International Relations - Current Affairs for March,2017

Month and Year:   
▼ India joins IEA Association   [03-31-17]

India has become part of IEA Association that will allow the country play a more visible and influential role in the international energy landscape.

The “Activation of Association” is expected to serve as a bridge and platform for wider-ranging and deeper co-operation.

It will also promote collaboration between IEA member and Association countries in the future.

The Association status would facilitate it to participate in meetings of the standing groups, committees and working groups that constitute the IEA governance structure.

The IEA, which covers the entire spectrum of energy globally, will play an important role in India's energy security context, it said.

The Minister envisaged a greater partnership with IEA in taking forward the International Solar Alliance framework to other countries in the world.

India will pursue its key development objectives of energy access, energy security and environmental sustainability.

In this context, India has a vision of ensuring 24×7 affordable and environment friendly ‘Power for All'.
It has deeper engagement with IEA is a component of achieving this vision.

This gives India an opportunity for the country to become the voice of the developing countries.

India is world's 3rd largest consumer of energy, hence a very big market for catering the energy demands of a billion plus people.

One must realise mutual benefits for India and IEA in the global energy space.

Over 70 per cent of world's energy consumption is under the IEA umbrella which increases its relevance in global energy governance manifold.

India is moving fast to the centre-stage of Global Energy landscape, as pointed out by IEA's India Energy Outlook 2015.

IEA would look forward to increasing engagement with India in the areas like renewable energy, energy efficiency, among others.

Today, IEA is an important part of global dialogue on energy, providing research, data/statistics, analysis and recommendations on the global energy sector.

India can also richly gain from IEA's data gathering processes, survey methodologies and range of energy data, which could enable India in the near future to set up its own robust integrated database agency.

India's participation will enrich the energy efficiency and renewable sectors of IEA member and other countries.

IEA: Know More

  • Secretariat: Paris, France
  • Membership: 29 states
  • Executive Director: Fatih Birol
  • Deputy Executive Director: Paul Simons
  • Establishment: 1974
  • Website: www.iea.org

▼ India, Pakistan to redesign Miyar project   [03-24-17]

India and Pakistan have agreed on redesigning the Miyar Hydroelectric project at the end of two-day talks of Indus Water Commissioners held in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan.

The countries also agreed that the Lower Kalnai and the Pakal Dul projects would be inspected again.

The talks between the two neighbouring countries began after 22 months when Pakistan in 2015 skipped consultations following objections on the Kishenganga and the Ratle hydroelectric projects by India.

Kishenganga is in arbitration.

Pakistan’s request for arbitration on Ratle is still pending with the World Bank, which is the guarantor of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

▼ India and Russia sign long term agreement for Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet   [03-20-17]

India and Russia have signed a long term support agreement for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft fleet.

This covers 57,000 spares and components pertaining to aircrafts.

The agreement was signed by HAL with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference.

India has contracted 272 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia in numerous batches and over 230 jets.

Their serviceability rate has been an issue of concern. Serviceability rates have fallen below 50 percent and at one point, it had approved to over 60%.

Pacts provide for an upgraded schedule for delivery of spares from Russia for Su-30MKI, local manufacturing of parts and a proposed logistics hub for fighter jets in Bengaluru, Karnataka by HAL.

Pacts were signed for life cycle support and maintenance for other Russian origin platforms.

This includes MiG-29K aircraft, MI-17 choppers, INS Vikramaditya and T-90 tanks.

A long lasting concern of India with regard to Russian origin military equipment will be addressed.

India has the 3rd largest armed forces in the world and one of the largest importers of defence equipment.

As most of the defence platforms and weapon systems are of Russian origin, maintenance and life cycle support is important from the point of view of defence preparedness.

The deal follows a Russian legislation permitting companies to enter into direct agreement with foreign companies for long term support.

Procurement of spares is a tough process as India cannot deal with Original Equipment Manufacturers directly; it has to go through intermediaries.

OEMs: Know More

  • An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company whose goods are used as components in the products of another company.
  • It then sells the finished item to users.
  • This firm is referred to as a value-added reseller (VAR) (because by augmenting or incorporating features or services, it adds value to the original item) works closely with the OEM.
  • This customizes designs based on the VAR company's needs and specifications.

▼ Union Cabinet approves Indo-Bangla MoU   [03-17-17]

The Union Cabinet on 15 March 2017 approved the revised Mode of Operation (MoO) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh to establish the Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.

The Revised MoU and Mode of Operation will provide a legal framework for establishment and operationalisation of additional Border Haats.

These Border Haats are being created with an aim to promote the well-being of the people dwelling in the remote areas across the borders of the two countries.

Besides promoting the well-being of people who are the residents of the remote areas, these haats will help in promoting the traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets.

These measures help to improve the economic well-being of marginalised sections of society. The approval to this revised MoU and MoO was given at a Union Cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Border Haats: Know More

  • At present, four Border haats are operational between the two countries, two each in Tripura and Meghalaya.
  • These haats were established under the MoU and Mode of operation of Haats earlier signed between Bangladesh and India on 23 October 2010.
  • On 15 May 2012, an addendum to the mode of operation of Border Haats was also signed.
  • The border haats were created with an objective to boost the trade between the two countries.
  • The trade in these haats is permitted in Indian Rupees and Bangladeshi Taka as well as on barter basis. Data of such trade is managed by the Haat Management Committee of the respective haats.
  • As per reports of December 2016, the data furnished by the concerned state governments said that the cash trade was equivalent to Rs 1686.62 lakhs.
  • This transaction was carried out at the four border haats in the five-year period ending 2015-16.

▼ MoU between Indian and Bangladesh on shipping   [03-16-17]

The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Aids to Navigation (AtoNs).

The MoU was signed between the Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping, Government of India and the Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh.

The MoU envisages cooperation between Bangladesh and India:

- To extend advice on lighthouses and beacons;

- To extend advice on Vessel Traffic Service and chain of Automatic Identification System (AIS); and

- To impart training as per International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) training module to AtoN Managers and Technicians for Bangladesh.

Ministry of Shipping: Know More

- Website: shipping.nic.in

- Jurisdiction: India

- Headquarters: Parivahan Bhavan, 1, Parliament Street, New Delhi - 110 001

- Cabinet minister: Nitin Gadkari

- Minister of state: Pon Radhakrishnan, Mansukh L. Mandaviya

- Programs: Sagar Mala project

▼ US to set up THAAD in South Korea   [03-7-17]

US missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defence system have arrived in South Korea, the US and South Korean militaries said on March 7, 2017.

This is a day after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan.

The plans to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area defence system, or THAAD, by the end of this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China and Russia, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

The system is defensive and not meant to be a threat to Beijing or Moscow.

The US military said in a statement that THAAD is meant to intercept and destroy short and medium range ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights.

Some South Korean liberal presidential candidates have said that the security benefits of having THAAD would be curtailed by worsened relations with neighbours China and Russia.

China's condemnation of South Korean plans to deploy THAAD has triggered protests against South Korean retail giant, Lotte, which agreed to provide one of its golf courses in southern South Korea as the site of THAAD.

The South Korean government also raised worries about a reported ban on Chinese tour groups visiting the country.

North Korea recently fired four ballistic missiles in an apparent protest against ongoing US-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal.

The missiles flew about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) on average, three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone

▼ India, US strengthen bilateral security ties   [03-6-17]

India and the US are set to further strengthen their bilateral security ties under the Trump administration.

The two countries deciding to continue exchange programmes on hostage crisis, terror crime scene probe and cybercrime.

A delegation of officials from the US met their counterparts in the Home Ministry last week and discussed ways to streamline the training programmes being conducted under the Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) pact.

Indian police officers will undergo training programmes in the US training institutes on negotiations in hostage situations, terror crime scene investigations, besides on two new courses relating to cybercrime and maritime security.

India and the US are working towards strengthening bilateral ties on security front, including training programmes.

The US will be introducing two new courses for Indian police officers this year.

Indian police officers currently can opt for six training programmes under the ATA pact.

These courses have been an integral part of the bilateral cooperation on internal security between the two countries.

India is a key strategic partner of the US in its war on terror and with groups like ISIS using Internet to reach out to potential recruits in India, the ATA courses are seen as extremely relevant.

Currently the ATA courses include among others, investigating the dark web (IDW), hostage negotiation training, terrorist crime scene investigation.

Around 120-150 police officers from Central police organisations and state police forces visit the US every year for training in these courses under the ATA.

The number may go up to 200 this year with introduction of two new courses.

▼ India, Oman strengthen defence ties!   [03-2-17]

India and Oman on 1st March 2017 explored ways to enhance cooperation between their navies during talks Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had with top defence officials of this Gulf nation.

The two sides deliberated on ramping up cooperation between their navies in the backdrop of the fast evolving security scenario in the region.

The Chief of Navy Staff also held talks with Chief of Royal Air Force of Oman Mattar Al Obaidani on issues of strategic interests to both the countries.

Lanba, on a visit to Oman, is also scheduled to visit the Sultan Qaboos Naval Academy and the Said Bin Naval Base.

On the first leg of his trip, Lanba visited UAE where he met top echelons of the country's defence establishment and discussed ways to bolster strategic partnership between the two countries.

Oman: Know More

  • Capital: Muscat
  • Code: +968
  • Currency: Omani rial
  • Sultan: Qaboos bin Said al Said
  • Official language: Arabic

Chronology of events
Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of the Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE.
India and Russia are setting up a USD 1 billion fund to promote mutual investments in infrastructure and technology projects, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated.
India and Colombia held extensive talks to ramp up cooperation in diverse areas including trade and investment; The two sides explored ways to deepen engagement during the 7th Foreign Office consultations.