Nepal’s China tilt

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Nepal in recent years has increased its closeness to China. During last year’s constitutional crisis, China has taken advantage of anti-India feeling among Nepalese government and citizens and has moved close to China.

 

List of important agreements/MOUs:

  • The agreement on transit through China where China has agreed to provide the Tianjin seaport for transit of Nepali goods imported from third countries.
  • The proposal on connectivity of Nepal with the Tibet rail network.
  • Agreement on Economic and Technical support to implement Pokhara Regional International Airport Project.
  • China has agreed to upgrade two road links between Nepal and Tibet, agreed to extend the Chinese railway to Kathmandu and then to Lumbini.
  • China has given its nod to a long-term commercial oil deal.
  • China has also agreed to build oil storage facilities for Nepal
  • Nepal has struck a major deal with China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) for developing a 1,200 MW Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project, which will be the biggest hydro project in Nepal
  • Nepal has started accessing internet from China. The commercial operation of Chinese bandwidth project now ends Nepal’s sole dependence on India for internet bandwidth. It is considered as loss for India, both revenue wise and strategically.
  • The government in Kathmandu has concluded an agreement with China to gain access to Chinese ports, including Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang.
  • Nepalese goods will also have access to dry ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse.

 

 

Should India be afraid of China’s closeness with Nepal?

No. Because:

  1. Chinese mainland and ports are 3,000 km away, as compared to 1,000 km to Kolkata. Economically not viable to export via China.
  2. Open Nepal-India border is a prize of shared history to be nurtured by both countries
  3. In socio-political terms, Kathmandu’s civil society enjoys a comfort zone with India that the taciturn Chinese state cannot match

 

But, India should be cautious because:

  1. The arrival of Qingzang Railway from the Chinese mainland to the Tibetan plateau in 2006 has been the game changer, and the line has already been extended to Shigatse town and is ploughing westward and closer to Nepal’s border points
  2. The railway makes the transfer of goods from the mainland economically feasible in a way that had never before been contemplated

 

MILEX Issue:

  • The first joint military exercise of the seven member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was conducted in Pune.
  • The aim of the exercise is to practice the BIMSTEC Nations in planning and conduct of counter-terrorist operations.
  • Nepal pulled out of MILEX at last moment on the other hand Nepalese army is preparing to leave for a 12-day military exercise with China in Chengdu.

ias4sure.com - Nepal’s China tilt

 

 

Indus Water Treaty

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Basics:

  • IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan.
  • It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).
  • The treaty deals with sharing of water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries.
  • It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960.
  • As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers —Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan.
  • It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty.
  • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
  • The treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990. It is most successful water treaty in world.
 
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Why Indus River is important for Pakistan?

Around 65% of the Pakistan’s geographical area including entire Pakistan’s Punjab province is part of Indus basin. The water of Indus River is lifeline of Pakistan and is source of irrigation, hydro power and drinking water for millions of Pakistanis. If the water from rivers is stopped by India it can surely cut lifeline of Pakistan

  

Indian government had taken some decisions related to IWT in light of Uri attack:

  • No review or abrogation of the Indus Waters Treaty.
  • Decision to utilise water under India’s share to fullest.
  • Suspend talks on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), the dispute redressal mechanism until terrorism stops.
  • Review the 1987 suspension of the Tulbul navigation project that Pakistan had objected.
  • Build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) to exploit full potential.
  • Expedite construction of Pakal Dul, Sawalkot, Bursar dams in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Use 20% of river water allocated under treaty for Jammu and Kashmir farmers.

 

What are possible ramifications of this step?

  • China angle: China can do similar things with India
  • UN role: UN may oppose India’s action which are in violation of this treaty
  • It would take years of work to build huge dams or reservoirs or canals to change the flow of water. This may also lead to floods in the valley
  • The decision of not giving water to Pakistan may further enrage the terror elements in the country, making them intensifying their attacks on India. Even the construction works for diverting the flow of water would be on the target of terrorists all the time
  • India at present enjoys a moral high ground because it respects all its treaties with the neighbouring countries. The decision to abrogate the treaty would make other smaller neighbours uneasy. Not only the neighbours would be distrustful of India, even the country would not be in a position to say anything if China also takes a similar move against it. The country may also earn the ire of China. Indus originates in China and if the country decides to divert the Indus, India would lose over 35% of its river water

 

Recent Developments:

  • India and Pakistan have agreed to undertake Indus Waters Treaty 1960 mandated tours by their water commissioners in Indus basin on both sides to resolve issues on various hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • This was decided in recently concluded high-level bilateral talks on Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore, Pakistan.
  • Deliberations were held on further strengthening the role of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) for matters under 1960 Treaty.
  • Technical discussions were also held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects under provisions of Indus Waters Treaty including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India has invited Pakistani experts to visit sites of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower projects on Chenab river in September 2018 to address its concerns over construction of the projects.
  • During the talks India rejected Pakistan’s objections to the construction work and has hinted at continuation of the work on both the hydropower projects.
  • It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the PIC in India on mutually convenient dates.
Decisions after Pulwama attack:
  • India would fully utilise its share of unused water from rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej that has been flowing into Pakistan.
  • To utilise its full share of water, India would divert the water from the eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) to the border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India has initiated the construction of a dam on the Ravi river, the Shahpur-Kandi project in Punjab.
  • The Ujh Multipurpose Project in Kathua district would store water for use in Jammu and Kashmir. River Ujh is the main tributary of river Ravi. The balance water would flow through 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states.
 
Indus

Related Questions:

Present an account of the Indus Water Treaty and examine its ecological, economic and political implications in the context of changing bilateral relations. (UPSC Mains 2016)

 

Indian Ocean Rim Association

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The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.

 

  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
  • The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.
  • The organisation was first established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation.
  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an international organization with 21 Member States – Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia (latest member – joined in 2014), South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.

 

 

Members are in Orange:

 

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Objectives of IORA:

  • To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states.
  • To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits.
  • To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.

 

Colombo Declaration of IOR:

The delegates from 18 littoral states of the IOR have resolved to work towards making the region a “Drug Free Zone”. Major features:

  • Narcotic drug trafficking in the IOR poses a threat to peace and security in the region and its possible link to organized crime and funding of terrorism.
  • It stresses upon need for coastal states to cooperate more closely on enforcing maritime law, providing mutual legal assistance and sharing information in narcotic drug trafficking.
  • It also calls for the expansion and development of communication through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC’s) Indian Ocean Prosecutors Network.
  • It called on the littoral states of the IOR to meet on an annual basis within the framework of the Southern Route Partnership (SRP) of Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime (IOFMC).
  • These states must assess and report on the drug trafficking threat in the IOR and develop a coordinated approach to counter such threats.

 

MoUs for cooperation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector:

  • Finalise linkages and alliances amongst MSMEs organizations, associations and various institutions engaged in MSME development in IORA countries.
  • Exchange best practices, programs and policies for MSME development.
  • Exchange greater involvement of MSMEs in the global supply chain and increase their market access.
  • Promote women and youth’s economic empowerment.
  • Encourage synergies with the IORA forum.

 

2017 IORA Summit:

  • The 2017 Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit (March 5-7, 2017) was the first IORA Summit.
  • The leaders and representatives of the 21 member countries (including India) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) have signed the Jakarta Concord – “Promoting Regional Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean” that aims to lay the foundation and set the course for cooperation for the organization of Indian Ocean states in the coming years.
  • In the document, the IORA states declared their commitment to promoting maritime safety in the region, enhancing trade and investment cooperation in the region, promoting sustainable fisheries management and development, enhancing disaster risk management in the region, strengthening academic, science and technology cooperation, fostering tourism and cultural exchanges, Blue Economy, and empowering women in the economy.

Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy

  • It calls for collaboration among IORA member states in meeting growing demand for renewable energy in Indian Ocean littorals, development of common renewable energy agenda for Indian Ocean region (IOR) and promote regional capacity building.
  • It also calls for promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships (PPP) in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and member nations of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • IORA member countries also resolved to collaborate with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). They will also collaborate with ISA member nations to exchange knowledge and share views and potential interests in renewable energy sector paved by MoU signed between IORA and ISA with focus on joint capacity-building programs, R&D activities in solar energy and exchange of best practices.
  • IORA member nations and IRENA also agreed to undertake expansion of Global Renewable Energy Atlas, world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, coordinated by IRENA. This will help in creating Indian Ocean region’s first and most comprehensive map and database which can be used to tap sizable renewable energy potential of region and collaborate on opportunities available under International Renewable Energy Learning Platform (IRELP).

 

Central Asia

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Major developments:

  • India-Uzbekistan
    • An agreement for importing uranium from Uzbekistan was signed.
    • An agreement for a line of credit of $200 million from India for financing housing and social infrastructure projects in Uzbekistan.
  • First-ever India-Central Asia Dialogue held at the level of foreign ministers in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

 

Analyse the major areas of cooperation between India and Central Asian countries. Also examine if India is well placed to compete with Russia and China in the region to play an important role in security matters in the region. (200 Words)

 

India and the Central Asian region have historical links. While the relationship in contemporary times have been weak, there is a renewed thrust on co-operation between India and the Central Asian Region (CAR) countries. The major areas of cooperation are –

  1. Energy – Energy is the most important area of co-operation. The CAR countries have an abundance of energy resources. India has been in negotiations for more than a decade now to ensure access to gas reserves of Turkmenistan through the TAPI pipeline.
  2. Security – India and the CAR countries have a shared interest in the stability of Afghanistan and counter-terror initiatives.
  3. Trade – The trade between India and CAR is roughly $1 billion compared to $50 Billion of China. Hence, there is a huge potential for increasing the trade relationship between the two countries.
  4. Drug trafficking– Tajikistan is gateway for afghan drugs to Central Asia. This money is used for funding terror activities against India

 

Due to reasons of geography, India is at a disadvantage compared to Russia and China to play a significant role in security matters in the region. However, it has a few advantages –

  1. The CAR countries do not like the excessive Russian influence and are also wary of increasing Chinese economic dominance. In such a situation, an assertive India can play the role of a balancer.
  2. India already has an overseas air base at Farkhor in Tajikistan. This would help India co-operate in security issues.
  3. India has been focusing on ensuring operationalisation of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through Chabahar port in Iran to improve access to Central Asia.

 

Economically, militarily as well as geographically, India is at a disadvantage

compared to Russia and China. However, India’s strong democratic tradition and a

tradition of respect for other countries along with converging interests with the

Central Asian Republics might give it an edge.

 

Critically analyse the nature of India’s engagement and its mutual cooperation with the Central Asian countries and also comment if its “Connect Central Asia” policy has lived up to its expectations. (200 Words)

 

India has traditionally attached great importance to its relations with Central Asia. But, unfortunately, the relationship despite close historical & cultural contacts has not progressed to the desired extent.

 

Constraints:

  1. Unstable situation in Afghanistan and a highly problematic India-Pakistan relation have deprived India from the benefit of relations with Central Asia. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) would be a game-changer if it materializes. But slow progress on this.
  2. Iran which provides alternative access to Central Asia. However, India-Iran relationship for the last decade or so has not progressed well. The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which would pass through Iran, is still underdeveloped and requires huge investment. India has also been slow in realizing the potential of the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran.

 

What should be done?

  1.  India has come up with a “Connect Central Asia policy” (2012), which includes elements such high level visits, strategic partnerships, comprehensive economic engagement, partnership in the development of energy and natural resources. Development of potential in medical field, education, e-networks, land connectivity etc. The implementation of the policy needs to be speeded up.
  2. India needs to change its approach to Central Asia and show greater proactivity. We must shed piecemeal approach to Central Asia. India-Central Asia Trade is near $ 700 million as compared to China‘s $ 46 billion. This will require dealing with Central Asia not only at the bilateral level but also at a collective level. India could consider setting up an India-Central Asia Forum (on the lines of India-Africa Forum) to deal with the region in a holistic fashion
  3. Develop Chabahar port on priority. India needs to move quickly to invest $ 100 million
  4. Invest in infrastructure in Iran to make INSTC effective.
  5. Education and medical field provide an excellent opportunity for India to showcase its soft power.
  6. A forum of India and CAR think tanks should be set up.
  7. To institute and strengthen defence and security dialogue with Central Asian countries.

 

 

Analyse the importance of Central Asian countries in India’s

fight against terrorism. (200 Words)

 

There is an increase in radicalism and recruits into terrorist outfits globally. India with a large Muslim population must seek ways to insulate itself from such threat. An active engagement with CAR would be a step in the right direction.

  1. Pakistan’s inability to contain terrorism and Afghanistan’s growing possibility of falling into the influence of radical forces has led to create reasons for India to seek new partners in its fight against terror. CAR known for its moderate practice of Islam will be a viable partner.
  2. The recent trend of growing number of recruits from the CAR region and its proximity to instable west Asia and Afghanistan makes the region vulnerable. A stable CAR would help in containment of growing radicalism and its spread further east to India.

 

CAR has an important geo-strategic position serving as a gateway to Eurasia. A proactive engagement with CAR is in the interest of both India and the CAR. Economic development will help contain radicalisation in CAR. India can engage in counter terrorism strategies, development of the INSTC, the TAPI pipeline and work on the connect central Asia policy 2012 for a more stable CAR.

 

 

Chabahar Port

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Where is Chabahar port?
It is located on the Makran coast, Chabahar in southeastern Iran. Its location lies in the Gulf of Oman. This coast is a relatively underdeveloped free trade and industrial zone, especially when compared to the sprawling port of Bandar Abbas further west. Also, it is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
 
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Why this port is of interest to India?
  • India believes the port is critical to its interests and wants to develop it as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port which was built with Chinese assistance
  • The port will allow India to bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia using a sea-land route
  • Chabahar Port lies in the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help India in expanding its maritime commerce in the region
  • It also provides opportunities to Indian companies to penetrate and enhance their footprint in the region
  • It is located 76 nautical miles (less than 150km) west of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, being developed by China. This makes it ideal for keeping track of Chinese or Pakistani military activity based out of Gwadar
  • The port will cut transport costs/time for Indian goods by a third
  • From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif

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  • INSTC: It will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. It can significantly boost import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India from Afghanistan. It can also help to reduce import cost of oil to India.
 
Trilateral Agreement:
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan sign three-way land transit agreement on Iran’s strategic southern port of Chabahar.
  • Under the agreement, India will invest up to 500 million dollars in a deal to develop a strategic port in Iran.
  • It can spur unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region and its economic fruits will expand trade, attract investment, build infrastructure, develop industry and create jobs.
  • India will get sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan which will open opportunities for Indian companies to explore Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.
US Sanctions:
  • US has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran after pulling out of P5+1 deal.
  • US is also threatening other nations who imports oil from Iran and have links with Iran.
  • India is looking for an exception on the Chabahar project as it is strategically important to India.
  • US had granted an exception for the development of Chabahar port.
New India-Afghanistan Trade route launched:
  • Afghanistan has launched a new export route to India through the Chabahar Port of Iran.
  • This route allows both India and Afghanistan to engage in trade bypassing Pakistan.
 
Recently India and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding to develop Chabahar Port in Iran. Critically discuss the significance of this MoU for both the countries. (200 Words)
 
India’s perspective:
  1. Geo-strategic -Being located on the convergence of Indian ocean and Oman sea will help India counter efforts made by China to exert influence in the region by tying up with Pakistan to operate the Gwadar port. Chabahar port being in the vicinity will be a vantage point for India.
  2. Bolster trade and economic ties by gaining access to Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. The trade route reduces India dependence on Pakistan, a volatile neighbour, for trade with Afghanistan.
  3. This port will be used by India to ship crude oil and urea which will cut transport cost and freight time for India to Central Asia and the gulf by about a third. Proximity to the Strait of Hormuz will boost oil trade.
 
Benefit to Iran
  1. As India is Iran’s largest customer hence the memorandum will help to increase economic growth and investment.
  2. It will provide regional growth and prosperity by employment generation and gdp growth.
 
Due to the significance of the project to both countries, it has to be implemented decisively and quickly
 

 

 

India-Russia Relations

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Important:

India and Russia are celebrating 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between them.

 

Background:

  • India-Russia cooperation is based on the solid foundations of
    • 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of India and the USSR,
    • 1993 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation,
    • 2000 Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation and
    • 2010 Joint Statement elevating the Partnership to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
  • Cooperation between India and Russia spans across the whole gamut of sectors and rests on the fundamental pillars of political and strategic cooperation, military and security cooperation, cooperation in the spheres of economy, energy, industry, science and technology, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

 

 

Delhi Annual Bilateral Summit 2018:

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia.

  • Economic Aspect:
    • Goal to increase two-way investment to USD 30 billion by the year 2025
    • In 2017 bilateral trade increased by more than 20%
    • Focus on International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
  • Technology Aspect:
    • Synergy in outer space missions; Synergy in IRNSS and GLONASS
    • Cooperation in Arctic
  • Energy Aspect:
    • Long-term LNG supply contract between Gazrpom Group and GAIL India Ltd.
    • Civil nuclear cooperation between India and Russia is an important component of strategic partnership contributing to India’s energy-security
  • Defence Aspect:
    • India participated in Army Games 2018, Army 2018 and Moscow Conference on International Security.
    • India and Russia commended the successful completion of the first ever Tri-Services Exercise INDRA 2017 and committed to continue their Joint Military Exercises – INDRA Navy, INDRA Army and Avia INDRA – in 2018.
    • Conclusion of the contract for the supply of the S-400 Long Range Surface to Air Missile System to India.

 

Existing Collaborations:

  • Pakistan-Russia gas pipeline.
  • Fifth Generation fighter jet
  • S400 missile system
  • Naval coproduction
  • Helicopter
  • Russia will help India in setting up 25 integrated infrastructure Agro irradiation centre
  • Roseneft led consortium buys India’s Essar oil; Biggest foreign investment by Russia

 

Agreements signed in India-Russia annual summit 2017:

  • Agreement on cooperation in International Information Security.
  • MoU for expansion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
  • Shareholder agreement for establishing a Joint Venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopter in India.
  • MoU for developing smart cities in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana and for developing transport logistics systems for such cities.
  • MoU between Gazprom and Engineers India Limited (EIL) for the joint study of a gas pipeline to India from Russia and other areas of cooperation.
  • Cooperation Agreement between Rosneft Oil Company and ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) in the area of Education and Training.
  • MoU for setting up an investment fund of $1 billion by the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
  • MoU for Cooperation between Russian and Indian Railways in increasing the speed of trains between Nagpur- Hyderabad/ Secundrabad.
  • MoU between ROSCOSMOS and ISRO on Mutual Allocation of Ground Measurement Gathering Stations for NAvIC and GLONASS.
  • Inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) for the procurement of S-400 Air Defence System and construction of 1135.6 series of frigates.
  • MoU between India’s Department of Science and Technology and Russia’s Federal Agency for Scientific Organisations

 

Defence Relations:

  • India’s latest cooperation with Russia was a bit uneven due to delay and steep rise in price of Admiral Gorshkov, and due to problems with Russian spare parts. But now, the Russian military-industrial complex is in a better shape and can work with India effectively.
  • Russia has shared sensitive technology for India’s nuclear submarine Arihant and deserve the title for “tested and tried partner”
  • Recent S-400 deal further deepens India-Russia defence relation

 

India-Russia collaboration in S&T:

  • Both countries are celebrating 10 years of partnership in S&T.
  • Joint cooperation in science and technology was one of the important pillars of the bilateral relationship between both the countries. 
  • Discussions were held to enhance their cooperation in the fields of big data and cyber physical systems.
  • It was also agreed to work for start-up companies and entrepreneurs in order to establish Indo-Russian Bridge for Innovation.

India-US : Defence Ties

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Evolution of India-US Defence relations:

  • Two parallel tracks of dialogue began in the 1990s.
  • The strategic dialogue covering nuclear issues shifted gears following the nuclear tests of 1998 and imposition of sanctions by the U.S.
  • India-U.S. concluded a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2008.
  • The defence dialogue began in 1995 with the setting up of the Defence Policy Group at the level of the Defence Secretary and his Pentagon counterpart and three Steering Groups to develop exchanges between the Services.
  • A decade later, this was formalised and enlarged into the India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement which was renewed for 10 years in 2015.
  • Today, the U.S. is the country with which India undertakes the largest number of military exercises which have gradually evolved in scale and complexity.
  • During the Cold War, more than three-fourths of India’s defence equipment was of Soviet origin. This gradually began to change, and in recent years, the U.S. and Israel emerged as major suppliers.
  • The Indian Air Force went in for C-130J Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster aircraft, along with Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters.
  • The Indian Navy acquired a troop carrier ship and the P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
  • An agreement for 24 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy is expected soon.
  • The Indian Army went in for the M-777 howitzers and artillery radars.
  • From a total of less than $400 million of defence acquisitions during 1947-2005, the U.S. has signed defence contracts of over $15 billion since.
  • Pathfinder projects have been identified under this Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTII).
  • To get around export control licensing and other bureaucratic hurdles, an India Rapid Reaction Cell in the Pentagon was set up. In 2016, India was designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ country.
  • Another step forward in the middle of this year was the inclusion of India in the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) category, putting it on a par with allies in terms of technology access. This should enable the DTII to graduate to more ambitious projects.
  • UAV Technology sale to India approved. The transfer of the state-of-the-art UAV technology to India will be the first significant progress after India’s entry into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and after the US has designated India as a major defence partner.

 

 

India as a major partner

  • India has been designated as a major defence partner of the United States. It puts India on a par with the closest allies and partners of the US
  • India’s Major Defence Partner status has been made a part of the India Amendment in the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017 of US
  • SignificanceThe designation of this status is unique to India, a non-NATO ally of US. It institutionalizes the progress made by US to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with its closest allies and partners. It will facilitate US to transfer of advanced defence technology to India. It will also strengthen institutional effectiveness of US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTII) and the durability of the India Rapid Reaction Cell in Pentagon

 

Changes in US export law to benefit India:

  • United States (US) has made changes in its export control laws that will benefit India by facilitating smoother transfer of technologies and arms.
  • These changes have been made in par with recognition of India’s status as a ‘Major Defence Partner’.
  • The new rule creates a presumption of approval for Indian firms seeking to import the Commerce Department-controlled military items, except weapons of mass destruction-related goods.
  • Henceforth, companies will not need a license at all after becoming a Validated End User (VEU). 
  • Under it, India will be denied licences only in the rarest circumstances.

 

India and US are moving towards three “foundational agreements”

  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement or LSA Logistics Support Agreement (LSA)
  • Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA)
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)

 

Significance of these agreements:

  • The most immediate utility for New Delhi of these agreements is the expected gains in defence co-production with the US as the latter eases the terms of technology transfer
  • For that, the signing of these agreements should be strictly made contingent on US assurance on transfer of technology

 

Impediments in defence partnership:

  • India’s red tapism
  • Offset policies
  • The major impediment is Washington’s reluctance to share high-end technology

__________________________

 

Critically comment on defence cooperation between India and USA. (200 Words)

 

While traditionally, India and the United States have not had very close co-operation in High Technology areas that has been changing in the recent past. India and the US are collaborating in a range of areas, out of which Defense is a major area of cooperation.

 

  1. Defense Framework Agreement – A 10 year Framework Agreement on defense was first signed between the two countries in 1995 and renewed in 2005 and 2015. All defense co-operation between the two take place within that Framework.
  2. Bilateral Exercises and Joint Training – The two countries now participate in more military exercise with each other than with any other. Malabar is an annual bilateral exercise between the Navies of the two countries. India accepted an invite to participate in RIMPAC (rim of pacific)- a US organised naval exercise. The forces of both the countries regularly train at defense training establishments of each other.
  3. Institutional Mechanisms – There are many institutional mechanisms to promote defense co-operation between the two. There is a Defense Policy group, a Defense Procurement and Production Group and a Defense Joint Working Group. This is in addition to the direct Service to Service Executive Steering Group.
  4. Defense Equipment – Indian imports of defense equipment form the US has crossed $ 10 Billion. Along with trade, India and US have established a Defense Trade and Technology Initiative to promote co-development of defense technology. [A modern acquisition of Indian air force from the US C- 130J super Hercules military transport aircraft crashed]
  5. Information sharing for counter terrorism operations is highlight of the relations.

 

However, the legacy of Non Alignment along with other strategic reasons is causing a hindrance in closer co-operation in strategic areas like defense manufacturing. While India is the largest democracy, the US is the oldest one and both countries share common ideals and common vision. It is thus imperative that they take a holistic view of their relationship and develop even closer ties.

 

 

 

“A sophisticated engagement with the US is in India’s interests. But there is reason to worry that the escalating nature of our defence agreements with the US will put us on a slippery slope where we may not be able to manage our own geopolitical positioning in the world’s major conflicts.” Critically analyse. (200 Words)

 

Recent developments like

  1. U.S.-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act in US Congress which would institutionalize Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) framework between India and US.
  2. Ongoing debate regarding signing of agreements like logistics support agreement (LSA) which will allow use of Indian bases for logistic purposes and vice versa, and likewise Basic Exchange and cooperation agreement (BECA).
  3. Emergence of US as the largest arms supplier to India
  4. Currently India conducts more military exercise than any other country 

 

These all are signs of increasing defence and strategic partnership between the two.

 

These developments certainly benefit India’s defence capabilities and defence Industrial complex but one cannot discard the inclination of US towards India in wake of more assertive communist China and power shift from the west to the east.

 

India should be wary and cautious because: 

  1. India losing its strategic and sovereign defence sphere to US because of the need to provide bases to US
  2. India’s lack of defence Infrastructure in the wake of expansionist china cannot be balanced with such partnerships in long run until unless India has a full-fledged and sustainable defence industrial complex. One lesson that India can learn from its over-dependence on Russian defence infrastructure for several decades in last century.
  3. Can make Russia (a trusted partner for India) weary of plans of India
  4. Such partnership might get involved India in geopolitical problems which are not of its own making.
  5. India should play a role to diffuse global conflict rather than escalating the tensions.
  6. US’s role towards Pakistan is not clear, its support of Pakistan both economically and through the supply of defence equipment has led to an upsurge in India’s defence expenditure as well. Such situation has not led the subcontinent to get rid of actual problems like health, illiteracy and poverty.
  7. Increased presence of US in Indian Ocean region because of support to pivot to Asia through these agreements can disturb the peace and stability
  8. Relations with China can take a backseat as it can view relations a counter to OBOR and a containment of China
  9. Vulnerability to India in case of conflict with US itself

 

However, the concerns may be unfounded because-

  1. Countries like France and Germany have similar arrangements with US and they not necessarily align with US as happened in US invasion of Iraq in 2004
  2. Diversifying the defence relations with US seeks to strengthen the notion of Multi-polar world
  3. Will be seen as counter by India to growing China-Pakistan closeness and can make China mend ways
  4. Unnecessary geopolitical tensions of South China Sea that impact India’s interest (OVL in Vietnam) would be kept in check

 

India should tread on this path very carefully and not let in any way compromise it stand in the global domain. India would not be able to stress its role in international arena until and unless it is viewed as an independent power rather than walking crutches from US or any other world power for that matter of fact.

 

Should India be cautious of over indulging with USA?

 

With increasing defence cooperation as seen by the DTTI ( defence technology and trade initiative) and the LEMOA (logistic exchange memoranda of understanding), India has grown a closer defence partnership with the USA. This could lead to;

  1. An informal military alliance with Washington and possible request for participation in armed conflict.
  2. Possible embargo of weapons and ammunition to India in case of a conflict of interest.
  3. Possible loss of sovereignty of India’s foreign policy.
  4. Possible strain in Indo-Russia and Indo-Chinese ties due to this growing partnership.

 

However, such fears are unfounded because;

  1. India has a diverse base of weapons suppliers including Russia and Israel.
  2. None of these treaties include basing rights or rights to use Indian assets by the USA anywhere in the world.
  3. Countries like Germany and France(in Libya) and Turkey (in Iraq) have successfully opposed the USA with respect to international issues though they are all crucial allies of the USA.

 

Therefore, though these agreements do not mean an alliance of any sort, India must take care to ensure that it is not perceived so by either her allies or her enemies. What is important is the realization that the Indo-US closeness is just one among many handshakes of India in her quest to build stable international relations.

 

Related Questions:

  • Do you think Indias growing relations with USA constrain Indias ability to conduct its diplomacy with other major powers like China and Russia? Discuss. (200 Words)

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