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

India & The World

  • India and US agreed to expand coopera tion in defence (Free Available)
  • India rejects criticism from U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Free Available)
  • Six nations to participate in conference for future of Afghanistan (Free Available)
  • India moved to stabilise ties with China (Free Available)
  • MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup is new High Commissioner to Canada (Free Available)
  • India and Afghanistan goes against the dominant view on Afghanistan process (Free Available)
  • India wants TNA to continue negotiating a political solution in Sri Lanka (Only for Online Coaching Members)
  • Europe urged for six-month extension of bilateral investment with India (Only for Online Coaching Members)

India and US agreed to expand coopera tion in defence

  • In the first high level contact between the defence departments of India and the U.S. since President Donald Trump took charge, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart agreed to expand cooperation.
  • Two discussed cooperation under the Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the Major Defence Partner status and agreed to take forward the joint development of defence platforms.
  • The Defence Ministry said Mr. Parrikar and Gen. Mattis emphasised the high priority placed by both countries on the relationship, and resolved to work together to expand this partnership.
  • Key appointments in the Pentagon are yet to made. There will be some clarity only after that on the defence front.
  • For instance the portfolio of Frank Kendall, Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics is likely to be bifurcated. He heads the DTTI from the U.S. side.

India rejects criticism from U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

  • India rejected criticism from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that religious minorities in the country continued to face vigilantism and constitutional challenges.
  • In the report titled “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India” made available online, the USCIRF cited the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in September 2015 over beef eating, and said such violence.
  • It further criticised the Indian Constitution for giving favourable treatment to the majority Hindu community and curtailing the unique identity of the minority groups.
  • Questioning the authority of the report, the Ministry said the government did not see the locus standi of the USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.

Six nations to participate in conference for future of Afghanistan

  • India is among six nations participating in a conference on Afghanistan’s future in Moscow, two months after Russia hosted a similar conference with only China and Pakistan.
  • After India and particularly Afghanistan objected to being cut out of the discussion, Moscow agreed to expand its ambit, announcing a six-nation conference of Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
  • The issue of exclusion was raised by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar during his talks with the Russian delegation at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar in early December last year.
  • The invitation may not however, smooth over serious differences between New Delhi and Moscow over the past few months on their moves in the region. To begin with, India is increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s overtures to Pakistan on defence issues.
  • Significantly, Russia did not join the U.S., U.K. and France in sponsoring a resolution against Jaish chief Masood Azhar at the U.N. sanctions committee last month, a resolution which China then put a hold on.
  • Russia has been seen as favouring a softer line on the Taliban as a counter to the spread of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan; Russia and China have also been coordinating to demand the delisting of senior Taliban leaders designated as terrorists by the U.N. sanctions committee.

India moved to stabilise ties with China

  • India moved to stabilise ties with China, saying there was nothing political in the ongoing visit of a delegation from Taiwan, which criticised Beijing’s One China policy.
  • India’s statement came after China filed a diplomatic protest after the delegation argued that Taiwan’s independence is an international reality.
  • The statement, which came within hours of a major dinner hosted by BJP leader Ram Madhav in Delhi in honour of the delegation, Foreign Secretary is expected to visit Beijing, which will be the 1st high-level visit from India to Beijing in 2017.
  • “The reason why China lodged the representation is because that we have been requiring countries that have diplomatic relations with China to fulfil their commitment to the ‘One China policy,” China said.
  • “Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ heel of the mainland. They have long wanted to use the Taiwan question and the South China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China,” said Global Times.
  • Leader of the delegation Kuan Bi Ling had emphasised that Taiwan’s freedom and sovereignty is a reality in international affairs.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup is new High Commissioner to Canada

  • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup has been appointed the new High Commissioner to Canada.
  • Mr. Swarup, a well-known author, became the MEA spokesperson in April 2015. He is expected to join his new post in Ottawa by mid-March.
  • Canada is a crucial country in India’s diplomatic agenda. Relations between the two countries have expanded in recent months following Prime Minister Justine Trudeau’s push for engagement with India.
  • Last year, the North American country sent the ministers of infrastructure and immigration to India to bolster ties. However, it is yet to support New Delhi’s candidature for permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council.
  • A visible face of the government, Mr. Swarup dealt with several high-tension matters, including India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan following the Pathankot and Uri attacks.

India and Afghanistan goes against the dominant view on Afghanistan process

  • India and Afghanistan took a hard line at the six-nation talks in Moscow, opposing the dominant view from Russia, China and Pakistan to involve the Taliban in reconciliation efforts.
  • External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that denying “safe havens or sanctuaries to any terrorist group or individual in countries of our region,” was essential to stabilising the situation in Afghanistan.
  • Reconciliation efforts must be driven by the Afghanistan government and could only be facilitated by “friends and well wishers of Afghanistan,” he said.
  • He indicated that the previous round of QCG (Quadrilateral Cooperation Group) hosted by Pakistan was not acceptable.
  • He said: “The key challenge to the process remains a policy selectivity by some to distinguish between good and bad terrorists, even though terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region."
  • He also siad "where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’ counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek.”
  • Another point of contention that emerged was over the composition of the talks hosted by Russia. Afghanistan made a strong pitch for the United States to be included as one of its most important partners.
  • It said it was a necessary part of all processes to “end war and usher in sustainable peace in Afghanistan”.
  • With U.S. troop levels down to their lowest of about 8,400 at the end of President Obama’s tenure, Afghanistan’s government has been hoping President Trump will increase assistance to the country.

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