India, Pakistan to become full SCO members at Astana summit

India and Pakistan’s admission as full members to the China backed Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be formalised at the political and security grouping’s summit in Kazakhstan.

India and Pakistan as the full members at the Astana summit on June 8-9 and expect the Astana summit will complete the admission procedures for the two countries.

Background

During the 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution starting the process to admit India and Pakistan into the organisation as full members. Both the countries signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation at last year’s summit in Tashkent.

Importance of Cooperation

  • The presence of China and India, the world’s most populous countries, would make SCO the organisation with the largest population coverage.
  • Improve their relations and inject new impetus to the development of the SCO.
  • The admission of India and Pakistan as full members would help improve their bilateral relations.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  • The political and security grouping headquartered in Beijing was founded in 2001.
  • It comprises China Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as full members.17908469_401
  • It mainly aimed at military cooperation between the members and involves intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia.
  • Currently Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.
  • SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

India, Spain sign 7 agreements

PM Modi on a six-day, four-nation tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France to boost India’s economic engagement with these nations and invite more investment.

India and Spain signed seven agreements

Signed seven agreements, including

  1. Transfer of sentenced persons
  2. Visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports
  3. Cooperation in organ transplantation
  4. Cyber security
  5. Renewable energy
  6. Civil aviation and
  7. India’s Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

China evokes Panchsheel

China proposed five principles of peaceful co-existence or Panchsheel for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI), and as a vehicle for achieving sustainable globalisation.

Key Facts

  • Friendship and cooperation with all countries in the world on the Belt and Road Initiative on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
  • 29 world leaders and representatives from countries across the continents took part the meet.
  • Belt and Road initiative should be an open one that will achieve both economic growth and balanced development.

India’s Stand

India boycott China’s Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in view of sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the initiative that is expected to figure prominently in the two-day meet. Objections related only to the CPEC traversing through Gilgit and Baltistan of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). India treats the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part.

China–Pakistan Economic Corridor

  • CPEC is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of: modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones.
  • It became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port.
  • CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region.

The : Hindu

GS III : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

Arctic nations to meet amid drilling concerns

World’s eight Arctic nations are meeting in Alaska amid concerns about the future of the sensitive region. Recently United States President Donald Trump called for more oil drilling and development.

About Artic Council

  • Arctic Council is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups.
  • The main focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
  • It does not make policy or allocate resources, and its decisions must be unanimous.

Members of the Council

  • Eight member countries : Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.300px-ArcticCouncil.svg
  • Only states with territory in the Arctic can be members of the Council.
  • The Council also has permanent and ad hoc observer countries and permanent participants.
  • India has an observer status, Observers have no voting rights in the Council.

 

India and UK to cooperate in urban transport sector

India & UK agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on bilateral cooperation in urban transport policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organization of transport.

Key Fact

  • MoU agreed to cover a wide range of transport mobility solutions and associated activities in urban environments.
  • Transport For London  (TFL) will share its expertise on the mobility and efficiency of transport system and methodologies to facilitate the planning and delivery of mobility solutions including ticketing , passenger information, major project financing, infrastructure maintenance strategies and behavioural change and public transport promotion.
  • Ministry to strengthen cooperation on electric bus, bus innovation and capacity augmentation and water transport.

Transport for London (TFL)

  • TFL is a local government body responsible for the transport system in Greater London, England.
  • TfL has responsibility for London’s network of principal road routes, for various rail networks including the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and TfL Rail, for London’s trams, buses and taxis, for cycling provision, and for river services.

Source : Pib

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Japan pitches for Chabahar port

Japan is keen on collaborating with India on projects in Asia and Africa as a counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative (B&RI). This indicating Japan’s nod for Australia’s bid to join a quadrilateral for military exercises with India and the U.S.

Key Facts

  • Japanese government was in talks with Tehran and New Delhi for a role in the Chabahar port project along with India.
  • It will be seen as a rival to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Gwadar port.
  • China’s recent economic moves like the BRI as well as an aggressive maritime stance in the South China Sea have been a matter of concern.

About Chabahar port project

  • The port of Chabahar is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman and it is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
  • Project cost $20-billion investment for India.
  • It will be seen as a rival to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Gwadar port.
  • The port will make way for India to bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan using a sea-land route.
  • The project boost International North-South Transport Corridor of which both are initial signatories along with Russia.
  • International North-South Transport Corridor entails the ship, rail, and road routes for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
  • The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Astrakhan etc.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

SAARC satellite launch on May 5

South Asia Satellite, which India has built for use by countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will be launched on May 5. It is an important step by India to enhance co-operation with the entire South Asia. Pakistan is not a part of the mission. Other seven members of SAARC participate in the mission.

About the satellite

  • The 2,230-kg satellite was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation and has 12 Ku-band transponders.
  • The GSAT-09 offers a full range of applications and services in telecommunication and broadcasting: Television, Direct-to-Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and Disaster Management Support.
  • The GSLV-F09 is about 50 metre tall and is the 11th flight of the GSLV.
  • It is cuboid in shape and built around a central cylinder.
  • It has a mission life of over 12 years.
  • It will be launched on the Geostationary Launch Vehicle Mk-II.

Application 

Natural resources mapping, telemedicine, education, deeper IT connectivity or fostering people-to-people contact,  Television, Direct-to-Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and Disaster Management Support.

SAARC

  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia.
  • Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
  • Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.

Source : The Hindu, SAARC

GS III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

India, U.S. talks on strengthen trade ties

India-US trade in goods and services had risen to around $115 billion in 2016 from $109 billion in 2015, according to U.S. government data, and the aim is to raise this to $500 billion in the coming years.

Trade talks

  • Government and industry representatives from both the nations will hold talks during the ‘Annual West Coast Summit’ in Menlo Park, California.
  • To identify opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure, digital technologies and smart cities even as commercial ties have soured by the recent visa and intellectual property (IP) issues.
  • Also focus on financial services, virtual currencies, clean energy, healthcare and manufacturing from a technology partnership perspective.
  • Mega trade expo called Glorious India in New Jersey on May 27-28, which focus on garments, gems and jewellery, travel & tourism and real estate.
  • Glorious India : About 400 companies from India will take part in Glorious India’backed by the Indian Commerce and Industry Ministry and Tourism Ministry

Annual West Coast Summit

  • Summit will be an opportunity to discuss current and pertinent issues in the U.S.-India technology partnership such as IoTs, Smart City planning, India’s move towards a cashless economy and the future of U.S.-India technology relationship.
  • Agenda includes discussions on:

    • U.S.-India Strategic Partnership
    • India’s Vision for Smart City Planning
    • Investment Opportunities in Food Retail & Food Processing
    • Fulfilling Digital India and the future of U.S.-India Technology Partnership

India to seal pact with Eurasian Economic Union

India is set to formalise a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union for deepening trade relations with the five former Soviet republics.

Key Fact

  • The joint statement on the FTA is likely to be issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at St. Petersburg.
  • The Joint Feasibility Study Group had been accepted by both sides and the formal negotiations would begin by July.
  • The FTA is expected to open up with a trade potential of $37 to 62 billion.
  • Trade between India and the five Eurasian countries stands at about $11 billion.
  • Eurasian market could open up new export opportunities in medical tourism, IT and IT-enabled services, besides traditional sectors like spices, marine products, coir and rubber.

Eurasian Economic Union

  • Comprises of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.eurasian nation union
  • It came into force on 1 January 2015.
  • Eurasian Economic Union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars (PPP).
  • Provisions for a single currency and greater integration are envisioned in future.
  • The EAEU introduces the free movement of goods, capital, services and people and provides for common policies in macroeconomic sphere, transport, industry and agriculture, energy, foreign trade and investment, customs, technical regulation, competition and antitrust regulation.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements

India and Cyprus signed four agreements, including on air services and merchant shipping.

Key Facts

  • The two sides signed an executive programme on culture, education and scientific cooperation for the years 2017 to 2020.
  • Both sides signed a work plan under a programme of cooperation in agriculture for the period 2017-2018.
  • Another agreement was signed on cooperation in the area of merchant shipping.
  • A fourth agreement was signed to boost air services between the two countries.
  • Cyprus, the eighth largest foreign investor in India, has cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion.
  • The investment in the areas of financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.