Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

What is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), NATO

Mains level : Relevance of NAM

Non-alignment is an old concept today, and India has adopted an approach of “issue-based alignment”, according to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Try this question for mains:

Q.“The gradual exit of the US from institutional geopolitics has created an ocean of opportunity for small nations”. Discuss.

What is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)?

  • The NAM is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • The group was started in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961.
  • After the UN, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.

Its formation

  • NAM emerged in the context of the wave of decolonization that followed World War II.
  • It was created by Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito, India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s second President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.
  • All five leaders believed that developing countries should not help either the Western or Eastern blocs in the Cold War.
  • As a condition for membership, the states of the NAM cannot be part of a multilateral military alliance (such as the NATO) or have signed a bilateral military agreement with one of the “big powers” involved in Great Power conflicts.
  • However, its idea does not signify that a state ought to remain passive or even neutral in international politics.

Its relevance today

  • One of the challenges of the NAM in the 21st century has been to reassess its identity and purpose in the post-Cold War era.
  • The movement has continued to advocate for international cooperation, multilateralism, and national self-determination, but it has also been increasingly vocal against the inequities of the world economic order.
  • On the contrary, from the founding of the NAM, its stated aim has been to give a voice to developing countries and to encourage their concerted action in world affairs.

The geopolitics of opportunity

  • Non-alignment was a term of a particular era and geopolitical landscape. One aspect was independence, which remains a factor of continuity for India.
  • The consequences of global shifts, including the US and the assertiveness of China, are opening spaces for middle powers like India, Japan, the EU and others.

US repositioning has impacted everyone

  • The consequence of repositioning of the US, that the big umbrella is now smaller than it used to be, has allowed many other countries to play more autonomous roles.
  • India needs to take more “risks”, as the world expected it to take a more proactive stance on various issues including connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, climate change and terrorism.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Virtual Summit

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

Mains level : NAM, it's aims and objective, current role of NAM; India's past, present and future link to NAM

PM Modi has for the first addressed the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit since assuming office in 2014.

Possible mains question-

Q. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has lost its relevance in the new era of multipolar world. Comment.

Highlights of the online summit

  • The online NAM Contact Group Summit on “United against COVID-19” was hosted by current NAM Chairman and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.
  • The NAM leaders announced the creation of a task force to identify requirements of member countries through a common database reflecting their basic medical, social and humanitarian needs in the fight against COVID-19.

What is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)?

  • The NAM is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • The group was started in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961.
  • After the UN, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide.

Its formation

  • NAM emerged in the context of the wave of decolonization that followed World War II.
  • It was created by Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito, India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s second President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.
  • All five leaders believed that developing countries should not help either the Western or Eastern blocs in the Cold War.
  • As a condition for membership, the states of the NAM cannot be part of a multilateral military alliance (such as the NATO) or have signed a bilateral military agreement with one of the “big powers” involved in Great Power conflicts.
  • However, its idea does not signify that a state ought to remain passive or even neutral in international politics.

Terms of summits

  • Unlike the UN or the Organization of American States, the NAM has no formal constitution or permanent secretariat.
  • All members of the NAM have equal weight within its organization.
  • The movement’s positions are reached by consensus in the Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government, which usually convenes every three years.
  • The administration of the organization is the responsibility of the country holding the chair, a position that rotates at every summit.
  • The ministers of foreign affairs of the member states meet more regularly in order to discuss common challenges, notably at the opening of each regular session of the UN General Assembly.

Its relevance today

  • One of the challenges of the NAM in the 21st century has been to reassess its identity and purpose in the post-Cold War era.
  • The movement has continued to advocate for international cooperation, multilateralism, and national self-determination, but it has also been increasingly vocal against the inequities of the world economic order.
  • On the contrary, from the founding of the NAM, its stated aim has been to give a voice to developing countries and to encourage their concerted action in world affairs.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Indian nationals living abroad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Data on Indian's living abroad

Mains level : Indian diaspora in Gulf region

There are over 1.36 crore Indian nationals living abroad, according to data tabled by the Ministry of External Affairs in Lok Sabha.

Indians abroad

  • The highest number of Indians abroad are living in the United Arab Emirates, where the 34,20,000 Indians comprise about one-fourth of all Indians abroad.
  • The UAE is followed by Saudi Arabia (25,94,947), the US (12,80,000), Kuwait (10,29,861), Oman (7,79,351), Qatar (7,56,062), Nepal (5,00,000), UK (3,51,000), Singapore (3,50,000) and Bahrain (3,23,292).
  • The CPV (Consular, Passport and Visa) division of the ministry is the nodal division that coordinates with all missions / posts abroad regarding transportation of the mortal remains of Indians from abroad to their hometowns in India.

Total remittances recieved

  • Citing RBI data, the ministry said that during 2018-2019, $76.4 billion was received as remittances from Indians abroad.
  • During 2019-2020 (April-September), $41.9 billion was received.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Raisina Dialogue 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Raisina Dialogue

Mains level : Raisina Dialogue and its impact on India's global profile

 

India`s annual global conference on geopolitics and geo-economics, Raisina Dialogue 2020 has began with the participation of over 100 countries.

Raisina Dialogue

  • The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.
  • It is jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation.
  • Every year, global leaders in policy, business, media and civil society are hosted in New Delhi to discuss cooperation on a wide range of pertinent international policy matters.
  • The Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials, as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics.

This years’ agenda

  • The fifth edition of the Dialogue 2020 has been India`s contribution to global efforts to discover solutions, identify opportunities and provide stability to a century that has witnessed an eventful two decades.
  • This year`s Dialogue titled `Navigating the Alpha Century` is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of states, cabinet ministers and local government officials as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics.

Significance of the dialogue

  • The Raisina Dialogue has acquired an enviable global profile uniting the best strategic thinkers of the world.
  • The synergies and collaborations in the Raisina Dialogue represent India`s deliberative ethos, as well as its international credibility and convening power.
  • The Dialogue has grown along with India`s diplomatic profile and will set the tone for its intensive diplomatic engagement this year.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Study in India’ programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Study India

CONTEXT

To facilitate Internationalization of Higher Education in India, a Programme viz. ‘Study in India’ is under implementation.

 Objectives

  • To make India a preferred education destination/hub for foreign students;
  • Improve the soft power of India with focus on the neighbouring countries
  • Use it as a tool in diplomacy;
  • To rapidly increase the inflow of inbound International Students in India through systematic brand-building,
  • Marketing, social media and digital marketing campaigns;
  • To increase India’s market share of global education exports;
  • Improvement in overall quality of higher education;
  • To reduce the export-import imbalance in the number of international students;
  • Growth in India’s global market share of International students;
  • Increase in global ranking of India etc.

Special Focus

  • The programme focuses on attracting International students from select 30 plus countries across South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa.
  • The programme envisages participation of select reputed Indian institutes/universities by way of offering seats for the International students at affordable rates, along with fee waivers to meritorious foreign students ranging from 100% to 25%.
  • A centralised admission web-portal (https://studyinindia.gov.in) acts as a single window for the admission of foreign students.

Conclusion

  • With the increase in number of foreign students, the global ranking of the Indian Higher Educational institutions will improve.
  • The domestic students shall be exposed to a more diverse peer group and also get greater International exposure culminating in enhanced interest of Indian students to study in the country.
  • This information was given by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

E-registration must for jobs in 18 countries

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Indian Diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ECR norms

Mains level: Welfare of Indians going abroad


News

Compulsory registration for non-ECR category

  1. Passport holders with non-Emigration Check Required (non-ECR) status will soon have to get themselves registered with the Ministry of External Affairs before taking up jobs abroad.
  2. The rule, which takes effect on January 1, is said to be aimed at the welfare of Indians going abroad.
  3. It applies to jobs in 18 countries, including the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, which have the largest number of expats.

Category of passengers

  1. The non-ECR category of passengers includes Indians paying income tax and those with educational qualification above matriculation.
  2. As of now only ECR category passport holders were required to get emigration clearance from the office of the Protector of Emigrants to seek employment abroad.
  3. All those seeking employment will have to register online via the website emigrate.gov.in.
  4. Those failing to register at least 24 hours prior to actual departure will be off-loaded at the airports.
  5. For all other visa categories, there is no change in existing procedures.

Why such move?

  1. The objective of the directive is to protect workers with higher educational qualification from not getting into blue collar jobs.
  2. Previously only ECR stamped passport holders had to go through the mandatory e-migrate registration since 2015.
  3. However, not all blue collar workers are in the ECR category as it was evident in the number of people taking up employment in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman and Qatar.

What data say?

  1. Statistics available with the MEA showed that UAE is one of the five top destination countries for Indians taking up employment.
  2. Nearly 1.5 lakh Indians had taken up employment in that country last year.
  3. This was followed by Saudi Arabia (78,611); Kuwait (56,380); Oman (43,332) and Qatar (24,759).
  4. Incidentally Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the top labour-sending State with 88,450 Indian emigrants registering with the e-migrate system.
  5. This was followed by Bihar (69,426); Tamil Nadu (38,341); West Bengal (36,599) and Rajasthan (32,184).
  6. The other countries where registration is required are Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand and Yemen.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

MEA launches ‘India for Humanity’ initiative

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Ministries & Departments of the Government

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India For Humanity Initiative

Mains level: India’s welfare measures for the Divyangjans across the globe.


News

Context

  • External Affairs Minister Mrs. Swaraj has launched ‘India for Humanity’ initiative to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

‘India for Humanity’ Initiative

  1. The initiative will feature a year-long series of artificial limb fitment camps in a various countries across the globe.
  2. For this MEA is collaborating with the renowned charitable organisation — “Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti” (BMVSS).
  3. These camps will be initially held in 12 countries identified through our missions with financial support of the central government.
  4. The larger aim is to provide for the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the differently-abled.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in Varanasi

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Indian Diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Mains level: Initaitives taken by the government to connect to Indian dispora


15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, 2019

  1. The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held in the holy city of Varanasi on January 21 to 23, 2019 with the
    Indian diaspora having an option to participate in Kumbha Snan and attend the Republic Day parade in
    New Delhi
  2. The event would be inaugurated by PM Modi and his Mauritian counterpart
  3. It will be organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Uttar Pradesh government
  4. The theme of the 15th PBD is “Role of Indian Diaspora in building a New India”

Back2Basics

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

  1. It is a celebratory day observed on 9 January, biennially (after 2015) to mark the contribution of the
    overseas Indian community towards the development of India
  2. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Mumbai on 9 January 1915
  3. It is sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce
    and Industry (FICCI), the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the Ministry of DoNER
  4. A celebratory event is held on 7–9 January in an Indian city: a forum for issues concerning the Indian
    Diaspora is organized and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given
  5. The latest 14th PBD was held in Bengaluru, Karnataka in January 2017
  6. MEA also organizes Regional PBD periodically outside India to connect with the Indian Diaspora in specific regions, familiarize them with the policies and programmes of the Government and enable them to contribute to India’s development and growth, and address their concerns

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Minority Affairs Ministry takes charge of Haj pilgrimage

  1. Context: President’s assent to amendments to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961
  2. Haj management: Transfer of management of Haj Pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959, to the Minorities Affairs Ministry
  3. Earlier: The Ministry of External Affairs has dealt with the Haj pilgrimage and other aspects of the Act so far
  4. However, MEA would still continue to oversee other pilgrimages to places outside India under the Indian Pilgrimships Rules, 1933, and pilgrim parties from India to shrines in Pakistan and vice versa

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

India makes list, plans outreach to 68 countries

  1. Context: Govt’s commitment to reach out to all countries worldwide
  2. Ministry of External Affairs has issued letters to various Ministers assigning them dozens of specific countries to engage with
  3. It has identified 68 countries which had not witnessed Ministerial-level visits from India
  4. Govt: By 2016-end, we will not leave any country where Indian Ministers have not gone

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement

  1. News: Cabinet has given its approval for India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement
  2. About: International transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf
  3. Why? India’s intention to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement would now be conveyed to the Depository State (Turkmenistan)
  4. India would become party to the Agreement upon consent of the founding members
  5. Benefits: Accession to Agreement would enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade interaction with Eurasian region
  6. This would synchronise with efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity
  1. News: Cabinet has given its approval for India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement
  2. About: International transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf
  3. Why? India’s intention to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement would now be conveyed to the Depository State (Turkmenistan)
  4. India would become party to the Agreement upon consent of the founding members
  5. Benefits: Accession to Agreement would enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade interaction with Eurasian region
  6. This would synchronise with efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

MEA protests after being asked to curb foreign travel

  1. News: Memorandum issued Finance Ministry, stipulating new instructions for foreign travel
  2. This has spurred a protest “go-slow” from the MEA on all political clearances for officers travelling abroad
  3. Context: Finance Ministry officials say the memorandum is part of a bi-annual cost-cutting exercise to restrict foreign travel as much as possible
  4. Concern from MEA: First time, PM’s clearance needed for more than 4 visits by Secretaries in 1 yr, which will add to the red tape and cause delays
  5. Non-officials can only travel with PM’s clearance, not at MEA’s discretion
  1. News: Memorandum issued Finance Ministry, stipulating new instructions for foreign travel
  2. This has spurred a protest “go-slow” from the MEA on all political clearances for officers travelling abroad
  3. Context: Finance Ministry officials say the memorandum is part of a bi-annual cost-cutting exercise to restrict foreign travel as much as possible
  4. Concern from MEA: First time, PM’s clearance needed for more than 4 visits by Secretaries in 1 yr, which will add to the red tape and cause delays
  5. Non-officials can only travel with PM’s clearance, not at MEA’s discretion

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and important announcements

  1. Giving Adhaar cards to NRIs and OCIs is under consideration.
  2. Women workers will be allowed to go to Gulf countries for employment only through government agencies.
  3. This is to ensure they are not duped by recruiting agents.
  4. PBD is held on 9th January as on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the “greatest Pravasi”, returned home from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.
  1. Giving Adhaar cards to NRIs and OCIs is under consideration.
  2. Women workers will be allowed to go to Gulf countries for employment only through government agencies.
  3. This is to ensure they are not duped by recruiting agents.
  4. PBD is held on 9th January as on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the “greatest Pravasi”, returned home from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry, MEA merged

  1. As senior diplomats wanted officials dealing with foreign workers-related issues and emergencies to have better diplomatic back-up and coordination.
  2. The merger is expected to increase efficiency in MEA’s emergency work abroad.
  3. MEA wanted the key operational posts, including that of the Protector General of Emigrants, one of the most important offices in MOIA, to have diplomatic focus.
  4. The post is responsible for issuing registration certificates to recruitment agents who send workers abroad, especially to the Gulf region.

In order to avoid duplication of work and to improve efficiency, the government merged the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with the Ministry of External Affairs.

  1. As senior diplomats wanted officials dealing with foreign workers-related issues and emergencies to have better diplomatic back-up and coordination.
  2. The merger is expected to increase efficiency in MEA’s emergency work abroad.
  3. MEA wanted the key operational posts, including that of the Protector General of Emigrants, one of the most important offices in MOIA, to have diplomatic focus.
  4. The post is responsible for issuing registration certificates to recruitment agents who send workers abroad, especially to the Gulf region.
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