[op-ed snap] Power And Politeness


  1. Often there are incidents of misbehaviour by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) towards ordinary people, mostly Nepalese
  2. Allegations of atrocities and misbehaviour by the SSB are routinely narrated by “victims” — ordinary passers-by — from both sides
  3. The issue has figured in meetings of officials from both countries often, but has never been fully addressed

Recent episode:

  1. Lasst week an ordinary citizen, Govinda Gautam, 32, was allegedly shot and killed by an SSB personnel in Kanchanpur district
  2. The Indian embassy in Kathmandu initially denied the incident, but retracted its statement after the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, expressed his regret in a telephonic conversation with the Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal
  3. Conflicts between the Nepali and Indian side over construction activities, and SSB interventions, are reported routinely

India-Nepal relationship:

  1. Nepal and India share an open border of around 1,750 km
  2. Demographic similarities, marriages between the people of the two nations and the free movement of persons are, however, not without their problems
  3. According to Nepal’s prominent surveyor, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, border disputes have remained unresolved for decades in at least 71 places, and worn-out border pillars are taking longer than planned to be replaced
  4. Border disputes between neighbouring countries are not unusual
  5. Both during the Kanchanpur incident and other episodes of border disputes, a large section of the Nepali media and opinion makers seem to suggest that both sides should follow, “what China did in similar circumstances”

How did China manage the issue?

  1. In June 1960, after a Nepali was killed by Chinese security personnel in Mustang along the border with Tibet, China promptly apologised and also apparently paid compensation to the victim’s family
  2. “We have had border problems with China. But the Chinese Premier Chou En Lai said we must sort out the border issue in our lifetime. We should not let it pass on to the next generation because doing so would create an emotive problem,” recalls former Prime Minister Kirti Nidhi Bista

A volatile phase of India-Nepal relations:

  1. Nepal-India relations are passing through a volatile phase that has been compounded with the political chaos in Nepal
  2. The Kanchanpur incident took place at a time when the differences over the contents of the Nepali Constitution are likely to snowball into yet another phase of unrest with the United Democratic Madhesi Front
  3. This could have grave implications for Nepal’s Maoist-Nepali Congress coalition government as well as the local bodies election
  4. In September 2015, Nepal suffered a nearly five-month-long blockade when India chose to endorse the demands of the Madhesis
  5. This caused enormous hardship and shortages in the country and anti-India sentiments rose to unprecedented levels

Enters China:

  1. The government, led by K. P. Oli, also the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, identified itself with that sentiment, and drifted towards China, signing trade, transit and other treaties with long-term implications
  2. The replacement of the Oli government by the Maoist-Nepali Congress coalition may delay the execution of these treaties, but backing out from them looks very unlikely
  3. China has been making increasing inroads into Nepal and of late, it has emerged as the biggest foreign direct investors in the country
  4. It’s increasing say in Nepal’s politics has come at the cost of the clout India once used to enjoy in Kathmandu
  5. Oli joined the recent chorus over the Kanchanpur incident in criticising India and asking it to tender an apology, like the one tendered by the Chinese premier in 1960
  6. Oli rushed to Kanchanpur and handed over a sum of Rs 5,00,000 to the father of Gautam, who has since been declared a “martyr” by the Nepal government


Nepal and India relations have been through many ups and downs, but the Kanchanpur incident shows that sentiments and building trust at the border level, and favourable government machinery are absolutely crucial in establishing and maintaining good relations between the two sides. The op-ed is an important read for understanding the changing dynamics of Indo-Nepal relations.

[pib] Know about first SAARC Epidemiology Networking Forum Meeting

  1. The First SAARC Epidemiology Networking Forum Meeting was jointly organized by the Government of India (Division of Livestock Health, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DAHDF), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare), the SAARC Secretariat and FAO through CCS National Institute of Animal Health (CCS NIAH)
  2. The objective of this first forum meeting was primarily to operationalize a sustainable and functioning veterinary epidemiology network among the eight SAARC Member States
  3. It also aims to build trust and foster collaboration between the Member States to achieve a more effective and efficient TADs, including zoonoses, control


A Prelim tit-bit.


Pakistan returns to SAARC, gets Secretary General post

  1. After months of difficulty posed mainly by India, Pakistan succeeded in getting its official elected to the post of the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  2. The success for Pakistan was backed by all members, including India, which made the selection consensus-based
  3. Administrative, not diplomatic: Officials at the SAARC secretariat, however, said the election was of administrative nature and diplomatic intent should not be read in it
  4. As the incoming chair, Pakistan was supposed to provide the next Secretary General and all members of SAARC allowed the smooth transition from Nepal to Pakistan
  5. Earlier: India had opposed holding of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016 following the terror strike in Uri


Know about SAARC basics as it is in news for quite some time and can be a question in prelims as well as mains. Read about SAARC here.

[op-ed snap] Next Door Nepal: What ails Nepal


  1. Prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who, also heads the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) said in a parliamentary forum, that secularism, federalism and republicanism, the three major “achievements” of the decade-long Maoist insurgency and mass movement would vanish, and a situation like the one in December 1960 could repeat if elections to local bodies and provincial and federal parliaments were not held within a year


  1. In December 1960, King Mahendra dismissed the first-ever elected parliament with the help of the army, banned political parties and took over all executive powers
  2. Parliamentary democracy was restored in 1990, following a mass movement
  3. Another radical upheaval in 2006 led to Nepal’s transition to a secular federal republic from a unitary Hindu kingdom
  4. The constitution that was promulgated in September 2015 ignored the reservations of a section of the Madhesi groups within the constituent assembly and vast sections of people outside the assembly
  5. The dissenters felt that the concepts of secularism, federalism and republicanism were being imposed on people without a debate

Clash of Titans:

  1. With the Nepali actors confused, there seems to be a clash of perceptions between the country’s two immediate neighbours — India and China — over what the country might go through if it’s riven by political instability
  2. However, Nepal’s two giant neighbours agree that such a situation would be detrimental to the security interests of both

Nepal’s Constitution:

  1. Nepal’s constitution does face a crisis; not so much from its opponents but from its over- zealous “architects”
  2. They ignored every warning against an inadequate and incomplete constitution being promulgated in haste
  3. Their argument was that “regressive forces and the king will stage a comeback if the constitution is not delivered now”

Elections in Nepal:

  1. The constitution mandates three elections by January-end
  2. But so far, the boundaries and numbers of the local bodies have not even been finalized
  3. The boundaries of the proposed seven provinces have also not been finalised and the tentative boundaries that have been drawn up have led to violent conflicts in many places
  4. However, with no electoral laws in place so far, the borders of the local bodies and provinces not yet defined, and with key political parties not coming together, Nepal’s constitution is going to face the worst crisis

India’s Stand:

  1. India’s ambassador Ranjit Rae said that India “has never and will never” interfere in Nepal’s internal affairs
  2. His remarks were against the general perception in Nepal that “India not only does interfere, but tries to micro-manage” matters here
  3. Rae became more unpopular than most of his predecessors as the Raxaul-Birgunj border blockade that stopped more than 70% supplies of essential items from India, soon after the promulgation of the constitution occurred during his tenure

China’s role:

  1. China, unlike in the past, is open and vocal in sharing its perception about what ails Nepal, and how an unstable Nepal impacts China
  2. In fact, China has conveyed its reservations on the three achievements that Dahal boasts of — federalism, secularism and republicanism
  3. These Chinese reservations were out in the open when Chinese experts shared their views during a two-day China-Nepal think tank conference in Kathmandu
  4. “NGOs are trying to create disturbances along the Nepal-China and Nepal-India borders. The European Union is trying to increase its influence in Nepal, with an eye on China, through these NGOs. Nepal’s political actors, after the country became a republic, are tilting towards India,” said Li Tao executive director of the Institute of South Asian Studies of the Sichuan University
  5. China believes Nepal needs to be treated as a “safety valve” for entire Asia, and not merely a “bridge” between the two big neighbours
  6. The message that the Chinese team wanted to give was clear: That China will enhance its presence and activities in Nepal in pursuit of bilateral interest as well as to counter India’s “undue concerns”
  7. China also indicated that it will oppose the “rise of Christianity that works in the interests of US and EU and has often engineered political instability”
  8. China has also been emphasising that the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project is vital for Nepal’s prosperity as 184 out of 312 roads connecting Tibet with South Asia pass through Nepal


Indo-Nepal relations are of extreme importance to India. Make a note of the developments.

Nepal to hold military exercise with China

  1. What: Beginning a new level of bilateral military engagement, Nepal will hold its first ever joint military exercise with China on February 10
  2. The focus of the military exercise, named Pratikar-1, will be on training Nepali forces in dealing with hostage scenarios involving international terror groups
  3. Analysts say that though the military drill with China does not violate the 1950 India-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship, it does appear unconventional
  4. Nepal can conduct military exercises with other countries without violating the agreement with India
  5. But the upcoming exercise with China is certainly unconventional and alarming as China’s definition of terrorism covers Tibetan agitators


Add this to your notes on India-Nepal relations. It is not an entire issue in itself, rather it is part of China’s attempt to push into India’s neighborhood and part of Nepal’s attempt to try and limit Indian influence.


The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship is a bilateral treaty between Nepal and India establishing a close strategic relationship between the two South Asian neighbours. The treaty allows free movement of people and goods between the two nations and a close relationship and collaboration on matters of defense and foreign policy.

Nepal proposes Constitution amendment to meet Madhesis demands

  1. What: Nepal’s government has registered the Constitution amendment bill in Parliament
  2. It is aimed at carving out a new province to meet the demands of agitating Madhesis and other ethnic groups
  3. The bill also proposes to address 3 other key issues — citizenship, representation in the Upper House and recognition of languages spoken in various parts of the country
  4. The bill proposes to list all the mother tongues of Nepal in the schedule of the constitution on the recommendation of the Language Commission
  5. On citizenship, the bill proposes that foreign women married to Nepali men can obtain naturalised citizenship after initiating the process to renounce their citizenship
  6. Re-demarcation of the provincial boundary and citizenship issue are the two major demands put forth by the agitating Madhesi parties
  7. Madhesis, mostly Indian-origin, launched a 6-month-long agitation from Sept last year to February this year
  8. The agitation had also crippled the landlocked country’s economy as supplies from India were blocked
  9. The bill does not say anything about the rights of the naturalised citizens and citizens by birth


This news is mainly important from the mains perspective. The Madhesi agitation drastically affected India’s relations with Nepal, allowing China to make inroads. Indian citizens are also impacted by citizenship issues due to intermarriage in border regions of India and Nepal. Add this to your notes on India-Nepal relations.

[op-ed snap] Strengthening the India- Nepal bilateral ties II

  1. Indian contribution in Nepal: Nepali Rs.4,000 crore is disbursed annually after the OROP implementation in terms of pensions
  2. India’s welfare schemes: solar electrification and drinking water supply to ex-servicemen’s villages
  3. Medical care and provision of ambulances and education and scholarships for their children
  4. 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship enables Nepali citizens to find easy employment in India
  5. Nepali students will now be eligible to sit for IIT entrance exams
  6. Additional scholarships for PG studies in water resources management and hydel power at IIT, Roorkee

[op-ed snap] Strengthening the India- Nepal bilateral ties I

  1. Background: Anti-Indian sentiment fanned among Nepalis
  2. Indian President’s Address: Nepal should complete the political transition that began a decade ago when the Maoists came overground to join democratic political process
  3. To consolidate gains of multiparty democracy, all sections need to be brought on board for new constitution to succeed
  4. Highlighted historical and civilisational links between people of the two countries
  5. Linked destinies of the two countries by emphasising that they have a “vital stake in each other’s well-being and security”
  6. He spoke about spiritual ties among the people by invoking Ram and Sita without mentioning either Hinduism or secularism, a sensitive issue in the new constitution
  7. Visited Pokhara to address ex-servicemen, tribute to the bravery of the 32,000 Gurkhas currently serving in Indian Army

India hopes Bhutan will ratify vehicles pact II

  1. The Bhutanese govt could try to pass the law again in a year
  2. In the meanwhile, the BIN (Bangladesh-India-Nepal) countries could go ahead with building their logistics
  3. BBIN has potential as a road link that will extend to rail and waterways reducing circuitous shipping routes by 1,000 km
  4. It is also seen as India’s way of countering Pakistan in the SAARC grouping
  5. Pakistan has refused to let the MVA be ratified in SAARC, as a consequence of which land-locked Afghanistan had to stay out as well

India hopes Bhutan will ratify vehicles pact I

  1. Issue: A vote in Bhutan’s National Council (NC) disallowing the sub-SAARC motor vehicle zone among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN)
  2. Reason: Protests from the Bhutanese opposition, mainly over environmental concerns of vehicular pollution increasing have derailed the process
  3. India, Bangladesh and Nepal have already ratified the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA)
  4. India has been wary of leaning too heavily on the Bhutanese govt to speed up the BBIN ratification, despite excellent relations between the two
  5. Reason: It could offend the sensitivities of the smaller neighbour

[op-ed snap] Indo-Nepal ties

  1. Context: Coalition government of—the Maoists and the Nepali Congress—completed 100 days in office
  2. Existing issues: Mass anger of Nepalis against India over border blockade, caused shortage of essential goods in Nepal
  3. Pranab Mukherjee’s visit: Large number of comments on social media that said “we have not forgotten the blockade” when Mukherjee visited
  4. The bilateral visits have brought the relations back on track
  5. Absence of political stability and Nepal’s reactive diplomacy may not be the basis for durable and dependable policy
  6. China is at a distance for now, but it continues to command more trust and respect in Nepal
  7. Some western and Indian thinktanks are keen to bring the Madhesi and ethnic hill groups together
  8. Reason: So that Nepal’s politics is driven more by caste and ethnicity than by class and political ideology

Pranab Mukherjee to visit Madhes region during Nepal visit

  1. Event: First visit by an Indian President in 18 years
  2. Significance: It is the first state visit from India after the months long blockade
  3. The blockade began due to an agitation for greater political space for the Madhesis of Nepal’s plains
  4. Madhesi sources said that the visit to Madhes region is symbolic of India’s special ties with the plains of Nepal and will strengthen India’s commitment to Nepal’s diverse polity

[op-ed snap] Strengthening ties between Nepal and India

  1. India’s treatment: offers Nepali citizens national treatment on its soil. Nepalese are free to come and work in India even in Central government services.
  2. Nepal allows its citizens to serve in the Indian army.
  3. Issue: Delhi’s over involvement in Nepal’s internal affairs fuels the demands in Nepal for breaking the interdependence. Every political churn in Nepal has its resonance in India.
  4. Messiness on political front leads to economic losses of Delhi and Kathmandu.
  5. Steps to be taken: Madhesis fighting for their rights should be addressed.
  6. Nature of the frontier should be changed through trade facilitation, simplifying transit arrangements, removing non-tariff barriers, improving transborder roads and ease of business for Nepali enterprises, and making life easier for Nepali citizens working in India.
  7. China’s role: Political efforts in Kathmandu to construct a political symmetry between relations with Delhi and Beijing. Beijing is trying to overcome its geographic disadvantage through mega projects like the Tibet Railway.
  8. Advantage for India: However, the logic of economic geography tilts Nepal massively towards India. Nepal’s nearest ports will always be in India and the Gangetic plain will remain its largest market.

Govt nod for new pact on trade, transit with Bhutan

  1. What: The Cabinet has approved a new Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan
  2. The agreement provides for a free trade regime between two countries, and duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries
  3. Bilateral trade between will continue to be transacted in Indian Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrums
  4. The bilateral trade had grown by 55% year-on-year in FY’16 to $750 million, with India’s exports rising 40.4% to $469 million
  5. While imports from Bhutan jumping 87 per cent to $281 million

SAARC satellite likely to miss December deadline

  1. PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious South Asian satellite project is likely to miss the December deadline
  2. The project was announced two years ago
  3. Barring Afghanistan and Pakistan, all other SAARC countries have given their go-ahead to the project

BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit at Goa II

  1. Way forward: India should lead BIMSTEC positively with a much broader, inclusive vision driven by economic merits of cooperation and not just the aim of isolating Pakistan
  2. Present progress: There are new projects on connectivity, building infrastructure and sharing resources, both inter-regionally as well as bilaterally
  3. India’s “Act East” policy is spurring the government to extend the Trilateral highway project all the way to Cambodia
  4. And to help with port infrastructure in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, while recently rescued ties with Nepal will see the government step up its hydel and road projects there
  5. In addition, the ‘SASEC’ grouping that also includes the Maldives, met last month to clear infrastructure projects funded by the Asian Development Bank
  6. The BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) groupings are seeing their projects on seamless connectivity moving at a quicker pace
  7. This will help India assume a new leadership role in the region

BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit at Goa I

  1. Background: BRICS countries economies are in trouble, with the exception of India
  2. There are many disagreements among members, e.g. India and China over NSG
  3. Among all these problems, the BIMSTEC outreach is a sunny spot for host India
  4. The seven-nation grouping of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand, was founded in 1997 as BISTEC
  5. Then refurbished as the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC), but has floundered since then for lack of funding
  6. BIMSTEC’s success will depend on keeping the grouping away from politics that bedeviled SAARC

[op-ed snap] An Unwanted Past – India’s lack of enthusiasm for SAARC

  1. Theme: India’s disdain for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and its embrace of new global fraternities.
  2. India’s aspirations for power: The West represents the apex of power aspirations, but Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa—which with India make up the BRICS grouping—are good company to keep, while awaiting a permanent place at the high table.
  3. India’s lack of enthusiasm for SAARC: Because of India’ centrality within the political geography of the region, India feared that a regional grouping could become little more than a forum for all neighbouring countries to ventilate bilateral grievances.
  4. The last place India wants to be is in a neighbourhood group where its aspirations for regional hegemony are constantly challenged by smaller countries, where even the internal concord essential to projecting external strength continually eludes it
  5. Reasons behind ineffectiveness of SAARC: SAARC’s charter specifies that it would not deal with any issue of a bilateral character. This, in effect, neutralised much of the potential of the regional grouping because South Asia’s political geography makes almost every issue bilateral in nature, with India occupying one pole and the other countries by turn, the other.
  6. In its 31-year career, SAARC has on an average held one summit every 21 months. This does not speak of a spirit of great neighbourly cordiality since the SAARC charter commits member states to annual summits.
  7. Where common perceptions are possible because of shared geographical features, such as South Asia’s mountains and rivers, resource competition has impeded action, even at the risk of irreparable ecological damage.

SAARC summit postponed indefinitely

  1. News: Blaming India for derailing the SAARC Summit, Pakistan announced that the summit scheduled for November 9 and 10 in Islamabad will now be held on an alternate date
  2. Why? Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan & India have opposed the summit under the prevailing environment seeking postponement
  3. SAARC Charter: Decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity, and this applies to the convening Heads of State or Government of SAARC Member States as well

After India, Bangladesh, Bhutan pull out of SAARC summit- II

  1. Bhutan: Committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation
  2. However, it is concerned over the recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the Summit in Islamabad
  3. The decision by three countries of the eight-member grouping not to attend the summit would lead to its collapse.
  4. India: Recently decided not to attend the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November
  5. The announcement by India came on a day Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar issued a second demarche to Pakistan High Commissioner over Uri attack
  6. And also confronted him with proof of cross-border origins of the terror strike in which 18 jawans were killed

After India, Bangladesh, Bhutan pull out of SAARC summit- I

  1. What? Apart from India, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also pulled out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November
  2. Why? The environment is not right for the successful holding of the meet
  3. Bangladesh: The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the Summit
  4. As the initiator of the SAARC process, it remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts
  5. But it believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere

Rajnath to press for SAARC terror desk

  1. Context: SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) was established in Colombo in 1995 but is yet to become operational
  2. Mandate: To collate, analyse and disseminate information on terror offences, tactics, strategies and methods in the SAARC region

India readies business card for SAARC businessmen

  1. Centre extends facility to Pakistan too despite security concerns
  2. The business card will be only given to prominent businessmen of the eight SAARC countries and the card will have to be carried with a passport
  3. he SAARC countries are also working on a ‘uniform visa application form and software’ for 24 categories of entitled persons

China slowdown ‘a significant risk’ for global economy: Rajan

  1. RBI Governor cautioned about a sharp slowdown in Chinese economy
    This remains a significant risk for the global economy
  2. Spill-over: A sharp contraction in China’s imports has led to spill-overs through the trade, confidence, tourism and remittance channels
  3. And that SAARC nations have not been able to avert its impact

Pakistan opts out of SAARC satellite project

  1. News: India had held deliberations with experts from other SAARC countries to finalise modalities for the satellite exclusively for the regional grouping
  2. Context: Ambitious SAARC satellite project proposed by PM Modi for all member countries of the regional grouping nearly one-and-half-yrs back
  3. Where? SAARC Summit in Nepal in Nov 2014
  4. Why? To benefit all member countries in various fields including telecommunication and tele-medicine
  5. Developed by? ISRO to develop the satellite which can be dedicated as a “gift” to the neighbouring countries
  6. Relevance: India had held deliberations with experts from other SAARC countries to finalise modalities for the satellite exclusively for the regional grouping

Connectivity key to South Asia’s growth: External Affairs Ministry

  1. News: Connectivity among South Asian nations was the key to economic development of the region, said by Sushma Swaraj
  2. Context: She was addressing the 37th session of the council of ministers of SAARC in Pokhara, Nepal
  3. Relevance: Connectivity was central to development and economic, cultural and people-to-people contacts would flow naturally from connectivity
  4. South Asian nations must think innovatively and find solutions to harness their economic complementarities
  5. South Asia was poised to take off as a region of vitality, creativity and economic growth

Nepal to brief India on Oli’s China visit

  1. News: India and Nepal are scheduled to hold more talks on the sidelines of a SAARC meeting
  2. Context: Meeting will held days before Nepal Prime Minister Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli’s visit to China
  3. Foreign Secretary reminded the Nepal leadership of the need to keep the country free of anti-India elements during the meeting in Kathmandu
  4. Nepal-China Meet: Mr. Oli’s trip to China is expected to yield an extradition treaty between China and Nepal, apart from showcasing Beijing’s support to present govt in Kathmandu

Learn more about SAARC

  1. About: SAARC is an economic and geopolitical organisation of 8 countries that are primarily located in South Asia or the Indian subcontinent
  2. Secretariat: Kathmandu, Nepal
  3. Economic Significance: Combined economy is third largest in world in terms of GDP (PPP) after the U.S. and China and fifth largest in the terms of nominal GDP
  4. Objectives: To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life
  5. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems
  6. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields

Sharp drop in aid to SAARC nations


  1. News: Development assistance for all SAARC countries has been significantly reduced in the 2016-17 Budget
  2. Context: This move is contrary to the NDA government’s Neighbourhood First diplomatic posture
  3. Relevance: Except Pakistan, all other 6 members of SAARC receive significant financial assistance from India
  4. Slashing of Assistance: Cut in Budget to Ministry of External Affairs, has fallen by about Rs. 500 crore
  5. Officials said: Many projects started between 2005-2010 had been completed or were nearing completion and needed less assistance
  6. Exception to the Budget: Myanmar (not a SAARC nation) saw a major 48% increase in development aid
  7. Why? because, govt’s focus on the Kaladan multi-mode transport corridor project, as well as the Trilateral Highway project

Colombo ‘committed’ to reconciliation

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera appealed to the victims on both sides of the divide to participate in a consultation process

  1. Context: This aimed at designing a reconciliation mechanism in post-civil war Sri Lanka, appealed to the victims on both sides of the divide to participate in a consultation process
  2. The News: Pointing out, bankrupt politicians as well as the ghosts of extremism were again trying to stir up the people’s passions, so urged moderates to come together
  3. Relevance: The process of reconciliation was undertaken not to appease international pressure or to keep the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights happy
  4. Outcome: It owe to the people of nation to forge a new future where all citizens will be treated with equal dignity and respect

Sri Lanka proposes new Constitution

  1. The main idea is to devolve power to the grassroot level and strengthen democracy in order to prevent another war.
  2. This will also guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms that assure human dignity and promote responsible and accountable government.
  3. It has been criticised that the new constitution has been drafted to please some Western nations and to dilute the main religion, Buddhism.
  4. The move comes when administration is taking steps to promote post-conflict reconciliation and address alleged war crimes.

Seed bank will be key to food security: experts

Representatives of 6 SAARC countries discussed the establishment of a regional seed bank.

  1. It will ensure food security and address the shortages caused by natural calamities.
  2. The meeting underlined the relevance of the seed bank in achieving collective self reliance in food crop production.
  3. Production and distribution of quality seeds constitute key elements in an effort to step up the production and productivity of crops.
  4. The seed bank is expected to provide a ready stock of common varieties to meet emergency situations caused by natural calamities.
  5. They also called for steps to conserve genetic varieties of seeds and facilitate the exchange of seeds and planting materials between SAARC nations.

India Business Card for SAARC trade

  1. India is all set to launch an India Business Card for the business community in SAARC countries, to facilitate trade and commerce.
  2. The Card will have a special logo and will be only given to businessmen of high repute.
  3. It is aimed at easing business and gels with the ‘Make in India’ policy of the govt.
  4. It is unclear if Pakistan businessmen would get access to India’s manufacturing sector.

7 South-asian nations team up to tackle black money

  1. They have a cool name – South Asian Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC) and they are going to tackle money laundering.
  2. This is first time an attempt is being made to establish such a centre in South Asia.
  3. And no points for guessing, India is spearheading this initiative!
  4. Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives are also part of it.

India and Pakistan can start opening up to trade

Despite their nearly seven decades of rivalry, India and Pakistan have a bottom-line interest in increasing commerce between them.

  • Official bilateral trade between both is barely $3 billion in 2014, it could easily amount to 10 times that much.
  • Both governments lose millions in potential customs revenue to smuggling.
  • India has granted Pakistan “most favored nation” trading status since 1996, when both countries joined the World Trade Organization.

One idea to resurrect the relations, a jointly run special economic zone on the India-Pakistan border

  • This scheme would skirt several of the most contentious trade issues.
  • To ease security concerns, goods, workers and executives going into and out of the zone could be monitored.
  • The US and the European Union, for instance, might offer tariff-free access to any goods exported from the zone.
  • Foreign companies that currently manufacture in both countries – Honda and Toyota, could be encouraged to consolidate their operations.

Ideally, initial success would fuel enthusiasm among the local business community for widening the experiment, and make more difficult conversations between the nuclear-armed neighbours just a little bit easier.


Cabinet nods to MLAT in Criminal Matters between India and Maldives

Aims to enhance effectiveness of both signatory countries in investigation and prosecution of crime.

  1. Seeks to enhance cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
  2. Provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation in the context of transnational crime and its linkages to terrorism.
  3. Focus on tracing, confiscation of proceeds, restraint and instruments of crime as well as monetary funds meant to finance terrorist acts.
  4. Under the MLAT, a mechanism has been developed among countries for obtaining an evidence to solve the criminal investigations and further use it for prosecutions.

What is MLAT?

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) is an agreement signed between two or more countries for the purpose of exchanging and gathering information to enforce criminal laws or public laws.


Sri Lanka hopes economic pact with India by year end

  1. Seeking to strengthen the Indian Ocean island’s ties with its big neighbour and reduce its dependency on Chinese investment.
  2. We are looking at a permanent agreement on cooperation on economic affairs – trade, investment and technology for development.
  3. India fears that $2 trillion economy could dominate that of Sri Lanka, with a gross domestic product of just $75 billion.
  4. Bilateral trade touched $3.64 billion in 2013,Of that, India’s exports to the island were $3.09 billion while it imported $543 million worth of goods from Sri Lanka.

India’s hi-tech gift to the SAARC – Satellite!

  1. The SAARC satellite, announced by the PM in the last SAARC summit in Nepal will cost Rs. 235 crores and the launch cost will be borne by India.
  2. The satellite will provide services related to telecommunication & broadcasting applications – television, direct-to-home, very small aperture terminals, tele-education, tele-medicine and disaster management support.
  3. ISRO will launch it using GSLV – MK-II.



Engineering goods exports to South Asia on the rise

  1. Many South Asian countries, which used to account for a small share in Indian engineering exports, are now emerging as promising markets.
  2. The EEPC, the apex body of Indian engineering exports, gives credit to the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy of PM Modi.
  3. “South Asian countries have become a major market for us, giving us more than 15% of the total shipments,” Anupam Shah, EEPC Chairman, said.
  4. An EEPC official said that while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal were major importers, there was insignificant trade with Bhutan and Afghanistan and almost nil trade with Pakistan.

India on the verge of signing the BBIN Agreement

[op-ed snap] South Asia’s Berlin walls

  1. The image of South Asia is branded as one of the least integrated region in the world.
  2. New Delhi’s foreign policy has overestimated the potential for normalisation of relations with Pakistan and underestimated the huge opportunities that Bangladesh has long presented.
  3. The recent course-correction measure will decisively correct the long-standing bias.
  4. Modi’s outreach to Dhaka and the smaller neighbours is not an effort to “isolate” Pakistan.
  5. Pakistan is too big and important in global and regional geopolitics to be isolated.


National Knowledge Network to be open to all SAARC nations

  1. India is extending its National Knowledge Network to all the members of the SAARC.
  2. This will allow students unimpeded access to digital libraries and network resources.
  3. Pillars of India’s vision for SAARC – Trade, investment, assistance, cooperation, people-to-people contacts and connectivity.
  4. India is also hosting the South Asian University, dedicated to the region.

Space Diplomacy for India

  1. On the launch of the 4th satellite for the IRNSS, the ISRO chief talked about development of a SAARC satellite.
  2. The remaining 3 navigation satellites IRNSS-1E,1F and 1G would be launched soon.
  3. This launch was via the PSLV (launch pad). We are also developing capabilities for the GSLV-Mark II.
  4. The commercial arm of ISRO is called Antrix Corporation.

India to host 5th meeting of SAARC Health Ministers in New Delhi

  1. Meeting will be a follow-up on the decisions taken by the SAARC-Head of State meeting held at Kathmandu in November 2014.
  2. Key issues – HIV-AIDS, prevention of noncommunicable & communicable diseases.
  3. Framing a road map for strengthening collaboration among SAARC countries on a number of issues and challenges faced by them.
  4. Maldives had hosted the 4th meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers in April 2012. So, we will be meeting after 3 years.

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

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