(Current Affairs) India and The World | October : 2017



  • India assured its support to Syria in the fight against terrorism in the war-ravaged country, a major theatre of dreaded terror group Islamic State (IS).

  • This was conveyed when visiting grand mufti of Syrian Republic Ahmad Badr Eddine Mohammad AbidHassoun met Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

  • Mr. Singh assured the grand mufti of India’s support in eliminating terrorism on all fronts and recollected the long-standing friendship between India and Syria, an official statement said.

  • Official sources said the issue of several Indians joining the IS and fighting for the terror group in Syria and Iraq was understood to have figured in the discussion.

  • The Home Minister welcomed the grand mufti and discussion was held on wide-ranging issues including terrorism and security, the statement said.

  • The Home Minister was confident that bilateral relations would improve further by such visits and wished that peace and stability were restored in Syria soon.

  • TheDuring the meeting, the grand mufti highlighted the evils of terrorism by citing the example of the killing of his son by terrorists and how he forgave the assassin.


  • Indicating at a new strategy of engagement, Palestine said India’s recent display of support has boosted the ongoing political reconciliation in the country.

  • A senior Palestinian diplomat said the speech of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the Non-Alignment ministerial in New York

  • encouraged the Palestinian cause, and said his country would seek support from all sections of Indians for protection of the Al Aqsa mosque.

  • The speech that President Mahmoud Abbas delivered at the annual UN General Assembly [UNGA] strongly urged the international community to come forward supporting the Palestinian cause, and the speech of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the ministerial of Non-Alignment movement on the sidelines of the same summit, made a very positive contribution, and boosted our position.

  • In her speech delivered at the ministerial of the member countries of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), Ms. Swaraj had cited India’s traditional support for the rights of the Palestinian people In his speech at the UN delivered on September 20, President Abbas strongly urged the international community to pressure Israel for the implementation of the two-state solution, and pledged to give a chance to the peace plans of the U.S.

  • He also indicated that Ramallah would begin a new outreach to all parts of India and in this respect a beginning would be made with two India-Palestine friendship societies to be inaugurated soon in Odisha and Punjab.


  • Intensifying trade links is at the top of the agenda as Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, arrives in Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

  • Dr. Abdullah, who will be accompanied by several ministers, is here to inaugurate an India-Afghanistan trade fair, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development.

  • India has been partnering with the Government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a stable, peaceful, prosperous united and pluralistic country.

  • The four-day “India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show” will be co-inaugurated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Civil Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju as well U.S. envoys in Delhi-MaryKay Carlson, and Kabul -Hugo Llorens.

  • During the visit, the air cargo agreement for bilateral trade is expected to be signed by India and Afghanistan as well.

  • According to the U.S. official, about 240 Afghan private and social sector businesses and about 800 Indian businesses have registered to participate in the fair, which is being held for the first time at this scale — smaller versions ohave been held seven times since 2003.

  • At about $684 million (2014-15), India-Afghan trade is far lower than its potential for a number of reasons, the chief being the security situation in Afghanistan with civilian deaths peaking in 2016.

  • However, Afghan officials say they hope Indian investors and traders will be reassured by the announcement of U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy for Afghanistan which has committed to keeping troops there without a deadline.

  • The new U.S. policy is already effecting a change in the security situation. Because there is a clear message of a long-term commitment based on the condition on the ground, not on timelines.

  • The other obstacles to trade include Pakistan’s refusal to allow Indian exports to Afghanistan through the road route at Wagah, and delays for goods routed through Karachi port.

Afghan police officers may be trained by India

  • After training Afghan National Army officers and soldiers for four years, India is now planning to train Afghan police officers here as well, says Afghanistan’s envoy to India.

  • The MoU for the proposal, which will be supported by the United Nations Development Programme, is a first, and was discussed as part of enhancing the security partnership between India and Afghanistan during the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council in Delhi.

  • we do have similarities in some of the aspects of the conflict we face, so Indian knowledge and experience is going to be very useful for us, especially in counter-terror, and counter-narcotic [programmes].

  • The Ambassador’s comments come ahead of two separate, high-profile visits to Delhi next week, by U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis, and Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, which are expected to shape the contours of the U.S.’s newly announced Afghanistan policy, in which U.S. President Donald Trump called for greater Indian involvement in development projects in Afghanistan.

  • The External Affairs Ministry did not respond to requests for a comment on the plan to train police officers, who have borne the brunt of a spike in attacks by Taliban since 2016, when about 6,300 members of Afghan security and defence forces were killed.

  • At present about 200 Afghan soldiers are trained at a time at the Indian Military Academy, including 130 cadets and 30 to 40 officers.

  • The training of police officers, which India had first offered to Afghanistan in 2011, will be a significant step in security ties, which are a small part of the relationship, compared with India’s $3 billion investment in civilian projects since 2002, with 116 new projects announced this month.

  • India sent Afghanistan four Russian-made Mi-25 helicopters, but has yet to concede to Afghan requests for more equipment, transport vehicles, while an agreement for Indian engineers to repair the helicopters and to refurbish old aircraft that is non-functional, has still not been finalised a year later.

  • The Afghan envoy said that while Afghanistan was “grateful” for India’s help thus far, they understood India’s own capabilities to give Afghanistan more hardware are “constrained”. “Strategically speaking, we are now looking at building an Army on this western model,” Mr. Abdali said.

Pakistan sought appointment special UN envoy on Kashmir

  • Pakistan blamed India and Afghanistan for the volatile security situation in the region, while denying charges that it is harbouring terrorists who target both the countries.

  • Striking a strident note against the neighbours and portraying Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, Prime Minister Shahid KhaqanAbbasi also sought the appointment of a special UN envoy on Kashmir, and accused India of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Mr. Abbasi’s claims and allegations were refuted by both India and Afghanistan at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). In a strongly worded reaction, India said Pakistan had become a “terroristan,” and Jammu and Kashmir would remain an integral part of India.

  • A representative of Pakistan responded to India’s reply, naming National Security Adviser AjitDoval for allegedly pursuing a strategy of aggression against Pakistan.

  • The Pakistan PM told the UNGA that another strike by India on territory under its control would invite a matching retaliation. “…if India does venture across the LoC or acts upon its doctrine of “limited” war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he said, adding that his country had “faced unremitting hostility” from India.

  • The Pakistan PM said India has responded to Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination “with massive and indiscriminate force…shooting indiscriminately at children, women and youth,” adding that this “constitute war crimes.”

  • Pakistan can only be counseled to abandon a destructive worldview that has caused grief to the entire world. If it could be persuaded to demonstrate any commitment to civilization, order, and to peace, it may still find some acceptance in the comity of nations,” the Indian diplomat said.

  • Mr. Abbasi had said in his speech that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism credentials cannot be questioned. “After 9/11 it was Pakistani efforts that enabled the decimation of Al-Qaeda,” he said. Mr. Abbasi said 27,000 Pakistanis have died in its fight against terrorism. “We took the war to the terrorists. We have paid a heavy price,” Mr. Abbasi said.

  • Mr, Abbasi blamed Afghanistan for the security situation in the country, denying any role for Pakistan in supporting the Taliban. On the contrary, terrorists based in Afghanistan were launching attacks on Pakistan, its PM claimed. Urging Pakistan to adopt a “constructive approach” in tackling terrorism in the region, Afghanistan said facts disprove Pakistan’s claim.

Indus water talks deadlock continues - India, Pakistan

  • The latest round of talks between India and Pakistan on the Indus Waters Treaty has ended without any agreement, the World Bank has said, while asserting that it will continue to work with complete impartiality to resolve the issues in an amicable manner.

  • Amid a chill in bilateral ties, the second round of discussions between India and Pakistan on the Ratle and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects, over which Islamabad has raised objections, took place at the World Bank headquarters here on September 14 and 15 under the aegis of the World Bank.

  • While an agreement has not been reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the Treaty provisions Both countries and the World Bank appreciated the discussions and reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the Treaty.

  • The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory.

  • The World Bank’s role in relation to the “differences” and “disputes” is limited to the designation of people to fulfil certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties.

  • The Indian delegation was led by the Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh.

  • It also included India’s Indus Water Commissioner and representatives from the ministry of external affairs, power, and Central Water Commission.

  • The Pakistani delegation was led by Secretary, Water Resources Division, Arif Ahmed Khan along with Secretary of Water and Power Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, High Commissioner of Indus Waters Treaty Mirza AsifBaig and Joint Secretary of Water Syed Mehar Ali Shah.

  • The last round of talks were held on August 1, which the World bank said were held in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.

Trade pacts stalled - India -EU

  • Talks remain stalled since 2013; European Union yet to okay re-engagement despite India’s requests

  • With the India-European Union (EU) Summit ahead formal talks on the proposed bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have yet to be scheduled, despite a public push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May.

  • The officials said India had sent repeated reminders at the levels of the Commerce and Industry Minister, the Commerce Secretary and the Chief Negotiator to restart the talks that stalled in 2013, but the EU had not yet given any official indication on the re-engagement.

  • It is learnt that the current sticking point is regarding whether an India-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) can be finalised first, as demanded by the EU, or take forward India’s plan to make ‘investment protection’ a part of the negotiations on the proposed comprehensive FTA officially called the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) and include it in the BTIA as a separate chapter.

  • The deadlock over ‘investment protection’ followed the EU’s concern over what it called India’s “unilateral termination” of separate BITs with “a significant number of” EU countries.

  • Given that the EU Member States do not have the possibility to renegotiate the BITs with India, the unilateral termination of the existing BITs by India would create a gap in investment protection and consequently discourage EU enterprises from further investing in India.

  • The FTA talks are also stuck due to differences over the EU’s demands on elimination of India’s duties on goods such as automobiles and wines and spirits, and India’s pitch for a ‘data secure’ status (important for India's

  • IT sector to do more business with EU firms) as well as to ease norms on temporary movement of skilled workers.

  • While the chief negotiators of India and the EU met informally in July in Brussels on the margins of the EU-India Sub-commission of Trade, and are likely to meet again on the sidelines the EU-India Summit in Delhi on October 9 and 10, no decision has been made yet on the formal resumption of the BTIA talks.

  • In July 2017, the EU and Japan reached an in-principle agreement on the EPA’s main elements.

  • The EU-India Summit is also likely to include discussions on issues relating to WTO-level negotiations as well on strategic cooperation between Indian police agencies with Europol on intelligence sharing and fighting terror.


  • Highlighting common ‘strategic interests,’ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrived in Ahmedabad, said India-Japan ties will shape the Asia-Pacific region.

  • Mr. Abe will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the India-Japan annual summit, when both sides will firm up military and strategic ties.

  • Both India and Japan place importance on the universal values and strategic interests that we commonly share. Both countries are major Asian democracies and global powers and I’m determined that Japan and India will lead the way towards peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the world

  • The visit of Mr. Abe is significant in view of the (now-resolved) weeks-long standoff between India and China at the Doklam plateau of Bhutan when China’s belligerent rhetoric indicated a negative turn in ties.

  • Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off his two-day visit to the home State, Gujarat, of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, by holding a grand 8-km roadshow in an open-roof vehicle from the airport to Sabarmati Ashram. Mr. Modi accompanied Mr. Abe and his wife on the trip.

  • The Prime Minister took the guests on a tour of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram for nearly 20 minutes, and showed them, among other Gandhi memorabilia, the spinning wheel at Hridaykunj.

  • Mr. Modi presented the couple with a copy of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography and a statue of the famous three wise monkeys.

  • This was the first time Mr. Modi went on a joint roadshow with the head of a country in his home State, which goes to the polls in two months.

  • Mr. Abe was given a Guard of Honour, following which artists performed a folk dance, showcasing the cultural traditions of Gujarat and other States. They visited the iconic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, a Gujarat Sultanate era monument known for its intricate stone lattice works on its walls.

  • For the first time, Mr. Modi too visited the landmark monument, which is often identified with Ahmedabad’s rich and diverse heritage, and pointed out the designs and architecture.

  • Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe will lay the foundation stone for the ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed train project to be built with nearly 80% funding from Japan.

  • Subsequently, they will attend the annual India-Japanese Business Summit at the Mahatma Mandir convention centre in Gandhinagar where over a dozen MoUs will be inked between Japanese firms and the Gujarat government.

  • The External Affairs Ministry said that the high point of the visit was the joint inauguration of the high-speed rail project and bilateral security dialogue.

  • The two leaders will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ and will set its future direction.

  • The two countries have signed a host of agreements on Wednesday to further cooperation in science and technology, including research into stem-cells for making bone-marrow transplants more accessible.

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) already has an India-Japan cooperative programme that has Christian Medical College & Hospital, Vellore, and Kyoto University, Japan, as participants.

  • Though the DBT and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have been collaborating in these areas, they renewed the agreement for five more years on Wednesday.

  • The aim of the programme is to develop infrastructure and expertise for India to be a competitive force in regenerative medicine and induced pluripotent stem cell biology. The focus of the collaboration is on developing treatments for sickle-cell anaemia, Beta thalassemia and brain disorders, and creating a haplobank relevant to Indian populations.

  • A haplobank refers to a specially maintained collection of embryonic cells that can, in theory, be directed to become any kind of cell and thus progenitor of replacement organs.

  • Reports suggest that Japan is likely to take up the sale of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft that India has been eyeing for the past few years. The other major discussion is likely to be over the India-Japan nuclear ties which have acquired a new broader scope after Japan ratified the deal.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the coastal city of Xiamen to participate in the ninth BRICS summit amid expectations that a dialogue with Chinese President Xi Jinping could set the tone for a new round of engagement between New Delhi and Beijing.

  • Prime Minister Modi and President Xi are expected to hold a one-on-one meeting.

  • With military tensions between India and China following the end of a tense face-off at Doklam still fresh in memory, Mr. Xi underscored that the BRICS grouping must uphold the value of diplomacy to resolve “hotspot issues”.

  • Without specifying the Doklam crisis, Mr. Xi, speaking at a business forum, stressed that “peace and development” and not “conflict and confrontation” should be the security template of the five emerging countries.

  • Mr. Modi had said he looked forward to a meeting with nine other countries, including BRICS partners, during an Emerging Markets and Developing Countries Dialogue, slated for September 5.

  • Prior to the meeting, Beijing focused on highlighting the maturing of the BRICS institutional architecture.

  • The New Development Bank (NDB) of the world’s five emerging economies has begun construction of a state-of-the-art headquarters in Shanghai, symbolising the rise of the grouping in revamping the world’s financial architecture.

  • The NDB’s headquarters will be housed in a landmark building along Shanghai’s iconic Huangpu River, the traditional gateway of China’s overseas trade.

  • Highly placed sources engaged in the preparations of the summit highlighted that India opposes any formal docking of China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the BRICS as part of an end-of summit document in Xiamen.

  • Nevertheless, India would have no problems in supporting individual bankable projects that are not formally declared part of BRI.

  • China’s proposal for establishing a BRICS+ arrangement where the host country of the summit is free to invite non-members is likely to be endorsed at Xiamen.

  • Sources said considerable convergence has been achieved to form a BRICS rating agency.

  • Besides, formation of a BRICS financial institute has also been widely discussed.

India - Switzerland

  • India thanked Switzerland for its support in global multilateral organisations. Welcoming the visiting Swiss President Doris Leuthard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought greater cooperation to ensure bilateral financial transparency and thanked the Swiss government for its support to India’s membership bid for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

  • “Globalisation and disarmament are of extreme importance for both Switzerland and India. We are really thankful to Switzerland for its support to us on Missile Technology Control Regime,” Mr. Modi said and sought greater cooperation with Switzerland within the framework of India-EU cooperation.

  • India became an MTCR member last year and made a serious bid for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. In both the initiatives, Switzerland supported India.

  • Mr. Modi also sought Swiss support in ensuring transparency in investments and said, “Transparency in financial transactions is an issue of worry to stop black money, hawala transactions and fund for terrorism. Our cooperation continues with the Swiss to ensure automatic sharing of information. We welcome Swiss investments and work has begun on a new bilateral investment treaty.”

  • Both sides signed two major agreements on railways.

State Engagement Task force’ (SET) to ensure American and Indian companies

  •  India and the U.S. are working on establishing a state-level engagement mechanism to widen and deepen bilateral trade and investment ties. Towards this objective, the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), will unveil within a fortnight a ‘State Engagement Task force’ (SET) to ensure American and Indian companies align their interests with the priorities of the State governments of both the countries.

  • The move comes as India and the U.S. are set to carry out a comprehensive review of bilateral trade ties. In that exercise, priority sectors will be defence and energy.

  • While the focus in defence would include Lockheed Martin’s proposal to make F-16 fighter jets in India and the proposed sale of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. or GA-ASI’s ‘Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft’ to India, energy ties would cover exports of U.S. natural gas, transfer of U.S. technology on oil and gas refining, as well as the conclusion of pacts between Nuclear Power Corp. and Westinghouse Electric for six nuclear reactors in India and related project financing. Other priority areas would be smart cities (including Ajmer, Allahabad and Visakhapatnam), regional airport development in India through public private partnership, e-commerce , digital payments and medical devices.

  • According to the American Enterprise Institute, China was the ‘top import country’ for 23 U.S. States in 2016, followed by Canada (14). India was neither a ‘top import country’ nor a ‘top export country’ for any U.S. State.

  • Industry inputs for four separate engagement channels the comprehensive review of trade ties, forthcoming trade policy forum and the bilateral ‘commercial dialogue’ as well as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in November would be provided during the Global Entrepreneurship Conclave (GEC) being organised by the USIBC next month. Top government officials from India and the U.S. are likely to participate in the GEC, Mr. Choksy said.

  • Issues like the U.S. concern over its trade deficit and India’s worries on U.S. visa ‘curbs’ would fall into a proper context once the two countries explore ways to solve the ‘larger puzzle’ of increasing bilateral goods and services trade to $500 billion, from $115 billion in 2016, Mr. Choksy said.

  • The USIBC wants a win-win outcome for businesses on both the sides. We are supportive of free movement of goods and services.

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