Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

Feb, 18, 2019

[op-ed snap] Backing West Asia

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Saudi Crown prince Visit to India And deepening of bilateral realtionship and change in regional dynamics


Context

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India this week — as part of a larger tour of Asia including Pakistan and China.

Importance of visit

  • It will mark the consolidation of two important trends and help initiate a significant third.
  • The first relates to the trilateral dynamic with Pakistan and the second to the deepening of the bilateral relationship between Delhi and Riyadh.
  • The third is about extending support to Prince Salman’s agenda for “reversing 1979”, when tumultuous regional developments and the Saudi response to them began to alter the equation between religion and politics in the region, destabilise India’s neighbourhood and change South Asia’s inter-state relations for the worse.

Change in South Asia And Gulf relationship after British Withdrawal

  • The Subcontinent’s historic relationship with the Gulf is deep and civilisational.
  • British Raj in undivided India became both the provider of security and the facilitator of the region’s economic globalisation.
  • After Partition and Independence, Pakistan sought to mobilise political support from the Middle East in the name of shared religious identity.
    Non-aligned India had little interest in continuing the strategic legacy of the Raj.
  • At the political level, India’s emphasis was on solidarity with Arab nationalism and against neo-colonialism and Western imperialism.
  • Riyadh became the moving force behind the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
  • The forum’s hostile rhetoric on the Kashmir question (at the instigation of Pakistan) generated the perception in Delhi that Saudi Arabia and the conservative monarchies were “pro-Pakistan”.

Reason for Interest conflicts

  • Divergence over regional issues such as Afghanistan,
    India’s embrace of the Soviet Union.
  • The deep dependence of the Gulf kingdoms on the West
    Saudi support for radical Islam beyond its borders since the late 1970s.

Growing Proximity over the years

  • The end of the Cold War, India’s economic reforms, and the growing economic interdependence , growing oil imports and manpower exports, generated greater interest in the Gulf monarchies.
  • As the gap in national economic capabilities between India and Pakistan began to widen since the 1990s in favour of Delhi, Saudi Arabia de-hyphenated its engagement in South Asia.
  • Delhi stopped viewing the Saudi kingdom through the political lens of Pakistan.
  • Prince Salman’s visit now is an opportunity for Delhi to construct a solid and comprehensive partnership on the foundation laid over the last decade.

New Avenues for cooperation

  • Beyond the traditional focus on strengthening cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector new possibilities come from Prince Salman’s ambitious agenda for modernising the economy of the Saudi kingdom.
  • Bilateral agenda for cooperation to counter terrorism.
  • Bilateral defence cooperation and developing bilateral strategic coordination on regional affairs.

Reversing 1979

  1. Four developments in 1979
  • seizure of Mecca’s Grand Mosque by militant Saudi Salafis.
  • overthrow of the Shah of Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini
  • Shia revolt in eastern Saudi Arabia
  • the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  1. Forced with new internal and external threats, the House of Saud promoted a more conservative Islam at home and support Sunni extremism abroad.
  2. This included support to the jihad in Afghanistan and the American and Pakistani war against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul.

Way Forward

  • Prince Salman vowed to overcome the deviations of 1979 and return Saudi Arabia to “moderate Islam”.
  • Many observers, are sceptical of the potential for real change in Saudi Arabia.
    Delhi, in contrast, has every reason to strongly support Prince.
  • After all, India continues to suffer the consequences of 1979.
  • Apart from number of MoUs that India will sign with Saudi this week, is Delhi’s visible and unstinted solidarity with Prince Salman’s reform agenda at home and his effort to promote religious and political moderation in the region.
Jan, 12, 2019

First India-Central Asia Dialogue to be held in Uzbekistan

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-Central Asia Dialogue

Mains level: India’s initiatives for enhancing economic cooperation in Central Asia


News

First India-Central Asia Dialogue

  1. The first India-Central Asia Dialogue will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and will be co-chaired by India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM).
  2. The Foreign Minister of Afghanistan will participate in the dialogue as a special invitee for the session dedicated to connectivity issues in the region.
  3. While the representatives from Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan will represent their respective countries at the event.

Expected outcomes

  1. Bound together through shared history and cultural linkages, India and the Central Asian states look forward to the Dialogue as an important initiative to enhance their cooperation in wide-ranging spheres.
  2. These include exploring ways to substantially enhance India’s economic involvement in business and development sector of Central Asia.
  3. The participants will deliberate on developing viable connectivity options between India and Afghanistan and Central Asia to further facilitate trade and economic activity in the region.
Sep, 12, 2018

[pib] India focus country in Izmir International Trade Show

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Source India Pavilion, Izmir International Trade Show

Mains level: India-Turkey Bilateral Relations


News

Izmir International Trade Show

  1. The Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) led a75-member Indian delegation for the ongoing 87th Izmir International Trade Show in Turkey.
  2. The delegation had several B2B meetings and business tie-ups with members of the Turkish business community.

Source India Pavilion

  1. India is the Focus Country in the trade show with a standalone pavilion named ‘Source India’.
  2. The India Pavilion is a multi-product pavilion, including companies displaying products like ceramics, cereals and mechanical appliances.
  3. These events serve the purpose of opening new areas for co-operation in trade and investment between India and the rest of the world.

India- Turkey Trade

  1. Bilateral trade between the two countries was $7 billion in 2017, an increase of 8% over the previous year.
  2. There is a huge potential for tie-ups between Indian and Turkish agriculture and food processing sectors.
  3. The collaborations may range from farming technology, high yielding varieties, farm machinery, food processing and cold storage.

Back2Basics

Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI)

  1. TPCI is an apex trade and investment promotion organization notified in the Foreign Trade Policy. TPCI is also recognized and supported by the Department of Commerce, Govt. of India.
  2. It provides policy suggestions which are essentially based on inputs collated from research and industry stakeholders.
  3. Aim: To accelerate India’s global trade through advanced research and trade promotion.
  4. Working: Creating global platform for the industry by organizing seminars, trade shows and business delegations through measures usch as-
  • Advanced Trade Research:- Supporting India’s trade policy and economic diplomacy through research.
  • Trade Promotion:- Exploring international trade opportunities in untapped markets and promoting new exporters.
  • Trade Facilitation:- Identifying bottlenecks and bridging the gap between industry and authority by continuous interaction.
  • Investment Promotion:- Exploring scope and facilitating investment in potential business and sectors.
Sep, 05, 2018

[pib] Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Exercise KAZIND 2018

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Exercise KAZIND

Mains level: Indo-Kazakhstan defence cooperation


News

Exercise KAZIND 2018

  1. The Joint Army Exercise will be conducted between the Indian and Kazakhstan Army in Otar region, Kazakhstan.
  2. This is the third joint military exercise between the two countries which have a history of extensive cooperation in the defence arena.
  3. The second edition of the exercise was held in India last year.
  4. The aim of the exercise is to build and promote bilateral Army to Army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Kazakhstan Army and the Indian Army.

Enhancing Defense cooperation

  1. The vast experience and expertise of Indian troops in counter insurgency operations holds special importance to the Kazakhstan Army.
  2. The fourteen days exercise with the Kazakhstan Army will follow a graduated continuum from orientation to a full scale mock exercise.
  3. Another aim is to achieve optimum integration among the two contingents through enhanced mutual comprehension of each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures.
  4. The conduct of the joint exercise will set the stage for greater defence cooperation and consequently will manifest in stronger ties between the two great nations.
Aug, 17, 2018

Caspian Sea breakthrough treaty set to boost oil, pipeline plans

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Caspian Sea Bordering States

Mains level: Changing dynamics of Caspian neighbouring states


News

Consensus over Caspian Sea

  1. Five Caspian Sea states (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan) reached a breakthrough agreement on sovereign rights to the sea.
  2. This paved the way for new oil and gas extraction and pipelines after more than two decades of disputes.
  3. The treaty ends a spat over whether the Caspian is a sea or a lake, granting it special legal status and clarifying the maritime boundaries of each surrounding country.
  4. The five members have tried to define the Caspian Sea’s legal status since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in order to divide up the waters and its natural resources for new drilling and pipelines.
  5. It also allows each to lay pipelines offshore with consent only from the neighbouring states affected, rather than from all Caspian Sea nations.

Huge energy reserves

  1. The territorial disputes have prevented the exploration of at least 20 billion barrels of oil and more than 240 trillion cubic feet of gas, the US Energy Information Administration estimated in 2013.
  2. The new agreement states that the development of seabed reserves will be regulated by separate deals between Caspian nations, in line with international law.
  3. This essentially cements the current situation, since countries such as Kazakhstan and Russia already have bilateral accords on joint projects

Connecting to Europe

  1. The five Caspian Sea nations already develop offshore oil and gas reserves that are located near enough to the coast not to be disputed.
  2. Projects in the northernmost waters Kazakhstan’s giant Kashagan field and Russia’s Filanovsky and Korchagin deposits are seen as sources of future oil-output growth for the countries.
  3. The treaty will also remove a legal barrier to building a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe.
  4. While the European Union and Azerbaijan have supported the long-planned pipeline project, which could ease Russia’s grip on the EU’s gas market, the Kremlin has opposed it, citing environmental concerns and legalities.

Outstanding Issues

  1. Iran shares smallest boundary with Caspian Sea hence is the least gainer.
  2. It highlighted the issue of the distribution rights of seabed oil and gas deposits over the undiscovered fields.
Aug, 11, 2018

[pib] Exercise SCO Peace Mission 2018

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

Mains level:  Defence cooperation under SCO


News

SCO Peace Mission Exercise

  1. Under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) initiatives, SCO Peace Mission Exercise is conducted biennially for SCO member states.
  2. The joint exercise for the year 2018 will be conducted by Central Military Commission of Russia at Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk, Russia.
  3. This will be a historic occasion due to the maiden participation of India post becoming a full member of the SCO in June 2017.

Importance of this exercise

  1. This exercise marks a major milestone in the multilateral relations of SCO member nations.
  2. It will involve tactical level operations in an international counter insurgency or counter terrorism environment under SCO Charter.
  3. The joint exercise will strengthen mutual confidence, interoperability and enable sharing of best practices among armed forces of SCO Nations.
  4. It will be a landmark event in the history of SCO defence cooperation where Indian and Pakistani armed forces will participate together.
Jun, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] India’s pivot to Eurasia

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), G-7, Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)

Mains level:  U.S.-North Korea summit, Trade wars and its impact on India’s interests


Context

Dichotomy for India

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China (June 9-10) attracted little international attention
  2. This was majorly due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s acrimonious public exchanges with other leaders at the G-7 (group of seven industrialized countries) summit (June 7-8) and the headline-hogging U.S.-North Korea summit (June 12)

SCO-Background

  1. The SCO grew out of the Shanghai Five grouping — of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — which was set up in 1996 to resolve boundary disputes between China and each of the four other members
  2. It admitted Uzbekistan in 2001, re-christened itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and broadened its agenda to include political, economic and security cooperation
  3. It admitted India and Pakistan as full members in 2017

Opportunities at SCO

  1. The admission of India and Pakistan has expanded the geographical, demographic and economic profile of the SCO
  2. It now has about half the world’s population and a quarter of its GDP
  3. Its boundary extends southwards to the Indian Ocean
  4. The SCO’s relevance for India lies in geography, economics and geopolitics

How can SCO help?

  1. Its members occupy a huge landmass adjacent to India’s extended neighborhood, where India has important economic and security interests
  2. A narrow sliver of land separates southern Tajikistan from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
  3. It makes sense to strengthen relations with your neighbors’ neighbors if you have complicated relations with your neighbours
  4. With Pakistan joining the Organisation and Afghanistan and Iran knocking on the doors for membership, the logic of India’s membership becomes stronger
  5. India has to carve out a political and economic space for itself in Central Asia, alongside Russia’s role as a net security provider and China’s dominating economic presence
  6. The Central Asian countries would welcome India breaking into this Russia-China duopoly

India-Pak rapprochement

  1. The SCO will nudge both countries to cooperate in sensitive areas
  2. One example is the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO, which coordinates cooperation for security and stability, through intelligence-sharing on criminal and terrorist activities
  3. India has agreed to participate in the SCO’s counter-terrorism military exercises in Russia later this year, when Indian and Pakistani troops will operate together
  4. Tacitly accepting the fact that India and Pakistan are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Qingdao declaration confirms the compliance of the SCO’s NPT signatories to its provisions

Non-Western Perspective on Global Issues

  1. Besides expanding opportunities for India in Central Asia, the SCO is a platform for articulating a non-Western perspective on global issues which distinct from an anti-Western one
  2. This includes opposition to the selective advocacy of regime change, self-serving homilies on human rights and intrusive advice on domestic policies

Challenges

  1. Security and defense cooperation with Pakistan
  2. Increasing Chinese dominance of the SCO
  3. Another possible game-changer could be the fallout of the much-heralded U.S.-North Korea summit
  4. If peace in the Korean peninsula leads to reduced American military presence in the region, it would dramatically change the balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific in favor of China

Way Forward

  1. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the optimal development of India’s relations with Central Asian countries has been constrained by lack of overland access through Pakistan and Afghanistan/Iran, because of political and/or security reasons
  2. With new multimodal transport corridors now envisaged through Iran, there are again prospects of invigorating trade and investment links with this region
Jun, 11, 2018

India, Uzbekistan to route their trade though Chabahar

 

Image source

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Mains level: India-Uzbekistan Bilateral Relation and its importance.


News

Growing engagement with resource-rich Central Asia

  1. India and Uzbekistan are set to route their trade through the Iranian port of Chabahar as part of India’s growing engagement with resource-rich Central Asia.
  2. On the sidelines of the summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), both nations hoped to supplement their connectivity through the establishment of industrial parks and an investment zone in Uzbekistan.

India keen on Central Asian ties

  1. India has gone the extra mile to engage with the four Central Asian Republics at the ongoing SCO summit, highlighting the critical importance of this resource-rich region in shaping Eurasia.

Back2Basics

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization
  2. The organization, formed in 2001, aims to boost cooperation in economic and security matters between China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan
  3. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan
  4. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Belarus have been granted observer status in SCO
  5. In 2017, SCO’s eight full members account for approximately half of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s GDP, and about 80% of Eurasia’s landmass
May, 28, 2018

China invites Iran to attend SCO summit

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, P5+1 group, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Mains level: Iran nuclear deal and its implications on India


News

New geopolitics in Central Asia 

  1. China has invited the Iranian President to participate in the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit next month
  2. The invitation comes at a crucial time after the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany), of which China is a member
  3. The summit will be the first after the inclusion of India and Pakistan as members of the organization in 2017

Implementation of JCPOA to continue

  1. Beijing hoped the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) would continue to be implemented
  2. If the JCPoA cannot be further implemented, the normal economic cooperation between the relevant countries will be affected

Back2Basics

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization
  2. The organization, formed in 2001, aims to boost cooperation in economic and security matters between China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan
  3. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan
  4. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Belarus have been granted observer status in SCO
  5. In 2017, SCO’s eight full members account for approximately half of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s GDP, and about 80% of Eurasia’s landmass
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Shahid
Shahid
19 Feb, 2019

how to get pdf of the articles..