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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 4th July, 2017

  • July 4, 2017
  • 1
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs July 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, International, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 4th July 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.

PM Modi’s visit to Israel

In news:

PM Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit the Jewish state — the trip marks 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Indian and Israel. And for the first time, an Indian leader will not visit Palestine alongside.

Historical background:

  • India’s political attitude towards Israel was set shortly after Independence, when Nehru and Gandhi vowed to support the Palestinian cause, and rejected the idea of two nations based on religion.
  • It took about 45 years to unlock the relationship — India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, days after the Chinese did the same.
  • In 2000, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Home Minister L K Advani paid high-level visits to Israel.
  • As defence and security cooperation picked up, in September 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Prime Minister of Israel to visit India.
  • When the UPA was in power, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna travelled to Israel in 2012.
  • Modi met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA in September 2014 — the first such meeting in a decade.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee travelled to Israel in October 2015 — the first visit by an Indian President. A number of Ministers and parliamentarians too have visited Israel in the past three years.

Significance of the meet:

With this visit of PM Modi the Indo-Israel relationship will overcome the hesitations of history, and a strategic and political direction for the bilateral relationship will be set. In a major shift in foreign policy, New Delhi is de-hyphenating Israel from Palestine and is prepared to deal with the two separately and independently. While Modi’s visit to Israel is historic, but his skipping Palestine is a tectonic shift. It can be seen as a transformation in India’s traditional pro-Palestinian positions.

Economic relations:

Currently, trade between the two countries is modest—Israel’s trade with Turkey, hardly a friendly nation with a population 20 times smaller than India’s, is slightly more than its trade with India.

Defence ties:

Over the last 25 years there has been an impressive jump in defence ties — India became Israel’s largest defence client at least a decade ago — which constitute one-fifth of the bilateral $5 billion trade. Israel returns the favour by giving India equipment that no one else would — including radar and communication equipment and the Phalcon AWACS which required US approval (given in 2003), thereby cementing India-US ties. India’s military ties with Israel are older. India had sourced Israeli weapons during the war with China in 1962 and later, during the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Terrorism:

The PM’s oft-repeated phrase about India being a victim of terror has special resonance in Israel.

Cultural links:

Cultural and academic links between India and Israel are poor and shamefully under-funded on both sides.

Way forward:

  • For the long-term stability of the relationship, cultural links have to be strengthened. Many Indians aren’t familiar with Judaism. On the Israeli side, many youngsters now visit India after military service—but they see the country as a strange, exotic place. Hopefully, now they will also learn that India is a growing strategic heavyweight that has much to offer.
  • Another important factor in bilateral ties will be the Indian diaspora. In Israel, members of the Indian diaspora have had limited success and, so far, no major impact on the India-Israel relationship. But this could be changing now due to India’s repeated invitation to its Jewish diaspora to play an active role in strengthening India-Israel ties.
  • The government and industry should increase economic and trade relations as fast as possible. India’s big industrial conglomerates, which have a presence in every continent, must invest in Israel.
  • Israelis would like India to take an even-handed approach towards its friend in international fora and perhaps stand up for Israel: Instead of abstaining, India could consider voting against anti-Israel resolutions at the UN; it could convince its non-Muslim neighbours to stop automatically supporting every anti-Israel UN resolution.
  • India could play a calming role in the Middle East—for as its power advances, its voice will be heard more.

Conclusion:

A standalone visit to Israel will send a powerful message to the international community that India is no longer apologetic about befriending Israel. This would mean Israel opening up avenues of cooperation that are not available to any other country in the world. In practical terms, that would mean strategic Indian investments in hi-tech industries in Israel including military industry, cyber security, Nano technology, alternative energy, and recycling, and India becoming a partner in technology development and sharing.

Connecting the dots:

  • Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel marked a tectonic shift in India-Israel bilateral relationship. Discuss.
  • Discuss how Indo-Israel relationship has evolved over the years. Elaborate the challenges and prospects the two nations face when it comes to their bilateral relationship.

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.

Stand-off in Doklam Plateau

What happened?

In June 2017 Indian troops intervened to block the path of Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers engaged in building road-works on the Doklam plateau, a strategically vital 269 square kilometre patch of Bhutan’s territory that Beijing laid claim to in the 1980s. Though no shots were fired, this was the first time that India used troops to protect Bhutan’s territorial interests. Furious, Beijing responded by closing access to Indian pilgrims seeking to proceed through the Nathu La pass on to Kailash-Mansarovar.

What is the conflict:

As for the location of the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, it is India’s contention that an agreement was reached in 2012 that it would be finalized only after “consultations” with concerned countries. The Chinese reiterate that, as per para (1) of the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890, the tri-junction is at Mount Gipmochi.

Ever since Chinese and Indian troops faced off on the Depsang Plains in 2013, New Delhi has steadily hardened its military posture along the Line of Actual Control. In response, China appears to have escalated its pressure on Bhutan, seeking to persuade the kingdom that New Delhi’s long-standing security guarantees are not credible.

Issues:

  • The tri-junction stretch of the boundary at Sikkim, though contested, has witnessed far fewer tensions than the western sector of the India-China boundary. China’s action of sending People’s Liberation Army construction teams with earth moving equipment to forcibly build a road upsets a carefully preserved peace. Of the entire 3,488km Sino-Indian border, the only section on which both countries agree that there is no dispute is the 220km Sikkim-Tibet section of the boundary. This is because under the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890, the Sikkim-Tibet border was agreed upon and in 1895 it was jointly demarcated on the ground.
  • That the PLA decided to undertake the action just as the year’s first group of pilgrims was reaching Nathu La cannot be a coincidence. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in 2014 the stretch was opened as an alternative route to Kailash Mansarovar for Indian pilgrims as a confidence-building measure.
  • Moreover, it came only days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral meeting with President Xi in Kazakhstan.
  • The aim of the pressure by China is well known: To persuade Bhutan to cede Doklam, through which China has built a road linking Lhasa to the Nathu-La pass and is in the process of driving a railway line, for two other disputed enclaves.

What might have led to the stand-off?

The stand-off comes after a series of setbacks to bilateral ties.

  • Delhi has expressed disappointment over China’s rejection of its concerns on sovereignty issues, and refusal to corner Pakistan on cross-border terrorism or help India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership.
  • In turn, India’s spurning of the Belt and Road Initiative and cooperation with the U.S. on maritime issues has not played well in China.
  • The uptick in rhetoric, including statements from the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister questioning India’s “One China Policy” on Tibet, and from Army chief Bipin Rawat on India being prepared for a two-and-a-half front war.
  • India is also working with Japan, South Korea and the US to contain China’s power in the Indian Ocean, provoking warnings from China’s Foreign Ministry.
  • The Chinese are probably hoping to drive a wedge between Bhutan and India and to break the steadfast support that each gives to the other. To recall, Bhutan was the only South Asian state that did not participate at the 14-15 May Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, along with India.

Way forward:

  • In the immediate term talks must focus on defusing the tensions at the tri-junction. China has made the withdrawal of Indian troops a precondition for dialogue. This would be unacceptable to India, unless the PLA also withdraws its troops and road-building teams.
  • Apart from its own commitments to the status quo , Beijing must recognise the special relationship India and Bhutan have shared since 1947, the friendship treaty of 2007 that commits India to protecting Bhutan’s interests, and the close coordination between the two militaries.
  • For its part, India would be keen to show that it recognises that the face-off is in Bhutanese territory, and the rules of engagement could be different from those of previous India-China bilateral clashes — at Depsang and Demchok in the western sector, for example.
  • Bhutan’s sovereignty must be maintained as that is the basis for the “exemplary” ties between New Delhi and Thimphu. The Indian government has been wise to avoid escalation in the face of China’s aggressive barrage, but that should not stop it from communicating its position in more discreet ways.
  • There is no question of India bending to Chinese “demands”, for like in 1967, it must stand its ground firmly. This is perhaps the only way to deal with a China that likes to flaunt its economic and military prowess.

Conclusion:

The boundary stand-off with China at the Doka La tri-junction with Bhutan is by all accounts unprecedented; it demands calmer counsel on all sides. These problems are mainly of Beijing’s making: Increasingly driven by hyper-nationalism, its foreign policy has excelled in the art of alienating potential friends. Yet, New Delhi must tread cautiously. There is little to gain from escalation, and much to lose. The issues have to be addressed through sustained dialogue.

Connecting the dots:

  • India-China relationship has deteriorated in recent times. Discuss.
  • The Doklam plateau stand-off in June 2017 highlighted the fact that all is not well between India and China. Discuss the events which led to the stand-off and what strategy should India adopt to deal with China in this case.

 

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