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Daily Category  (International Relations)

West Container Terminal -India and Japan back in new Sri Lanka port project

CONTEXT:

  • Recently Sri Lanka said it will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port, along with India and Japan.

NEWS IN DETAILS:

Prelims Only – Page 2 – Civilsdaily

  • East Container Terminal (ECT): Last month, Rajapaksa government ejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”.

  • While the High Commission of India had “approved” Adani Ports, which was to invest in the ECT project earlier,

    • Japan is yet to name an investor, according to officially published Cabinet decisions.

    • Neither India nor Japan has officially commented on the offer.

  • According to official sources in New Delhi, Colombo had been in talks directly with the Adani Group, while the government “was not part of” the discussions.

  • Earlier, Both India and Japan had expressed displeasure about Colombo “unilaterally” pulling out of the 2019 agreement.

UN HUMAN RIGHT COUNCIL SESSION:

  • Colombo’s alternative offer also comes at a time when Sri Lanka is seeking support at the ongoing UN Human Right Council session, where a resolution on the country’s rights record will soon be put to vote.

  • The Sri Lanka government recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  • UNHRC v. ECT: Asked if the two developments were linked, Sri Lanka officer said they were “two different areas — one is commercial, other one, more of international relations.”

WEST CONTAINER TERMINAL:

  • The West Container Terminal, however, has to be built from scratch, requiring a much higher investment.

  • The WCT is adjacent to the China-run CICT and just a couple of kilometres away from the China-backed Port City being built on reclaimed land, making it a strategically desirable spot for India, whose concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka are well known.

EAST CONTAINER TERMINAL V. WEST CONTAINER TERMINAL:

East container terminal

West container terminal

  • It is in its first stage and awaits upgrade.
  • Exists merely as a proposal, with no infrastructure yet
  • 450-metre-long quay wall and water depth of 18 metres
  • Not smaller in size or depth compared to the East Terminal.
  • Can accommodate large vessels
  • Can accommodate large vessels
  • 51% to developers (India-Japan)
  • 85 per cent stake to the developers

Source: The Hindu

India and China agree to establish new hotline-A new hotline, two paths to peace

CONTEXT:

  • A day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, New Delhi and Beijing announced that both have agreed to establish a hotline — “for timely communication and exchange of views”.

NEW HOTLINE

  • Agreeing to set up a hotline so both Ministers could be in more regular contact, both sides stressed the importance of “timely” communication in the wake of last year’s crisis.

  • This hotline will be in addition to the military hotline between

    • Indian Army’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) and

    • China’s Western Theatre Command.

EMPHASIS AND TONE:

  • India’s view: MEA outlined an incremental approach and made it clear that disengagement, followed by de-escalation, will lead to peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and eventually normalisation of ties.

  • China’s view: It underlined that the boundary situation should not be placed at the front and centre of the relationship, but instead at a “proper place” in overall ties.

    • That two sides should return to business as usual while the issue is dealt with.

BORDER CLASH AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION:

  • India on Ladakh clash: Jaishankar said that the “boundary question may take time to resolve but disturbance of peace and tranquility including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship”.

  • Chinese statement: There has been some wavering and backpedaling in India’s China policy, and practical cooperation between the two countries has been affected.

    • This does not serve the interests of either side.

    • Decades of experiences have shown repeatedly that heightening differences does not help solve problems, and that it only erodes the basis of mutual trust.”

  • Moscow meeting:  Here both ministers had agreed that the border situation was not in the interest of either side.

    • This had led to progress as both sides had successfully disengaged in the Pangong Tso Lake area earlier this month”.

DISENGAGEMENT IN PANGONG LAKE AREA

India’s View:

  • Noting the “completion of disengagement in Pangong Lake area”, Jaishankar “emphasized that both sides should now quickly resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh”.

  • Once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace.

China’s View:

  • China “expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far” and described it as “an important step forward for restoration of peace” in border areas.

  • “He felt that both sides should make efforts to consolidate outcomes.  

‘THREE MUTUALS’ OF GOOD RELATIONS:

  • China notes Jaishankar’s speech in January and said that the “Indian side had proposed ‘three mutuals’ (mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests) as the approach to the relationship”.

  • They pointed out that both China and India are “ancient civilizations and major emerging economies”.

Source: Indian Express

In a tense year, India-China trade stayed robust

CONTEXT:

  • China reclaimed its position at the top of the list of India’s major trade partners in 2020, replacing the United States that had climbed to number 1 in 2019, even as

    • Relations with Beijing plunged to new lows and

    • New Delhi took steps against Chinese-linked businesses,

                                  Finally, China agrees to work on balance of trade - Times of India

2020 TRADE WITH CHINA v. USA:

  • India China Trade: Trade between India and China in Jan-Dec 2020 stood at $77.67 billion (2020). Though lower than the $85.47 billion (2019),

    • Still higher than the $75.95 billion traded between India and the US in 2020.

                                             

  • Financial year 2020-21: In the (ongoing) financial year 2020-21, provisional data show China ahead of the US in India trade – $60.63 billion compared to $55.00 billion.

TRENDS IN CHINA TRADE:

  • Reduce dependence on China: While India has been trying to reduce its trade imbalance and dependence on Chinese imports for several years now.

    • 2018: US surpassed China on trade with India in a financial year.

    • 2020: Trade with the US took a major hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Ladakh Crisis: China got back to the top of the trade partners’ list in a year in which armies of the two countries remained locked in a tense standoff in eastern Ladakh.

  • Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign: Also, in 2020, India committed itself to self-reliance through the Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign, and implemented measures to restrict Chinese investments in the country.

  • Steps taken by India:

    • Dozens of China-linked apps were banned

    • A major infrastructure contract awarded to a Chinese firm was cancelled

    • Import of certain kinds of power equipment was banned.

    • Production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes were announced across sectors to reduce dependence on critical goods from China

EXPORTS AND IMPORTS

Top Goods Import:

  1. Electrical machinery and equipment, at $17.82 billion

  2. Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances, at $12.35 billion

  • Though imports of these goods dropped by nearly 11 % in the last year.

Top Goods Export:

  • Iron and steel: Exports to China jumped by a massive 319.14 % over 2019, trade at $2.38 billion in 2020.

    • Iron and steel exports to China in 2019 were around $567 million.

    • It could be the result of China’s focus on domestic infrastructure projects.

  • Export of ores, slag, and ash increased by 62 % to $3.48 billion in 2020 from $2.15 billion in 2019.

  • Total Exports: To China in 2020 were $17.12 billion — around 10.70 % higher than in 2019.  

SOURCE: Indian Express

U.S. to rejoin United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

CONTEXT:

  • The U.S. will seek re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday, as he “humbly” asked for the support of UN member states.

  • United States will seek election to the human rights council for the 2022 to 2024 term.   

                                   CIHRS at the 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council -  Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

BACKGROUND:

  • Former U.S. President Donald Trump had taken the U.S. out of the Council in 2018 saying

    • It was biased against Israel and

    • Had members who were human rights abusers.

SIGNIFICANCE OF US RE-ELECTION TO UNHRC:

  • Back to Multilateralism:  Biden administration to reverse a pattern of retreat from multilateralism that was characteristic of the Trump administration. 

  • Human rights at centre of U.S. foreign policy: U.S. was placing human rights at the centre of its foreign policy and therefore seeking to rejoin the Council.

  • Myanmar Coup: USA praised the Council for bringing attention to the coup d’etat in Mynanmar.

  • Economic development v. Human Rights: Mr. Blinken said those who use economic development as a reason to undermine human rights will be held accountable.

    • The Secretary called for Russia to unconditionally release dissident Alex Navalny and others wrongfully detained.

  • No moral equivalence: SOS Blinken also said there was no moral equivalence between the actions of the

    • United States and

    • Authoritarian regimes.

  • “There's no moral equivalence between the actions of the United States, which are subject to robust, impartial, and transparent accountability mechanisms.

    • And those of authoritarian regimes, which violate and abuse human rights with impunity.

  • "The United States does not claim to be perfect, but we strive every day to improve, to hold ourselves accountable, to become a more perfect union."

CRITICISM OF UNHRC

  • Biased against Israel: Mr. Blinken also alleged that the UNHRC was biased against Israel – a position shared by Democrats and Republicans.

  • Council’s membership: The Secretary also referred to the Council’s membership. Those with the "worst human rights record" should not be part of the Council.

SRI LANKA, CHINA NAMED:

  • Other countries that were mentioned by name included China and Sri Lanka.

  • China: "We’ll speak out for universal values when atrocities are committed in Xinjiang, or when fundamental freedoms are undermined in Hong Kong."

  • Sri Lanka: USA also called on the Council to adopt resolutions in this session including one on Sri Lanka’s lack of accountability for war crimes.

  • The U.K. and other countries have circulated a draft resolution asking for accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka’s 26 year civil war.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Coordination: World must work together to improve the work and membership of the council.

  • Racial justice: The Secretary spoke of challenges to racial justice in the U.S. and said the fight for racial justice should be on top of the global human rights agenda.

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL (UNHRC):

  • Year of Foundation: UNHRC was established in 2006.
  • Objective: To promote and protect human rights around the globe, as well as investigating alleged human rights violations.
  • Members:
    • It has 47 members elected for three-year terms on a regional group basis from 5 groups. Members are elected for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
    • Five regional groups for membership:
      1. Africa,
      2. Asia-Pacific,
      3. Latin America, and the Caribbean,
      4. Western Europe, and
      5. Eastern Europe.
    • To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly.
    • Members are elected directly by secret ballot by the majority of the UN General Assembly.
  • Sessions: The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September.
  • Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland

SOURCE: The Hindu

Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement between India and Mauritius

CONTEXT:

  • India and Mauritius have signed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA). This is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa.

                                 Weekly report from the Indian Ocean destination: - Seychelles, Mauritius,  La Reunion, Madagascar

COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT:

  • The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover:

    • Trade in Goods,

    • Rules of Origin,

    • Trade in Services,

    • Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT),

    • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures,

    • Dispute Settlement,

    • Movement of Natural Persons,

    • Telecom, Financial Services,

    • Customs Procedures and

    • Cooperation in other areas.

  • Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar were also present on the occasion.

IMPACT/BENEFITS:

  • Trade in Goods: CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.

    • The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines) etc.

  • Preferential market access into India: Mauritius will benefit from for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

  • Trade in services: As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services etc.

  • Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism: Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.

  • Deep and special relations: The India-Mauritius CECPA will further cement the already deep and special relations between the two countries.

  • It will help focus on post pandemic economic recovery. Enable business expansion and greater investments

DEFENCE AGREEMENT:

  • India and Mauritius signed a $100 million Defence Line of Credit agreement on Monday.

  • This would “enable the procurement of defence assets from India”.

  • Mauritius is emerging as an important maritime entity in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • Security and Prosperity: “These initiatives underline once again that the security of Mauritius is the security of India; in the prosperity of Mauritius is our prosperity,” S. Jaishankar said.

  • Maritime security capabilities: Mauritius would get a Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv on lease which would build its maritime security capabilities.

CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO DISPUTE:

  • The two sides also discussed the Chagos Archipelago dispute, which was an issue of sovereignty and sustainable development before the United Nations.

  • In 2019, India voted at the U.N. General Assembly in support of the Mauritian position on the issue. India was one of the 116 countries that voted demanding that the U.K. end its “colonial administration” from the group of islands.

  • “Jaishankar assured the Prime Minister of India’s steadfast principled support on this issue as has been demonstrated in the past.”

SOURCE: The Hindu

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-IRAN Nuclear Deal-JCPOA

CONTEXT:

  • The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog met with Iranian officials in a bid to preserve his inspectors' ability to monitor Tehran's atomic program, even as Iranian authorities said they planned to cut off IAEA’s surveillance cameras at those sites.

NEWS IN DETAILS:

  • Return to JCPOA: Iran tries to pressure Europe and the new Biden administration into returning to the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), which ex-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from in 2018.

  • Camera Shut off: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who under President Hassan Rouhani helped reach the nuclear deal, said the cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency would be shut off despite Grossi's visit to follow a law passed by parliament.

  • The Vienna-based IAEA said the visit was aimed at finding "a mutually agreeable solution for the IAEA to continue essential verification activities in the country."

IRAN’S PARLIAMENT LAW:

  • Iran's parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities

    • If European signatories do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by Tuesday

  • Deadline or Ultimatum to the World: Zarif told "This is not a deadline for the world. This is not an ultimatum." "This is an internal domestic issue.

    • "We have a democracy. We are supposed to implement the laws of the country. And the parliament adopted legislation- whether we like it or not."

ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL:

  • Under the protocol, the IAEA "collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its surveillance cameras."

    • It had placed "2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment."

  • Iran planned to do when it stopped following the so called 'Additional Protocol,' a confidential agreement between Tehran and the IAEA reached as part of the nuclear deal. The IAEA has additional protocols with a number of countries it monitors.

    • Zarif said-"The IAEA certainly will not get footage from those cameras,"

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA):

  • It was established as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization within the United Nations.

  • Year: in 1957
  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria.
  • IAEA is a UN agency.
  • Members: 171, Latest- Saint Lucia (2019), India joined in 1957
  • Though established independently of the UN through its own international treaty, the IAEA reports to both:
    • UN General Assembly and
    • UN Security Council
  • Functions:
    • To promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
    • Seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

SOURCE:  Times of India

How Western Democracies Perceive India and Indian Democracy

Image result for christophe jaffrelot

Written by: Christophe Jaffrelot

 

INTRODUCTION:

  • Other countries’ view of India is influenced by calculations and hopes that it can help counter Chinese expansionism in Asia.

  • While some international media echo indices of democracy and freedom of expression prepared by institutions like

  1. Varieties of Democracy,
  2. Freedom House, and
  3. Reporters without Borders
  • Which are often comparing the evolution of India’s regime to the Emergency.