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Plans on for ‘parallel’ Belt and Road


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: Belt and Road Initiative, Quad

Mains level: India’s engagement with various nations to counter China


Quad getting into action

  1. Australia, the U.S., India, and Japan are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme
  2. This would be an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative
  3. It is an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence

Details not available

  1. The plan involving the four partners was still nascent
  2. It is unlikely to be announced during Australian Prime Minister’s visit to the U.S. later this week

[op-ed snap] Dark clouds across Asia

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Concert of Europe, Doklam, Belt and Road Initiative, Gwadar, Hambantota and Djibouti ports, ‘Wei-Qi tactics’, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Islamic Caliphate

Mains level: State of affairs across Asia-Pacific and rising power competition


More disorder in Asia-Pacific in 2018

  1. More disorder, coming with increasing signs of a breakdown in inter and intra-state relations, is perhaps on the horizon for Asia-pacific region
  2. The Asian region is nowhere near achieving the kind of equilibrium that the Concert of Europe brought to 19th century Europe

Region facing intense competition

  1. The region is today an area of intense geostrategic and geo-economic competition
  2. China is the rising economic and military power in Asia
  3. It has to contend not only with the US but with India and Japan too
  4. In mid-2017 in Doklam, India had demonstrated that it was more than capable of standing up to China’s bullying tactics

Speculation about the extent of China’s rise

  1. This was based on the common presumption that the U.S. under President Donald Trump had surrendered its global leadership role
  2. The reluctance of the U.S. to embark on ‘new wars’, especially in Asia, does not, however, undermine its geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic pre-eminence
  3. It is not China’s rise, but the breakdown of the institution of the state, as is evident in Afghanistan and Syria, that poses far more pressing problems for Asia

Future of Asia

  1. The future of the rest of Asia in 2018 is again dependent on how the strategic triangle of state relations between China, Pakistan and India plays out
  2. The situation has become more complicated as China and Pakistan have further strengthened their axis, which is inimically disposed towards India
  3. East Asia will remain a troubled region for much of 2018 with dispute between North and South Korea not seeing any resolution in near future
  4. It also depends on the extent to which events in West Asia deteriorate

China-India at loggerheads

  1. In 2017, India-China relations had steadily deteriorated
  2. China is clearly peeved that India refuses to participate in its Belt and Road Initiative that straddles Asia and Europe
  3. The stand-off at Doklam in mid-2017 was possibly intended by China to send a message to India

What can China do?

  1. China can also be expected in 2018 to resort to other pressure tactics against India
  2. Backing Pakistani intransigence in ‘needling’ India is certain to be one
  3. China can be expected to intensify its moves to displace India as the major partner in relations with many of India’s neighbours
  4. 2017 had already seen China moving in this direction vis-à-vis Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar
  5. China has succeeded to some extent in denting India’s long-standing relationship with Russia, having established a strategic congruence with that country

What does India need to do?

  1. India would again need to be on its guard in 2018 as China consolidates its takeover of Gwadar (Pakistan) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka) ports
  2. Together with China’s establishment of a base in Djibouti (on the Horn of Africa), India could find itself at the receiving end of China’s ‘Wei-Qi tactics
  3. As India grows closer to the U.S. in 2018, the India-China equation could further worsen
  4. This is likely to be further compounded by India’s association with the Quadrilateral (of U.S., India, Japan and Australia)

India-Pakistan relations

  1. 2018 holds out little prospect of an improvement in India-Pakistan relations
  2. In 2017 there was an over 200% increase in ceasefire violations, with infiltration touching a four-year high
  3. The treatment meted out to the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav (currently incarcerated in a Pakistani prison) provides an index of Pakistan’s cold, calculated and consistent hostility towards India
  4. Pakistan has also not refrained from persisting with its proxies like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the JeM in its war with India

Afghan situation

  1. India must be prepared during 2018 for a further deterioration of the situation in already disturbed Afghanistan
  2. The Afghan state is in real danger of imploding, and this situation could worsen
  3. Pakistan could adopt a more perverse and disruptive role here after the recent US nudge
  4. This could provide further encouragement to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network
  5. The current peace talks may well collapse as a result
  6. Any possibility of exerting greater military pressure by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and allied forces may prove futile

West Asia in turmoil

  1. West Asia is at the crossroads today and the entire region is in turmoil
  2. Syria has almost ceased to be a state
  3. The war here entails major powers like the U.S. and Russia, proxies for certain West Asian countries, a medley of non-state actors, apart from terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda
  4. Intrinsic to the Syrian and West Asian imbroglio is the ongoing war within Islam featuring intense rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran
  5. There are other forces aggravating an already complicated situation, viz. the war in Yemen, the disruption within the Gulf Cooperation Council, the nascent upheavals in Saudi Arabia and Iran
  6. If the U.S. were to follow through with its announcement to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it might well ignite new tensions across the entire Arab world

Terrorism would rise in 2018

  1. Both the IS and al-Qaeda seem to have acquired a new salience lately
  2. The collapse of the so-called Islamic Caliphate and its territorial demise has hardly weakened the terror potential of the IS
  3. In much the same manner as the Afghan jihad in the 1980s and 1990s exacerbated insurgencies across parts of the world, retreating IS members returning to their homeland could provide a new narrative of terrorism in 2018

[op-ed snap] The new bipolarity in Asia

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pivot to Asia, ASEAN, APEC

Mains level: India’s rise as a leader in Indo Pacific region


Dichotomy in the rule-based global order

  1. U.S. President Donald Trump makes no secret of the fact that he believes in a world governed by self-interest, with little room for shared responsibility
  2. In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping is projecting himself as a firm believer in globalisation and free trade
  3. It is against this backdrop that there are signs of a new bipolarity taking shape in Asia
  4. It possibly seeks to replace similar attempts by the U.S. previously — such as the pivot to Asia — to counter China and its aggressive designs in the region
  5. Implicitly, though not as yet explicitly, it seeks to create a coalition of all those willing to align with the U.S. against China’s expanding ambitions and its inexorable march towards dominance in Asia

An anti-China coalition?

  1. Talks held recently at the level of officials between the U.S., Japan, Australia and India (the Quadrilateral) are seen as an indication of this
  2. As China’s expansionist attitudes intensify, more countries in East and Southeast Asia are expected to align with the Quadrilateral group of countries
  3. Vietnam could be one such country, but quite a few other countries in the region could follow suit

Attitudinal changes

  1. The recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings provided a further glimpse of attitudinal changes that are in the making
  2. Mr. Trump and PM Modi made use of this occasion to announce that the two countries were prepared to work together for the future of Asia
  3. It is a euphemism for what many see as keeping a check on China’s aggressive designs in the region
  4. It is, perhaps, for the first time that India has indicated a resolve to align openly with the U.S. to tackle broader issues in the Indo-Pacific region

China willing to accept the challenge

  1. The recent 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress placed special emphasis on a strong military “capable of winning wars”
  2. The deliberations left little room for any adjustment or compromise to accommodate the concerns of other countries of Asia, or for that matter the U.S.
  3. The deliberations of the Party Congress have further emboldened China to pursue its preferred course of action

Advantage that China possesses

  1. Apart from its massive military build-up, China is positioned most advantageously as far as economic aspects are concerned
  2. It is today the most important trading partner for over 90 countries
  3. Its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has caught the imagination of the world, including that of Europe
  4. Most countries of Asia and Europe, including many of India’s neighbours, do not seem to have a problem with the BRI

Sustaining bipolarity not going to be easy

  1. Latent concerns about Chinese expansionism have not prevented several Asian nations from endorsing and backing the BRI
  2. Most Asian nations also show no inclination or desire to blame China for siding with Pakistan, which continues to shelter high-ranking global terrorists, including Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar
  3. Even Mr. Trump, during his recent visit to China, seemed to have softened his criticism of China, after China produced some attractive mega deals
  4. All this only exposes the vulnerabilities of bipolarity in the extant situation today

India emerging as a leader

  1. In Asia, India, Japan and, to an extent, Vietnam appear willing to endorse the U.S. initiative to build up opposition to China’s designs
  2. India has lately taken up issues well beyond South Asia, such as North Korea and China’s actions in the South China Sea
  3. Currently, India is emerging as one of the countries in the region firmly committed to freedom of navigation and over-flight
  4. Also, for unimpeded commerce based on the principles of international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
  5. This puts it in direct confrontation with China, as also in opposing China’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific

Way Forward

  1. As the outlines of a new bipolarity in Asia become clearer, and with the formal setting up of the Quadrilateral, China is certain to regard all this as an attempt to encircle it
  2. This will pave the way for a new round of turmoil as China might use both force and inducements to win more and more Asian countries to its side
  3. The consequences of this could be quite significant for peace and stability in the Asian region

ASEAN Summit: Eye on China as India joins quadrilateral with US, Australia & Japan

Image source


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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:
Prelims level: Quadrilateral dialogue
Mains level: This article talks about the issues discussed at the first Quadrilateral meeting in Manila.


The First Meeting of the Quadrilateral

  1. With an eye on China’s activities in the region, the first meeting of Indian officials in Manila with those from the US, Australia, and Japan described as the “quadrilateral” was held a day before the ASEAN summits begin in the Philippines
  2. The meeting was chaired by Japan
  3. The last such meeting took place in 2007, after which Australia had quit such a dialogue mechanism

Key Issues discussed in the meeting

  1. Key issues of common interest in the “Indo-Pacific region” were discussed, with an eye on China and the aim of reaching a common ground on a “free and open” Indo-Pacific with an apparent reference to freedom of navigation on the South China Sea
  2. The common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region were also discussed.
  3. The clandestine links between North Korea and Pakistan in the development of their nuclear programmes were also highlighted.

Indian Statement

  1. According to the Indian statement, discussions focused on cooperation based on converging vision and values for the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected region that they share with each other and with other partners.
  2. The Indian side highlighted India’s Act East Policy as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, placing focus on the role of ASEAN and Southeast Asia.

Japanese Statement

  1. Japan’s foreign ministry said they discussed measures to ensure a free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific
  2. Also proliferation threats, including North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues, against which maximized pressure needs to be applied, ensuring freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, and countering terrorism were also discussed

Australian Statement

  1. Australia shared the vision for increased prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific region and to work together to ensure it remains free and open.
  2. This includes upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight; increase connectivity; coordinate on efforts to address the challenges of countering terrorism and upholding maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.
  3. Officials agreed to work together to address threats to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes.
  4. The participants are committed to continuing quadrilateral discussions and deepening cooperation on the basis of shared values and principles.

Don’t make binding concessions for APEC

  1. Warning: The Commerce Ministry has cautioned the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) against ceding to demands to secure an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) membership
  2. Concessions demanded: India should offer binding concessions for an agreement to reduce industrial tariffs to very low levels or eliminate them over a specified time period
  3. Also, an early deal on a Bilateral Investment Treaty with the U.S., and its participating in negotiations for a proposed Investment Facilitation Agreement at WTO-level

Bill introduced in US Congress to help India join APEC

  1. ख़बर: ओबामा प्रशासन से भारत को ऐपेक(एशिया प्रशांत आर्थिक सहयोग) मंच का सदस्य बनाने में मदद की मांग करते हुए, कुछ प्रभावशाली अमेरीकी विधि निर्माताओं ने विधेयक पेश किया है।
  2. संदर्भ: उनका कहना है कि आर्थिक रूप से संपन्न भारत, एशिया में अमेरिका के रणनीतिक लक्ष्यों हेतु मददगार साबित होगा।
  3. विधेयक के बारे में: यह चिह्नित करता है कि अमेरिका-भारत सहयोग एशिया-प्रशांत क्षेत्र में अमेरिका के रणनीतिक लक्ष्यों हेतु आवश्यक है और प्रशासन के एशियाई पुनः संतुलन हेतु एक आधारभूत पहलू है।
  4. भारत के लिए फ़ायदे:
  • ऐपेक सदस्यता भारत को उन एशियाई देशों से पूरा ज्ञान हासिल करने हेतु एक रचनात्मक मंच प्रदान करेगी, जिन्होंने पहले से ही अपनी अर्थव्यस्थाओं को अग्रगति प्रदान करने हेतु अर्थपूर्ण कदम उठा लिए हैं।
  • भारत बड़े आर्थिक सुधारों हेतु प्रयासरत है, जो भारत के बाज़ारों को और मुक्त बनाएं, व्यापार मात्रा बढाएं, और इसकी बढती जनसंख्या की नौकरियों में वृद्धि की सतत मांग को सुगम बनाएं।

India a worthy contender for APEC membership

  1. The decision to consider applications for new memberships would be taken at the APEC Summit in November.
  2. India’s membership gains significance, because there is study of a much larger Asia Pacific Free Trade agreement.
  3. APEC is the missing link to the Modi government’s Act East policy.
  4. Indian labour could be a big beneficiary of India joining the APEC because many APEC economies will face labour shortages in the future because of aging populations.

India gets an invite to join APEC

  1. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies.
  2. It seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
  3. APEC and the WTO are complementary but unlike WTO, APEC has no treaty obligations.

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

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