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

India & The World

BSF and BGB of Bangladesh conducted first ever joint exercise in Sundarbans

  • In an attempt to bring in more synergy in coordinated border management, border-guarding forces of Bangladesh and India conducted their first-ever joint exercise in the riverine borders of the Sundarbans.
  • The exercise between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) commenced with troopers, including dog and bomb squads, from both the forces carrying out joint searches of cargo vessels on the Ichamati river.
  • Congratulating both the forces on the successful conduct of the drill, senior BSF and BGB officers said the exercise would become a “regular affair” in the future.
  • The drill can be a big deterrent to smugglers and criminals who will have to deal with the combined efforts of both the forces.
  • The officials said the joint exercise would be extended on land as well to make it part of a coordinated border management plan.
  • Speaking about cross-border smuggling, both BSF and BGB officers pointed out that smuggling of cattle has come down by nearly 60 to 70 per cent in the recent times.
  • BSF officials also flagged concerns about smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).
  • Regarding concerns about smuggling of Phensedyl from India to Bangladesh, BSF officials said the recent decision to ban on the cough syrup would help the forces to stop smuggling.
  • India's quest for permanent seat in UNSC face challenge from Mexico
  • India’s quest for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), faced a new challenge with Mexico coming out in opposition to India’s campaign.
  • “We don’t support India’s campaign for permanent seat at the UNSC. We do not think adding more permanent members in the Security Council is the solution. More veto power-wielding permanent members will mean more paralysis of the U.N,” Foreign Minister of Mexico said.
  • Mexican foreign minsiter indicated that India has taken a maximalist position by demanding a permanent membership at the UNSC with veto powers as the permanent members of the United Nations are yet to give up their control over the United Nations.
  • Interestingly, the Mexican opposition to India’s quest at the UNSC came two days after the United Nations held the “Informal Plenary meeting of the Inter-governmental Negotiations on equitable representation” with India strongly reiterating its demand for reform of the UNSC.
  • In the Plenary held on Wednesday, India’s Permanent Representative, Syed Akbaruddin tried to convince those countries who oppose new members with veto power in the UNSC arguing that the issue of the veto can be reviewed later whereas the democratisation of the U.N. cannot wait any longer.

PM Modi’s visit to US will revive the India-U.S. tie

  • Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar visited the U.S. capital ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit scheduled for later this month.
  • “The visit was aimed at reviewing the India-U.S. bilateral relations and preparing for India’s participation in the forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit later this month”, said a statement by the Indian embassy.
  • The visit comes amid India’s efforts to stop the U.S. from selling eight F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan.
  • Talks between the two countries on three key defence agreements are also progressing ahead of U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India in April.
  • In a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, he discussed bilateral relations and cooperation against terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Security concerns increases on Arabian sea

  • Several ageing Pakistani fishing boats have been washing ashore in the Sir Creek area in Gujarat, leading to much speculation in the security establishment.
  • Most of the recoveries were made along the 32-km long G-Line, the nearest habitation being 30 km away in Lakhpat, to the south
  • “Following the alert by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Gujarat Police, the security along the area has been enhanced.
  • The recovery of so many fishing boats has led to several theories. Some oicials argued that these were old boats used by drug syndicates for moving drugs from the Pakistani shore to the mid-sea where the cargo was transferred to other boats that take them to various destinations across the globe.
  • These boats were possibly abandoned and pushed towards the Indian side because of tidal movement.
  • Another group believed these were boats used for illegal fishing, and when those who manned them suspected that the Indian side had detected them, they abandoned the boat
  • Credible evidence has emerged that a major global drug smuggling racket is active in the waters of Gujarat. In April 2015, a boat carrying drugs worth over Rs. 600 crore was seized of Gujarat. A few weeks later, an Iranian fishing boat was found floating in the waters of Kerala

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai wants India to be part of Taliban talks

  • India, Iran and Russia should be included in the talks with the Taliban, says former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who said that the current talks among the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) were Afghanistan’s “only hope for peace” despite the fact that the talks were being held in Pakistan.

  • Mr. Karzai’s comments came as there was uncertainty in Islamabad over just when the next round of QCG talks that include representatives from the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, would be scheduled.

  • The group had met twice, in February in Islamabad and Kabul, expressing the hope that the direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives would be scheduled in early March, after which the QCG had met.

  • However, in a statement on Saturday, the Taliban said it would not attend the talks until all the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces had left the country.

  • Afghan analysts have also been worried that the presence of the U.S. and China in the QCG would push President Ghani to accept more and more concessions toward the Taliban, even though they have been unable to bring enough pressure to bear on Pakistan to use those “levers”.

  • India has stayed disengaged from the process, saying that it would support any initiative that is “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.

Defence Minister says no joint patrol with US right now

  • Days after a top U.S. Admiral expressed keenness in co-ordinated patrols between India and U.S,, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that there was no scope for such patrols at this point of time.
  • “As of now India has not taken part in joint patrols but we do participate in joint exercises. So the issue of joint patrols at this time does not arise,” Mr. Parrikar told a press conference.
  • U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is scheduled to visit India in April during which the agreements are expected to be discussed.
  • The Defence Ministry had not returned Rs. 11,000 crore from the budget but had indeed saved the amount by utilising funds locked in the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) account.
  • There is an account for paying the U.S. for defence procurements under the FMS route. The amount is paid to the U.S. government which further pays the companies concerned.
  • Last year, India paid Rs. 6,000 crore for committed liabilities from this account.

India and China to build connectivity

  • India and China jockeyed over their plans to build connectivity during the Ministry of External Afairs’ first ‘Raisina Dialogue’ international conference with India projecting its own plans in the Indian Ocean and across Central Asia as a counter to China’s estimated 1-trillion dollar One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.

  • Comparing India’s approach to China’s (without referring directly to either China or the OBOR), India’s plans for connectivity were “cooperative rather than a unilateral approach”, adding that an “environment of trust and confidence is the pre-requisite for a more interconnected world.”

  • China views South Asian countries as very important partners and stands ready to focus on roads, manufacturing, free trade zones. OBOR is not an exclusive initiative, so welcomes participation of various countries and regional organisations

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