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Daily Category  (International Relations)

Malabar Exercise

Context:

India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain, and in the light of increased defense cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.

Background:

  • In 2017, Australia had requested observer status in the Malabar Exercise.
  • China has repeatedly expressed strong opposition to any expansion of the Malabar Exercise, which it sees as a multilateral naval construct designed to “counter and contain” it.
    • However, the recent India-China tensions over the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) may have brought more flexibility to India's decision-making process.
  • Japan and the U.S.A also have been pressing India for Australia’s inclusion in Malabar Exercise.

Malabar Exercise:

  • The Malabar series of naval exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise.
  • Japan joined the naval exercise in 2015.
  • The participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaged to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.
  • The exercise has been planned on a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format and the exercise will strengthen the coordination between the Navies of the participating countries.

2020 Malabar Exercise:

  • Objective: To enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.
  • The 2020 Exercise is expected to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. In 2019, the exercise was conducted off the coast of Japan.
  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the exercise had been planned in a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format.

Source: The Hindu

An inflection point in Indo – China Relations

1. CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

The long drawn Sino-Indian border dispute reached its inflection point on Monday with the unfortunate death of 20 soldiers of the Indian Army. This is the first deadly clash in the border area between the two nations over the 45-year long dispute.

1.1 News in Detail

  • The deadly clash took place in Galwan Valley in the disputed Eastern Ladakh Region.
  • There is no official report on causalities on the Chinese side.
  • China accused Indian troop of crossing the border twice, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel".
  • Later, Military officials from both the side met to diffuse the situation.

2. INDIA – CHINA BORDER DISPUTE

2.1 History of the dispute

  • India – China cultural relations go back to ancient times. The traditional Silk Route and spread of Buddhism to South East Asia via China are testimony to it.
  • Today, India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary, which it disputed in its entirety. 
  • The India – China border is demarcated by the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon, a British negotiator. The line was agreed upon during a tripartite conference in Shimla between India, China and Tibet and led to delimitation of Indo-Tibetan boundary.
  • Initially all the three parties agreed but later china refused to accept the boundary line calling it illegal.
  • In 1950s china built a 1200 km road which ran through the Aksai Chin Region of Ladakh claimed by India. This coupled with other boundary skirmished led to the 1962 border war between the nations. The boundary established after the war is called as Line of Actual Control (LAC).

2.2 Boundary Skirmishes between the two nations

  • After establishment of the LAC, the border peace between India and China has been hanging by a thread.The border line is marred by many skirmishes, most highlighted being:
    • 1967 -Nathu La and Cho La clashes
    • 1987 -Sino-Indian skirmish in Sumdorong Chu Valley
    • 2017 -China–India border standoff in Doklam - In June 2017, the Chinese began constructing a road in the disputed area of Doklam, near the Doka La pass.

2.3 Attempts to resolve the India – China Border dispute.

  • Harmony was established between India and China in 1976 and High Level border talks were initiated in 1981 to find a permanent solution. The talks proved unfruitful and broke after eight rounds in 1987.
  • 1988 - Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visited China and consequently the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to resolve the dispute.
  • 1993 - Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Indo – China Border areas was signed.
  • 1996 - Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed.
  • 2003 - One special representatives each from India and China were appointed to solve the border dispute politically but this too did not yield much

2.4 Bilateral treaties between India and China to address border disputes

  1. 1993: Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  2. 1996: Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC
  3. 2005: Protocol on the Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  4. 2012: Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
  5. 2013: Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between India and China

3. WHY ARE TENSIONS AT A ALL TIME HIGH

At the heart of it is competing and conflicting strategic goals of both the nations. Following developments shed more light on the underlying issue:

3.1 The Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie(DSDBO) Road

  • The construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is probably the most important reason for the recent conflict between India and China.
  • The DSDBO Road is at an elevation of 13,000 https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/06/graph-4.jpg- 16,000 ft. It took almost 20 years for the India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to build it.
  • The road connects Leh to DBO, which is the northernmost part on Indian territory in Ladakh.
  • DBO lies at base of Karakoram pass, which separates Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.
  • The Galwan River has traditionally been a peaceful location. Recently China revamped military infrastructure constructions along the Galwan River, posing a direct threat to DSDBO Road.
  • The Global Times, a Chinese state-run media outlet held that the Galwan Valley region is a Chinese territory and according to the Chinese military, India has forced its way into the valley changing the status quo along the LAC.

3.2 The Union Territory of Ladakh

  • Last year India ended the limited autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became a Union Territory on 31st of October 2019.
  • The federally administered area of Ladakh includes Aksai Chin, an area claimed by India but administered by China.

3.4 China – Pakistan Economic CorridorThe China – Pakistan Economic Corridor: India's Dual Dilemma ...

The Karakoram Highway passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, connecting Pakistan to its all-time ally China.

The highway connects China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar and provides China a foothold in the Arabian Sea.

China has invested $60 Billion in China Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) under its Belt and Road Initiative. It has been pushing aggressively for its Belt and Road Initiative and the recent strategic and geo-political developments in India have marred the Chinese ambitions.

3.3 The 2020 Border Skirmish

  • The first standoff in 2020 took place on 5 May which soldiers clashing at PangongTsowhich is a lake that extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. The LAC passes through the Pangong Tso.
  • Later again in May, the soldiers clashed again in Sikkim.
  • The third skirmish took place in Eastern Ladakh when Chinese troops had entered the Indian territory in the Galwan River valley objecting the construction of a road branching off from the Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road into Galwan valley.
  • There are reports of huge development in Chinese military infrastructure including military-style bunkers, military trucks, and road-building equipment.
  • Diplomatic talks for de-escalation were underway when the 15 June incident took place in Galwan Valley leading to the killing of 20 India Soldiers.

4. ESCALATING CHINESE BORDER CONFLICTS WITH OTHER NATIONS

  • Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist, writer and philosopher held that, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.
  • China seems to be using this dictum to act while leaders around the world are distraught and engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Recently China intercepted and detained Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracel archipelago
    • Declared two new municipal districts to control the disputed islands.
    • Published Chinese names of 80 geographic and underwater features in South China Sea.
    • Imposed a fishing moratorium on other countries.
    • Intruded into Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
    • Crossed themedianlineintheTaiwan Strait.
    • Harassed commercial vessels from the Philippines.

5. GOING FORWARD

5.1 Importance of the region for India

  • Ladakh is strategically very important to India. It has the Siachen glacier where Kargil conflict took place. “Operation Meghdoot” was launched in 1984 to capture the Siachen Glacier and it has since, played a central role in India's security spectrum.
  • West of the Glacier lies Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan, East of it lies China-occupied Aksai Chin.
  • The Indian Army has maintained a strong presence in the Glacier to ensure peace in the region.

5.2 Pakistan and Chinese Ideology

  • Pakistan constantly pursues the policy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts”.
  • China has been tactically nibbling away land, by taking recourse to the deceptive rubric of “perception of claimlines”.
  • Mao Zedong had said that Tibet (Xizang) is China’s right-hand palm which is detached from its five fingers of Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (Arunachal).
  • The Chinese establishment aim to reclaim theso called “MiddleKingdom”, which according to the Chinese was taken away by the foreign powers when China was at its weakest in the 1950s.

5.3 The way forward for India

  • India cannot propagate peace at the cost of its territorial integrity. Indian hospitality and call for peace under Wuhan spirit and Mahabalipuram meeting has not been reciprocated by China which continues with its old aggressive and expansionist ways.
  • The government should call for an all party meet including the opposition to foster a unanimous stand on the current escalation and a united Indian response.
  • The severed diplomatic ties with Nepal on Indo-Nepal border issue need to be amicably resolved.
  • India should continue to form amicable relations with its neighbours and democracies around the world.
  • The tragic deaths of our brave and courageous soldiers cannot and should not go invain. We the people of India should firmly resolve to maintain communal harmony in our societies and promote prosperity with equality and aid out bit in defence preparedness of the country.
  • Determined and united we can protect the integrity of our country and its people and show the Chinese establishment that fear can only get you so far.

SLINEX 2020

Context:

The Eighth Edition of the annual Indian Navy and Sri Lanka Navy called SLINEX scheduled off in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

  • Objective: To enhance interoperability, improve mutual understanding, and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.

About SLINEX:

  • It is a bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 between the Indian Navy and Sri Lanka Navy.
  • The Sri Lanka Navy will be represented by SLN Ships Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel) and Gajabahu (Training Ship).
  • The Indian Navy will be represented by ASW corvettes Kamorta and Kiltan.
  • The Indian Navy Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Chetak helicopter embarked onboard IN ships and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft will also be participating.

Significance:

  • The exercise will showcase the capabilities of India's indigenously constructed naval ships and aircraft.
  • SLINEX series of exercise exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain.
  • The exercise is being conducted in a non-contact ‘at-sea-only’ format in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

INS Kamorta:

  • It is the first of four anti-submarine Kamorta-class stealth corvettes which have been built for the Indian Navy.
  • The Kamorta Class indigenous Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) corvettes are being built by Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE).
  • The Kamorta Class succeeds in the Kora-Class guided-missile corvettes that are in service with the Indian Navy.
  • The Kamorta Class corvettes will serve as the frontline warships for the Indian Navy.
  • The primary task of the Kamorta Class will be ASW, while the vessels will also be deployed in anti-surface warfare (AsuW) and anti-air warfare (AAW).

INS Kiltan:

  • It is an indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette.
  • It is the third of the four Kamorta-class corvettes being built under Project 28.
  • It is designed by the Directorate of Naval Design and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata.
  • It is India’s first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fiber composite material resulting in improved stealth features, lower top weight and maintenance costs.

Source: PIB

ASEAN Ph.D. Fellowship Programme (APFP)

Context:

Union Education Minister virtually addressed the students from ASEAN member states who have been selected for the prestigious ASEAN Ph.D. Fellowship Programme (APFP).

ASEAN Ph.D. Fellowship Programme (APFP):

  • It was announced on 25th January 2018, the eve of India’s Republic Day, by the Prime Minister of India in the presence of leaders of all the ten ASEAN member states. 
  • Under the APFP, 1000 fellowships will be provided exclusively to the ASEAN citizens in IITs. 
  • APFP is the largest capacity development program undertaken by the Government of India for foreign beneficiaries.
  • The ASEAN Ph.D. fellows will be recognized as the alumni of the respective IITs from where they will be completing their PhDs.  
  • It is funded by the Government of India.

Significance:

  • The academic and research ties among India and ASEAN member states will be mutually beneficial for both the regions. 
  • It will strengthen India’s ties with ASEAN members in culture, commerce, and connectivity. 
  • APFP will open many doors to synergies in the field of technology and research for the academicians, researchers, and scientists from India and ASEAN. 
  • The researches and inventions by them will be used for the betterment of humankind across the globe.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):

  • It is a regional organization that was established to promote political and social stability amid rising tensions among the Asia-Pacific’s post-colonial states.
  • Motto: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • ASEAN Secretariat: Indonesia, Jakarta.
  • Founding members: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
  • It, now, also includes Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, and Laos, totaling to 10 members.
  • ASEAN’s six FTA partners are India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Source: PIB

Summit of Ministers of Justice of SCO

Context:

India Hosts Virtual Summit of Ministers of Justice of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Details:

  • It was the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member State.
  • Minister of justice of 8 countries- India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan participated in the summit. 
  • The summit deliberated on areas of cooperation; emphasized the high relevance of mutual exchange of legal information on counteraction to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and acknowledged the need for cooperation in the ADR mechanism area, among others.

Key outcomes:

  • To strengthen the work on the implementation of the Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministries of Justice of the SCO Member States.
  • To continue the work on the implementation of the Action Plans of the working groups of experts on forensic activities and legal services for 2018-2020, as well as to develop Action Plans for 2021-2023.
  • Consider organizing exchange programs for representatives of the ministries (law and justice of the SCO member-states) to study the best practices in alternative dispute resolution.
  • To continue discussing the parties' positions on the issues of mutual legal assistance and development of legal services in accordance with national legislation.
  • Actively develop cooperation with the ministries of justice of the SCO observer and dialogue partner states.
  • Continue efforts to develop an online platform for the exchange of legal information, taking into account national laws.  

India’s initiatives in the field of Justice:

  • Pro Bono Legal Services to provide free legal aid to marginalized sections of the society.
  • 3.44 Lakh free legal consultations have been given to poor people through video conferencing under Tele-Law services.
  • e-Courts projects with Video-Conferencing facility and Virtual Courts as part of Government’s successful transformative change in process automation from the conventional brick and mortar court architecture.
  • Over 25 Lakh hearing through video conference, during the COVID19 pandemic, have taken place at various courts of India, out of which 9,000 virtual hearings have taken place at the Supreme Court alone.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

  • It is a permanent intergovernmental international organization established in 2001.
  • It was formed in Shanghai (China) by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St. Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in 2002 and came into force in 2003.
  • In 2017 Astana, the status of a full member of the Organization was granted to India and Pakistan.
  • The organization has two permanent bodies i.e. the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
  • Members:  India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • Observer states are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia.

Goals:

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states;
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology, and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security, and stability in the region
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair, and rational new international political and economic order.

Source: PIB

INS Sindhuvir

Context:

India will deliver submarine to Myanmar Navy as part of growing defence cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. 

  • The submarine will be an EKM or kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir.

INS Sindhuvir:

  • The submarine was purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1980s and has undergone modernisation at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Vizag.
  • It belongs to a class of diesel-electric attack submarines built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War years.
  • This will be the first submarine of Myanmar.

Significance of the move:

  • The submarine is likely to be used by Myanmar initially for training and orientation purposes for its Navy personnel.
  • The move is in line with the overall Indian vision that aspires to guarantee security for all maritime partners as per its SAGAR doctrine. 
    • Last year, India supplied Myanmar ‘Shyena’ advanced light torpedoes as part of a defence deal. 
  • This initiative of India’s military outreach to Myanmar is considered to be important as it comes in the backdrop of the ongoing military tension along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh between India and China, a leading industrial and business partner of Myanmar.

Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) Doctrine:

  • It was outlined by Indian Prime Minister in 2015 underlining the growing salience of the Indian Ocean and global maritime commons in India’s strategic calculus.
  • The doctrine advocates for intensifying cooperation among navies and maritime agencies of the world to engineer virtuous cycles of cooperation.
  • The initiative gives priority to the Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in the Indian Ocean region.
  • It approaches significant importance while India playing the role of a security provider for the entire Indian Region.

Source: The Hindu

Pakistan Re-elected to the UNHRC

Context:

Pakistan has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Details:

  • Among the five candidates from the Asia-Pacific region vying for four seats in the UNHRC, Pakistan secured the highest number of votes.
    • Now, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021.
  • Since the UNHRC’s establishment, this is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the United Nations’ premier body on human rights.
  • In secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150, China 139, and Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes.

Allocation of seats:

  • Under the Human Rights Council’s rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.
  • Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council was all but decided in advance because all the other regional groups had uncontested slates.
    • Earlier, a coalition of human rights groups from Europe, the US, and Canada called on UN member states to oppose the election of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, saying their human rights records make them unqualified.
  • Russia and Cuba, running unopposed, also won the seats.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC):

  • 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: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Western Europe, and 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

BRICS Ministerial Meeting

Context:

Recently, the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Virtual Meeting was held under the Russian Presidency.

About the Meeting:

  • BRICS labour & employment ministers’ virtual meeting was held under Russian Presidency to discuss various issues including approaches to creating a safe work culture in BRICS countries.
  • The ILO director general Guy Ryder, and representatives of workers and employers organisations also attended the virtual meet.

Key Highlights of the Meeting:

  • India called for suitable global action especially by BRICS towards effecting a balance between labour and employer which will generate growth and create more jobs and greater labour welfare.
  • India also highlighted the importance of digitisation and technological advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in reshaping lives and work, with a direct or indirect effect on the labour market.
  • Under COVID-19, the world has gone into isolation. In this situation, India stressed, digitization offers the opportunity for governments, individuals and businesses to cope with the changing scenario.
  • India underscored that the digital economy is changing the world of work, hence regular studies by the BRICS Network Research Institutes will facilitate a better understanding of the aspects of future of work and supplement policymaking.
  • India is committed to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity in a changing world and hence adopted a multi-dimensional strategy to eliminate poverty by covering most of the basic services and fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals of No Poverty (SDG-1).

Major Emphasis by India:

Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020:

  • According to the statement, the minister informed BRICS nations that India's Parliament had recently passed the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020 which has expanded coverage of legal provisions to all sectors.
  • The important initiatives include:
    • Mandatory annual health check-up for employees.
    • Framing of dynamic health standards aligned with the changing technology by a tripartite board.
    • Permitting women to work in all establishments even at night with her consent and with stringent safety measures.
  • Besides, there is a provision of providing for payment of minimum 50% of the penalty imposed on the employer to the victim besides compensation admissible under law and providing for third party audit to monitor implementation of safety provisions.
  • The legislation also provides for creation of a centralized data base of establishments, workplace risks, and occupational diseases.

Universal social security coverage:

  • An important component of safe work environment and healthy workforce is the availability of universal social security coverage to provide financial support in the times of contingencie.
  • In this regard, recently enacted labour legislation on social security has provided a framework for universal social protection to the entire 500 million workforce of the country.
  • Special initiatives have been taken to frame schemes for providing social security coverage to the unorganised workers, migrant workers, self-employed and to those associated with new forms of employment such as gig and platform workers.

Poverty eradication measures:

  • COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges for the world at large and hence efforts towards combating poverty need to be re-oriented.
  • India, taken up a number of relief measures under the “Self-Reliant India Campaign” to protect the economy from the adverse impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
  • India has adopted a multi-dimensional strategy to eliminate poverty by covering most of the basic services, such as financial inclusion and access to quality health care to the most vulnerable citizens by providing free health insurance to them.
  • Besides, it provides for:
    • Subsidised clean cooking fuel to 80 million economically weaker households.
    • Universal access to safe and secure housing for all.
    • Free electricity to around 26 million un-electrified households.
    • Access to the potable water supply to 5.5 million households.
    • Ensuring basic sanitation through the construction of over 106 million household toilets.

Source: PIB

Maritime Surveillance Satellites

Context:

Recently, the constellation of maritime surveillance satellites for the Indian Ocean Region is to be jointly launched by India and France.

Details:

  • In 2019, CNES and ISRO committed to developing and building a constellation of satellites carrying telecommunications and radar and optical remote-sensing instruments.
  • The agreement between India and France called for constituting the first space-based system in the world capable of tracking ships continuously.
  • The constellation of maritime surveillance satellites will be able to trace illegal spillage of oil by ships.
  • The monitoring center for maritime surveillance satellites will be based in India.

Significance:

  • The satellites will be designed with a revisit capability which makes it possible to task acquisitions several times a day.
  • The satellites will be operated jointly by France and India to monitor ships in the Indian Ocean.
  • The system will also cover a wide belt around the globe, benefiting a broad range of French economic interests.
  • The parts of the satellites will be built in both the countries and launched from India.
  • ‘Trishna’, a highly precise thermal infrared observer, will also be part of the fleet of Indo-French satellites.

TRISHNA:

  • It is known as Thermal infraRed Imaging Satellite for High-resolution Natural resource Assessment.
  • It will be the latest satellite in the joint Franco-Indian satellite fleet.
  • It is dedicated to climate monitoring and operational applications.
  • TRISHNA observations will enhance the understanding of the water cycle and improve the management of the planet’s precious water resources.

Source: The Hindu

UN Climate Change Conference 

Context:

This year, the UN climate change conference is not happening because of the pandemic.

  • Recently, China made an announcement that ensured that there was no lack of climate change excitement this season. China made two promises that came as a welcome surprise to climate change watchers.

Announcements  by China:

  • China would become carbon net-zero by the year 2060.
    • Net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorptions and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
    • Absorption can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while removal involves the application of technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
  • Second, China announced an important change in Its already committed target for letting its emissions “peak”, from “by 2030” to “before 2030”. That means China would not allow its greenhouse gas emissions to grow beyond that point.

Importance of net-zero target:

  • There has been a concerted campaign to get countries to commit themselves to achieve “climate neutrality” by 2050. This is sometimes referred to as the state of net-zero emissions that would require countries to significantly reduce their emissions while increasing land or forest sinks that would absorb the emissions that do take place.
  • If the sinks are not adequate, countries can commit themselves to deploy technologies that physically remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Most of such carbon dioxide removal technologies are still unproven and extremely expensive.
  • As per the scientists' global carbon neutrality by 2050 is the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial times.
  • At the current rate of emissions, the world is headed for a 3° to 4°C rise in temperatures by 2100.

Significance of China’s commitment:

  • China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It accounts for almost 30% of global emissions, more than the combined emissions in the United States, the European Union, and India, the three next biggest emitters.
  • Getting China to commit itself to a net-zero target, even if it is 10 years later is a big breakthrough, especially since countries have been reluctant to pledge themselves to such long term commitments.
    • So far, the European Union was the only big emitter to have committed itself to a net-zero emission status by 2050.
  • More than 70 other countries have also made similar commitments but most of them have relatively low emissions because of which their net-zero status would not help the planet’s cause in a big way.
  • The real heavyweights whose climate actions are crucial to achieving the Paris Agreement targets are the Big Four: China, the US, the European Union, and India — who together account for more than half the global emissions, followed by countries such as Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, and Australia.

Source: Indian Express

Exercise Bongosagar

Context:

Recently, the second edition of Exercise Bongosagar is scheduled to be held in the Northern Bay of Bengal.

About Exercise Bongosagar:

  • It is an annual bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and Bangladesh Navy.
  • The first edition of Exercise Bongosagar was held in 2019.
  • It is aimed at developing inter-operability and joint operational skills through the conduct of a wide spectrum of maritime exercises and operations.
  • India will be represented by INS Kiltan and INS Khukri whereas Bangladesh is represented by BNS Abu Bakr and BNS Prottoy.

Significance:

  • The second edition of Exercise Bongosagar assumes greater significance since it is being conducted during Mujib Barsho, the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • This exercise will be followed by the 3rd edition of IN - BN Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) in Northern Bay of Bengal from 4 to 5 October 2020, wherein IN and BN units will undertake joint patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
  • The conduct of CORPATs has strengthened understanding between both the navies and instituted measures to stop the conduct of unlawful activities.

INS Kiltan:

  • It is an indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette.
  • It is the third of the four Kamorta-class corvettes being built under Project 28.
  • It is designed by the Directorate of Naval Design and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata.
  • It is India’s first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fiber composite material resulting in improved stealth features, lower top weight, and maintenance costs.

Source: PIB

BrahMos Missile With Indigenous Booster

Context:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the BrahMos cruise missile with an indigenous booster and airframe sector, along with other sub-systems made within the country.

Details:

  • BrahMos missile featuring indigenous Booster and Airframe Section along with many other ‘Made in India’ sub-systems were successfully flight tested for designated range.
  • The BrahMos land-attack Cruise Missile (LACM) was cruising at a top speed of Mach 2.8.
    • The missile weighs around 2.5 tonnes and has a strike range of approximately 300 km.
  • The supersonic missile is one of the prime precision-strike missiles used by all three forces, the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
  • The test comes at a time when BrahMos has been deployed in Ladakh as well as the Eastern Sector in Arunachal Pradesh to tackle any threats in the ongoing standoff with China.
  • India is also working on a hypersonic missile, BrahMos-II (K), capable of taking out hardened targets such as underground bunkers and weapon storage facilities at seven times the speed of sound.

 Brahmos Missile:

  • It is a surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile featuring indigenous Booster and Airframe Section.
  • It is jointly developed by the DRDO and NPOM, a leading aerospace enterprise of Russia.
  • The name BrahMos is formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
  • It is the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation.
  • The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service.

Features:

  • It is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from submarines, warships, fighter jets or land.
  • Brahmos is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft, with a weight of 2.5 tonnes.
  • It can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine as its first stage and the liquid ramjet as its second stage.
  • It has a flight range of up to 290km with supersonic speed all through the flight.
  • It operates on ‘Fire and Forget’ principle.

Source: Indian Express

Amnesty International India

Context:

The government had frozen all bank accounts of Amnesty International India, leading to all of its work in the country coming to a halt.

  • Amnesty International India has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.
  • Amnesty International India is a part of the global human rights movement spearheaded by Amnesty International. It has its registered office in Bangalore.

Argument by Amnesty:

  • Amnesty has alleged that the government has frozen its bank accounts due to repeated calls for transparency and against the human rights violations in the country.
  • The European Union (EU) has also expressed its concerns against the action of the government citing the valued work of Amnesty International worldwide.
  • Recently, Amnesty International India had demanded an independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the police during the north-east Delhi riots and the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Amnesty International India stood in full compliance with all applicable Indian and international laws and for human rights work in India, it operates through a “distinct model of raising funds domestically.
  • Attacks on Amnesty International India is only an extension of the various repressive policies and sustained assault by the government.

Argument by the Government:

  • In order to circumvent the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA) regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty India without the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs under FCRA. This rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions.
  • India doesn't allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well.

Amnesty International:

  • It is an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) founded in 1961.
  • Objective: To publicize violations by governments and other entities of rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), especially freedom of speech and of conscience and the right against torture.
  • Headquarter: London, UK
  • In 1977, it was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Source: The Hindu

JIMEX 2020

Context:

The 4th edition of India - Japan Maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX will be held in the North Arabian Sea from 26 to 28 September 2020.  JIMEX 20 will be spread over three days and is being conducted in a ‘non-contact at-sea-only format’, in view of COVID-19 restrictions.

About JIMEX:

  • JIMEX is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
  • JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation.
  • The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 off Visakhapatnam, India.

Significance:

  • Naval cooperation between India and Japan has increased in scope and complexity over the years.
  • The exercise is an example of Indo-Japanese defense relations and continued efforts to work closely for a more secure, open, and inclusive global commons, in accordance with international regulations.
  • JIMEX 20 showcase a high degree of inter-operability and joint operational skills through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  • Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine, and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.

Other Military Exercises between India and Japan:

  • Dharma Guardian: It is an annual joint land military exercise.
  • Shinyuu Maitri: It is a Joint Air Force exercise.
  • Malabar: It is a trilateral maritime exercise with the USA.

Source: PIB

G4 Meeting

Context:

Foreign Ministers from the Group of 4 met virtually. The four countries stressed delivering concrete outcomes, in writing and within a time frame.

  • Group of 4 (G4) consists of India, Brazil, Japan, and Germany.
  • G4 is a group of countries that are seeking permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Details:

  • The Ministers reaffirmed their common resolve to take decisive steps towards the early and comprehensive reform of the Security Council that was envisaged in the 2005 World Summit.
    • The 2005 World Summit was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
  • The G4 will work with other reform-minded countries and groups to start text-based negotiations without delay and seek “concrete outcomes” during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
  • G4 Ministers reiterated support for each other’s membership to the UNSC given the capacity and willingness to take on major responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • All governments expressed strong and unambiguous commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
    • It set up two new bodies:
      • A Peacebuilding Commission to help countries in transition from war to peace
      • A strengthened Human Rights Council.

India’s Position:

  • India will commence a two-year non-permanent term on the UNSC in January 2021
  • It has long sought a permanent seat at the Council.
  • Four of the five permanent members of the Security Council USA, UK, France, and Russia support giving India a permanent seat at the Council. Only China is opposed to this.
  • India is also seeking reforms to democratize the UN, such as UNSC reforms and UN peacekeeping reforms.

Concerns:

  • An informal "coffee club" or Uniting for Consensus Group has opposed UNSC reforms.
  • Most members of the club are middle-sized states who oppose bigger regional powers grabbing permanent seats in the UN Security Council.
  • Italy and Spain are opposed to Germany's bid for UNSC’s permanent membership.
  • Pakistan is opposed to India's bid. 

Source: The Hindu

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA)

Context:

The USA is looking forward to India signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), at the next India-USA 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to be held in October 2020.

Details:

  • A meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in October 2020. Earlier, the meeting was expected to be held in New Delhi.
  • The U.S. wants BECA to be signed at the ministerial 2+2 in October.
  • A maritime information agreement is also under active deliberation between India and the U.S. Once concluded, India will have such arrangements with all Quad countries naming Australia, Japan, and the U.S.

BECA:

  • It will allow India to use the geospatial maps of the USA to get pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles.
  • BECA is an important precursor to India acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator-B from the USA. Predator-B uses spatial data for accurate strikes on enemy targets.
  • In 2016, India has signed three foundational agreements with the USA.
  • BECA is one of the four foundational military communication agreements between the two countries. 
    • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA),
    • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
    • The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)

2+2 talks:

  • These talks are between two appointed ministers from each country. Defense and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country. 
  • Objective: To discuss issues of strategic and security interests between the two countries.
  • The talks were announced in June 2017. The 2+2 dialogue has replaced the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the foreign and commerce ministers of the two countries that were held previously.
  • India holds ministerial-level talks only with the USA. Apart from India, the United States holds such talks with Australia and Japan also.

Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (COMCASA):

  • It was signed by India in 2018.
  • It is valid for 10 years only.
  • Objective: To provide a legal framework for the transfer of highly sensitive communication security equipment from the USA to India that will streamline and facilitate interoperability between their armed forces.

General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA):

  • In 2002 it was signed by India.
  • The agreement allows militaries to share the intelligence gathered by them.
  • An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the 2+2 dialogue in 2019.
  • ISA provides a framework for the protection as well as the exchange of classified military information between the USA and India.

Source: The Hindu

The National Hispanic Heritage Month

Context:

The National Hispanic Heritage Month began in the US.

The National Hispanic Heritage Month:

  • The observation was started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was extended to an entire month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the year it was enacted into law.
  • The event honours the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, is marked every year from September 15 to October 15.
  • The Hispanic Heritage Month “pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.”

Significance:

  • The Month begins in the middle of September, because of the significance September 15 holds in Latin American history being the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
    • The five Central American nations declared their independence from Spain together on September 15, 1821.
  • The next two days September 16 and September 18 are also important, being the Independence Days of Mexico and Chile, respectively. Both became free from Spanish rule in 1810 at the height of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).
    • Another nation on the American continent, Belize, became independent from Great Britain on September 21, 1981.
  • Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, a culturally important celebration, also falls on October 12 during the 30-day period.
  • Every year, events honoring Hispanic American art and culture are organized by several institutions.

Hispanics in the US

  • Hispanic Americans (5.7 crores) are currently the largest minority group in the US, making up a fifth of the total US population.
  • More than half are of Mexican origin (3.5 crores), followed by Puerto Rican (53 lakh), and about 10 lakh each of Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Colombians.
  • The community is referred to as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx. The terms refer to a person’s origin or culture, without considering their race.
  • In the US Census of 2020, those who could identify their origin as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin”, were counted as Hispanic or Latino or Spanish.

Source: Indian Express

A maritime awakening

CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

  • In this editorial we discussed the rising power of Chinese Navy and compared its power with Indian Navy.
  • The recent announcement by the US Department of Defence (DoD) that the PLA Navy (PLAN) is the largest in the world has attracted the attention of different stakeholders in the region.

CHINA’S HUGE NAVAL POWER

  • The modernization of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has resulted in a growth in fleet size and capabilities.
  • Over the last few decades, China’s navy has rapidly expanded. As per the latest data, the Chinese Navy consisted of 350 ships, including 130 major surface combatants, making it larger than the 293 vessels comprising the deployable battle force of the US Navy.
  • The fleet sizes of other leading nations are comparatively smaller. The British Royal Navy consists of 75 ships and the Royal Australian Navy has a fleet of 45 ships.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, China launched more submarines, warships, amphibious vessels, and auxiliaries than the number of ships currently serving in the individual navies of Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Reasons behind China's Naval Ambitions

  • Chinese Navy has not grown overnight, and remains the clearest manifestation of the grand-strategic vision of China’s political leadership.
  • China has 14,500 km littoral, which is more than double of India’s.  Its objective of reunifying Taiwan and its irredentist maritime claims, in the South and East China Seas will be fulfilled only through strong maritime power.
  • China’s ambition of Belt and Road Initiative and the Maritime Silk Route also provides the perfect camouflage for its grandiose maritime strategy.
  • China wants its maritime militia and coastguard to impose its will in territories where it is competing with other countries for dominance.
  • Its policy of ‘far seas protection’, maintaining and increasing its presence in the Red Sea and off the Strait of Hormuz needs naval strength.

Where India Stands:

  • India has the 5th largest Navy in the world in terms of displacement (after Chinese, US, Russian and British Navy).
    • It has Two Nuclear Submarines (INS Arihant and INS Chakra) with 2 under construction, 13 Conventional Submarines with 6 under construction and at-least 6 more planned.
    • India has 1 aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (45,000T) with one INS Vikrant (40,000T) under construction and one INS Vishal (65,000T) more planned.
    • It has 10 Destroyers and 15 frigates with 7 more planned.
  • India always sought military force-levels adequate only to safe- guard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and never follow expansionist policy.
  • Low budget: In the fiscal year 2017- 2018, India spends only 15 percent of its total military expenditure on its navy, far lower than its allies in the Quad.
    • The United States spends nearly 30 percent of its military expenditure on its navy, while Australia and Japan spends nearly 25 percent and 23 percent respectively.
    • Official numbers from China are hard to obtain, but reports indicate that China spends nearly three times as much as India on its military overall.
  • Even with the low budget the Indian Navy (IN), has built itself into a modern and capable three-dimensional force.
    • It is rated by other navies as professionally ‘up to NATO standards’ and eagerly sought as a partner, both for exercises, and for maintaining ‘good order at sea.’
  • Growing gap: Technology, professional competence, numbers of assets are increasing the disparity between the China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy and Indian Navy.
  • India does not want to compete with China in an arm race, because of its economic situation as compared to China, but investing in maritime power would pay dividends in the long-run.
  • India is facing difficult situation in Himalaya, it is a significant regional power and a democracy and that’s why it is incumbent upon India to stand up to its hegemonic neighbor.

Blue Water Navy

  • A Blue Water Navy is one that has the capacity to project itself over a much bigger maritime area than its maritime borders.
  • It is a Navy that can go into the vast, deep oceans of the world. However, while most navies have the capacity to send ships into the deep oceans, a Blue Water Force is able to carry out operations far from its borders, without being required to return to its home port to refuel or re-stock.

EFFECTIVE STRATEGY-MAKING

By examining US DoD report it is very much clear that politicians either they are in a democracy like the US or in a totalitarian state like China accord the highest importance to national security.

United States’ system:

  • The US Congress understands very well that effective strategy-making defines national interests, objectives, and policies, along with the defence capabilities necessary to deter threats.
  • They favor budgetary support to the defence sector.
  • USA has the process that provides a shared vision for all agencies and a common playbook to react in times of crisis. They have US National Security Strategy, which is rendered by the president.
  • US Congress has process of demanding quadrennial reviews from the Departments of Defence, State, Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community.

Chinese system:

  • China’s political leadership since 1995 has been issuing a defence white paper (DWP) every two years.
  • The defence white papers are public documents which clearly articulate China’s vital interests as well as national security aims, objectives and challenges.
  • Its topic of discussion includes force-levels and defence expenditure, the PLA’s progressively changing roles and re-organization as well as its newly inducted equipment and platforms.
  • It was under visionary guidance of Admiral Liu Huaqing, during the 1980s, China have achieved its present status.
    • Every Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from Deng Xiaoping onwards, has backed the phased growth of China’s navy, from an inconsequential coastal-force, to a substantive blue-water navy.
  • The mission mode applied by the Chinese help its to grasp the reality that maritime power is much more than just a ‘fighting-navy’ and made China the world leader in ship- building, positioned number one  in merchant marine.

India without any system

  • India has no any such process or system for national security. In India no government has formulated a strategy or doctrine so far.
  • Indian Parliament never ever demanded a defence review or sought a white paper. As a direct consequence, ‘surprise’ and ‘intelligence failure’ have become a leitmotif in most of India’s post-independence conflicts.
  • The defence-planning in India is still ad-hoc and under-funded and every crisis evokes confused and fumbling responses, including panic arms purchases.
  • India can learn from US DoD document that how important is the steadfast political support of government (like Communist Party supported in case of China) in achieving the success.

CONCLUSION

As per the recent situations between India and China it is clear that the military resolution is not going to work for both the nuclear-armed countries. Both the nations should extended negotiations at the highest political and diplomatic levels. India should resort to power balancing in the region with the help of likeminded friends and focus on its neglected maritime domain which would garner immense benefits for India in the long run. India should give a boost to shipbuilding, expand the merchant fleet, modernize ports and mechanize fisheries that would have a long-term impact on the economy, through growth of ancillary industries, skilling of youth and massive generation of employment.

Source: Indian Express

The Commission on Status of Women (CSW)

Context:

India has been elected as a member of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW).

  • India beats China to become a member of the UN's Commission on Status of Women.

Details:

  • Duration: India will be a member for four years from 2021 to 2025.
  • It is a ringing endorsement of India's commitment to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in all the endeavors.
  • India, Afghanistan, and China had contested the elections to the Commission on Status of Women. While India and Afghanistan won the ballot among the 54 members, China failed to cross the half-way mark. 
  • The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Commission on Status of Women (CSW):

  • CSW is a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). 
  • CSW is a functional commission of the ECOSOC, it was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. 
  • 45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.
  • It promotes women’s rights, highlights the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and helps in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council:

  • It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization, specifically in regards to the 15 specialized agencies, the eight functional commissions, and the five regional commissions under its jurisdiction.
  • ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy.
  • In addition to a rotating membership of 54 UN member states, over 1,600 nongovernmental organizations have consultative status with the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.
  • Headquarters: New York, United States

Source: The Hindu

The Singapore Convention on Mediation

Context:

Recently, The Singapore Convention on Mediation came into force.

  • The convention will provide a more effective way of enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention.

About the convention:

  • The convention is also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation.
  • This is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.
  • Singapore had worked with the UN Commission on International Trade Law, other UN member states, and non-governmental organizations for the Convention.
  • As on September 1, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China, and the U.S.

Importance:

  • Now with the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process.
  • The simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is important for businesses in times of uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The convention would boost India’s ‘ease of doing business’ credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.
  • Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation, as the Convention provides a more effective means for mediated outcomes to be enforced.

Source: The Hindu

In LAC talks, from peace to conflict Prevention

CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

The ongoing territorial dispute between India and China has raised questions on the relevance of the agreements signed between the two nations to maintain peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

BACKGROUND

  • India – China cultural relations go back to ancient times. The traditional Silk Route and spread of Buddhism to South East Asia via China are testimony to it.
  • Today, India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary, which it disputed in its entirety. 
  • The India – China border is demarcated by the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon, a British negotiator. The line was agreed upon during a tripartite conference in Shimla between India, China and Tibet and led to delimitation of Indo-Tibetan boundary.
  • Initially all the three parties agreed but later china refused to accept the boundary line calling it illegal.
  • In 1950s china built a 1200 km road which ran through the Aksai Chin Region of Ladakh claimed by India. This coupled with other boundary skirmished led to the 1962 border war between the nations. The boundary established after the war is called as Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • In the month of June 2020, a deadly clash took place in Galwan Valley in the disputed Eastern Ladakh Region between the two nations with the unfortunate death of 20 soldiers of the Indian Army. This was the first deadly clash in the border area between the two nations over the 45-year long dispute.

AGREEMENTS AND BILATERAL TREATIES BETWEEN INDIA AND CHINA: AN ANALYSIS

Ambiguity regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • Ambiguity has already existed regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The Chinese consider the borderline to be that of November 1959.
  • For India, the LAC is that of September 1962.
  • Both sides had refrained from reopening the border issue in recent times; however China had never given up on its claims.
  • By its unilateral declaration now, China is seeking to settle the matter in its favor.
  • India needs to put be a resolute measure to the Chinese advances.

Agreements between the India and China

  • 1993: Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  • 1996: Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC
  • 2005: Protocol on the Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  • 2012: Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
  • 2013: Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between India and China

Problem with the Agreements

  • The genesis of the current problem lies in the first agreement signed between India and China in 1993.
  • India accepted the term ‘LAC’ in this agreement without being clear where this line lay on the ground.  This ambiguity has forced India to adopt a policy of appeasement on the LAC.
  • In the late 1980s, when rapprochement with China was being considered, the Indian Army stated that in about 15 years, India’s primary adversary would be China but no measures were taken to clear the doubts on LAC.

Historical context of agreements

  • India and China loosely controlled the border after the war of 1962 with a fairly sparse deployment of troops.
  • But in 1967 both the nations witnessed a bloody clash at Nathu La. In response to this China Study Group, established in 1976, gave clarity to India’s claims by laying down the patrolling points and guiding the scope of military activity along the LAC.
  • In 1986 a significant change in border management occurred when the Chinese occupied a post in the Sumdorong Chu Valley. The Indian Army responded to this which sparked realization on both sides that the boundary issue needed to be brought to the fore, and pending a settlement, some mechanism must be evolved to keep peace along the LAC.

Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas

  • After Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988, India started working on a number of drafts on confidence building measures along the LAC.
  • Many of these recommendations were incorporated in the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India­ China Border Areas, signed in 1993.
  • This agreement formalized the LAC concept and understanding that there were differing perceptions; it called for creating a group of diplomatic and military experts for resolution of differences between the two sides on the alignment of the line of actual control.
  • As per this agreement the use of force was not allowed to settle the boundary issue. Also as part of confidence­ building measures, it restricted military exercises and air activity close to the LAC.
  • As an essential part of the agreement both the nations agreed on a reduction in ‘military forces along the line of actual control’ in conformity with the requirements of the principle of mutual and equal security to ceilings.

Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC

  • After the 1993 agreement came the 1996 Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Confidence­ Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India­ China Border Areas.
  • It called for reducing or limiting military forces to minimum levels and limiting the deployment of major armaments such as tanks, artillery guns, and missiles to mutually agreed levels.

2005 protocol

  • This 2005 protocol or the Protocol between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India­ China Border Areas, added more confidence­ building measures outlining the procedure to be adopted when soldiers of the two sides came to a face-to-face situation while patrolling areas where there was a differing perception of the LAC.
  • This protocol also agreed to expand the mechanism of border meeting points and exchanges between the two militaries but there was no mention of a reduction in military forces.

Unimplemented aspects

  • These agreements did not serve much useful purpose and just resulted in an extended period of calm along the LAC and ensured that not a shot was fired.
  • These agreements have some unimplemented aspects which we noticed recently has led to an erosion of confidence­ building measures between the two armies in the past few years.
    • The differences in the alignment of the LAC were not resolved. For this attempts were made, and maps were exchanged of the Central sector, but there were apparent irreconcilable differences over the Western sector, and the process stalled in 2002.
    • The agreement on reducing military forces along the LAC to the minimum was neither seriously discussed nor implemented.

Problems rose due to unimplemented aspects

  • By the mid­2000s, the northern borders came into increasing focus of the military and the government.
  • In 2006, a decision was taken to build 73 strategic roads along the LAC.
  • In 2010, two new divisions were raised to strengthen deployment in Arunachal Pradesh, and additional formations were deployed in Ladakh.
  • In 2013, the Indian government sanctioned the raising of a Mountain Strike Corps for the Northern border. As infrastructure improved on the Indian side and larger forces were available for patrolling the LAC, face-offs with Chinese patrols increased.
  • In many cases, the Chinese soldiers complained that they were being prevented from going up to areas that they had traditionally patrolled, but India was defending its perception of the LAC more robustly.
  • India’s perception of the LAC is clearly marked on its military maps, and while the soldiers understand that there are areas of differing perception, there is no ambiguity about the line that they are tasked to defend.
  • As face-offs between the two armies became more frequent, protocols weakened. The first manifestation of this came in the Depsang intrusion in 2013, and the attempted intrusion at Chumar in 2014.
  • In between Depsang and Chumar, both countries signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, or the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Border Defence Cooperation, but it had little impact on the ground.
  • After Doklam: Though protocols were weakened but still even after Chumar they were still holding, and held out till the Doklam incident of 2017.
    • It was after Doklam that there was aggression by both sides.
  • Now the brutalities of deaths along the LAC, the complete loss of trust, and disregard for the LAC by China have left all agreements in tatters.

CONCLUSION

Respecting the past agreements is very important and for this the long drawn unimplemented resolution of the differing perceptions of the LAC and reduction of military forces must be resolved. This issue is also reflected in the recent meeting between the two Foreign Ministers’ five point consensus in which both the sides have agreed to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Source: The Hindu

Intra-Afghan Talks

Context:

Six months after the United States signed a historic accord with the Taliban of Afghanistan, the Islamic militant group has entered into talks with the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar (Intra-Afghan talks). Meeting with the Afghan government as a condition of the U.S.-Taliban deal.

About intra-Afghan talks:

  • The talks follow the US-Taliban agreement on the withdrawal of US troops. The Afghan government was excluded from negotiations between the US and the Taliban. 
  • The talks were to begin on March 10, 2020. But were held back due to disagreement over the release 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Afghan govt.

Afghan talks:

Two main goals of the talks are:

  • A power-sharing settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban,
  • A ceasefire
    • However, the Afghan government wants a ceasefire first.
  • What the Taliban want out of a political settlement is unclear. In the past, they have denounced democracy as a western imposition on their vision of Afghanistan.
  • The expectation is that the two sides should agree on an “inclusive” interim government that will be entrusted with hammering out the way forward.

Representation:

  • The Taliban’s lead negotiator is Sheikh Abdul Hakim, a scholar-cleric from the non-military side who was the “chief justice” of the Taliban judicial system and is seen as more acceptable to all factions within the Taliban, as well as to Pakistan.
  • He is close to the Supreme Leader Hibataullah Akhundzada. Though Hakim’s name carries the Haqqani appellation in some mentions, he does not belong to the Haqqani Network. 
  • The dynamics between Pakistan and some of the key Taliban members are also important. The Pakistan Army and ISI played key roles in facilitating the US-Taliban agreement.

India’s stake:

  • India has not been involved in the process however, it has supported the Afghan government for an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process”.
    • This is because India thinks Pakistan is going to use the Taliban as its proxy in Kabul, as the Taliban have links with terrorist groups that target India and Indian interests in Afghanistan.
    • While India sees itself on the shared ground with Iran on these concerns, Tehran had opened contacts with the Taliban.
  • India’s other big worry is that the vacuum created by the exit of the US may be filled by China.
  • Taliban has links with Uighur radicals in the Afghan-bordering Xinjiang Autonomous Region, India is concerned that Beijing may use its proximity to Pakistan to insulate this vulnerable territory from these links. 
  • Currently, India-China relations, the possibility of an enhanced Chinese presence in Afghanistan, in combination with Pakistan and the Taliban, is worrying Afghan watchers in India.
  • In April 2020, the United Nations Secretariat held a meeting called the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan.
  • This group includes six neighboring countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; global players the United States and Russia, and Afghanistan itself. 
  • India was conspicuous by its absence from the meeting, given its historical and strategic ties with Afghanistan.
    • Three major projects, the Afghan Parliament, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam), along with hundreds of small development projects (of schools, hospitals, and water projects) have cemented India’s position in Afghan hearts nationwide.

Source: Indian Express

Sonamura-Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route

Context:

Tripura has opened its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh from Sonamura in the Sepahijala district.

  • The route connecting Sonamura (India) and Daudkandi (Bangladesh) was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.

Tripura’s foreign trade:

  • Tripura’s cross-border trade commenced in 1995. Currently, Tripura exports goods and materials worth only Rs 30 crore to Bangladesh annually but imports good worth Rs 645 crore.
  • This huge trade deficit is due to abnormally high import duty in Bangladesh and the absence of many commodities abundant in the state in the list of goods allowed for export as well as port restrictions. 

The benefit of the Route:

Connectivity:

  • The route will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
  • It provides inland waterways connectivity between the two countries, particularly with the North Eastern Region of India, and also enhances bilateral trade.

Protocol on Transit and Trade:

  • Both countries have a long-standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways which was first signed in 1972.
  • It was last renewed in for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

Making Gomati navigable:

  • River Gomati is the largest and longest river of Tripura. It is also considered a sacred river and devotees converge along its banks at Tirthmukh every Makar Sankranti.
  • Gomati is also a regulated river. Due to the high altitude of in its upper catchment and the Dumber dam built-in 1974 as part of the Gumti hydro-electric power project, the river erodes a lot of sand and rocky particles in its upper segment.
  • The flow slows down a lot after it reaches the plains and at Maharani barrage in Gomati district, a large volume of the water is extracted for irrigation and is held back for the beautification of the Dumbur dam as a tourist spot.
  • A river needs at least 4-5 feet depth for goods carriers to navigate on a regular basis. Gomati riverbed remains navigable for less than four months a year, that too only during monsoon days.
  • For the rest of the year, scanty rainfall in the hills results in low volume while accumulating sediments raise the average riverbed, rendering Gomati even shallower. In comparison, the inland waterway route with Bangladesh at Karimganj in Assam operates small ships to large boats for nearly six months a year.

Source: Indian Express

India and Japan Signed a Logistics Agreement

Context:

India and Japan signed a logistics agreement that will allow the Armed Forces of both sides to coordinate closely in services and supplies. 

  • The agreement mainly aimed at greater maritime cooperation and can upgrade India-Japan naval exercises as the participants are expected to share maritime facilities for mutual benefit.

About the agreement:

  • The agreement on Reciprocal Provision Supplies and Services will increase interoperability between the Armed Forces of India and Japan and assist in maintaining regional security.
    • The agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Japan in the reciprocal provision of supplies and services while engaged in bilateral training activities, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Humanitarian International Relief and other mutually agreed activities.
  • Both countries have welcomed the signing of the agreement which will help both sides coordinate on medical requirements, supplies, maintenance, airlifting, and communication.
  • The agreement is being interpreted as a coming together of Japan and India as India deals with the tense situation with Chinese forces at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

Agreement with other countries:

  • In June 2020, India and Australia signed a similar Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and scale up their overall defence cooperation.
  • India has already signed similar agreements with the US, France and Singapore.
  • The pacts signed with the US and France provide for accessing various crucial bases by the Indian military in Djibouti, Guam and the Reunion Islands among others.
  • India has been signing Mutual Logistics Support Agreements with countries primarily eyeing deeper maritime cooperation which is important considering China's rapid military expansionism in the Indo-Pacific, Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

India-Japan Defence Cooperation:

  • India and Japan defence forces organize a series of bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX (naval exercise), SHINYUU Maitri (air force exercise), and Dharma Guardian (military exercise).
    • Both countries also participate in the Malabar exercise with the USA.
  • India is also expanding overall strategic cooperation with Japan in the Indo-Pacific region under the framework of four-nation coalition 'Quad'.
  • In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
  • The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China's growing clout in the region.
  • In June 2020, the Indian Navy carried out a maritime exercise with the Japanese navy as part of efforts to bolster military cooperation.
  • The Indian Navy has expanded its deployment in the Indian Ocean Region, deploying a plethora of warships and submarines following the border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
    • The maritime space around the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, is very critical for China's supply chain through sea routes.

Source: The Hindu

10th East Asia Summit

Context:

Minister of State for External Affairs attended the 10th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Details:

  • During the meeting, views were exchanged on the current regional and international developments, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The meeting mainly focuses on ways and means to strengthen the leaders-led EAS platform and to make it more responsive to emerging challenges on its 15th anniversary.
  • The meeting was attended by foreign ministers of the EAS participating countries and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Vietnam.
  • The meeting reviewed the status of commitments made under the EAS framework and the progress in the implementation of the Manila Plan of Action (2018-2022) to implement the Phnom Penh Declaration on the EAS Development Initiative.
    • In 2012 EAS Development Initiative was adopted by the EAS Leaders.
  • 15th EAS Summit scheduled in November 2020.

The East Asia Summit:

  • It is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating to security and defense.
  • Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical, and economic evolution of East Asia.
  • In 1991, the concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted by Malaysia.
  • In 2005 the first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Members:

  • India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.
  • The EAS comprises the ten member states of ASEAN along with 8 other members Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
  • The EAS membership represents around 54% of the world’s population and accounts for 58% of global GDP.

EAS Chair:

  • The EAS can only be chaired by an ASEAN member.
  • The chair of ASEAN is also the chair of the EAS and rotates annually between the ten ASEAN member states.
  • There are six priority areas of regional cooperation under the framework of EAS:
    • Environment and Energy
    • Education
    • Finance
    • Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases
    • Natural Disaster Management.

Source: Business Standard

World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS)

Context:

The first World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) being organized by the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Objective: To bring the spotlight on accelerating affordable and sustainable clean green energy by showcasing and deliberating on the innovative state of the art next-generation technologies in solar power.

Details:

  • The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), as the convenor of ISA Global Leadership Task Force on Innovation, worked with ISA in organizing the summit.
    • The summit will focus on:
      • Bringing light on affordable and sustainable clean energy.
      • Global Session of CEOs,
      • Vision 2030 and beyond Establishing decarbonized Grid Disruptive Solar Technologies Solar Beyond power sector

The summit conducted with an aim:

  • To build common knowledge E-Portal.
  • To develop innovative financial mechanisms and reduce capital costs.
  • To formulate programs that will promote solar applications.
  • On capacity building for absorption and promotion of solar technologies.
  • To facilitate Research and Development among member countries.

The summit has launched the following initiatives and guidelines:

  • Solar Photo-voltaic Technician Skill development initiative.
  • ISA Cares Initiative.
  • Undergraduate Programme (UG) for small Islands, Developing states, and Least Developed Countries.
  • Price Exploratory Global bid for energy that will provide access to 47 million households through solar parks.
  • Advisory for manufacturers to produce solar kits-based ventilators.
  • Action plan to develop 20 GW of solar parks. 

International Solar Alliance

  • The ISA comprises 121 sunshine countries lying between the two tropics that are tropic of cancer and tropic of Capricorn.
  • The organization is headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana.
  • ISA was initiated by India and it was proposed at the Paris Climate change Conference of 2015.
  • The countries work with an objective of efficient use of solar energy so as to reduce the dependence of other fuels.

Source: PIB

5th BRICS Culture Ministers’ Meeting

Context:

Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism attended the 5th BRICS Culture Ministers’ Meeting.

  • The meeting was held under the chairpersonship of Russia.
  • The discussion was held on the impact of the epidemiological situation on the cultural sphere in the BRICS countries and review of the possible implementation of joint cultural online-projects within BRICS.

Suggestions:

  • Digital Online Exhibition: Exploring possibilities of hosting a Digital Online Exhibition on a shared theme towards the end of 2021 under the auspices of BRICS Alliance of Museums.
  • Joint Exhibition: The National Gallery of Modern Arts, New Delhi will host the BRICS Joint Exhibition titled ‘Bonding Regions & Imagining Cultural Synergies’ under the auspices of the BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries in 2021.
  • BRICS Corner: Opening the BRICS Corner under the auspices of BRICS Alliance of Libraries proposed to be inaugurated during India's BRICS Presidency in 2021. The Corner will disseminate information related to the history and culture of BRICS countries.
  • Cooperation and content sharing: Extending full cooperation and content sharing for the website envisaged under the BRICS Alliance.

BRICS:

  • BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • In 2009, the first BRIC summit took place in Yekaterinburg (Russia). 
  • In 2010, South Africa was invited to join BRIC after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS.
  • in 2014 during the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (Brazil) the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank. 

Cultural Cooperation among BRICS Nations:

  • In 2017, the agreement on cooperation in the field of culture (2017-21) between the governments of BRICS nations was signed.
  • In 2018, the BRICS nations endorsed institution-to-institution collaborations in the form of BRICS Alliance of Museums, BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries.

Source: PIB

G-20 Foreign Ministers Meet

Context:

Recently, Saudi Arabia has hosted the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting.

Details:

  • The meeting was convened in the backdrop of the pandemic. The core agenda of the meeting was on strengthening international cooperation across borders in the wake of Covid-19.
  • The ministers also exchanged national experiences learned from cross-border management measures taken in response to the COVID-19.
  • Currently, Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of G-20. It is the first Arab nation to take over the G20 Presidency.
  • India also commended Saudi Arabia for its proactive approach in bringing G-20 countries together for dealing with the pandemic.

India's proposal:

  • India proposed the development of voluntary ‘G-20 Principles on Coordinated Cross-Border Movement of People’ with three elements:
    • Standardization of testing procedures and universal acceptability of test results;
    • Standardisation of ‘Quarantine procedures’;
    • Standardization of ‘movement and transit’ protocols.”
  • India also called on governments around the world to ensure that the interests of foreign students are protected and movement of stranded seafarers back to their home country is facilitated.

Recent Initiatives of G-20:

  • In the 3rd G-20 meeting held in July 2020, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) came up with the G20 Action Plan to deal with the pandemic.
  • The Action Plan includes a list of collective commitments under the pillars of Health Response, Economic Response, Strong and Sustainable Recovery, and International Financial Coordination.
  • The G-20 also organized a virtual meeting of G-20 Digital Economy Ministers to highlight the digital initiatives taken by the countries to deal with Covid-19.

G-20:

  • It is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union.
  • Its membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment, and over 75% of global trade.
  • Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
  • International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are also representatives of the G-20.

Source: Indian Express

UNSC Rejects Pakistan move to list Indians as Terrorists

Context:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has rejected Pakistan’s requests to list four Indians as designated terrorists under its 1267 Committee for Counterterrorism Sanctions.

Background:

  • Earlier this year Pakistan, with the support of UNSC permanent member and its ally China, had moved the 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee to designate two Indians as global terrorists after accusing them of terror attacks in Balochistan and Peshawar and even registered FIRs against them.
  • Pakistan has tried to get four Indian nationals listed as global terrorists. All four were working in Afghanistan, have left the country and returned to India.
  • Earlier, these countries had put a hold on the listing, to give time for evidence to be provided. 

Details:

  • Due to the lack of evidence the USA, UK, France, Germany, and Belgium blocked Pakistan's requests due to lack of evidence.
  • India’s Permanent Representative to the UN mentioned that Pakistan’s attempt to politicize the 1267 special procedure on terrorism by giving it a religious color, has been thwarted by the UN Security Council. 
  • India believes that Pakistan is trying to hit back after India managed to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist under the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee.

UNSC Resolution 1267 Sanctions Committee:

  • The resolution was adopted unanimously in 1999.
  • This committee oversees the implementation of sanctions pursuant to UNSC resolutions 1267 (1999) 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015).
  • The committee is one of the most important and active UN subsidiary bodies working on efforts to combat terrorism, particularly in relation to Al Qaeda, Taliban, and the Islamic State group. It prepares a consolidated list of people associated with these organizations.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC):

  • It was established in 1945 and one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN).
  • Its objective is to ensuring international peace and security, recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly, and approving any changes to the UN Charter. 
  • It is the only UN body that has the authority to issue binding resolutions on member states.
  • Headquarter: New York, USA.

Functions and powers:

  • Maintaining peace and security at the international level. It takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to peace or act of aggression.
  • UNSC can also deploy UN peacekeeping operations and impose sanctions on states.
  • It can also impose diplomatic relations severance, financial restrictions and penalties, blockades, and even collective military action if required.

Members:

  • A total of 15 members are therein UNSC, out of which 5 are permanent and 10 are not permanent.
  • Permanent members: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States
  • Non-permanent members: Belgium Dominican Republic, Estonia,  Germany, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia, Vietnam
  • The non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • The members include three from Africa, while Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean have two members each.
  • In June 2020, India was elected as a non-permanent member, winning 184 out of the 193 votes at the UNGA. This membership is for 2021-22.

Source:  Indian Express

Ladakh’s Pangong Tso’s south bank

CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

  • As per Indian army reports, China is increasing its presence in the Eastern Ladakh. The southern bank of Pangong Tso has become a new front in India- China’s over three-month-long stand-off.
  • Indian troops pre-empted the People's Liberation Army activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake and undertook measures to strengthen the positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.

SOUTHERN BANK OF PANGONG TSO: NEW FLASHPOINT

  • The area is witnessing the latest friction between Indian and Chinese forces since the standoff began in May. The violent face off at Galwan saw lost of soldiers on both the sides.
  • Earlier the troops were facing off on the north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • The area of the new standoff is approximately 25 km east of Chushul near Black Top. It is a ridge on the south bank of Pangong Tso.

PANGONG TSO LAKE

  • pangong.JPGIt is long deep and beautiful narrow lake located in the Eastern ladakh region.
  • The name Pangong tso indicates the mix culture of the area. Tso is a Tibetan word for lake and Pangong is a ladakhi word for extensive concavity.
  • Pangong tso is a landlocked or endorheic lake and is situated at a height of near around 4270 m. The lake is approximately 135 km in length and 6 km wide.
  • The boomerang shaped lake is having an area over 600 square kilometers.
  • It is crystal clear, undrinkable brackish water lake and is not part of the Indus river basin.
  • Lake freezes in winter and becomes ideal for ice skating, polo and vehicular movement. The 19th century Indian Dogra general Zorawar Singh is believed to have trained his soldiers and horses on this frozen lake before invading Tibet.
  • Lake extends from Ladakh to the Tibetan Autonomous Region which means it is partly in India’s Ladakh region and partly in Tibet.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range ends at the north bank of Pangong Tso. Its southern bank too has high broken mountains sloping towards Spangur Lake in the south. Karakoram is spread over Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India. With heights of approximately 6,000 metres it includes K2, the world’s second highest peak.

COMPLICATION OF PANGONG TSO

  • China controlled near about two-third of the area of lake and just 45 km is under the control of India.
  • The LAC runs north-south and cuts the western part of the lake in alignment east-west.
  • Due to the unsettled borders and different perceptions of the LAC between India and China, this lake is also disputed. 
  • According to India, the lake’s north bank has the Khurnak Fort, a 19th-century ruin which is close to the international boundary but the LAC is around 15 km west.
  • There are spurs in the Northern Bank that jut into the lake, identified as fingers. As per Indian claim the LAC passes through Finger 8 while China claims it is farther west.
    • Fingers in the lake: The Mountain called ‘Chang Chenmo’ is having palm like formations called ‘fingers’. Indian side claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, though India physically controls area only up to Finger 4 but China claims that it starts from Line 2.
  • The difference in perception of the LAC is not very wide in the south bank as compared to the Noth bank and lacks prominent features like fingers.

No shots were fired during Galwan face-off

  • The soldiers from both the sides were killed in the hand-to-hand combat but not a single bullet was fired in the violent face off in the Galwan valley.
  • This was because of 1996 and 2005 agreements between India and China which bars the use of firearms within two kilometers of the LAC.
  • As per the Article VI of the 1996 agreement between India and China, neither side can open fire if they come face to face and both sides shall exercise self-restraint and try all necessary steps to avoid escalation.
  • It further adds that both sides shall enter consultations through diplomatic and/or other available channels to prevent escalation.

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF SOUTHERN BANK OF PANGONG TSO

  • The geography on the southern bank is favourable for India.
  • The terrain on the southern bank close to the lake is plain and flatter than the northern bank, and amenable to limited mechanised warfare in the Chushul sector. The height around the area is in the range of 15,500 -17,000 ft.
  • Spangur Gap is in the south-east of the Pangong Tso which can be used by the Chinese to advance towards Leh in case of a major offensive in the sector.
  • Holding Rezang La and adjoining heights is important for Indian troops to dominate any Chinese troop movement.
  • During the 1962 war, this was the area where China launched its main offensive against the Indian Army. Rezang La, the mountain pass on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.
  • The access of Chinese to the area will further give them access of strategically important Indian owned Durbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) road.

CURRENT STATUS OF PANGONG TSO

  • Earlier the friction between two armies was witnessed in north bank in eastern ladakh and Galwan Valley. India lost 20 soldiers and undeclared number of Chinese troops was also killed.
  • After that China changed the status quo and its troops had occupied the region between Finger 8 and Finger 4, which was patrolled by both but occupied by neither side earlier. Chinese troops continue to occupy the Finger 4 ridgeline, though they have stepped back from the base of Finger 4 to the base of Finger 5. But China has fortified its positions in the area.
  • Now the South bank which was quiet during the standoff has seen the Chinese movement.
  • The south bank is safe and secure under Indian army because it has already stronger presence of Indian forces because of its proximity to areas like Chushul and Rezang La.
  • Chushul approach is the area which can be used as launchpads for an offensive, because it is flatter or plain. In 1962 conflict, both banks witnessed a Chinese offensive, and India lost territory on both — first Sirijiap, then the entire north bank. On the south bank India had to abandon its complex of posts in Yula, and move to a high area north of Gurung Hill.

GALWAN VALLEY: ANOTHER FLASHPOINT

  • The name of valley is derived from the river galwan which flows from the Aksai Chin region.
  • Galwan valley lies in the Sub Sector North (SSN) which is east of the Siachen glacier and is the only point that provides direct access to Aksai Chin from India. This makes galwan highly important strategic area for both the countries.
  • The current tensions rose when Chinese questioned India’s road construction activities here. India was constructing bridge across the Galwan nallah which is part of a network of roads that India is building connecting the strategically important Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi road.

INDIA CHINA BORDER DISPUTES

  • Doklam: Doklam plateau lies at a tri-junction between the India, China, and Bhutan. It is an area having a valley and a plateau which lies on the Bhutan-China border, near India. It's geographical position makes it a strategically important area as it is located between Tibet's Chumbi valley to the North, India's Sikkim state to the West and Bhutan's Ha valley to the East.
  • Depsang Plains: These are located on the border of the Indian union territory of Ladakh and the disputed zone of Aksai Chin. Most of the plains were occupied by China during its 1962 war with India, while India controls the western portion of the plains.
  • Arunachal Pradesh: It is a state of India located in the far northeast. The majority of the territory is claimed by China as part of South Tibet. The northern border of Arunachal Pradesh reflects the McMahon Line which was a 1914 treaty between the United Kingdom and the Tibetan government and was never accepted by the Chinese government. This territory is administered by India.

CONCLUSION

After Aksai chin, Doklam and Arunachal Pradesh, Pangong Tso lake’s south bank is becoming the new flashpoint between the India and China. This is the part of China’s 'Two Steps Forward, One Step Back' policy. Indian army has already pre-empted the activity of China in this region and is further taking measures to strengthen its positions.

Source: Indian express

Exercise Kavkaz-2020

Context:

India has withdrawn from a multi-nation army exercise Kavkaz-2020.

  • Kavkaz-2020 being hosted by Russia in which around 20 countries including China are expected to take part.
  • Exercise Kavkaz-2020 will be held in southern Russia’s Astrakhan region from September 15 to 27. 

Reasons:

  • Covid-19: There is a decision not to take part in exercises in view of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to ensure the safety of Indian troops
  • Recognition of states: The expected presence in the exercise of troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia both states that aren’t recognized by India, in Kavkaz-2020.
    • Most UN member states see Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of Georgia, though both are recognized by Russia. India doesn’t recognize both as independent states as they are not members of the UN.
  • Growing criticism: Criticism of India’s possible presence alongside Chinese and Pakistani troops has been growing ever since reports first emerged that India was extended an invitation to send a tri-services contingent to the exercise.
  • China Issue: Both China and Pakistan are going to be a part of Kavkaz-2020. China's participation in the exercise was also a reason for India to pull out of the multilateral tri-services military exercise.
    • India is having a military conflict with the Chinese in eastern Ladakh and on high alert all along the 4,000 kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Tensions with Ukraine: The Russian exercise has also sparked tensions with Ukraine, which is organizing its own command-staff exercise United Efforts-2020, for which it plans to involve NATO countries. This exercise, too, will be held at around the same time.
  • However, it is not uncommon for the armies of India, China, and Pakistan to be part of multi-nation exercises on neutral territories (they even deploy alongside in United Nations peace missions), India’s participation in Kavkaz-2020 had assumed importance because of the ongoing border row in the Ladakh sector.

Source: The Hindu

Vaccine nationalism

CONTEXT

The developed nations are making multi-billion-dollar agreements with big pharmaceutical companies for assured supplies of millions doses of vaccines.

DETAILS

  • The term is used for the race of nations around the world against each other for a Covid-19 vaccine by making agreements with different pharmaceuticals companies.
  • AS per their agreements if any of the company is successful in developing a vaccine, it would be obligated to provide the agreed supplies to the preferred nation before anyone else.
  • U.S.A entered into agreements with at least six big pharmaceutical companies for assured supplies of a combined 800 million doses of vaccines. The United Kingdom has entered into similar agreements with multiple companies to secure about 340 million doses.

CONCERNS

  • Countries like U.S.A and U.K have pre-booked more coronavirus vaccines than their populations need. It will create problem for other nations over the accessibility and affordability of the vaccine.
  • All the candidate vaccines will not be succeeded and the succeed ones will provide vaccines to the countries that have entered into advance agreements that have clauses to enable increased supplies for more money. This will increase the prices of the vaccine, which will be unaffordable for a large number of countries.
  • In 2009, after H1N1 influenza, rich countries hoarded vaccines in a similar way which results into unavailability of vaccines for African nations for month.
    • Similarly in 1990s, anti-retroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV patients were unavailable in Africa.
  • Such pre-booking is against the ethics and the spirit of international cooperation.

HOARDING VACCINES

  • Governments all over the world are making impression on their citizen that how much they care about them.
  • It would help the governments to show their people and international community that how much efficient and effective they were during pandemic.

WAY FORWARD

  • Vaccines should be first made available to whoever needs them the most like frontline health workers, those on emergency duties, the elderly and the sick, pregnant women, and other  similarly  vulnerable population
  • Platform like the ACT (or Access to Covid19 Tools) Accelerator Programme of W.H.O must be encouraged to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, and also therapeutics and drugs.
  • All developing and developed nations must fund the COVAX facility of W.H.O which will ensure that the successful vaccines are made equally accessible to all at an affordable price.

Source: Indian Express

India - Vietnam Bilateral Cooperation

Context:

  • India and Vietnam recently agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in li