(Current Affairs) India and The World | August: 2014

India & The World

Evacuation of Indian nationals from Lugansk

  • India has made arrangements to evacuate all its nationals, mainly students, from violence-hit Ukrainian city of Lugansk to Kyiv.
  • The evacuation arrangements were made in cooperation with the Ukrainian government.
  • Indian authorities have arranged 500 train tickets to evacuate the Indian nationals.
  • India few days back issued an advisory asking its nationals to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine which is witnessing frequent violent clashes between pro—Russian separatists and government forces.
  • In the advisory, it also asked citizens in the other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to remain vigilant about their personal safety and security.
  • Eastern Ukraine is witnessing a fierce escalation of violence between the two sides over the past few days.
  • The violence started after Russia annexed Crimea — an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority — in March following which the pro—Russian rebels seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine and demanded its independence.

Modi’s first stop: Thimpu

  • Keeping his focus on the neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to make his first trip abroad to India’s closest ally, Bhutan.

  • While a date for Mr. Modi’s visit will be finalised during the advance team’s visit, sources confirmed that it will be his first visit to a foreign country. With this decision Mr. Modi is making it clear that the neighbourhood is his immediate priority. He began his tenure in office by inviting all the SAARC leaders to his swearing in, and will travel to Kathmandu for the SAARC summit slated for November.

  • The decision to visit Bhutan, with whom India holds the closest ties, is the third surprise announcement from the government, after decisions to invite SAARC leaders and to visit the US for bilateral talks and the UNGA in September.

India, U.S. policy forum meet

  • Trade officials of India and the U.S. are expected to meet in Delhi to prepare the groundwork for the ministerial level meeting of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF).

  • The U.S.-India TPF is an inter-agency collaboration led by the USTR. It is the principal trade dialogue between the countries.

  • It has five focus groups: Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers.

  • In recent months, the U.S. has increased its attack against India’s intellectual property regime and safety issues related to domestic pharmaceutical sector. The American pharma sector had alleged that the Indian IPR laws discriminate against U.S. companies and violate global norms.

  • The USTR in its Special 301 report had kept India out of the priority list, but has said that they would do an ‘out-of-cycle’ review of India’s IPR regime.

  • At present, bilateral trade is around $100 billion. The U.S.-India Business Council had said bilateral trade between the countries could touch $500-billion mark over the next one decade.

Chinese FMs trip to India

  • After fetching SAARC Heads of State at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, the Ministry of External Affairs is readying to roll the red carpet for its first big visitor from outside the subcontinent — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

  • He will meet with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, as the two leaders acquaint each other with the road ahead on Sino-Indian ties. On the agenda, according to sources, would be the meeting schedule for Special Representatives (SRs) to discuss the most pressing bilateral issue of resolving the border dispute between both the sides.

  • India is keen to narrow the vast trade deficit of $31 billion, even as the two countries close in on their goal of $100 billion bilateral trade by 2015.

  • The two sides are also scheduled to talk about issues such as energy cooperation, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism, especially Jihadi terrorism, in the wake of a rise in attacks emanating from China’s Xinjiang province.

Prime Minister’s Japan visit put off

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to Japan next month has been deferred till the budget session of Parliament ends in early August.
  • The decision has been taken in view of the Budget Session which is very important for the Prime Minister and is expected to be a path—breaking one, putting into action many ideas which Mr. Modi has been talking about since several months.
  • The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Mr. Modi here this evening, decided to recommend the convening of the Budget session in the first week of July.

U.S. push to tag India as emerging economy

  • The crisis at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Geneva has deepened with the United States demanding that India and China be categorised as ‘emerging’ rather than as ‘developing economies’. India is resisting the move which, if it materialises, will halve WTO caps applicable to India’s food subsidies. It will also require India to grant market access to the U.S. The U.S. is insisting that India meet its food security law obligations with American imports.

  • “The U.S. insists that economies such as India and Indonesia with high rates of growth can no longer be categorised as developing countries,” the sources said. “India’s stand is that going by per capita income, it is actually the world’s largest Least Developed Country where about 600 million live at less than $2 a day,” the sources said.

  • The U.S. has also tabled a study in Geneva, produced by its allies Pakistan and Canada, that claims food subsidies in India and China exceed those in the U.S. and the EU.India has countered the study, with data to show that the U.S. farm subsidies to its corporate sector are to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000 per capita per year against India’s mere $200.

  • At the Geneva talks, the U.S. has so far successfully thwarted India’s efforts aimed at finding a permanent protection against even the WTO’s agriculture caps currently applicable to its food subsidies. America’s own agenda of an agreement on Trade Facilitation, however, is well on track for the July 31 deadline as laid down at the Bali Ministerial.

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