Defence Agreements With Russia

Details of Defence Agreements signed with Russia over the past five years is as under

  • Defence Agreements for training of Indian armed forces personnel in the military educational establishments of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation. (Date of signing 11.12.2014).
  • Agreement between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on cooperation in Aircraft flight safety. (Date of signing 21.01.2015).
  • Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation on cooperation in the field of Helicopter Engineering. (Date of signing 24.12.2015).
  • Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of India on supply of S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile systems to the Republic of India. (Date of signing 15.10.2016).
  • Defence Agreements between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of India for construction of follow-on-ships of project 11356 in Russia and in India (Date of signing 15.10.2016).

India-Russia defence relations

India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including –

  • BrahMos cruise missile programme
  • 5th generation fighter jet programme
  • Sukhoi Su-30MKI programme (230+ to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics)
  • Ilyushin/HAL Tactical Transport Aircraft

Additionally, India has purchased/leased various military hardware from Russia 

  • S-400 Triumf 12.
  • Kamov Ka-226 200 to be made in India under the Make in India initiative.
  • T-90S Bhishma with over 1000 to be built in India.
  • Akula-II nuclear submarine (2 to be leased with an option to buy when the lease expires).
  • INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier programme.
  • Tu-22M3 bombers (4 ordered).
  • US$900 million upgrade of MiG-29.
  • Mil Mi-17 (80 ordered) more in Service.
  • Ilyushin Il-76 Candid (6 ordered to fit Israeli Phalcon radar).
  • The Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan is currently jointly operated by Indian Air Force and Tajikistan Air Force.

Defence Agreements | Conclusion

The Government makes all efforts to encourage greater manufacturing of defence equipment in India through the ‘Make in India’ framework, including through transfer of technology arrangements.  Several licensed production agreements have been implemented with Russian companies in India, such as for Sukhoi-30 aircraft, T-90 tanks, BMP-2 armoured personnel carriers etc. Divulging the texts of such Agreements will not be in the interest of national security.

Doklam Standoff – India China Border

Doklam StandoffDoklam Standoff near Bhutan between India and China is becoming a major concern, near the Chumbi Valley at the corner of India-China-Bhutan tri-junction. This month long border Doklam Standoff has become the longest ever between the two nations. This is also the first time when Indian troops have confronted the People’s Liberation Army of China on the soil of a third country i.e. Bhutan. There are two reasons for this standoff – India has a long standing commitment to Bhutan’s defence and serves as a virtual security guarantor to Bhutan through the 2007 friendship treaty. Secondly, the Doklam sector is critical to India as it brings China even closer to the Indian border in a vulnerable location towards the 27-kilometres long Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s neck” that connects the Northeastern states of India with the rest of India. China has repeatedly disputed Bhutan’s claims over Doklam. Beijing considers this plateau as vital to fortify the dagger-shaped Chumbi valley by piercing the tri-junction.

Doklam Standoff | History

Intrusions in Sikkim area may be new but there is a general pattern of such incursions are traced back to 2008 Beijing Olympics. In Ladakh and other places, the Chinese troops have been repeatedly working towards ingression in such areas. In 2009, the Chinese refused to give visas on Indian passports for several months for citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Commander-in-Chief of the then Northern Command.Three factors started emerging in 2008 which are converging now in 2017 – the first being Pakistan’s renewed animosity against India which was earlier demonstrated during the Mumbai attacks, the second was the street rage which was demonstrated within the Kashmir valley, and the last being China’s attempts to stymie India’s growth trajectory while it still can do it in the long term.

Actually, the border dispute in the region dates back to the 19th century when the states in the region were expanding in the areas which were loose in nature – North East Frontier Agency, North West Frontier Agency by the British Empire, and the Qing dynasty under the warlordswas expanding the Empire in Tibet and Sichuan. The 1890 treaty was signed between the British Empire and the Qing dynasty in China, 1914 Shimla Agreement between the British Empire, the Tibetans and the nationalist China are the two agreements being cited by China to stake legal claims over the region. The treaty of 1890 was signed but the delineation and demarcation did not happen subsequently, specifically in the Sikkim sector. In the 1914 Shimla Agreement, China was represented by Ivan Chen, LonchenShatra represented Tibet and McMahon represented the British-India Empire, yet this agreement is labelled as Imperialist in nature by the Chinese authorities. They have ignored the 1885 Treaty between France-controlled Vietnam and the Qing dynasty at the time. Therefore, selectively implementing treaties according to their own convenience is the issue at hand with China.

It is being said that one of the objectives of China is to test India’s resolve to defend its ally Bhutan in the case of a border dispute turning into a war. This current Doklam Standoff around the tri-junction of India-China-Bhutan border is an extension to the policy of encirclement being pursued by the Chinese around India. India has spent too much time on the ‘principles of Panchsheel in dealing with an aggressive state like China, the current standoff between the two neighbours at a strategic territory is a reflection of the change in this decades old approach by India towards China.

The May 2015 ‘White Paper on National Defence’ by China talks about Chinese armed forces protecting China’s interests abroad. In November 2014, President Xi Jinping addressed the fourth Foreign Affairs Work Conference and mentioned that the foreign ministry has to protect the interests of China abroad. Hence, the Foreign Ministry and the military is now showcasing a synchronised effort to secure their strategic interests at the Tibet region. China has adopted a strategy of legal, media and psychological warfare which was initiated in 2005. China is playing a psychological warfare through its state controlled media, cash-controlled global think tanks and tactical strategies by the PLA troops on the ground to aggravate India to enter into a war. It is using legal strategies to point out that India is entering a third-country i.e. Bhutan, forgetting for the moment that the Chinese entered the Korean war in the 1950s.

Doklam Standoff | Present

China can roughly mobilise about 28-30 divisions in all in the case of a conventional war which includes mobilisation of around 5 divisions in the Sikkim-Bhutan sector, 8 in the Arunachal sector, about 3 divisions in Barahoti (middle sector of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh) and roughly about 14 divisions in the Western sector. These divisions would be mobilised through the narrow passages because of the high Tibetan plateau region that makes it easier for the Chinese to push through such forts. Currently, China possesses around 62-63 division in the PLA, out of which they would have to muster around half of the strength towards India which is actually difficult for them, considering the volatile situation in China’s other long boundaries with other hostile nations. In the Sikkim-Bhutan sector, the Chinese face geographical issues because India is at the high ground over the hills, so the casualties can roughly be regarded as 33,000 on the other side. Hence, the Chinese would take a backseat in the conventional warfront. At the sub-conventional level, it is quite possible that the 158 monasteries that India has in the trans-Himalayan belt will come under stress due to the current standoff between India and China. Therefore, India needs to worry more about the sub-conventional warfare techniques of China, more than the conventional warfare strategies because it is untenable for China to go for it.

India is successfully holding to all the semantics played by China and the Government is responding to such semantics with appropriate responses at the most opportune times. As rightly pointed out by the India’s Defence Minister ArunJaitley,

“India is not the same as that of 1962.”

SASEC Road Connectivity Programme | PIB Summary

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for upgradation and widening of 65 kms of Imphal-Moreh Section of NH-39 in Manipur at a cost of Rs. 1630.29 crores.

SASEC  | Details

  • Manipur being a landlocked state with almost 90% of the area under difficult terrain presently has only road transport as a means of mass transport system within the state. Hence development of the road infrastructure is of paramount importance to improve connectivity and progress of the State and to ensure that the administrative set up reaches the isolated and remote habitats.
  • The project will improve connectivity between Imphal with the eastern part of the state. Based on the existing and projected traffic requirements the NH-39 will be widened to 4 lane between Lilong village and Wanginj village, while the stretch between Wanginj village to Khongkhang will be upgraded to 2 lane with paved shoulder.

SASEC  | Financing of the project

The project is being developed with ADB’s loan assistance under the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Program which aims at upgradation of road infrastructure in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India (BBIN) in order to improve the regional connectivity among BBIN nations.

SASEC  | Significance

  • The project corridor is also a part of the Asian Highway No. 01 (AH01) and acts as India’s Gateway to the East. Thus trade, commerce and tourism in the region will get a boost.
  • The workers of Manipur who specialize in creating bamboo and wood based handicraft items and uniquely designed hand woven textile items will get a new market among the Myanmar’s customers.
  • Small scale industries such as those making farm implements and tools, stationery, plastic extrusion items, carpentry units, could also develop markets beyond the border.
  • Besides socio-economic development the project will also lead to reduction in average travel time along the project road by nearly 40%.
  • In addition, the new features of road safety namely vehicular underpasses, crash barriers, road signs & markings, service roads for segregation of slow and high moving traffic, truck lay-by, bus-bays etc. will help in greatly reducing accidents.
  • Improved highway and lesser travel time will lead to savings in terms of fuel cost.

SASEC  | Background

For fulfilling India’s “Look East” Policy and to promote and enhance trade link with South East Asia, the Government of India has notified an Integrated Custom Post (ICP) at Moreh. The development of this project is essential in order to support the increased traffic volume due to coming up of ICP.

For more information keep visiting Raj Malhotra IAS Academy

Malabar Exercise 2017

Naval co-operation between India, US and Japan epitomises the strong and resilient relationship between the three democracies. The Malabar Exercise series, initiated in 1992 between the Indian and US Navies, have steadily grown in scope, complexity and participation into a multifaceted exercise with the participation of Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF).

Details of Malabar Exercise 2017

  • The 21st edition of the exercise, MALABAR-17 will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal from 10 to 17 July 2017.
  • The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies as well as develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
  • The scope of MALABAR-17 includes wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour Phase at Chennai and a diverse range of operational activities at sea.
  • The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on Aircraft Carrier operations, Air Defence, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface Warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Search and Rescue, Joint Manoeuvres and Tactical procedures.

Indian Navy – Malabar Exercise

The Indian Navy will be represented by the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with its air wing, guided missile destroyer Ranvir, indigenous stealth frigates Shivalik and Sahyadri, indigenous ASW corvette Kamorta, missile corvettes Kora and Kirpan, one Sindhughosh class submarine, fleet tanker INS Jyoti and Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P8I. 

Conclusion | Malabar Exercise

MALABAR-17 will be another milestone with participation of 16 ships, two submarines and more than 95 aircraft, towards strengthening mutual confidence and inter-operability as well as sharing of best practices between the Indian, Japanese and US Navies. The exercise is a demonstration of the joint commitment of all three nations to address common maritime challenges across the spectrum of operations and will go a long way in enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, for the benefit of the global maritime community.

OBOR can lead to colonisation | IAS Coaching Chandigarh

Since the start of this century, the world has seen a shift in power balance, courtesy China’s emerging economic might, which challenged a US-dominant unipolar world that had been in existence since 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved, officially ending the Cold War. Click Below to enlarge to OBOR Map

Expanding China | OBOR

  • The Chinese foreign policy touts OBOR is purely an economic mission, facilitating cooperation in trade, investment, energy, developmental projects such as railway and road. Actually, OBOR is a geopolitical architecture aimed at expanding Chinese influence in and around the region.
  • It has the potential to lead much of the world into a debt trap. China’s intent is to create an infrastructure which would allow physical movement of goods, more specifically Chinese goods, to large parts of Asia and Europe including Russia.

Why OBOR got popular?

  • According to the World Bank, the growth of overseas development assistance (ODA) is slowing down globally, leading to ODA’s diminishing share in gross national income (GNI) in the developing world, while multilateral development banks merely support 10 per cent of the developing world’s infra spending. In leastdeveloped countries, ODA was only 5.89 per cent of GNI in 2013, against 11.28 per cent in 1990.
  • Cash-rich China is, perhaps, trying to make use of this opportunity to fulfil its expansionist tactics and lure countries to fund their infrastructure needs through Chinese funds. These funds may not be in the form of a grant, and would seek a return on the long term investments made, which in some cases could accrue much higher interest rates than offered under ODA.

OBOR | Debt trap

An analysis of the Asian economies, mostly emerging, under OBOR’s influence (where data from IMF was available), shows the average reserves to external debt as on 2015 stands at 53.3 per cent. These debts levels are bound to increase as they get more intertwined with OBOR plans.

  • Myanmar – It shows a negative 61.2 per cent external debt to reserves. According to a Parliamentarian in Myanmar, out of the $9 billion of the total foreign debts, Chinese loans amount to almost $4 billion, accounting for 44 per cent of the total external debt.
  • Mongolia – It witnessed its economy growing by just 1 per cent in 2016, down from 17.5 per cent growth in 2011. It now has US$ 22 billion in debt, more than double the size of its economy.
  • Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka’s estimated national debt as per the data available from IMF stands at $44 billion in 2015, of which around 15 per cent is owed to China. Recently, for the Hambantota port project, Sri Lanka was coerced to borrow around $300 million from China with an interest rate of 6.3 per cent, while the World Bank and the ADB could have provided soft loans with the interest levels within 3 per cent.
  • Nepal and Afghanistan – They are outliers given the fact that they are huge recipients of grants in the form of official development assistance. A brief analysis of the import pattern of the Asian participants, who have agreed to be a part of this OBOR initiative, reveals that most of the ASEAN countries, especially Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam, run a Chinese-led trade deficit which is more than 30 per cent.

Impact of OBOR

  • Given the debt situation in most of these OBOR economies in Asia, and their inability to repay the debt, could lead the Chinese acquiring equity possession of these large tracts of infrastructure projects and thereby making inroads into the geographic space.
  • Another possible implication of OBOR could also be the spreading the use of Yuan as an alternate currency to the dollar. Given such multiple corollaries, the OBOR can even lead towards economic colonisation by China.

Conclusion | OBOR

The OBOR initiative may act like a slow poison killing the domestic production capabilities of not only the emerging economies in Asia, but also those crisscrossing continents in Central Asia and Europe, making them heavily depended upon Chinese imports. Trade deficits are also about the jobs that we lose to overseas competitors. All these would have major political a

Asia-Africa Growth Corridor | RSTV

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently pushed for an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor supported by Japan and India. This comes up within days after China launched its ambitious OBOR. Asia-Africa Growth Corridor was launched during the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, where the vision document was launched for the initiative.

About Asia-Africa Growth Corridor

It is a roadmap for opportunities and aspirations of Asia and Africa and has been launched with an aim to prioritize development projects in agriculture and agro-processing, skill enhancement, health and pharmaceuticals and disaster management.

It is destined to focus on people centric sustainable growth approach, the details of which would be evolved through a process of detailed consultation across Asia and Africa.

Background

The idea of Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) had emerged during the Joint Declaration issued PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during the former’s visit to Japan in November 2016.

Components of AAGC

  • Development and cooperation projects
  • Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity
  • Capacity and skill enhancement
  • People to people partnerships

Analysis

  • AAGC aims to be an efficient and sustainable mechanism for linking economies, industries and institutions, ideas and people in Africa and Asia in an inclusive manner unlike China’s OBOR strategy which aims to form colonies in the area through its economic power.
  • There is vast and untapped potential in both Asia and Africa which needs to be explored for shared growth, development, peace, prosperity and stability of these regions.
  • If Africa looks towards US or Europe for these things, it is very expensive. So, India and Japan are the best in terms of compatibility of interest for Africa. China’s OBOR is concentrated on Eurasian mainland for trade by creating trade infrastructure because China has huge reserves built by trade surplus over the years which has to be balanced globally. AAGC is Indian Ocean oriented initiative basically for the African people and their priorities. India is willing to assist Africa as per its priorities and requirements whereas China is more self-centred
  • As far as engaging more partners is concerned, South Africa is undoubtedly India’s strategic partner. But South Africa’s relationship with China also needs to be monitored and its role in unfolding strategy of China in Africa. Japan’s major flagship conference took place in Kenya whereas China’s major flagship conference took place in South Africa. So, these are the indicators for India to see which countries it can depend upon or bring in to AAGC.

 Mandate of AAGC

  • Effective mobilization of financial resources for inclusive development.
  • Application of high-quality standards in terms of compliance with international standards established to mitigate environmental and social impact.
  • Contribution to the local society and economy of the partner countries.
  • Providing quality infrastructure and taking into account various aspects of economic efficiency and durability, inclusiveness, safety and disaster-resilience, sustainability as well as convenience and amenities.
  • Alignment with socio-economic development and development strategies of partner countries and regions concerned;

Conclusion

At a time when China is rapidly expanding itself in Africa, India and Japan do not have luxury of time to wait and observe the ramifications of such an expansive strategy. We should immediately seizure the moment and initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the private and public sector companies of India, Japan and a few African countries in identified areas like agriculture, health and infrastructure.

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Energy Diplomacy China India Relations | RSTV

In this post we shall see all the possible factors as to why energy diplomacy is important to India (with a special focus on Energy Diplomacy China India Relations ).

Away from the accolades that accompanied the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative of China, India has been quietly working on creating connectivity grids in its neighbourhood and moving beyond physical connectivity to energy as a tool for connectivity. From Indonesia to Mauritius, India is working on a web of relationships that seek to leverage India’s position as a big source of petroleum products, sharing of technology and building interdependencies. Mauritius, one of India’s closest partners in the Indian Ocean region could become a hub for petroleum storage and bunkering for which India has started building infrastructure. India already supplies petroleum products to Mauritius from its Mangalore Refineriesas well as a retail player in that country. As a petroleum hub, Mauritius can secure its own energy supplies while India can use it to market in other parts of Africa. On the other side of the Indian Ocean, India and Indonesia are beginning an energy relationship. Indonesia is one of the biggest sources of hydrocarbon and has been in and out of OPEC. We shall see all the possible factors as to why energy diplomacy is important to India (with a special focus on Energy Diplomacy China).

Energy security v/s national security

India is growing at a rate of 7-8 per cent per annum and sustaining this momentum of growth requires a continuous pace of energy consumption. This fact is in line with the argument that energy security of India is an integral part of India’s developmental as well as national security positioning. Due to the rapid expansion of their economies, both India and China present the world’s biggest appetite for energy. Energy Diplomacy China India relations take high importance as both these countries have high import dependence to secure their energy demands, this race between the two largest developing countries for energy security will determine the shape of the twenty-first-century world. It is somewhat similar to what happened in the last century between the Allied forces and Germany, during the peak of industrialization, of course with different contours.In the last few years, India and China’s face off has been concentrated around the sources of energy supplies (particularly oil and gas resources). As both these countries are highly dependent on coal for meeting their energy demands, the big question at this moment should be concentrated on the type of fuel that both these countries would adopt next in their economic growth trajectory.

Convergence of interests | Energy Diplomacy China

Both India and China are trying to shift to the renewable sources of energy, hence, they should rather cooperate at the optimum level to ensure a situation of win-win for both sides. Instead of this desirable cooperation, an unhealthy friction has been developed over the years due to the expansionist and neo-colonialist policies of China in India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean. We have failed to effectively utilise the forum of ‘India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue’ since its inception in 2010. This forum can be a bulwark in securing effective cooperation to minimise friction over energy security of both our nations. For instance, formalising the trade in solar photovoltaic equipment which is importedby India from China can reap maximum benefits for both the nations.

Expanding horizons | Energy Diplomacy China Relations

Energy investments have a long gestation period, so what we are planning today will start producing the intended results in 2030. Therefore, India needs to prioritise what sources of energy it wishes to utilise in the next decade and the decisions for the same should be taken right now. According to this argument, investing in renewable sources of energy makes more sense, which is in fact what we are doing today. The concerns have been raised about the national security paradigm in terms of abrogating the safer channels of fossil fuels in return for sourcing energy demands through the unchartered territory of renewables for a comparatively long and crucial period of India’s growth. The issues of political and national sovereignty complement these concerns which have been outlined at the appropriate forums.

Renewable era

India is a responsible signatory to the Paris Climate Accord and a proud supporter of the UN-2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, we are poised to shift our focus to the renewable as evident from recent developments in India. The public support and understanding for this gigantic shift are positive which would go a long way in securing our intended contributions towards renewable sources of energy.

India and China are the stories of the future; hence they cannot afford to be non-accommodative towards each other in terms of securing energy supplies. The current cooperation at the small sub-group level between India’s NITI Aayog and National Development and Reform Commission of China should be replaced by the highest political and strategic cooperation.

Energy Diplomacy China | Securing energy channels

Unlike China, where the energy sector corporations do not need to seek approval of the Government to bid for energy sources abroad, Indian corporations need to seek Cabinet’s approval before venturing out for large investments abroad in the energy sector. This creates a safety cushion for Indian corporations but at the same time, it hinders the possibility to explore lucrative sources of energy at a quick pace in this competitive world. It must be remembered that many major investments by the Chinese private energy corporations have been disastrous for them in commercial terms, whereas Indian investments abroad have been more cautious, prudent and commercially viable.

In domestic terms, India has done reasonably well in the energy sector, both in terms of technical and the fuel aspects. It may be lagging behind China in securing sources of fuel from global channels due to non-adherence of colonial ambitions, but in terms of technological traits, we might have even outperformed China in establishing state of the art technology for transmission and distribution equipment and maintenance, boiler turbine generation manufacturing facility for thermal generation and we are gradually picking up in the spheres of renewable energy equipment sectors like solar photovoltaic cells.

Way forward | Energy Diplomacy China

Most of the capacity additions in electricity generation around the world are going to happen in India in the next ten years. India will move from its current capacity of 300,000 MW to 1,500,000 MW in the next decade. Therefore, India will be at the centre stage in terms of development in the energy sector, so we cannot afford inimical relationships with our resource line countries.

Conclusion

It is true that one cannot have energy security by being absolutely autarkic. India slipped into this mess in 1947 by clarifying that it will not look for energy supplies anywhere in the world and we will secure our energy sources to build-up. Until the frontiers of energy security are shifted out of the off-the-shelf sources to building up of own capacities in terms of technology, the ambition of sustainable economic growth would keep on dangling through the walls of uncertainty. A strong political commitment to secure theinvolvement of all the concerned stakeholders including the general public for swallowing the implications of this long-term investment would be required to ensure safe passage to the renewable mode of energy.

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Beijing Declaration On Education

Following is the text of Beijing Declaration On Education adopted in the 5th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education in Beijing, China, on July 5th, 2017. 

Details | Beijing Declaration

  • Committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4)-Education 2030 which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” that was set within The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Recognizing the significance of collaboration in the field of education for enhancing the overall partnership among BRICS Member States and enhancing people to people exchanges to a higher level.

The Beijing Declaration

For ensuring coordinated and deeper cooperation among the Member States, hereby declare to –

  • Reiterate support for the BRICS Network University (NU) to collaborate in the fields of education, research and innovation. Encourage universities to participate in the BRICS University League.
  • Increase cultural cooperation through language education and multilingualism to promote mutual understanding of the history and culture of BRICS Member States.
  • Undertake initiatives to promote professionalization of academics in higher education through the BRICS Network University as a focus of future education development.
  • Encourage more teachers and educational administrators to learn from experience of other countries in improving teacher quality and performance, and promoting the development of education through international exchanges.
  • Strengthen cooperation in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), share ideas and experiences in the development of vocational educators, and develop projects that are of common interests to BRICS Member States.
  • Recognize the importance of BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC), BRICS Network University as well as other BRICS initiatives, and encourage the streamlining of mechanisms for their closer cooperation to ensure the alignment of their work.
  • Emphasize the importance of streamlining the cooperation among educational think tanks and education researchers, and welcome China’s invitation to host a conference to explore possible cooperation among the various entities in BRICS Member States.
  • Encourage the organization of “youth winter/summer camps” to reinforce communication and cultural exchanges among the young generation from BRICS Member States.
  • Encourage Member States to expand the number of scholarship opportunities to students across BRICS Member States.
  • Share the experience and practices in achieving the SDG4-Education 2030 targets in order to foster a more favourable policy environment, adopt effective practices, and advocate for global educational policies that take into account the common concern and priorities of the BRICS Member States.
  • Encourage the participation in the 3rd BRICS NU Annual Conference to be held in 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa and in the BRICS Global Business and Innovation Conference to be held in September 2017, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

PM Modi US Visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump struck a common note on terrorism as they met for the first time at the White House last week during PM Modi US Visit. The two leaders vowed to fight against terrorism confirming that it was their topmost priority. Both countries also pledged to deepen their security and defence cooperation. US cleared the sale of Predator-Guardian drones to India which builds on the US’s recognition of India as the major defence partner.

Analysis | PM Modi US Visit

  • The delegation-level talks between India and the US carried Secretary of State, Defence Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Treasury Secretary and the National Security Advisor of the US, from the US side, despite the fact that such a huge representation was missing from India’s side. This high powered representation from the US showed that it is serious about India and wishes to expand their cooperation in every field apart from security and trade.
  • United States reaffirmed its commitment to support India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the reformed United Nations Security Council.

PM Modi US Visit | Security cooperation

  • In a surprise move, the Department of State of the US tagged HizbulMujahideen chief ‘Syed Salahudeen’ as a terrorist for inciting violence in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This action went off as unexpected assault for the Pakistani authorities protecting the acclaimed terrorist residing in Pakistan.
  • United States vocally supported India’s position vis-à-vis CPEC and its violation of India’s sovereignty in terms of it passing through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • India’s requests for increasing and not receding the role of the US in Afghanistan was positively acknowledged with Defence Secretary James Mattis confirming that the US will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. This decision is in sharp contrast to the previous Obama Administration which vowed to reduce the role of the US in Afghanistan. India’s concerns were addressed positively and the joint statement confirmed the same. The US confirmed in the joint statement that actions against safe havens of terrorists is acceptable, which signalled a support for India’s surgical strikes in Pakistan’s terrorist camps in PoK. It also confirmed that drone strikes at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will resume and will be intensified.

PM Modi US Visit | Trade cooperation

  • India has a favourable balance of trade (about $24 billion) with the US. President Trump wishes to expand trade cooperation but wants to renegotiate the trade arrangements with the world in US’s favour. As the trade surplus is not high enough or tilted in favour of India, so the President is not willing to renegotiate the trade related arrangements with India.
  • A deal for the purchase of huge numbers of civilian aircrafts from the US was announced which was joyfully welcomed by the US President as it would create jobs in the US, which is the primary agenda of President Trump.

Climate Change

US confirmed that it would not come in India’s way of getting climate finance from the World Bank or even green technology transfer from the United States itself. This was a positive assurance from the US in return for India’s strategic non-interference in President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Deal.

PM Modi US Visit | Concerns

  • US announcement for the sale of Predator-Guardian drones were constrained by the fact that the armed drones’ sale was withheld with only surveillance capability drones (maritime surveillance) being given clearance for the sale. Nonetheless, India’s capability of armed attack is not constrained by this sale but the surveillance capabilities would be increased which is the prime target for India against a belligerent China.
  • India is also negotiating to purchase ‘shale gas’ from the US in the near future but the sale of it was tied up in the regulatory mess in the US.
  • India’s issues with the H1-B visas and the Paris Climate Deal was untouched due to the fact that this visit was aimed to focus on the positive deliverables.
  • High tariffs, IPR issue and regulatory cholesterol were the major issues highlighted by the US side on trade front with India to which India reaffirmed its commitment to streamline the process and positively projected the steps taken in this regard.

Conclusion | PM Modi US Visit

President Trump has signalled his administration that he is fond of India and that he wishes to continue the policies of strong Indo-US relationship set by his predecessors. This visit of Prime Minister Modi provided a much-needed impetus to the Indo-US relationship after the ascension of President Trump to the White House. The visit was focused on positive deliverables and both sides restrained from discussing the contentious issues of trade and immigration. The security and defence cooperation was further strengthened with opening another door of cooperation in tackling cross-border terrorism.

Indo-China Border Skirmishes | Recent Updates

The territorial and boundary dispute between Indo-China is a complex, historical, multi-layered wrangle across a sprawling 3,500-kilometre-long border.

What is the current Indo-China issue?

  • At issue is sovereignty over a scenic, 4,000-metrehigh pasture called Doklam — less than 100 square kilometres in spread.
  • India claims that the Chumbi Valley, a dagger shaped wedge of Chinese territory protruding southward from the Tibetan plateau, ends north of Doklam at the Batang La pass.
  • China asserts ownership of Doklam, too, claiming the boundary runs south of the pasture, along the dominating Gyemo Chen mountain, which China calls Mount Gipmochi.
  • Complicating this otherwise straightforward dispute is Bhutan, since the tri-junction of the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan boundary falls here. Bhutan’s claims are supportive of India’s.

History of border disputes between Indo-China

  • The 1962 war was sparked off near Ziminthang by disagreement over whether the boundary ran along the Thagla Ridge, as India claimed, or along the Hathungla ridgeline to its south, as China contended.
  • The 1986 Sumdorong Chu confrontation, which saw India moving tens of thousands of troops to the trouble spot, was over the tiny Thangdrong grazing ground near Tawang, with India claiming the watershed ran north of that meadow, and China claiming it was to the south.
  • At Walong, too, at the eastern end of the Indo-China boundary, disagreement centres on which ridgeline constitutes the watershed.

Concerns of India

  • Many of the 14 sub-disputes on the LAC are over relatively inconsequential grazing grounds and meadows. However, the on-going standoff at tri-junction, at the southern tip of the Chumbi Valley, is over territory that both Beijing and New Delhi regard as strategically important.
  • Indian military planners worry that letting Beijing extend the boundary southwards to Mount Gipmochi would bring China closer to the Siliguri corridor.
  • Assuming that China obtained control over the Siliguri corridor, India could simply bypass the corridor, moving through Nepal or Bangladesh.

Chumbi Valley – China’s vulnerability

  • Of all China’s border vulnerabilities, the Chumbi Valley is perhaps the greatest. It is a narrow salient overlooked by Indian defences, which can cut off the valley from Tibet by wheeling east from north Sikkim.
  • Strategists regard the capture of the Chumbi Valley as an obvious wartime target for India’s “mountain strike corps” when it is operational. By extending the Chumbi Valley southwards, therefore, China would only be expanding a key vulnerability.

Chinese argument over Doklam plateau

  • China’s foreign ministry spokesperson spelt out in tedious detail last week, the 1890 Anglo-Chinese Convention Relating to Sikkim and Tibet specifically mentioned Mount Gipmochi as tri-junction of China, India and Bhutan. True, Beijing rejects as “colonial impositions” other British era agreements, like the 1914 Simla Convention that birthed the McMahon Line. But, there is a difference — China actually signed the 1890 agreement, and not the 1914 one.
  • Beijing also argues that Jawaharlal Nehru endorsed the 1890 agreement in a 1959 letter to Zhou Enlai.
  • Beijing also cites a pastureland claim over Doklam, arguing that the yak graziers of Yadong have long held grazing rights over Doklam, and that graziers from Bhutan paid a “grass tax” to Yadong graziers if they wanted to herd there.
  • China’s foreign ministry claims the Tibet Archives still possess “grass tax” receipts from earlier times. The grazier argument is a powerful one in border lands peopled by nomadic herders. Both China and India use it to back their territorial claims in other disputed sectors.

Current position of India

  • Although Beijing has made Indian withdrawal a precondition for de-escalating the Doklam faceoff, Indian forces are showing no sign of blinking.
  • Over the preceding decade, India’s defensive posture has been greatly stiffened by raising two new divisions in the Northeast; an armoured brigade each for Ladakh and the Northeast; a mountain strike corps currently being raised and major improvements in India’s air defence and air strike capabilities.
  • Whereas once, China bullied India on the LAC and — as it is attempting in Doklam — built roads, tracks and bunkers as “facts on the ground” to consolidate its position in any future negotiation; today the Indian Army is rightly willing to, and capable of, physically blocking such attempts.

Conclusion Indo-China

There has been no shooting on the Indo-China LAC since 1975, a peace bolstered by the successful “Peace and Tranquillity Agreement” that New Delhi and Beijing signed in 1993. Paradoxically, India’s pro-active Indo-China LAC stance is creating incentives in Beijing for a LAC settlement. Yet, calibrating the aggression and managing each patrol confrontation remain tricky balancing acts. Until a Indo-China LAC agreement comes about, New Delhi must develop the instruments and expertise needed for managing such crises.

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