Nepal turns the corner

Image result for india nepal

Note4students

From UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much.Remember the Key terms used in this  op-ed like Madhesis

Mains level: Important for Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.Also every year UPSC asks at-least 1 question on India and its neighborhood,Since UPSC has not asked question on Nepal in recent years it is a highly probable topic for 2017 mains.

 

News

Context

  1. How the citizens of Nepal at the grassroots had been prevented from choosing their representatives for two full decades
  2. Overt activism(so called) of Indian diplomats in the internal matters of Nepal
  3. It has had to contend with the Great Earthquake of 2015 and the Great Blockade of the same year
  4. However, overcoming these obstacles, Nepal has finally arrived at the vitally important local level (village, town and city) elections

Elections

  1. Current elections(of May and June), mark a step towards implementing Nepal’s new Constitution
  2. Next year, this will be followed with elections for seven newborn provincial councils, and national parliamentary elections

Divide between hill pahadiya and plains madhesi

  1. The gravest danger of recent times for nepal has been the attempt to divide the citizenry between hill pahadiya and plains madhesi,
  2. But fortunately the fight has remained one between the plains-based ‘Madhes-baadi’ parties and the Kathmandu state

About the New Constitution 

  1. The Constitution has impressive progressive features adopted through due democratic process, but because it was written by politicians rather than jurists, applying the provisions will be a great challenge
  2. Provisions for local bodies: As far as local bodies are concerned, the Constitution provides unprecedented executive, legislative and judicial powers to village and urban units

View of plains-based parties

  1. The plains-based parties, which recently coalesced into the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP), through immediate amendment to the Constitution want to increase the number of local bodies units in the plains,
  2. adjust the electoral college system for the Upper House,
  3. and redefine the boundaries of the newly minted provinces — essentially setting a Lakshman Rekha between hill and plain

Effects of Democratic stability(in Nepal) on India

  1. Democratic stability, social transformation and economic growth in Nepal will have an immediate downstream impact on Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to begin with (and vice versa)
  2. But this requires a pruning of geostrategic thinking and increased sensitivity to economic growth and social justice in the borderlands(by India)

India’s Concerns

  1. India and Nepal needs discussiions on crucial bilateral matters which include the open border, job migration, security concerns, mutual economic growth, environmental issues including pollution and climate change, and India’s increasing desperation for water
  2. As for China becoming suddenly proactive on Nepal
  3. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway will arrive from Lhasa and Shigatse to a point north of Kathmandu by 2020
  4. India should try and shift its perceptional gears on Nepal

Stability in democracy

  1. The civic polls are the harbinger of long-lost political stability, for they will anchor the new Constitution
  2. This will in turn lead to economic growth, and already the International Monetary Fund is predicting a dramatic turnaround for an economy long in the doldrums, with the GDP growth for the current fiscal forecast at 7.5%

Back2basics

Madhesis

Image result for nepal madhesh

  1. Madhesis are people of Indian origin residing in the Terai of Nepal called Madhesh.
  2. The definition of the term ‘Madhesi’ is ambiguous and refers to various cultural groups such as Hindu caste groups, muslims and merchants of Indian origin, and indigenous people of the Terai
  3. Many share cultural traditions and marital ties with people living south of the international border in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

India launches satellite to help South Asian nations

  1. South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9, was flown into space on a GSLV rocket at 4.57 p.m. on Friday
  2. The spacecraft and the launch are estimated to have cost India around Rs. 450 crore. Its applications touch everyday life and the neighbours use its applications free of charge
  3. Participating Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, along with India
  4. Benefits of the GSAT-9: The 2,230-kg communication spacecraft will support communication, broadcasting and Internet services, disaster management, tele-medicine, tele-education, weather forecasting in a region that is geographically challenging, economically lagging with limited technological resources

Note4students:

This satellite has been in the news frequently. If you have been revising your news regularly, there should be nothing new here.

Back2Basics:

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance. It has been used to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities

[op-ed snap] Space Games

Context:

  1. Technological capabilities and innovation-led growth become important facets of economic and military power
  2. Countries have started integrating techno-diplomacy as a major piece in their broader international diplomacy edifice
  3. Technological capabilities can serve both hard power (in military and economic terms), and soft power

Techno-diplomacy:

  1. It has been used especially with nuclear technologies and military hardware and weapon systems
  2. The role of civilian technology solutions in diplomacy has taken on a sense of urgency in the last decade or so

South Asia satellite:

  1. The origins of the South Asia satellite date back to the 18th SAARC Summit, in 2014 in Nepal, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward the idea of a common satellite serving the needs of all SAARC members
  2. There were numerous delays, primarily as negotiations among the various countries of the South Asia region stalled over ownership and data access issues
  3. With Pakistan officially opting out of the project by March 2016, the decks were cleared for an expedited launch
  4. The satellite has been designed and built by ISRO, with the full cost of the mission being borne by India
  5. PM Modi stated that the satellite will be India’s “gift” to its neighbours
  6. The satellite will carry 12 ku-band transponders allotted to the participating countries
  7. Each country can use a dedicated transponder for its own use, which would primarily be communication and disaster management support

Diplomatic significance:

  1. First, it showcases India’s growing technological prowess
  2. Along with previous missions such as Chandrayaan and the Mars Orbiter Mission, the South Asia satellite underscores the strength of Indian indigenous technological development
  3. Though the satellite is not very challenging technologically, a two-year turnaround for building and deploying a satellite is impressive
  4. Second, that the satellite has been launched without any specific quid pro quo shows that India is willing to use its technological capabilities as a tool of diplomacy
  5. It also serves as a marketing tool for future launches at a time when ISRO is building a strong niche for itself in the international satellite launch market
  6. Third, it reveals both India’s ambition and capability to create what can be termed “technological commons”
  7. By “gifting” this satellite to its neighbours, India has created an open access resource that can be leveraged by the latter to address some of their critical domestic concerns
  8. Building such commons is essential not only to address immediate problems but also spur research, innovation and economic growth in the region

Note4Students:

India must make a concerted effort to expand the range of technologies it can use as part of its diplomatic arsenal. India could also look at including biotechnology and green energy. The South Asia satellite is emblematic of a more confident and assertive India, but it is necessary to ensure that such actions are not one-off.

[op-ed snap] No full stops: On Bhutan’s exit from the ‘BBIN’ agreement

Context:

  1. Bhutan announced that it is unable to proceed with the Motor Vehicles Agreement with Bangladesh, India and Nepal
  2. It is a road block for the regional sub-grouping India had planned for ease of access among the four countries

MVA:

  1. The sub-grouping, BBIN was an alternative mooted by the government after Pakistan rejected the MVA at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in 2014
  2. It seeks to allow trucks and other commercial vehicles to ply on one another’s highways to facilitate trade

Road ahead:

  1. Of the other SAARC members, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are not connected by land, and Afghanistan could only be connected if Pakistan was on board
  2. Down to just three countries now after Thimphu’s decision, India, Nepal and Bangladesh will have to decide whether to wait for Bhutan to reconsider or to press ahead with a truncated ‘BIN’ arrangement
  3. The first option will not be easy

Why is Bhutan reluctant?

  1. The main concern expressed by Bhutanese citizen groups and politicians is over increased vehicular and air pollution in a country that prides itself on ecological consciousness
  2. The upper house of parliament has refused to ratify the MVA that was originally signed by all four BBIN countries in 2015
  3. The official announcement indicates that Thimphu will not push the agreement ahead of elections in 2018

Analyzing the situation:

  1. To begin with, Bhutan’s objections are environmental, not political, and its government may well change its mind as time goes by
  2. Dry runs have been conducted along the routes, and officials estimate the road links could end up circumventing circuitous shipping routes by up to 1,000 km
  3. Second, Bhutan’s concerns may be assuaged if India considers the inclusion of waterways and riverine channels as a less environmentally damaging substitute
  4. Bhutan’s objections may even spur an overhaul of emission standards for trucks currently plying in India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Increasing connectivity:

  1. The BBIN pact denotes a “can-do” attitude on India’s part, as it shows a willingness to broaden its connectivity canvas with all countries willing to go ahead at present, leaving the door open for those that may opt to join in the future
  2. A similar initiative for the Asian Highway project under the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) corridor got a boost this week as the countries moved to upgrade the dialogue to the governmental level
  3. India has refused to attend China’s Belt and Road summit on May 14-15, objecting to projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the BCIM will remain a way of joining the network when India’s concerns are met

Note4Students:

Connectivity is the new global currency for growth and prosperity as it secures both trade and energy lines for countries en route, and India must make the most of its geographic advantages.

Bhutan backs out of motor vehicle pact

  1. India’s plan for a sub-regional motor vehicle agreement faced a setback as the Bhutan government announced that it is not ready to go ahead with the process at present
  2. It asked the other members of the ‘BBIN’ grouping — India, Bangladesh and Nepal — to continue to operationalise it without Bhutan
  3. Reason: The decision to step out of the BBIN process comes on the back of severe domestic opposition to the motor vehicles agreement
  4. It is primarily on fears of vehicular pollution and environmental degradation if trucks from neighbouring countries are given access to Bhutan, a country that prides itself on its “carbon neutrality” and preserving the environment
  5. Background: Despite the fact that the MVA agreement was signed on June 15, 2015, and ratified on its second attempt in the lower house in July 2016, the upper house in Bhutan voted it down in November 2016

Note4students:

Prelims trivia- that Bhutan has withdrawn itself. Can be a part of mains answer on SAARC, BBIN, South Asian Connectivity etc.

China-Nepal exercises don’t worry us: India

  1. Context: The China-Nepal exercise, “Sagarmatha Friendship – 2017” in Nepal Army’s paratraining school in Maharajganj
  2. It is a first ever such exercise
  3. Indian stance: The relationship between Kathmandu and New Delhi has its “own logic” and are time-tested, unique, very, very close and people centric
  4. The enduring ties between the two sides are not concerned with the ongoing military exercises between China and Nepal
  5. Though India is not concerned with the military exercise, India remains concerned about long-term peace, stability and the amendments to the Nepal Constitution of 2015
  6. India has an abiding interest in the stability and development of Nepal
  7. The Government of India has been very supportive of efforts for building an inclusive agenda in its widest possible definition which will consolidate democracy in Nepal

Note4students:

Note the name of the exercise for prelims and the Indian stance for mains. It lets us know of what stand do we take in our answers on IR.

[op-ed snap] Powering India-Nepal ties

Context:

  1. An important step in promoting electricity trade between India and Nepal took place on February 14 when Energy Secretary-level talks — known as the joint steering committee (JSC) meeting — concluded in Kathmandu
  2. Here, it was decided to endorse the detailed project report of the 400 kV Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line
  3. It follows the guidelines issued by India’s Ministry of Power for cross-border electricity trade on December 5, 2016

A good opportunity for both:

  1. This is an opportune moment to push for electricity trade with a long-term perspective
  2. Nepal is short of power and will need to import power for some years to accelerate its economic growth
  3. India has surplus capacity at present
  4. In the years to come, it can fruitfully import flexible hydropower from Nepal to balance its fast growing renewable generation and also provide a market for Nepal’s electricity
  5. With this market, Nepal’s hydro potential can be developed faster
  6. India and Nepal have been talking about electricity trade and joint projects for many years now, but somehow these talks did not succeed
  7. It was only in 2014 when India and Nepal signed a Power Trade Agreement that the doors opened for Nepal developers/traders to access the Indian power market
  8. At first, Nepal was apprehensive that it would not get a fair deal trading with a large neighbour, but power is now traded in India on exchanges transparently and the price is known to all, thus assuaging some of Nepal’s apprehensions

What the data show:

  1. Due to political uncertainty, the development of Nepal’s hydro potential has been delayed
  2. Out of an economically viable and technically feasible potential of 43.5 GW, only 0.8 GW had been developed by March 2016
  3. Thus, a great opportunity has been missed. By selling power to India, Nepal could have developed its economy at a faster rate
  4. Bhutan has reaped the benefit of power export to India and its per capita income in purchasing power parity adjusted for international dollars increased from $475 in 1980 to $7,860 in 2015. India’s was $5,730 in 2015

Need for electricity:

  1. In 2015, Nepal faced load-shedding of up to 16 hours a day during the dry season, when the available capacity of Nepal’s hydropower decreases to a third of installed capacity
  2. Peak load outstripped domestic power generation capacity, causing serious power shortage, which was partly met with by import from India
  3. Nepal’s electricity supply in 2015-16 was around 5,100 GWh, of which 3,300 GWh was domestic generation and remaining 1,758 GWh was import from India
  4. Import has increased steadily from 746 GWh in 2011-12 to 1,758 GWh in 2015-16, an almost threefold increase
  5. Nepal also exports electricity to India in some periods, although in very small quantity
  6. Per capita electricity consumption in Nepal is one of the world’s lowest, at 119 kWh in 2012
  7. It has an ambitious target of reaching 16,500 MW of hydro capacity by 2030, which includes the joint project with India at Pancheshwar

Energy study:

  1. The Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) have carried out a detailed modelling study which explored electricity trade potential on an hourly basis till 2045
  2. This study was carried out as a part of US AID-supported South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration project
  3. The trade takes place at a price that is acceptable to both buyer and seller
  4. Its macroeconomic impact has also been estimated
  5. For example, Nepal’s revenue from export of electricity to India increases its ability to import more goods and also to invest more in the economy
  6. This increases its gross domestic product, consumption and use of electricity, which improves quality of life
  7. The prospect of electricity trade with India makes it possible for Nepal to develop its hydropower potential and has important consequences
  8. Even though significant exports to India will begin only from 2025 because domestic capacity development takes time, Nepal could already benefit through larger import of electricity from India
  9. Increased availability of electricity accelerates its economic development
  10. The construction of transmission lines to import electricity become lines to export electricity by 2025

Benefits to India:

  1. Trade also benefits India
  2. Meeting the evening peak in India when its large solar PV capacity would not be available becomes easier and cheaper
  3. The gains in monetary terms are comparable for both Nepal and India
  4. Therefore, the sooner Nepal develops its hydropower potential, the earlier the benefits
  5. For electricity trade to materialise, policy, institutional and technical infrastructure are necessary
  6. Building hydropower projects and transmission infrastructure is highly investment-intensive
  7. Without a stable, long-term conducive policy and an institutional environment in place, which ensures payment security, it is unlikely that investors will put their money in this risky business
  8. Recently, the Indian government issued guidelines and draft notification on cross-border electricity trade (CBET) policy to enable Indian/Nepal producers/traders to seamlessly exchange power with neighbouring nations

Note4Students:

A climate of confidence and trust in the long-term trading relationship between India and Nepal can greatly help Nepal meet its ambitious target and provide an opportunity for Indian investors to invest in Nepal. This could help us smoothen our recently strained relations with Nepal as well as strengthen our historically friendly ties. Note the important aspects for mains.

Sasec members chart strategic sub-regional development road map

  1. Context: Launch of the strategic vision document titled “SASEC: Powering Asia in the 21st Century
  2. SASEC: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation
  3. The step comes in the backdrop of the absence of any substantive deal-making in the SAARC grouping due to the rivalry between India and Pakistan
  4. SASEC Vision: Charts a new strategic road map to guide sub-regional development through 2025 by enhancing market connectivity beyond physical connectivity
  5. It will supplement the SASEC Operational Plan 2016-2025 released in May 2016
  6. It would rely on regional cooperation that focuses on generating synergies between three levers—natural resources, industrial potential, and connectivity

Note4students:

Important for prelims as well as mains. Know about SASEC in b2b.

Back2basics:

SASEC:

  1. Setup in 2001
  2. 7 members: India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar
  3. The Manila, Philippines-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) serves as the Secretariat for SASEC
  4. Aim: To coordinate planning of projects and activities to increase economic growth by building cross-border connectivity, and facilitating faster and more efficient trade.
  5. Developments: Over the past 15 years, Sasec member countries have invested $9 billion in 46 sub-regional projects that have helped propel the sub-region’s growth and development, with Asian Development Bank (ADB) financing $5.6 billion of this total

[pib] What is South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)?

  1. South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) is facilitating trade guided by the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework (2014–2018) in the sub-region through various projects
  2. The key projects underway in the region include, among others:
    1. formulation and implementation of new Customs laws and regulations;
    2. strengthening of automated Customs systems;
    3. implementing provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) such as on pre-arrival processing, risk management and post-clearance audit;
    4. developing trade portals for better transparency; and
    5. establishing trusted trader programs, which assure facilitation to those with proven record of compliance
  3. The RKC is the legal instrument of the World Customs Organization (WCO) that aims to simplify and harmonize international customs procedures globally, in order to achieve faster, more predictable and efficient customs clearances
  4. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been partnering with Indian Customs for sharing best practices and technical expertise with other countries under the SASEC umbrella
  5. This form of South-South collaboration will support harmonizing the systems and processes within the sub-region thereby creating a conducive environment for intra-regional trade in SASEC to flourish
  6. The through-transport arrangements being finalized among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) is an initiative that would help in seamless cross-border movement of vehicles/cargo among identified corridors bringing down transaction costs and delays and easing the border congestion
  7. ADB is also supporting India to develop integrated solutions for enhancing their logistics efficiency, covering the infrastructure and connectivity needed, as well as a logistics facilitation model that would enable faster and more efficient vehicle/cargo movement
  8. This project would also cover international cargo, providing options for cargo clearance (e.g., at inland/ dry ports, bonded warehouses, etc.) enabling traders to manage their supply chain efficiently and decongesting ports

Note4Students:

An important read for Prelims and Mains.

Back2Basics:

  • Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation
  • The Asian Development Bank is the secretariat and lead financier of the program, which to date has supported a total of 46 projects worth about $9.2 billion
  • It has financed in transport, trade facilitation, energy, information and communications technology (ICT) and economic corridor development
PIB

[op-ed snap] Power And Politeness

Context:

  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

Note4Students:

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

Note4Students:

A Prelim tit-bit.

PIB

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

Note4students:

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

Context:

  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

Background:

  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

Note4Students:

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

Note4students:

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.

Back2basics:

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

Note4students:

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

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  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.
PIB

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.

PIB

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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