(Sample Content) India and World From Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011


Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid

India and World

India North America:

Indian-American appointed federal judge in California

  • In yet another historic appointment for the Indian-American community under the Obama administration, Vijay Gandhi was sworn in Magistrate Judge for the District Court of the Central District of California.
  • Mr. Gandhi is the first Indian-American federal judge in California and only the second ever Indian-American federal judge in the history of the United States. The first was Judge Amul Thapar, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky on December 13, 2007.
  • While Mr. Justice Gandhi was not appointed by the White House, he had to go through a rigorous district courts selection process including appearing before a merit selection panel, interviews by the full court and appointment by statute, said Ms. Matsuoka.
  • Other high-profile appointments of Indian-Americans by the Obama administration include Rajiv Shah as administrator, USAID; Vivek Kundra as Federal Chief Information Officer; Aneesh Chopra as First Chief Technology Officer; Farah Pandith as Special Representative to Muslim communities; Richard Verma as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the State Department; Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York; and actor Kal Penn as White House’s Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison.

Canadian court bars kirpan

  • A Canadian court has refused to allow a Sikh religious leader to enter the courtroom with a kirpan, a symbol of Sikh religion, saying it “could be used as a weapon.”

Five leading Indian firms under U.S. scanner for Iran links

  • With five leading Indian firms under the American scanner for doing business with Iran’s oil and gas sector, the Manmohan Singh government might soon have to walk its talk on opposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
  • In a week in which the House of Representatives voted to speed up the process of reconciling its anti-Iran bill with the version passed by the Senate, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) made public a report naming the five Indian companies as part of a list of 41 foreign firms helping Iran develop its oil and gas sector.
  • The Indian companies named are the Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, ONGC Videsh (OVL), Oil India Limited and the government-sponsored private company, Petronet LNG. In addition, the U.K.-based Hinduja group is listed.

Canada denied visas to Brigadiers

  • Canada has denied visas to a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, three Brigadiers, a retired Lt. General and a former official of the Intelligence Bureau on the grounds that their organisations are engaged in violence.

Sibal pitches for U.S.-India University partnerships

  • Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal made a strong pitch for university-level partnerships in education between India and the United States.
  • Speaking before the start of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue at an event hosted by the U.S.-India Business Council, he said India could not single-handedly build the 700 universities and 35,000 colleges it would need over the next 10 years of growth.
  • • He noted that given that under the Right to Education Act, the government aimed to reach a gross enrolment ratio of 30 per cent for Indians between the ages of 18-24 by 2020, up from the current level of 12.4 per cent.
  • • Arguing that 22 per cent Americans today were more than 65 years of age and that number would by 2050 increase to 39 per cent, he asked, “Which part of the world will the workforce come from? I guess the only answer is countries like India.”

After strategic dialogue, big push to U.S.-India cooperation

  • At the end of the first round of strategic dialogue India and the United States have significantly expanded the breadth of their collaboration across a range of areas.
  • These include counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, United Nations Security Council reform, trade and investment, science and technology, climate change mitigation, energy and food security, education, agriculture, healthcare and empowerment of women.

Ottawa could have averted Kanishka tragedy: probe panel

  • After waiting 25 years for a closure, families of the victims of the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history, the bombing of Air India 182, were told by a Commission of Inquiry that the Canadian government was responsible for failing to act upon credible information indicating that the attack was imminent.
  • In a scathing report by the Commission, its head, the former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, John Major, noted: “Government agencies were in possession of significant pieces of information that, taken together, would have led a competent analyst to conclude that Flight 182 was at high risk of being bombed by known Sikh terrorists in June 1985.”
  • Flight 182, nicknamed Emperor Kanishka and operating on the Montréal-London-Delhi-Bombay route, was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet on June 23, 1985. The Boeing 747-237B aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in Irish airspace, killing all 329 people aboard, including 280 Canadians – many of Indian origin – and 22 Indians.

India, Canada sign civil nuclear deal

  • India and Canada signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as “breaking new ground in the history of our cooperation in this sector.”
  • India and Canada have had a long but rocky relationship on nuclear cooperation after the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974.
  • Dr. Singh said both nations also agreed to try and take the bilateral trade up to $15 billion in the next five years, up from the current level of around $5 billion. A comprehensive economic cooperation agreement is being envisaged and the initial work on it was on.

India, U.S. sign counter-terrorism initiative

  • India and the U.S. signed the Counter Terrorism Initiative (CCI) to forge close and effective cooperation in counter-terrorism, information-sharing and capacity-building.
  • “Today, with the formal signing of the initiative, we take several significant steps forward against terrorism,” said U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.
  • During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in November 2009, he and President Barrack Obama had agreed on the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative. The CCI is aimed at giving both the U.S. and India additional opportunities to work together across a broad spectrum, including transport security, money-laundering, counterfeit currency and terrorist financing, maritime, port and border security, cyber security and mega-city policing.

Reprocessing accord signed

  • India and the U.S. signed the much-debated agreement on modalities for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, under the civilian nuclear deal between the two countries.
  • The agreement on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing was signed at a State Department ceremony by Indian ambassador Meera Shankar and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.
  • Pursuant to Article 6(iii) of the bilateral ‘123 Agreement’ on civilian nuclear cooperation, the agreement was hailed by the Indian embassy as “a significant step which highlights the strong relationship and growing cooperation between India and the U.S.” Upon entry into force, it will enable reprocessing by India of United States-obligated nuclear material under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
  • Indias target was to increase the installed capacity more than seven fold to 35,000 MWe by the year 2022, and to 60,000 MWe by 2032.
  • In this context, the government had already designated two sites for nuclear power plants to be established in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

India seeks a relationship of equals with U.S., says Menon

  • Speaking ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit amid a controversy over whether Washington informed New Delhi of Lashkar operative David Headley’s reconnaissance missions before the Mumbai attacks, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon maintained that existing counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the U.S. was unprecedented compared to the period five years ago.
  • Speaking at a seminar on Indo-U.S. ties organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the NSA said bilateral cooperation in hi-tech trade, including in dual use items, had reached critical mass.
  • Mr. Menon described India’s foreign policy as “genuine non-alignment” and said better India-U.S. ties would not impact either India-China or China-U.S. relations because this was “not a binary world.” He said India sought a relationship of “equals” with the U.S. and was “very optimistic” of the future.
  • On U.S. export control laws, the NSA said Washington had gradually changed the regime since the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership was signed in 2004 which was followed by the setting up of the High Technology Cooperation Group the following year. This now reached “critical mass” with some high-tech transfers from the U.S. to India being better than what Washington’s closer allies such as the U.K got.

Two Indian American doctors win in U.S. polls

  • Two Indian-American doctors belonging to the Republican Party have won State Congressional elections.
  • Dr. Prasad Srinivasan won the 31st district of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and Dr. Janak Joshi secured victory in the 14th district of the Colorado State House of Representatives, said the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).Both are Republicans.

U.S., India ‘constructing paradigm beyond Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’

  • In committing itself to supporting India’s full membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other multilateral export control regimes, the Obama administration has finally opened a door for the country to transcend the legal confines of a treaty that has defined global attitudes towards nuclear weapons for over four decades: the NPT.
  • The American decision to support India’s membership in the NSG, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement was made public by Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman and is conditional on these clubs deciding, by consensus, to change their rules on who can join.
  • The current membership rules of the NSG, though not formally stated, require adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or a regional nuclear weapons free zone (which in turn requires NPT membership). And the same treaty requirement applies in the case of the MTCR and the Wassenaar Arrangement — a cartel of 40 states which governs the export of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies. But Mr. Froman said the U.S. would “encourage the evolution of a membership criteria of these regimes consistent with maintaining their core principles.”
  • The Bush administration’s initiatives from 2005 to 2008 saw the U.S. helping to peel away export restrictions that were never originally a part of the NPT itself. That is why the NSG was able to give India an exemption from its export restrictions without getting into the trickier issue of what India’s legal status in relation to the treaty actually was. But with NSG membership essentially tied to the NPT, any new joining criteria will effectively establish for nuclear-armed India — in clearer legal terms than anything else so far has done — a parallel status equivalent to that of the five nuclear weapons states which are part of the NPT.
  • Apart from easing Indian access to sensitive high technology items, membership of these clubs — “which will come in a phased manner” — will give New Delhi a say in their rule-making process. Under the terms of the NSG’s 2008 waiver, India is today in the anomalous position of being obligated to abide by future guidelines that NSG and even MTCR
  • There are currently six regional centres across the world with varying capacity levels. These are at Guatemala, Kazakhstan, China, Thailand, Egypt and Kenya. India will host the seventh centre.

India, U.S. sign pact on clean technologies

  • India and the United States signed an agreement to establish a virtual centre to promote research, development and deployment in the area of clean energy technologies.
  • Under the pact, the two countries would each contribute $5 million every year for supporting collaborative R&D projects involving academics and private sectors of both nations.
  • The pact will initially be valid for 10 years and can be renewed for blocks of five years at a time.
  • It will work in the consortia mode. Each consortium will comprise entities or individuals from national laboratories, academic institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders, who have the requisite knowledge and expertise of undertaking first-rate programmes.
  • Initially, the focus will be on solar energy, second generation bio-fuels and energy efficiency of buildings. Each consortium will be responsible for establishing its own internal governance structure.

After Obama visit, India set to play ball with U.S. rivals

  • If Barack Obama’s triumphant visit gave the world the impression that the Manmohan Singh government was drawing too close to the United States, the Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting in Wuhan will serve as a reminder that India is still willing to play ball with powers that see themselves as rivals to America.
  • “The timing of the Wuhan trilateral is fortunate because it allows us to do a bit of a repositioning exercise,” a senior Indian official told. “Both Russia and China and everyone else will be able to see that we have not given up pursuing all our other interests just because our relations with the U.S. have improved.”
  • Russia, which once unambiguously backed India for a permanent seat now speaks of the need for U.N. reform “by consensus,” while the Chinese have been willing to support India’s aspirations only in a general way.
  • India will be represented at Wuhan by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
  • The trilateral meeting — the tenth since the format was launched in 2002. Ms. Rao will then move on to Beijing for the next round of the India-China Strategic Dialogue.

U.S.-India pact to better monsoon forecasts

  • India’s monsoon forecasting is expected to improve with its entering into a new agreement with the United States.
  • The agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences is part of a series of food security agreements formalised during President Barack Obama’s visit.
  • “The Monsoon Agreement, by striving to improve long-range monsoon prediction, holds great potential to improve the well-being of the people of India, while also benefitting the United States and other nations through improvements in their own seasonal climate forecasts,” said NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco.
  • India experiences monsoon weather, typically resulting in six months of rain beginning in early June. But it is difficult to predict when the monsoon will begin, how strong it will be or when it will end — information that can help plan for seasonal crops and project surface water supplies.
  • In addition to the regional impacts, the Indian Ocean-Asia monsoon system represents one of the largest weather and climate features in the world, transporting energy between the northern and southern hemispheres and impacting weather and climate throughout the world.
  • Under the agreement, the U.S. will create a monsoon forecast desk at the National Centres for Environmental Prediction, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Maryland.

A programme that enriches lives of Indian students in U.S.

  • The United States and India reaffirmed and celebrated an important partnership in the field of education — the Nehru-Fulbright Educational Exchange Programme.
  • More recently, in 2008 the U.S. and India signed an historic agreement making the two countries full partners in the governance and funding of the Fulbright Program, and in November 2009 President Obama and Prime Minister Singh announced a significant expansion of the Fulbright-Nehru scholarships under the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, the State Department statement noted.

Religious freedom not fully enforced in India: U.S. report

  • While legal protections against violations of religious freedom exist in India, corruption and lack of trained police led to the laws not always being enforced rigorously, according to a United States State Department report.
  • In the International Religious Freedom Report 2010, the State Department said despite government efforts to foster communal harmony, extremist groups continued to view “ineffective investigation and prosecution of attacks on religious minorities” as a signal that they could commit such violence with impunity.
  • However, the report did not completely clear the government of all responsibility for acts of violence relating to religion, in particular suggesting that law enforcement and prosecution was weak due to a “low police to population ratio, corruption, and an overburdened and antiquated court system”.

Cable quotes Hillary as saying India is a ‘self-appointed front runner’ for UNSC

  • On his recent visit to India, United States President Barack Obama hoped that the country would become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), but the WikiLeaks has quoted a secret cable in which his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described India and its three partners (Brazil, Germany and Japan) as “self-appointed front runners.”
  • Ms. Clinton also directed her diplomats to seek minute details about their Indian counterparts posted at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
  • Another cable that quotes a top Turkish diplomat states that India was deliberately kept out of the Turkey-sponsored meeting on Afghanistan earlier this year in order to cater to Pakistan’s “sensitivities.”
  • In a cable “UNSC Reform — positions, attitudes, and divisions among member states,” while terming the G-4 as self-appointed front runners, Ms. Clinton opted for the staid option of describing the alternate grouping by its name — the Uniting for Consensus group (especially Mexico, Italy, and Pakistan) that opposes additional permanent UNSC seats.

India- Central America

50 years of friendship with Cuba recalled

  •  A half century of friendship and excellent relations between Cuba and India were recalled at a function. The meeting was taking place ahead of voting on a resolution at the UN General Assembly on ending the economic, financial and commercial embargo imposed by the U.S. against Cuba. This will be the 19th consecutive time a resolution will be passed at the UNGA, urging the U.S. to end its economic blockade. Last year, 187 countries voted in favour of and only three against it — the U.S., Israel and Marshall Islands.

India- Africa

India, South Africa sign 3 pacts

  • India and South Africa signed three pacts and agreed to support each other’s candidature in the elections to the rotating non-permanent seats of the United Nations Security Council.
  • At a summit-level meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting South African President Jacob Zuma also resolved to step up bilateral cooperation as well as greater coordination at multilateral fora.
  • However, both sides decided to continue discussing resumption of full-fledged defence ties which suffered a setback after the blacklisting of a major South African firm from defence tenders. They also agreed on the need to expand the Brazil-Russia-India-China grouping to include South Africa.
  • In the civil nuclear sector, talks between nuclear power operators of both countries would continue as country-level cooperation was inhibited by an African treaty that bars business with countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • The three agreements signed pertain to air services, agriculture and contacts between their think tanks.

3 Indian soldiers killed in Congo

  • Three Indian soldiers, part of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo, were killed in a rebel attack in the Kirumba province. (Locate in atlas)

India offers $500 m credit line to Mozambique

  • India and Mozambique signed three agreements besides agreeing upon a credit line of $500 million for infrastructure projects. During talks with the visiting Mozambique president Armando Guebuza, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the safety and security of sea lanes against the backdrop of nearly a decade of intermittent cooperation in this area between the two countries.

India- Europe

Indian art and culture festival opens in Paris

  • Energy, vigour and unbridled joie de vivre marked the dancers from Mallika Sarabhai’s Darpana Academy in Ahmedabad as they performed a variety of tribal dances from across India. Adi Nriitya, or India’s indigenous dances, was held in the auditorium of the Quai Branly Museum devoted to tribal, aboriginal and primitive arts, opening a year-long Indian art and culture festival in Paris and the French provinces entitled Namaste France.

IAS PRE 2011 - Current Affairs

Medium: English
Price: Rs. 190/-
Pages: 446
Author: S.A. Majid



Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid

India and World

Ansari to sign social security pact with Czech Republic

  • Vice-President Hamid Ansari sign several agreements during his six-day tour of the Czech Republic and Croatia. The visit to Croatia would be the first by a VVIP from India.
  • Both countries have supported India’s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and its bid for a non-permanent seat for the 2011-12 term.
  • Mr. Ansari is slated to sign a Social Security Agreement with the Czech Republic, under which “citizens working in either country for less than five years would be exempted from social security contributions and the benefits of those who return would be carried forward. India has begun to sign such pacts with some other countries too, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. (Locate In Atlas)
  • Czech Republic to support India’s bid for United Nations seat
  • President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus committed his country’s support for India’s bid for United Nations Security Council membership during his meeting with the visiting Vice-President, Hamid Ansari.
  • Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had visited Prague twice — in 1921 and 1926. Professor Vincenc Lesny of the Charles University was the first European to have translated Tagore’s verses directly from Bengali to Czech.
  • The two leaders recalled the formation of an Indian Association in Prague in 1934 as part of the Oriental Institute, at a meeting chaired by Professor Lesny. Among those who attended the meeting was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who was visiting Czechoslovakia.

Non-alignment relevant in multipolar world: Ansari

  • The concept of non-alignment “is extremely relevant” in the multipolar scenario emerging today, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said at a banquet held in his honour by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic. He was accorded a ceremonial welcome on his arrival from Prague on a two-day visit.
  • Mr. Ansari’s visit to this tiny country on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is the first-ever state visit by a VVIP after India recognised Croatia in 1992 and established diplomatic relations with this former republic of Yugoslavia.
  • The visit not only marks the revival of India’s warm ties with erstwhile Yugoslavia under President Joseph Tito but takes the bilateral relationship forward. It assumes significance as India is looking to the support of Croatia for its candidature for the United Nations Security Council seat. India also reiterated the need to combat terrorism at international level.
  • Mr. Ansari recalled the visit of Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo, better known as Filip Vesdin, who stayed in Southern India for 13 years from 1776 and pioneered the Croatian tradition of Indological Studies. He published several books and papers on Indian culture, ranging from Sanskrit grammar to Indian botany.
  • Mr. Ansari emphasised the need to expand the trade between India and Croatia which stands at $160 million. In fact, Croatia had dominated bilateral trade relations with the former Yugoslavia. This included large-scale purchases of Croatian ships by India in the 1970s and 80s. (Locate In Atlas)
    Russia invites Indian investment
  • Russia wants “strong Indian presence” in the energy, pharmaceutical and IT sectors, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
  • Receiving the Indian Minister in his Novo-Ogoryovo residence outside Moscow, Mr. Putin promised to support India’s bid for a stake in the Sakhalin-3 oil and gas project in the Russian Far East and invited Indian companies to invest in Russia, notably in the pharma and IT industries.
  • An ONGC Videsh Ltd. delegation will soon visit Russia to discuss Indian participation in tapping huge natural gas fields in the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia. During Mr. Putin’s visit to India in March, ONGC and Gazprom agreed to study the possibility of building an LNG project in Yamal.
  • For the first time, an India-Russia Business Dialogue has been organised with the framework of St. Petersburg Forum. The Confederation of Indian Industry signed a cooperation pact with Russian Business Council on Cooperation with India.
  • India and Russia have pledged to strengthen further the bilateral trade and increase it to $20 billion by 2015.
  • It is also agreed to start negotiations on putting in place a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to boost trade and investment.
    U.K. to review aid to India
  • Britain is to review its £250 million annual development assistance to India amid a growing sense in Whitehall and among independent experts that a country which spends millions on its nuclear programme and is seen as an emerging economic giant does not need foreign aid any more.
  • India is the single largest recipient of British overseas aid, mostly tied to specific projects, and in recent months ministers have struggled to justify this at a time when Britain itself is facing sweeping cuts in public spending following its worst post-War economic crisis.

Cameron: we can’t tolerate Pakistan exporting terror

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will discuss with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the “leakage” of funds provided to Pakistan to terrorists based in that country.
  • Mr. Cameron witnessed the signing of an agreement at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s facility for the supply 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to the Indian Air Force and the Navy. While the IAF will acquire 40 aircraft, the Navy, for the first time, will obtain 17 Hawk AJT aircraft at a total cost of Rs. 5,100 crore.
  • Rolls Royce is to supply 57 Adour engines, which will power the Hawk aircraft. The deal is valued at Rs. 1,460 crore.
  • The BAE Systems Hawk is to be powered by the Mk871 variant of the Adour, which will be assembled in partnership with HAL.
  • In 2004, India signed a deal for the acquisition of 66 Hawks for the IAF.

India-Russia nuclear talks hit liability snag

  • It is not just American suppliers, Russia too is insisting that all liability for any accident that may occur in reactors sold to India must rest solely with the Indian operator and not with Russian companies involved in supplying components and knowhow.
  • At the last round of commercial negotiations held in Moscow recently between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Atomstroyexport for the supply of four additional 1000 MWe reactors at Kudankulam (KK 3,4,5,6), the two countries failed to agree on the issue of liability. The Indian side wanted the contract to include a ‘right of recourse’ which would allow NPCIL to claim damages from Atomstroyexport in the event of an accident resulting from negligence on the part of the Russian supplier. But Russian officials refused, citing the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) the two countries signed in 2008 to back up their stand that all liability must be channelled on to NPCIL, the operator at Kudankulam.

Russian firm offers knowhow

  • A leading Russian manufacture Transas group, which produces navigation systems (marine and aviation) and training simulators is ready to share with India sophisticated technology for building flight simulators to train military pilots. Their use would help to reduce operational cost and the accident rate in the Indian Air Force.
  • The company has supplied helicopter simulators for several pilot training centres in Russia. It has built a full motion simulator complex for Venezuela to operate Mikoyan Mi-17 military transport helicopters it recently purchased from Russia.
  • India has a large fleet of Mikoyan helicopters, and four years ago, signed a new contract to buy 80 Mi-17IV helicopters.
  • Aviation simulators help to slash cost on pilot training and save aircraft and lives. If India had motion-based pilot training simulators it wouldn’t have had such a high rate of accidents with its MiG-21 fighters.
  • The IAF has lost about 300 MiG-21 interceptor planes — around a third of the entire fleet over the past four decades, many of which were caused by pilot error. New contracts for the purchase of Russia-built warplanes, such as MiG-29K jets, to be deployed on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, include the supply of simulators. The Transas offer will enable India to join an elite countries capable of manufacturing top-notch full motion flight simulators.

Information on money stashed away in Swiss banks now easier

  • India and Switzerland signed a protocol to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement that would enable the government get information about some of the wealth illegally stashed away in Swiss banks.
  • The revised Double Taxation Agreement contains provisions on the exchange of information in accordance with the OECD(Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) standards, which were negotiated in line with the parameters decided by the (Swiss) Federal Council, said a statement from the Swiss Federal Department of Finance.
  • It became mandatory for Switzerland to open up its confidentiality-driven banking system after adopting the OECD’s standards on transparency last year.

India-Russia joint exercise concludes

  • • The strike infantry units from India and Russia concluded the joint military exercises whose thrust was terror attacks. The 10-day exercise was held in the Kumaon Hills near Ranikhet in Uttarakhand.
  • • Named ‘Indra,’ it facilitated greater synergy between the forces and a clearer understanding of the doctrines practised by each nation to combat terrorism. It also involved many tactical exercises with the use of state-of-the-art technology, an official release said.

Ivanov to head India-Russia panel

  • Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has been appointed to head the Russian part of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) for trade, economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation.
  • A decree signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Mr. Ivanov was replacing the former Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Sobyanin, who last month became the Mayor of Moscow.
  • Mr. Ivanov’s appointment is good news for the defence establishments both in India and Russia.
  • As Russia’s Defence Minister in 2001-2007, he co-chaired the IRIGC for military-technical cooperation and helped formulate Russia’s arms export strategy, which calls for the supply of the most cutting-edge defence technologies to India, while exercising extreme discretion in selling weapons to China.

German envoy refutes Jairam’s remarks

  • Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s remark about “criminal gas guzzlers” has irked the German embassy, and provoked Ambassador Thomas Matussek into delivering a statement in defence of his country’s auto technology.
  • Speaking at a workshop on promoting low-carbon transport , Mr. Ramesh criticised the owners of large cars, “BMWs, Benzs and Hondas” as having become the real beneficiaries of diesel subsidy that was meant to benefit poor farmers. Both BMW and Mercedes Benz are German firms.
  • Sarkozy calls for permanent Security Council seat for India
  • During his first stopover on his four-day visit to India, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a permanent seat for India in the U.N. Security Council.
  • The UNSC must be expanded to include new permanent members — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — and it must have representation from Africa and the Middle-East, he said, adding India should join the Security Council as a permanent member so that it could assume its full role in the G20.
  • Nuclear energy would be the “focus” of Indo-French cooperation, he said, lauding the “considerable environmental benefit” and “energy independence” that it brought. As much as 80 per cent of France’s electricity came from the nuclear source.
  • India’s decision to expand its nuclear energy production from 4,000 to 62,000 megawatts in 20 years represented a “change of attitude.” With the completion of the nuclear power project at Jaitapur, to be built in collaboration with the French company Areva, the six Indo-French EPR plants would provide 10,000 megawatts, said Mr. Sarkozy.

India, France to sign pact on two nuclear reactors

  • The final negotiating obstacles having been crossed, India and France will sign a framework agreement for the construction of two 1,650-MWe French nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
  • The agreement between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) and the French nuclear vendor, Areva, was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Russia’s concern over liability law may delay new Kudankulam pacts

  • Russian reservations about the implications of India’s nuclear liability law may be delaying the contracts for two nuclear power reactors to be built in Kudankulam, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
  • Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of the State-owned nuclear company Rosatom, is building two 1,000 MW reactors in Kudankulam in a collaborations with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), and is in negotiations to build more. Last year, an intergovernmental agreement pledged that four new reactors would be built at Kudankulam.
  • The first of the original reactors is undergoing final safety tests and is likely to start operations early next year after numerous delays to the original schedule. Construction work is mostly complete for the second reactor as well, which is likely to become critical within two years, according to the Atomstroyexport officials.
  • India’s Civil Nuclear Liability Act, passed by Parliament earlier this year makes the supplier of a nuclear reactor liable in case of an accident. These “stringent provisions” have been opposed by the American companies, even while many Indian experts have argued against the Rs. 1,500 crore cap on financial compensation.

India, France to enforce curbs on terror outfits

  • India and France decided to enhance their operational cooperation to expeditiously process extradition requests, curb money-laundering for terrorism and enforce the international sanctions regime against terrorist organisations.
  • Both sides also reiterated the importance of adhering to the sanctions against the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, as established by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 and subsequent resolutions, and the need to preserve the regime’s credibility.
  • The two countries also decided to remain united in reforming the Security Council, countering the financing of terrorism and money-laundering, effectively combating climate change and utilising diplomatic tools to resolve the Iranian issue.
  • The two countries also expressed concern at the situation in the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea to comply with international resolutions.
  • Following India’s enactment of a civil nuclear liability law, both countries were ready to further exchange views on this issue to ensure an appropriate framework for the sound development of their cooperation.

India, France ink two pacts on nuclear safety

  • Besides the five agreements in the nuclear field that were announced on December 6 by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) during the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, two more agreements between India and France were signed on the same date in the area of nuclear safety. For some reason, these were not included in MEA’s announcement.
  • The first is an agreement between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). This is for exchange of technical information and cooperation in regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection. It was signed by AERB Chairman S. S. Bajaj, and ASN Chairman Andre Claude Lacoste.
  • According to AERB Secretary R. Bhattacharya, the accord provides for exchange of information in the development of nuclear plant safety review process. It also provides for exchange of experts and technical and regulatory information relating to radiation protection and safety of nuclear facilities.
  • This agreement renews and updates the existing arrangement, which is in force since 1999 and subsequently renewed in 2005.
  • The second agreement is on technical cooperation between the AERB and the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Called the AERB-IRSN Framework Agreement for general cooperation in nuclear safety, it was signed by Mr. Bajaj and Jacqus Repussard, Director General of IRSN.
  • • The agreement covers areas such as exchange or secondment of staff, exchange of materials or software, joint studies and joint projects in the area of nuclear safety.
  • IRSN is the technical support organisation for the ASN just as the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) is for the AERB. This agreement basically extends to the AERB the earlier scientific and technical cooperation that was in existence for over 10 years between the IRSN and the BARC.
  • Brussels summit one more step in strategic ties with EU
  • The annual India-European Union (EU) summit that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attending in Brussels is significant with negotiations nearing completion that are expected to take India-EU trade to €100 billion.
  • The summit will be the first post-ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by EU member countries. As the contours of the EU itself expand and change, the India-EU relationship has also broadened, elevated to strategic partnership since the first summit in 2000.
  • Though V. Katju, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, was silent on the sticky points in the ongoing Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations, reports suggest the EU is dragging its feet on issues related to intellectual property rights, environment and pollution and labour laws, especially child labour issues.

India-EU pact on movement of persons likely

  • Hectic negotiations between India and the European Union in the last two weeks has resolved the logjam on several issues, including the “bug-bear” intellectual property rights issue with India saying there will be no compromise on our position that any agreement will have to be within our existing legal statutes.
  • In simple terms, this means that professionals would be able to move more easily between India and the 27-member countries of the European Union countries once this comes through. This was a problem at the negotiations that had been complicated by higher than normal rates of unemployment in Europe following the global recession in 2008-09 and the collapse of economies of some countries in the EU.
  • Officials for the 11th India-EU Summit disclosed that an agreement on temporary movement of “natural persons” would take place within the next few months.
  • A huge problem that was worrying the Indian pharma industry was the seizure of generic drugs at European ports although they were being exported to third countries outside the EU. Official sources disclosed that this too has been resolved to the satisfaction of India.
  • “The negotiations were on track, the decks had been cleared and there was expectation that the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) would be signed by March-April 2011 to boost India’s trade with EU, its largest trading partner, to a hundred billion euros,” officials said.

Terrorism cannot be used to solve political problems, says Merkel

  • A brief but intensive dialogue on a whole range of subjects from reform of the United Nations and the security situation in the Asian sub-continent were discussed at a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • There was every indication that Dr. Singh’s Berlin stopover on the way back from the Brussels India-European Union Summit was one more step forward in strengthening the India-Germany strategic partnership.

Russia a ‘special partner’: Manmohan

  • Belying predictions of diplomatic fatigue, the last visit to India by the head of a P-5 country in 2010 turned out to be one of the most significant, with 30 agreements and a meeting of minds on key political issues emerging from talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • After 90 minutes of restricted talks between the two leaders and 40 minutes among the delegations, Dr. Singh emerged to tell journalists that India’s relationship with Russia was “special and privileged” and would develop independent of its ties with other countries.
  • The highlight of the 30 agreements was the consolidation and extension of strategic cooperation in the civil nuclear, hydrocarbons and space sectors.
  •  Russia joined the U.S. and France in speaking of India and itself as “states possessing nuclear weapons” and promised to quarterback India’s bid for full membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other multilateral export control clubs. Russia reiterated its support to India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, but the formulation used was the same as at the previous two summit meetings. There was also public acknowledgement of India’s imminent membership of the Russia-China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Civil nuclear sector-

  • In the civil nuclear sector, a firm agreement on setting up two more reactors at Kudankulam, beyond the four already in the pipeline, was postponed pending the ongoing talks on the liability issue. The Russian side, which wants a firm assurance from India for as many as a dozen large units, essentially wants to wait and see whether New Delhi makes any concession on the liability front to the United States. Moscow is also looking closely at the kind of pricing structure that is emerging from French and American suppliers. Russian reactors are due to come up at Haripur in West Bengal, besides Kudankulam.

Cooperation in nuclear energy at theglobal level

  • Apart from these projects, India and Russia agreed to work together at the global level on nuclear energy. In the first initiative of its kind to be taken by either of them, the two countries agreed to consider cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with third countries and said, “as supplier states, [they] support multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle at the IAEA.” Both sides also identified joint research and development in reactor technology as an area on which the two atomic energy establishments would hold detailed discussions.


  • In defence, India and Russia marked the beginning of their first-ever collaboration in producing a next-generation fighter aircraft, with the inking of the preliminary design contract agreement.
    Trade and economic ties
  • With both sides focussing greatly on improving their trade and economic ties, Moscow agreed to smoothen travel procedures for business people and visitors, a long-standing Indian grouse that had earlier led to an IT major CEO abandoning plans to invest in Russia. At the same time, both sides agreed to discourage unwanted or overstaying visitors and thereby avoid subsequent diplomatic wrinkles.

Collaborate in the hydrocarbons sector

  • The intention to collaborate in the hydrocarbons sector was given a concrete shape by an inter-governmental agreement that will evolve into an extensive road map largely modelled on the Sino-Russia partnership in this sector. The Memorandum of Understanding between Sistema, a telecom-petro giant with rights over two lucrative hydrocarbon fields, and ONGC Videsh progressed to a framework agreement on cooperation. Three agreements in the space sector will give India access to the Russian satellite constellation, the Global Navigation Satellite System.

Partnership in the pharmaceuticals sector

  • The two sides also gave a firm shape to a partnership in the pharmaceuticals sector, in which India sees a $15-16 billion opportunity, with the joining of hands by the private sectors of both countries for joint ventures in Russia.

India, Russia sign fighter aircraft pact

  • The biggest defence programme in India’s history — the contract for the preliminary design of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) — was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. It will involve the production of 200-250 aircraft.
  • The FGFA will have advanced features such as stealth, super-cruise, ultra-manoeuvrability, highly integrated avionics suite, enhanced situational awareness, internal carriage of weapons and network centric warfare capabilities.
  • The aircraft would be called Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF). It draws upon the basic structural and system design of the Russian FGFA Technology Demonstrator with modifications to meet the Indian Air Force’s specifications, which are much more stringent.
  • Besides design and development, the project covers production and joint marketing of the aircraft to third countries. The programme options include the design and development of a twin-seater variant and the integration of an advanced engine with higher thrust at a later stage.
  • The agreement is the first in a series of such contracts that will cover different stages of this programme.
  • The contract was signed by A. Isaykin, general director of Rosoboronexport and M. Pogosyan, general director RAC MiG & Sukhoi from the Russian side and HAL chairman Ashok Nayak, and N.C. Agarwal, Director (D&D), HAL from the Indian side.

IAS PRE 2011 - Current Affairs

Medium: English
Price: Rs. 190/-
Pages: 446
Author: S.A. Majid