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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 11th April, 2017

  • April 12, 2017
  • 1
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs April 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, International, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 11th April 2017

Archives

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

India – France

Introduction

India’s relations with France has been traditionally guided. France has been a colonial power which has connection even to this day in many states. Relations range from diplomatic, science and technology and security related.

History and moving forward:

  • The India-France strategic relationship has generated a sense of comfort between the relevant government agencies.
  • The focus has been on initiatives that can strengthen business-to-business linkages and people-to-people contacts
  • In recent years, India has entered into more than three dozen “strategic partnerships”, but France remains the original one.
  • President Jacques Chirac had a long-standing interest in India and undertook three visits to India, in 1976, 1998 and 2006, the only leader to have been chief guest at the Republic Day twice, first as Prime Minister in 1976 and then as President in 1998.
  • The second visit saw the establishment of the “strategic partnership” which was tested months later in May when India conducted a series of nuclear weapon tests. France was the first major power to open a dialogue with India.

Issue:

  • Mission Jeanne d’Arc, made up of the amphibious assault ship/landing platform dock (LPD), Mistral, and the frigate, Courbet, called at the Mumbai port between March 29 and April 3, having set sail from the French military base in Djibouti before heading for Vietnam.
  • It is for the third consecutive year that France has deployed this important mission in the Indian Ocean, the China Seas and the Pacific region.
  • On each occasion, France has chosen to call at an Indian port: Visakhapatnam in 2015 and Kochi in 2016.

Growing cooperation

  • Along with combating terrorism, maritime security has become a priority of our defence and security cooperation.
  • Several concrete examples illustrate this unprecedented dynamic pace:
    • In 2015, our carrier strike group (CSG) with the aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, at its core, docked at Goa as part of our bilateral exercise, “Varuna”.
    • In the meantime, India and France have held two high-level bilateral dialogues on maritime security in the Indian Ocean and signed their first White Shipping Agreement on January 18, 2017; the latter’s operationalisation will be a significant step towards more ambitious exchanges and complex cooperation.
  • France has significant interests in the Indian Ocean due to its overseas territory, Reunion Island, which is home to over a million French citizens; its 2.8 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone (i.e. more than 10% of the Indian Ocean’s surface), and the volume of sea traffic in this zone.
  • Due to this, we have significant means in the Indian Ocean, whether deployed permanently or depending on requirement.
  • India is France’s top strategic partner in Asia and our intention is to work towards making this relation fructify further alongside our other partners in the region such as Australia, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • We share, in particular, the same values of preserving the freedom of navigation and respecting the international law of the sea.

Conclusion:

Hence it is both natural and necessary that France and India do more together in the Indian Ocean to serve our shared interests of security. Over the next few years, this cooperation will become one of the pillars of the strategic partnership between our two countries. We should be ready to take up this challenge.

Connecting the dots:

  • In the emerging geopolitical scenario analyse the importance of Indo-french relations.

 

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood – relations
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Growing importance of Bay of Bengal Littoral and Indo-Pacific

At a time when India finds itself consumed once again by its obsession with Pakistan in light of the death sentence pronounced on Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court and Pakistan’s reluctance to embark on even minimal mutually beneficial economic cooperation, which has made the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) dysfunctional, two recent visits of Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Australia to India – exemplify not only the country’s rising global profile but also the gradually evolving foreign policy priorities of Indian diplomacy.

Two transitions are easily visible –

  • one, from South Asia to the Bay of Bengal littoral and
  • the other, from the Indian Ocean to the Indo-Pacific

Together, these two transitions promise to change the way India imagines the physical spaces around it.

South Asia to the Bay of Bengal littoral (India and Bangladesh recent engagements)

Bay of Bengal has begun to replace South Asia as the primary vehicle for pursuing regional cooperation.

Integrating the waters and hinterland has emerged as a key new element of the bilateral agenda between India and Bangladesh.

  • India’s role as a security provider is visible in the Delhi-Dhaka joint statement which has stressed the need for greater military-to-military training and exchanges, and complimented the armed forces for their professional conduct during joint search and rescue operations in the Bay of Bengal leading to the rescue of a large number of fishermen from both sides.
  • The defence relationship was the highlight of Ms. Hasina’s visit to Delhi this time as it included a memorandum of understanding on a defence framework, and a $500 million line of credit (LoC) for defence procurement by the Bangladesh military forces, the largest such LoC India has extended to any country so far.
  • India is also ready to demonstrate it keenness to share its economic growth with its regional partners. It is also extending a $4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh, over and above the existing $2.8 billion line, to fund around 17 infrastructure projects which includes port upgradation work at the Mongla, Chittagong and Payra ports.

Given the critical need for enhancing connectivity in South Asia, India is pushing for early implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, aimed at facilitating seamless transport of goods over land customs stations. Bus and train services between Kolkata and Khulna have been started, and there are plans to revive inland waterway channels.

Indian Ocean to the Indo-Pacific (India and Australia recent engagements)

The Bay of Bengal may not have figured as directly in the talks between Modi and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but it is bound to demand their attention sooner than later. Promoting regionalism in the Indian Ocean and strengthening regional maritime security have been prominent themes in Delhi’s deepening partnership with Australia in recent years.

As India’s economic footprint and with it, the scope of its maritime interests widen, the idea of the Indo-Pacific has begun to transcend that of the Indian Ocean. Governments of India have repeatedly embraced the importance of India’s engagements in the larger Indo-Pacific, thereby getting out of the straitjacket of being a “mere” South Asian power.

India’s success in engaging countries such as Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in recent years is testament to the growing demand in the region for a larger Indian role and presence.

Mr. Turnbull’s visit to Delhi this week once again showed that India is now widely perceived to be a strong and credible regional force.

  • The two countries pledged to enhance maritime cooperation as they underlined “the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)”.
  • Defence cooperation once again is at the centre of this relationship with the decision to hold a bilateral maritime exercise named AUSINDEX in 2018. A bilateral exercise of the Special Forces will be held later this year, while the first bilateral army-to-army exercise will also take place in 2018.
  • The two countries should prioritise the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) at the earliest to give economic heft to their growing security interactions.

The way ahead:

Despite the hype about the possibility of India emerging as the guarantor of the liberal economic and security order in Asia, there are now new possibilities for reimagining New Delhi’s regional and global role.

Greater cooperation with like-minded countries in the region and beyond will give it greater space to emerge as a credible regional interlocutor at a time when Washington’s policies remain far from clear and Beijing is challenging the foundations of the extant order.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the strategic significance of Indo-Pacific region to India. What significance does it hold for India economically and geo-strategically?
  • Bay of Bengal has begun to replace South Asia as the primary vehicle for pursuing regional cooperation. Do you agree? Also discuss the recent developments between India and Bay of Bengal littoral countries.

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