Planned Indian military base stirs Seychelles controversy

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Assumption Island, Mozambique Channel

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements to China’s string of pearls


India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles

  1. The military base is likely to come up on Assumption Island is to be funded by India and shared by the two countries’ militaries
  2. The deal to build a military base was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Importance of establishing a military base

  1. The location lends India a strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel
  2. Base will also help India ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean
  3. The military base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometers exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and piracy

India-Seychelles military cooperation

  1. India has had a military cooperation agreement with Seychelles since 2003
  2. The present agreement would give India rights of use of the Assumption base for up to 30 years
  3. Indian soldiers would be deployed on the island and help train Seychelles’ troops

[pib] Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya notified


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

Mains level: India’s relationship with African countries


  • The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya was signed and notified in 1985
  • Subsequently, the DTAA was renegotiated and a revised DTAA was signed between both countries on 11th July 2016
  • The revised DTAA has been notified in the Official Gazette on 19th February 2018

Key features of the revised DTAA

  • In order to promote cross-border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services.
  • The revised DTAA provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents and to allow application of domestic law to prevent tax avoidance or evasion.
  • The Article on Exchange of Information has been updated to the latest international standard to provide for the exchange of information, including banking information for tax purposes, to the widest possible extent.
  • A new Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes has also been provided in the revised treaty which will enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

Benefits from DTAA

  •  Improve transparency in tax matters, help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, remove double taxation and will stimulate the flow of investment, technology, and services between India and Kenya

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: India and Djibouti’s geopolitical scrum

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical location of the ‘Horn of Africa’ region

Mains level: Indo-African relations has very important for Indian economic activities in the region. Also, the Chinese influence in the region is also one of the main factor.



  1. The article talks about the recent visit of President to the ‘Horn of Africa’ region and diplomatic issues related to it.

Horn of Africa

  1. The four different states constituting the Horn Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti along with Yemen across the Red Sea have long been described as one of the world’s pivotal regions

Why is this region in news?

  1. Due to President Ram Nath Kovind’s recent visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia
  2. It is President’s first visit abroad
  3. The visit suggests India is finally giving importance to the extraordinary geopolitical significance of the region
  4. Kovind is India’s first president or prime minister to visit Djibouti

Particulars of the Djibouti

  1. Its population is less than a million and its land is largely barren
  2. Djibouti’s location at the confluence of the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and the crossroads connecting Africa, the Middle East and Asia
  3. The geographical position made it a very attractive piece of geopolitical real estate

India’s Diplomatic relations with Djibouti

  1. India does not have an embassy in Djibouti
  2. The president’s visit suggests Delhi is now ready to end its prolonged neglect of Djibouti and re-engage the region strategically
  3. Like in so many areas, China’s strategic advances in the Horn have helped put Djibouti back on India’s political radar

How was India’s relations with the African countries started improving?

  1. Things began to change in the 1990s as Delhi turned to economic globalisation
  2. Growing commerce resulted in intensifying India’s focus on Africa as a major economic partner
  3. India had declared that its national interests were no longer limited to the Subcontinent but stretched from the “Aden to Malacca”
  4. Also, at the Africa summit in India during 2015, most participating leaders wanted an expansion of security and defence cooperation with India

China’s influence in the region

  1. China’s infrastructure development in the Horn preceded the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. One of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region has been the 750 km-long rail link between landlocked Ethiopia and Djibouti
  3. Military influence: China has secured the rights to a base in Djibouti that can host up to 10,000 soldiers until 2026
  4. This is the first ever foreign military base for China

The way forward

  1. Many regional powers are now trying to shape the strategic landscape of the Horn through military bases and armed interventions
  2. India is somewhat late in joining the scramble for political influence in this critical corner of the Indian Ocean
  3. The President’s visit will hopefully lay the foundations for a comprehensive engagement with Djibouti and the Horn of Africa

Ocean forecasting system unveiled

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The article shows the good foreign policy initiatives by India.


Inauguration of the Ocean Forecasting System

  1. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has inaugurated the Ocean Forecasting System for Comoros, Madagascar, and Mozambique 
  2. It was done at the third Ministerial Meeting of Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES)
  3. The meeting was held at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  4. The Ministerial council and the WMO lauded and placed on record the initiatives of INCOIS/India in providing the ocean forecast and early warning services to the Indian Ocean countries

Who will get benefited from it?

  1. The ocean forecast and early warming information on high wave, currents, winds, tides, sub-surface ocean conditions cater to users like
    (1) fishermen,
    (2) coastal population,
    (3) tourism sector,
    (4) coastal defence officials,
    (5) marine police,
    (7) port authorities,
    (8) research institutions and offshore industries of these countries
  2. The system would offer oil spill advisory services, high wave alerts, port warnings, forecast along the ship routes in addition to tsunami and storm surge warnings and help in search and rescue operations

Hungary, Algeria back fight against terror: Ansari

  1. Source: Vice-President Hamid Ansari
  2. Event: End of five-day-long visit to Hungary and Algeria
  3. Hungary and Algeria have both unequivocally added their voices to the international outcry against terrorism in the current Indian context
  4. Positive outcome: An improved equation with the African continent’s largest nation, i.e. Algeria
  5. Algeria, has an overwhelmingly Muslim population, and the visit could be a positive development diplomatically and otherwise for India

Ansari-led team has a busy agenda in Algeria

  1. Event: Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Algeria
  2. Both countries agreed on the need to give a renewed impetus to the bilateral engagement and the dialogue process
  3. Given Algeria’s substantial oil and gas and also phosphate deposits, India expects to work with the country to add significant fertilizer capacity
  4. Algeria is the largest country in Africa in terms of area
  5. More than four-fifths of the land area of Algeria is covered by the Sahara Desert
  6. Oil and gas were discovered in 1950

Operation Sankat Mochan

  1. News: In order to evacuate Indians stranded in Juba (South Sudan), the Indian government sent two aircraft under Operation Sankat Mochan
  2. However, nearly half of the Indian nationals in Juba declined the offer to be evacuated citing the ceasefire which has brought a welcome break after a week of intense fighting
  3. Context: One of Africa’s oldest civil wars was reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  4. Operation Sankat Mochan was the first big evacuation effort in a year after Operation Raahat evacuated hundreds of citizens of India and other countries from Yemen in 2015

India, Kenya to deepen security ties

  1. News: India and Kenya decided to deepen and expand cooperation in a wide range of areas as they signed 7 pacts, including defence and security and avoidance of double taxation
  2. LoC: India also announced extension of a concessional Line of Credit of US$ 45 million to Kenya to help it in development of small and medium enterprises and textiles
  3. Health: India will also build a cancer hospital in Kenya to provide quality and affordable healthcare
  4. Defence: MoU on Defence Cooperation signed will entail staff exchanges, expertise sharing, training, cooperation in hydrography and equipment supply
  5. India is Kenya’s largest trading partner, and the second largest investor in Kenya

South Sudan civil war- a background

  1. Though there is no dominant culture in South Sudan, the Dinka and the Nuer are the largest of more than 60 ethnic groups, each with its own language and traditional beliefs
  2. There are groups of soldiers loyal to the President of Sudan, Salva Kiir, is a member of the Dinka tribe
  3. There are also soldiers and former rebels supporting rebel leader turned Vice-President Riek Machar, a member of a Nuer tribe
  4. The crisis broke out in December 2013 when soldiers loyal to Kiir and Machar fought in Juba, the capital of South Sudan
  5. The latest crisis is due to the gunfire between the opposing factions of Kiir and Machar

South Sudan civil war- 300 Indians stranded in Juba

  1. At least 300 Indians have been left stranded as one of Africa’s oldest civil wars reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan
  2. The civil war is between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  3. Law and order has broken down
  4. Even the UN peacekeeping contingent was busy defending its bases
  5. Though there are 2,500 Indian soldiers in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) they are unable to help

India-Tanzania: Solar Mamas

  1. News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with ‘Solar Mamas’ while on his visit to Tanzania
  2. Solar Mamas: A group of nearly 30 rural women solar engineers from 6 African countries
  3. Training: Trained to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages
  4. They have been trained under India’s developmental support for harnessing solar energy
  5. Trained at either Barefoot college in Rajasthan or at the vocational training college in Tanzania

India inks 5 agreements with Tanzania

  1. News: India extended its full support to the resource-rich Tanzania to meet its development needs and signed 5 agreements
  2. Key agreement: India would provide a Line of Credit of US$ 92 million for rehabilitation and improvement of Zanzibar’s water supply system
  3. The 2 countries agreed to deepen overall defence and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain
  4. Combating the twin threats of terrorism and climate change was also on the agenda

India-South Africa deepening co-operation

  1. News: India and South Africa agreed to deepen engagement in key areas of defence production, manufacturing, mining and minerals
  2. Also vowed to cooperate actively in combating terrorism
  3. Discussions on multilateral fronts such as UN Security Council reform, BRICS summit, IBSA, IORA conferences were held
  4. India was projected as an attractive destination for manufacturing of defence equipment and platforms to South Africa, a major global player in defence production
  5. South Africa’s support to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group was also thanked

India-Mozambique II

  1. Security: India will also help build capacities of Mozambique’s security forces
  2. Defence: Pact signed to boost security and defence ties between the 2 nations connected by the Indian Ocean, recognising terrorism is the “gravest threat” to the world
  3. Both nations to step up security and defence cooperation to counter emerging security challenges, including in the maritime areas
  4. Economy: Mozambique is the “gateway” to Africa and one-fourth of India’s investment in Africa is in Mozambique
  5. Guide presented on the Indian business persons who intend to invest in Mozambique

India-Mozambique I

  1. News: A range of pacts were signed between India and Mozambique during Modi’s visit
  2. Agriculture, healthcare, energy security, security, defence and skill development were some of the areas identified with potential for cooperation
  3. Pulses: A significant “long-term” agreement signed to import pulses from Mozambique to plug India’s shortfall and contain prices domestically
  4. Health: Essential medicines, including those for AIDS, would be donated to Mozambique to strengthen its public health system

Modi to go on a 4-nation Africa tour

  1. In a bid to strengthen India-Africa ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit 4 African nations between July 7 and 11
  2. This would be his first visit to the African mainland
  3. Previous visits to Africa has been to Seychelles and Mauritius
  4. Countries planned on this visit are Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya

India-Africa trade stats

  1. Source: International Trade Centre data
  2. EXIMs: India-Africa goods trade in 2014 was around $75 billion with Africa exporting $40 billion to India and India exporting around $35 billion to Africa
  3. Fall: This had fallen to about $60 billion in 2015 with Africa exporting $34 billion and India exporting $26 billion

Exim bank has a greater say now

  1. The change in approach of Exim bank follows the government giving a greater say to Exim Bank in identifying India’s best interests while it promotes economic diplomacy
  2. As part of the new strategy, it is also important to encourage more Indians to move to Africa on short-term projects in services sectors
  3. Exim Bank has been extending credit to Africa through concessional Lines of Credit, Buyer’s Credit (meant to finance imports of overseas buyers, in this case African buyers, from India) etc.

Exim Bank’s African credit to boost services exports

  1. Context: Exim Bank of India is looking to disburse $10 billion to Africa in the next three years
  2. It wants the credit which has a mix of concessional and commercial rates to be used for boosting India’s services exports to Africa
  3. Shift: (in Exim Bank’s credit disbursal strategy to Africa) From mainly to help build infrastructure and industrial projects to help boost services exports
  4. Why? Infrastructure building is something that China has been doing in Africa & with its huge financial resources, China probably has greater capacity to do it than India
  5. India’s strength is in services, especially in sectors such as healthcare, information technology, education and even agriculture-related services & it needs to be actualised

What is Pelindaba Treaty?

  1. The Treaty controls supply of uranium from key mineral hubs of Africa to the rest of the world
  2. It was signed in 1996 & is also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty
  3. Aim: Preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely

India eyes uranium from Africa

  1. India might ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty
  2. India would try to convince Namibia to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects
  3. Namibia: India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in 2009
  4. However, Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements
  5. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium

Tourism in Seychelles relations

  1. Economy of Seychelles is heavily dependent on tourism & India is an important source of tourism for it
  2. Last year, about 8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays
  3. Indians can travel visa-free to Seychelles & the connectivity is also good
  4. The direct share of tourism in the economy 27 per cent, which goes up to 62 per cent if the indirect contribution is factored in

We’re working with India to ensure security in Indian Ocean: Seychelles

  1. Seychelles: India and Seychelles have very close relations and both counties are working together to ensure safety and security in the Indian Ocean
  2. Naval base: Work will start this year in the Assumption Island to jointly develop a naval base by India and Seychelles
  3. Seychelles has allocated a plot on the Assumption Island for the base, which will help enhance maritime security along India’s west and south coast
  4. This initiative has come following China’s announcement that it would build its first African naval base in Djibouti

Students’ well-being behind African outreach

  1. Another reason for exploring the States of India is due to the fact that almost 30,000 African students study in educational hotspots of Maharashtra, Punjab, and smaller towns of Karnataka
  2. And it is by maintaining working relations with the States so that the African students can be well looked after

African countries and their engagements in Indian states

  1. Mali is one of the top cotton producers of the world and so is India
  2. Focus: Tamil Nadu- which is one of the most important centres of textile industry in India & Mali will send a delegation to India in July to firm up ties in the textile sector
  3. Mali would also focus on Goa’s tourism sector and use its best practices to contribute to Mali’s famed tourist hotspot of Timbuktu
  4. The State-focus was visible also during the latest visit of Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Tunisia and Morocco which have emerged as crucial sources for phosphate for India
  5. Phosphate is the main item that Tunisia is selling to India and its trade has drawn Tunisia towards Gujarat due to the State’s history of being business-friendly and the Gujarat State Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd which is a major partner of Tunisia

Africa reaches out to Indian States

  1. Context: Govt is trying to step up its Africa outreach by involving the States in a major boost to its ties with Africa
  2. Countries like Mali and Tunisia have added to Africa’s ties with India’s States by coming up with plans for engaging the States
  3. Earlier: The promotion of States in foreign affairs had begun with the opening of the Centre-States division in the Ministry of External Affairs two years ago
  4. South Africa was the first from Africa to begin State-centric approach by forging ties with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
  5. However, time has come for other African states also to look beyond the big cities of India
  6. Areas: Education, IT, tourism, manufacturing businesses, cotton textiles etc.

India’s ties with African countries ‘good’: Hamid Ansari

  1. Context: Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Morocco & Tunisia
  2. He described India’s ties with African countries as ‘good’
  3. Areas of engagement: IT, tele-medicine, agriculture
  4. Morocco: Substantive relationship due to one product- phosphate
    India has also invested in Morocco in this sector

India eyes more crude oil imports from African nations

India will host 22 African countries at the 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference.

  1. India’s domestic crude production plateaued at 37mt and is likely to remain at this level with little likelihood of future discoveries and technological breakthroughs.
  2. Meanwhile, the number of African nations that have struck oil or gas has increased from 7 in 1990 to 25 now.
  3. Africa is likely to be a significant source of meeting India’s hydrocarbon needs and this will help diversify source of crude from volatile West Asia.
  4. India is also a major exporter of refined petroleum products and Africa is the second largest destination for these products.
  5. India hopes to nurture the growth of African hydrocarbon sector by providing its expertise in oil exploration, refining, consultancy, training and infrastructure development.

PM offers $10 billion credit for infrastructure projects

  1. Mr. Modi announced credit at concessional rates of $10 billion over 5 years
  2. This is in addition to about $7.4 billion that India had already pledged since 2008.
  3. India will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million.
  4. India would give 50,000 scholarships to African students, as they will be new links between India and the African continent.

Expanding An Old Friendship

Indian interests in Africa will benefit from timely implementation of projects.


  1. The third India-Africa Summit will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on October 29.
  2. India’s total commitment to African infrastructure has been $7.5 billion and this covers, inter alia, 137 projects in 41 countries.
  3. Particular attention has to be given to expanding the distance education and telemedicine programmes to convert them to a virtual university.
  4. The Indian private sector will have to show integrity and sensitivity to African concerns.
  5. The collapse of Libya in 2010 and the general unrest in north Africa has caused instability and arms, illicit drugs and terrorist groups emerged. Thus, terrorism is a major challenge for both.
  6. The security of the Indian Ocean is vital for African countries on the continent’s eastern shore as well as for island countries that are members of the African Union (AU).
  7. The time has come to develop defence ties through training programmes with the objective of enhancing naval capacities.
  8. The two pressing global issues are climate change and UN reform.

Doubtless, the summit will be a successful and grand diplomatic event. However, the pursuit of Indian interests in the continent will demand the timely implementation of its decisions.


Reversing the continental drift

The India-Africa Forum Summit process, that began in 2008, is a much needed intergovernmental attempt to give direction and thrust to bilateral synergies.


  • In the economic domain, two sides only partially able to leverage their socio-economic similarities and complementarities (such as India’s growing need for Africa’s commodities and the suitability of Indian technology) .
  • At IAFS-1, India had offered duty-free market access to Africa’s least developed countries.
  • In IAFS-2, India promised $5 billion dollars in soft loans, half a billion dollars in grants, institution building and training fellowships to Africa.
  • The IAFS process has given a fillip to cultural and informational contacts and mutual awareness.
  • A welcome surge in people-to-people contacts as large numbers of African entrepreneurs, medical tourists, trainees and students have started coming to India.

Some contextual and challenging factors

  • First, India is not alone in region, our competitors on the continent, such the European Union, China, Japan and the U.S. also have IAFS-type processes and often commit even more resources than we do.
  • Second, in recent years, new drivers of the putative African century have emerged.
  • These include lower commodity prices, greater democracy, rise in militancy, population growth, preponderance of youth and urbanisation.

How can the momentum achieved so far by the IAFS process be sustained or even accelerated?

  • First, we need to inject greater bilateralism and balance into the process. Joint endeavour is more productive for both sides.
  • Second, the IAFS process needs to better leverage two strong assets, Vibrant Indian private sector and Indian diaspora in Africa.
  • Third, Need to improve the last mile of the delivery chain to ensure efficacy. e.g. Pan Africa e-Network project
  • Fourth, India needs to make more vigorous efforts to inform its African friends about its contributions.
  • As, Indian help in Ebola epidemic ravaged countries, received scant attention and publicity, partly because India delivered it multilaterally or in a piecemeal manner.
  • By having a dedicated, commercially-driven Indian television channel for African countries may be a good beginning.

The IAFS process has shown the promise of Indo-African partnership. Indeed, the current global economic stagnation only enhances the relevance of a mutual interface between the world’s fastest growing continent and the world’s fastest growing major economy.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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