(Current Affairs) India and The World | April: 2016

India & The World

UAE’s national oil company agreed to give oil to India free

  • In a first of its kind deal, UAE’s national oil company Adnoc has agreed to store crude oil in India’s maiden strategic storage and give two-thirds of the oil to it for free.
  • India is building underground storages in Visakhapatnam and Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka to store about 5.33 million tonnes of crude oil to guard against global price shocks and supply disruptions.
  • Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is keen on taking half of the 1.5- million-tonne Mangalore facility.
  • It will stock 0.75 million tonnes or 6 million barrels of oil in one compartment of the Mangalore facility.
  • Of this, 0.5 million tonnes will belong to India and it can use it in emergencies. Adnoc will use the facility as a warehouse for trading its oil.

India and UAE set to engage in various fields after Prince’s visit

  • India and the Unit- ed Arab Emirates are set to strengthen cyber security mechanism to track radicalisation of youth in South Asia and West Asian region.
  • Over the last several months, India-UAE cooperation has prevented several radicalised youths from joining the ranks of the Islamic State (IS).
  • Both sides are expected to sign a number of agreements on cyber security and law enforcement during the February 10-12 visit by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
  • Security collaboration has become the centrepiece of India-UAE cooperation, especially since Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dubai in August 2015.
  • Cyber security experts have point- ed out that the cooperation between the UAE and India on cyber security has helped in tracking radicalisation in
  • India as well as inside Pakistan. Agreements on security and cyber security will be part of a total of 16 agreements that are expected to be signed during the visit which will also include an agreement on nuclear research and development, and aerospace collaborations.

Troops of India and China held first joint tactical exercise in Chushul-Moldo

  • The border troops of India and China held their first joint tactical exercise in the Chushul-Moldo area along the northern border. This is part of the ongoing initiatives taken by India and China to ensure greater interaction between troops stationed along the Line of Actual Control, and thereby ensure peace and tranquillity along the border.
  • As previously agreed by both countries, the exercise focussed on actions to be coordinated to tackle jointly aspects of humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
  • This exercise complements the Hand-in-Hand series of India-China Joint Exercises and the recently conducted joint exercise in Sikkim.

Nepal confirms PM visit on Feb 19

  • Within hours of the end of commercial blockade in Birgunj, the biggest trading post on the Indo-Nepal border, Nepal declared that Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli would visit India on February 19.
  • The end of the blockade at Birgunj had persuaded Nepal to finally declare the date of the visit which had been underdiscussions since Mr.Oli became Prime Minister of Nepal in October 2015.
  • The China-Nepal economic agreements, meanwhile, added substance to the reports that the Nepal Prime Minister might choose to visit Beijing first, instead of Delhi.

Indian trucks cross freely into Nepal

  • Residents and traders in southern Nepal dismantled tents and roadblocks set up by protesters at a key border crossing, allowing trucks to cross freely from India for the first time in four months.
  • More than 50 people have died in an agitation against Nepal’s first republican constitution led by minority Madhesis, who say the charter ignores their demands for a united homeland and greater say in the running of the Himalayan nation.
  • A prolonged blockade mounted by southern lowlanders on the “Friendship Bridge” linking the Nepali town of Birgunj with Raxaul in Bihar had caused acute fuel shortages and spurred smuggling along the porous border.
  • People in Birgunj madhesis and Raxaul had cleared tents pitched on the bridge by protesters from the Madhesi minority.
  • Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Oli has appeared increasingly isolated by the protests and faced criticism from India over the tough line taken by the authorities against them . The lifting of the blockade may signal the stand-of is easing.

U.S. President assured Narendra Modi to Lok into visa issues

  • U.S. President Barack Obama has assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his administration would soon look into India’s concerns over the recent move to increase visa fees.
  • The Act, among other things, increased the fees for certain H1B and L1 applicants.
  •  After the increase, the fees for certain categories of H1B and L1 visas have more than doubled.
  • According to Nasscom, the IT/ITeS industry body, the decision’s financial impact on the Indian technology sector would be around $400 million a year.
  • India (Indian tech firms) will be the most affected by the decision as it is the largest user of H1B visas (67.4 per cent of the total 161,369 visas issued in FY14 went to Indians), and is also among the largest users of L1 visas (Indians received 28.2 per cent of the 71,513 L1 visas issued in FY14).
  • The CII, an industry body, had said the visa fee in- crease was discriminatory and punitive and was aimed at India and Indian-centric technology companies.
  • Issues related to tightening of the visa and immigration regime and the fear-monger- ing about American jobs going to foreigners have been part of the political rhetoric before presidential elections in the U.S.

TPP and its effect on India

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or the mega-regional free trade pact led by the U.S. and including 11 other Asia-Pacific countries, is likely to indirectly impact India’s exports in several industrial sectors.

  • Sector such as textiles, plastics, leather, clothing, cotton and yarn, besides the country’s regime on investment, labour standards, intellectual property rights (IPR), government procurement and State-owned enterprises (SOE) will face problem.

  • The challenges arising from the TPP — which has set very high standards for the international trading regime — could be similar to those experienced by India post the 1991 economic liberalisation.

  • The External Affairs Ministry would soon do a study in the context of TPP and in- form the government what the priorities should be in terms of policy-making in the next six months.

  • The TPP agreement (which India is not a part of) was reached in October last year and the member countries have two years to ratify the pact. In the meantime, the Indian government will have to consider improving the country’s standards in areas such as labour laws by holding stakeholder consultations.

  • The investor-State dispute settlement mechanism adopted by the TPP was also a concern from India’s point of view.

  • Some of the TPP standards were higher than that of the WTO norms, including on IPR and possible ever-greening of patents, which could hurt India’s pharma sector.

  • The operations and the production methods of India’s public sector units (or SOEs) could also be constrained due to the TPP.

  • Several Indian export sectors such as cotton and yarn could be affected as trade may be diverted to the TPP region due to its benefits of low or nil duties.

  • Pointing out that the TPP, RCEP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (a proposed mega- regional between the U.S. and the European Union) excluded African countries, the Minister said India would also have to focus on improving its trade with African countries.

  • Meanwhile, India is also considering engaging with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries to ensure that it did not miss out on the emerging trade dynamics.

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