politics has reached a tipping point.
- One of the examples is, Mr. Dahal’s walk out of a coalition government with Mr. Oli in 2016.
What is China’s stance?
- Beijing’s sent a senior delegation of the Communist Party of China to Kathmandu shortly after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve Parliament. It indicates that China is prepared to interfere in Nepal’s politics.
- Chinese delegation met political leaders of Nepal with a definite task of trying to reverse the split in the party and convince Mr. Oli and his rivals to patch up.
- This move of Chinese government flickered protests in Kathmandu. Though China is at a risk of losing popular goodwill in Nepal due to this move, it is equally surprising that both groups in Nepal were willing to meet the Chinese delegation.
What is India’s stance?
It is evident that India is not playing its traditional leading role in Nepal but it is also not facing hatred for spoiling the situation.
Read Also : Current affairs for upsc
- India has a historical understanding of the main players in Nepali politics; thus, it has chosen to be more logical and controlled.
- Mr. Oli and Mr. Dahal, both reached out to India and are engaging with the government about the happenings in Nepal.
- Mr Oli reached out to India months after the map controversy.
- Mr. Dahal has been a close Indian confederate during this period.
The present positive situation gives New Delhi a little more space to consider its moves, to bring instability. Stability in Nepal’s polity is crucial for their better relations with India in the long term as their prosperity is closely interlinked.
India and its Neighbourhood-Relations
India and its Neighbourhood-Relations:-
Synopsis: The two-front challenge long ignored by India has become a reality, therefore there is an urgent need to develop both the doctrine and the capability to deal this threat.
Why India didn’t perceive the two-front challenge as a real possibility for long?
The collusive China-Pakistan military threat (i.e., China-Pakistan military are working in cooperation to contain India on the northern borders) on Indian borders is known as the two-front challenge.
- BeforeGalwan Issue too, Indian military was firmly believed that the two-front challenge as a real possibility, but the political class and the country’s strategic community called this threat as an issue, over-hyped by the military to justify the demand for additional resources and funds.
- As per them, China has never intervened militarily in any India-Pakistan conflict and the presence of strong economic, diplomatic, and political ties between India and China will prevent the rise of conflict between the two countries.
- As a result, Indian strategic thinking was overwhelmingly focused on Pakistan, as a real threat on the border.
Why, the two front challenge is seen as a reality now?
Present developments are enough evidences to perceive that the two front threat has become a real concern for India now.
- The most recent Chinese intrusions in Ladakh, the violent clashes between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army, and the deadlock in negotiations have now made the Chinese military threat more apparent and real.
- On the other hand, the situation along theLine of Control (LoC) with Pakistan has been steadily deteriorating. For example, between 2017 and 2019, there has been a four-fold increase in ceasefire violations.
- Also, according to Some media reports, Pakistan had moved 20,000 troops intoGilgit-Baltistan, matching the Chinese deployments in Eastern Ladakh which signifies that the China-Pakistan military are working in cooperation to contain India.
- Apart from this, the Military cooperation between the two countries have strengthened. For example,
- China accounting for 73% of the total arms import of Pakistan between 2015-2019.
- Shaheen IX Pakistan-China joint exercise to improve combat capacity of both air forces and to enhance interoperability between them.
What type of capabilities that India should built up to counter it?
- First, India needs to develop both the doctrine and the capability to deal with this contingency.
- For Doctrine development,a close interaction with the political leadership is required as any doctrine without a political aim and guidance cannot stand the test when executed.
- Moreover, a detailed assessment of China and Pakistan’s war-fighting strategies needs to be done to strike the right balance in our approach to contain the two-front situation.
- On the other hand, India needs to build its capability with more focus on future technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, etc.
- A financial solution for allocation of quantum of resources required by air force and military should also be developed so that in the times of need India can engage both the states.
- Second, we need to improve relations with our neighbors through Diplomacy to contain the two-front challenge.
- On the eastern front, India’s new Maritime strategies such as the QUAD and the Indo-Pacific might not be helpful in easing the Sino-Pakistan pressure on the continental sphere. So, it’s crucial for India to focus on gaining the trust of our neighbors.
- On western front, India should strengthen its relationship with key powers in West Asia, including Iran to ensure energy security, increase maritime cooperation and enhance goodwill in the extended neighborhood.
- On the northern front, India must ensure that its relationship with Russia is not compromised for good India-United States relations as Russia could play a key role in defusing the severity of a regional gang up against India.
- Third, a well-planned empathetic political outreach to Kashmiraimed at addressing the issues facing the people of Kashmir would be helpful in easing the pressure from either front.
- It will be helpful in potential reconciliation with Pakistan’s to persuade it to put an end to terrorist infiltration into Kashmir.
- Politically, India should do well to reduce the effect of a collusive Sino-Pakistan containment strategy aimed at India.
India sends flood support to Vietnam under Mission Sagar III
News: Indian Naval Ship Kiltan arrived at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as part of Mission Sagar-III.
- What is Mission Sagar? It was launched by the Indian government as a part of India’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries during the ongoing pandemic.
Various phases of Mission Sagar:
- Mission Sagar-I: It was undertaken in May-June 2020, wherein India reached out to Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, and provided food aid and medicines.
- Mission Sagar-II: As part of Mission Sagar-II, Indian Naval Ship Airavat has delivered food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
- Mission Sagar-III: As part of Mission Sagar-III, Indian Navy Ship Kiltan delivered 15 Tonnes Of Aid To Vietnam For Flood Relief.
Significance: These deployments are also in consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
- Security and Growth of All in the Region(SAGAR) in the Indian Ocean(SAGAR): The term was coined by the Indian Prime Minister in 2015.
Key Elements of SAGAR:
- Enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories and interests.
- Deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral.
- Promoting collective action to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism and emergent non-state actors.
- Working towards sustainable regional development through enhanced collaboration.
- Engaging with countries beyond our shores with the aim of building greater trust and promoting respect for maritime rules, norms and peaceful resolution of disputes.
India – Nepal relations- Present challenges and solutions
India – Nepal relations– Present challenges and solutions
This article on India Nepal relations – present challenges and silutions has been developed based on The Hindu editorial “Nepal in turmoil”.
India and Nepal share a unique relationship, both of them share friendship and cooperation underpinned by linguistic, cultural and civilizational links, along with a wide range of commercial and economic ties, and above they are linked with extensive people-to-people contacts.
Historical relationship between India – Nepal:
Firstly, the bedrock of the India-Nepal relationship was the India-Nepal treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950. Under this treaty, Nepal became the only country whose nationals required no passports to cross into India.
Few important information of India-Nepal treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950:
- India-Nepal Treaty was signed after Nepal feared the Chinese threat as the Chinese occupied Tibet. The treaty has an explicit reference to threats from third countries, which both countries would tackle by cooperation.
- The treaty extended rights to residence, employment and purchase of property to each other’s citizens reciprocally – in other words, it extended ‘national treatment’ by each country to the other’s citizens.
Secondly, Buddha’s birthplace is in Nepal and also Nepal is the only other Hindu majority country in the world. So cultural and religious visits between India-Nepal is so strong.
Thirdly, the Ministry of External Affairs termed India-Nepal relations as Roti-Beti ka Rishta (Relationship of food and marriage) as the open border enabled kinship, familial ties in the terai region. There are six million to eight million Nepalis who live and work in India, according to Indian home ministry estimates.
Fourthly, the 1996 trade treaty resulted in the phenomenal growth of bilateral trade, which witnessed a sevenfold increase in a decade (Nepal’s exports to India increased eleven times and Indian exports to Nepal increased six times).
Fifthly, the 2009 revised trade treaty has retained the positive features of the 1996 treaty and further enhanced bilateral trade between India-Nepal.
Sixthly, Defence and Humanitarian relations were provided greatly by India, as Nepal is landlocked and geographically prone to disasters being situated in the Himalayan region.
Read also:-Current Affairs 2020-2021
What are the challenges in India-Nepal relations?
India-Nepal relations often swung between two extremes much quickly. There are a few underlying reasons for it.
Firstly, the Constitutional question on Madhesi’s: In general, Madhesi’s section of People lives throughout the southern part of the Terai region and has much closer ties with India. The challenges in this regard are,
- The political rights of Madhesi’s section of people were diluted in their new Constitution promulgated in 2015 which led to wider protests and blockade in Nepal led to the blocking of oil and other essential supplies.
- Nepal government accused India of supporting Madhesi’s and stated India is interfering in the internal matters of Nepal. Nepal raised the issue in a “trade blockade” at the UN in October 2015. But Madesi’s protest was a spontaneous movement and it had nothing to do with India.
- One of the foremost scholars, Professor S.D. Muni points out major challenges with the Nepal government as,
- India’s fears that a Constitution drafted under assertive Maoist leadership may not be compatible with the democratic profile of Nepal.
- India’s also fears that the Maoists were inclined to and capable of changing Nepal’s domestic power equations.
The recent decision of Nepal Prime Minister dissolving the lower house has created a new political crisis altogether.
Secondly, China’s closeness with Nepal and the Influence of China in India-Nepal relations is a cause of concern.
- Nepal is a landlocked state that has relied much on India for major supplies, transit and transport. India-Nepal Blockade changed the perception completely.
- The Nepal earthquake in 2015 was the perfect time for China to make massive investments in infrastructure like Tibet Railway, many highway projects, access to Chinese ports etc. By the end of 2016, China became the major assistance provider of Nepal.
- Hydel co-operation, Fuel and Humanitarian assistance from China has increased many folds. For example, China pledged to provide 1.4 million liters of fuel and planned to construct 750 MW West–Seti Dam project.
- Nepal also supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Nepal relations so far is stable to some extent.
Thirdly, the boundary dispute between India-Nepal: About 1850 km boundary line between India-Nepal faces two major boundary disputes.
- Kalapani dispute: Kalapani is the disputed territory in the Uttarakhand state of India. The British government has set the origin of River Kali as the western border of Nepal. But the origin of the river Kali is disputed between India-Nepal. While India uses the newer British survey, Nepal wants the area to be demarcated based on the older British survey.
New map of Nepal was notified in June 2020 with Kalapani in Nepal (Source)
- Susta Dispute: Susta is another disputed territory located in the Terai regions of India. (Source)
- Kalapani dispute: Kalapani is the disputed territory in the Uttarakhand state of India. The British government has set the origin of River Kali as the western border of Nepal. But the origin of the river Kali is disputed between India-Nepal. While India uses the newer British survey, Nepal wants the area to be demarcated based on the older British survey.
Fourthly, the challenges relating to the open border. The border is notoriously porous. Being provided special status to Nepal, India’s internal security faced many challenges such as
- The Pakistani militants using Nepalese territory as a hideout and base for infiltration into India. The Ministry of Home Affairs in its Annual Report 1999–2000 highlighted this Pakistani involvement in Nepal and its security implications in India.
- The Nepalese Maoists have extended support and cooperation to the Indian Maoists and carving out a Compact Revolutionary Zone, a ‘Revolutionary Corridor’ spreading from Nepal through Bihar and up to Andhra Pradesh.
- Apart from these the open borders have also created challenges such as pumping fake Indian currency notes, human trafficking especially young girls and women, cattle smuggling, etc.
Thus, India’s external and internal challenges converge, and make ties with Nepal of extreme importance and swung between extremes.
What are the solutions to improve India-Nepal relations?
Firstly, focus based approach is necessary not only in India-Nepal relations but also for other countries in the region by giving more focus towards Neighbourhood first policy.
- India should leverage the strategic influence, faster and effective implementation of infrastructure and development projects in Nepal.
For Ex. Finalising the projects such as Pancheshwar multipurpose project and faster completion of cross-border rail projects such as Jayanagar-Bijalpur–Bardibas, Jogbani-Biratnagar.
- In 2018 Indian PM asked to shift focus on 5T’s (Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport) to boost the relations.
- India should leverage the strategic influence, faster and effective implementation of infrastructure and development projects in Nepal.
Secondly, India can focus on “aid diplomacy” to reduce the trust deficit and also has to continue with post-earthquake reconstruction assistance. Later deepening co-operation in areas like trade, water resources, energy co-operation, etc.
Thirdly, regarding China’s influence, Experts believe that Nepal’s nearest ports will always be in India and the Gangetic plain will remain its largest market. This is because,
- The economic feasibility of Chinese trans-Himalayan trade and the infrastructure projects are low, especially when the Himalayan state Bhutan supports India and Nepal is the only other Himalayan state.
- Though China provides access to Nepal for its seaports, they are situated more than 3,000 km away.
All this can sum up by the words of geostrategist, Brahma Chellany. He said, “China can replace India as Nepal’s main provider of essential supplies only by moving the Himalayas southward”. But the ability of the Chinese in project implementation and financial assistance cannot be under estimated.
Fourthly, establishing a permeant mechanism to reduce the disasters caused by floods in the regions of India-Nepal.
Fifthly, Mutual respect is the key: The Nepal government has to move away from narrow terms and shift focus towards broadening and inclusion of demands from all sections of society in the Constitution. Nepal also has to stop the rhetoric on territorial nationalism and pulling out China card whenever they negotiate with India.
India-Nepal relations have all the potential to move ahead and become mutually reliable commercial and economic ties, and extensive people-to-people ties only when India and Nepal forget the avoid past mistakes and move ahead to become sustainable.
Reasons behind Nepal’s political crisis and India’s stance
Context: PM Oli’s decision to opt for fresh elections by dissolving the lower house has created a new political crisis in Nepal.
What is the current crisis in Nepal?
- Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s move to dissolve the Lower House of Parliament, in order to counter the discord within the ruling party and a challenge to his leadership, has precipitated a constitutional crisis.
- The President Bidya Devi Bhandari has signed off on the cabinet recommendation to dissolve the Nepalese Parliament and called for fresh elections in April-May, next year.
- The decision has triggered pro-democracy protests.
- The local newspapers have described the move as “treachery” and “coup de grace on Parliamentary democracy”.
- Several petitions challenging the move have been filed in the Supreme Court.
- The Nepalese constitution doesn’t have a clear provision regarding house dissolution. Thus, the street protests and anger against the move doubtless creates pressure on the judicial proceedings.
An adverse decision on the dissolution of Parliament by the Supreme Court and given the loss of credibility in the Constitutional office would create a constitutional chaos further chaos is expected in the days to come.
Why did the prime minister take such a decision?
- Reluctance to share power: Even after winning the elections of 2015 in coalition, PM Oli was reluctant to share powers with coalition leaders.
- Fundamental differences: It was a historic opportunity for the NCP, especially for the prime minister, to navigate the young democracy out of its many crises. But the merger did not dissolve the fundamental differences between the NCP’s two groups.
- For instance, for several years, Oli had demanded that the Maoists under Pushpa Kamal Dahal be held accountable for war crimes, including the killings of CPN-UML cadres.
- Misplaced objectives: The prime objectives at the formation of the new constitution were to address the concerns of Madhesi groups and strengthen Nepal’s institutions. But the focus was on the consolidation of power, gathering support by adopting anti India postures and cosying up to China.
What should be India’s stance in such a situation?
- Nepal is organically linked to India’s anti-colonial struggle with leaders such as BP Koirala having spent years in prison with Jagjivan Ram and Rajendra Prasad.
- India has rebooted its diplomatic outreach with a series of high-profile visits to Kathmandu. This has resulted in the resumption of air travel and fast-tracking of the railway line between Kathmandu to Raxaul in Bihar.
- A fresh popular cry for democracy presents an opportunity for India to showcase its historical partnership in Nepal’s transition to democracy.
- Ties with Nepal are critical to India for strategic influence in the Himalayas.
- Thus, India should adopt a strategy of detached pragmatism rather than proactive involvement, given the crisis period in Nepal.
India and Bangladesh
Context: Recent inauguration of an 11-km rail link between West Bengal and Bangladesh marks the slow but steady effort by Delhi and Dhaka to overcome the negative consequences of the Partition of the subcontinent.
How economic dissociation started in the Indian subcontinent?
- The political Partition in 1947, which created Pakistan, did not immediately lead to economic dissociation.
- After the 1965 war, dissociation begun when the borders between India and Pakistan closed down.
- It made increasingly hard for the movement of goods and people.
- The subcontinent turned inward in its economic orientation.
- Countries in the region de-emphasized transborder connectivity.
- Political difficulties in both capitals also prevented Delhi and Dhaka from restoring the lost connectivity, even after they recognized its economic importance.
How India-Bangladesh relations evolved amidst dissociation in the subcontinent?
- Over the last decade, political ties between India and Bangladesh have improved due to systematic effort which helped in restoring the natural connectivity between West Bengal, Bangladesh and India’s Northeast.
- The recent joint statement issued after Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina met virtually outlines a list of initiatives to deepen cooperation.
- Bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement outlines a host of areas for cooperation, from strengthening river water transport to managing a transboundary elephant corridor and from trade liberalisation to the setting up of a CEO forum.
- Both countries are also raising their ambitions for regional connectivity with Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar and Thailand.
What are the immediate concerns?
- India has not demonstrated the same sensitivity to the tragedy of the post-Partition movement of people across borders.
- There is political impact of people’s movement on ethnic and religious balances in the east.
What should India do?
- India need to be careful in addressing the challenges posed by migration as India prepares to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act.
- Insensitivity towards illegal migration and migrants will derail ties between India and its most important regional partner, Bangladesh.
- Avoid making migration a political issue during elections in West Bengal because it can threaten bilateral relations.
India should not let crude electoral calculations undermine the historic transformation underway in the eastern subcontinent.
India and Bangladesh PM jointly inaugurates Chilahati-Haldibari rail link
Source: Click here
News: India and Bangladesh Prime Minister has jointly inaugurated a railway link between Haldibari in India and Chilahati in Bangladesh during the virtual bilateral summit.
- Haldibari-Chilahati rail link: This rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri.However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links.
- Significance: This rail link is expected to enhance the connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh.
- Other rail which are operational? The other rail links which are operational between India and Bangladesh are — Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh); Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh); Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh); and Radhikapur (India)–Birol (Bangladesh).
India’s digital strike
Context- The government of India has blocked 43 new Chinese app which are prejudicial to sovereignty and Integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
Why Indian Government ban these apps?
- Defence and security concern– These apps are involved in activities against India’s sovereignty, integrity, defense, security and law and order.
- Data Privacy Issue – The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) banned apps on reports of stealing and transmitting user’s data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
- Strong move by the government that sends out a strong message that Indian data cannot be compromised.
- Opportunity for Indian– The recent ban on Chinese app is a good opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to quickly rise to fill market gaps.-
- This opportunity has also opened up the job market under the segment which will eventually have an added boost to the Indian economy.
- The ban may be useful for India to use its vast market for Internet services as leverage in its attempts to keep China in check at the border.
What are the concerns related to Chinese apps ban?
There are issues with the government gag against Chinese apps-
- This can trigger an unconventional battle between the two countries in the larger technology realm.
- Create negative image– This creates a big uncertainty for the foreign investors, and often results in reduces outflow of foreign investment.
What is the way forward?
- Need for A Data Protection Law: Data privacy and security remains to be major challenges emanating from the ongoing digital revolution. Thus, a data protection law is long overdue.
- India must stick to a rules-based approach in regulating the Internet.
India-Maldives bilateral relations
Context- The upcoming visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to the Maldives and significance of Maldives ‘India out’ campaign.
What are the significances of India-Maldives bilateral relationships?
- India’s Neighborhood First Policy: India announced a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion for the Maldives in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements and concessional lines of credit to fulfill socio-economic development programmes.
- Connectivity: The two nations emphasized connectivity through the establishment of enabling infrastructure that would promote the exchange of goods and services, information, ideas, culture and people.
- Direct Cargo Ferry Service– It will be run between India and Maldives.
- Bilateral relations– Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India and patients come to India for healthcare, aided by a liberal visa-free regime extended by India.
- Air Travel Bubble between India and Maldives– Tourism is the mainstay of Maldivian economy. The travel bubble will facilitate movement of people for employment, tourism and medical emergencies.
- Maldives is the first neighboring country of India with which an air bubble is being operationalized.
- Quotas for Supply of Essential Commodities – Given the geographical limitations imposed on the Maldives, India has exempted the nation from export curbs on essential commodities.
- Financial Aid – At the peak of the continuing COVID-19 disruption, a financial aid of 250 million USD will be provided to Maldives by India.
- Operation Cactus– In 1988, in response to a request from the Maldives, India activated Operation Cactus to deploy its military and ensure regime continuity in Male.
- Disaster management– The Government of India has provided large-scale assistance to the Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and during the 2014 Male water crisis.
What is ‘India out’ campaign?
Main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Parliamentary Group leader the Yameen camp has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign instigated against India-Maldives relations aims to create unrest in the country to divert attention from the many corruption allegations raised against the higher ups of the opposition.
- Maldivian protesters recently converted their demand for early release of Mr. Yameen, sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a money laundering case, pending appeal.
Concern for India-
- India should be concerned about the protests as well as the occasional rumblings within the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), apparently between President Solih and Speaker and former President Nasheed may pose serious challenge, especially after Mr. Nasheed sought the removal of certain Ministers- accusing them of corruption.
- Nasheed has also been pushing for a parliamentary system. There is concern within the government that his moves might undermine the President, who is trying to work with the coalition partners.
- The Maldives has maintained a close relationship with China, especially in financial terms, under its previous government.
India’s increasing geostrategic concerns in the shared seas, taking forward the multifaceted cooperation to the next stage quickly could also be at the focus of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit.
China occupied Kashmir
Forgotten fact of China Occupied Kashmir
Context- The history of china occupied Kashmir and the significance of Sino-Pakistan agreement of 1963.
What is China’s dual politics in Kashmir?
- In August 2019, following the dilution of Article 370 and removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir, China said it was “seriously concerned about the current situation in Jammu Kashmir”.
- However, China refrained from voicing its opposition to Pakistan’s announced move to accord “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
China did not issue a statement on Pakistan’s move to change the status of Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed region where China is also carrying out projects under its China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, which India has opposed.
What is 1963’s Sino-Pakistan Agreement?
Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China.
- The agreement is not recognized as legal by India, which also claims sovereignty over part of the land.
Significance of the agreement-
- Pakistan compromised India’s traditional frontier along the Kun Lun range to the north-west of the Karakoram Pass.
- And also enabled China to extrapolate a claim line eastwards along the Karakoram Range in Ladakh.
- This collusion allowed China to claim the whole of Aksai Chin in which it had no historical presence.
What is the history of China occupied Kashmir?
Changing the frontiers – China exploited the ‘Great Game’ between British India and Russia in the late 19th century and pitched its territorial claims far beyond the traditional frontiers of Xinjiang.
- In 1869 – After Mir of Hunza defeat in 1869 at the hands of the joint forces of the Maharaja of Kashmir and the British, the Chinese tried to co-opt him in their scheme while giving him refuge.
- By 1890– China had started asserting its presence in the valleys between the Kun Lun and the main Karakoram Range.
- By 1891– Chinese had quietly moved south of the Kun Lun range to consolidate their presence at Shahidullahand then they moved further south to Suget, and thereafter, showed up at the Karakoram pass.
- In 1936 – The Mir of Hunza was asked by the British to abandon his rights, but the Shaksgam valley and the Aghil range remained with the Mir of Hunza. This remained the traditional frontier of British India until independence, inherited by India following J&K’s accession in 1947.