▼ Should India withdraw MFN status from Pakistan? [09-29-16]
As per the MFN principle of the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for which India is a signatory or contracting party, WTO said all members should treat others as MFN trading partners.
MFN status was accorded to Pakistan in 1996 as per India’s commitment to WTO.
- Pakistan did not reciprocate citing non-tariff barriers and huge trade imbalance
- PM Modi called for a meeting to review MFN status to Pakistan
- Currently , the level of bilateral trade is “very low” - representing a mere 0.4 percent of India’s overall goods trade worth USD 643.3 billion in 2015-2016.
- India could consider making use of a ‘security exception’ clause - Article 21(b)(iii) - in the GATT to deny the MFN status to Pakistan or bring in certain trade restrictions.
- However, there have been Article 21 disputes in the past between Czechoslovak (Socialist Republic) and the U.S. (1949); the U.S. and Nicaragua (1983 and 1985) and between the European Communities and former Yugoslavia (1992).
▼ INDRA 2016 - Indo-Russian Joint Military Exercise held [09-26-16]
Eighth edition of Indo-Russian Joint Military exercise INDRA 2016 was held in Russia’s Ussiriysk district in Vladivostok.
- This comes in the wake of speculation that Russia and PoK were conducting joint exercises, a charge which the former Soviet nation has denied
- The main focus of INDRA 2016 is on counter terrorism ops in semi mountainous and jungle terrain under the UN Mandate
- For attaining interoperability in joint operations, troops from both sides acquainted themselves, through a comprehensive training program, with each other’s military moves
- Indian army was represented by the Kumaon Regiment led by Brigadier Sukrit Chadah and the Russian side is represented by soldiers from the 59th Motorised Infantry Brigade
- This is one of the key bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between Russia and India
- It has been held since 2003
- Indian contingent is scheduled to return to India following the termination of the exercise in October 2016
▼ Landmark Rafale Jet Deal Inked [09-26-16]
16 years after the IAF mooted the need for replacement fighter jets, India inked a INR 59,000 crore (approx.) deal with France on 22nd September.
- Inter-government agreement was the historic Rafale deal which will ensure the first fighter jet will be inducted into the IAF within 36 months.
- Rafale is a potent aircraft for deep strike capabilities and can move at high altitudes
- It has potential weapons with the most modern technology.
- Induction of 36 fighter jets- 28 single seaters and 8 twin seaters- will benefit fighter squadrons in the IAF
- French fighter jets will be equipped with meteor air-to-air and Mica air-to-land missiles
- 74 percent of the offsets are mandated to be exported from India. Close to 6 percent of the offsets are for technological sharing
- Export worth Euro 3 billion will happen to India due from offsets as part of the deal
- Indian version of the fighter jet will also have 14 Indian specific enhancements
- These include helmet mounted display, Doppler beam radar, IR search and track and towed decoy
- French are also guaranteeing performance based logistics support which means 75 percent of the fleet will be airworthy at any given time
- Deal also provides free training to 10 IAF personnels estimated to be worth Euro 100 million
- As per the agreement,15 percent of the total amount will be paid in advance while 25 percent in 12-18 months and the rest on schedule as per delivery with 5 percent of the amount being retained till the deal is completed
- Sources also indicated that base price of single seat fighter is Euro 91.07 billion while for a two seater it is Euro 94 billion
- Deal comes with a saving of 750 million Euros
- 50 percent offset means big and small Indian businesses will gain work to the tune of 3 billion Euros
- With state-of-the-art missiles like Meteor and Scalp, IAF will have the capability in including this in its selection of the BVR or Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with range in excess of 150 km
- Integration on the Rafale jets means IAF can hit targets in Pakistan and across northern and eastern borders
- Pakistan has a BVR range of 80 km right now
- Scalp a long range air-to ground cruise missile in excess range of 300km along with meteor gives IAF the edge
- Vannilla price of the 36 aircrafts is 3.42 billion Euros. Armaments cost 710 million Euros with Israeli Head mounted displays. These Indian specific changes will cost 1,700 million Euros.
▼ Australia returns 900 year old statue to India [09-22-16]
National Gallery of Australia returned artefacts from the Asian art collection to India in a handback ceremony.
- Two pieces a 900 year old stone statue of Goddess Prathyangira and third century rock carvings of Worshippers of Buddha were purchased from criminal art dealer Subhash Kapoor in 2005. While the statue cost USD 328,000, the carvings fetched a price of USD 790,000
- Art Minister Mitch Fifield handed back the objects to India’s arts minister Mahesh Sharma
- In recent decades, NGA purchased USD 11 million worth of antiques from Kapoor including a Shiva Nataraja for USD 5.6 million in 2007
- Reports indicated it was stolen from Tamil Nadu and the statue was handed back
- Independent review found 22 of the 36 Asian art objects acquired between 1960s and 2013 had questionable history
▼ India addresses UNHRC Session post Uri terrorist attack [09-20-16]
India on 19th Sept 2016 indicated it believes in a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism
- This is a day after terrorists killed 17 soldiers in Uri, Kashmir in one of the deadliest terror attacks on military
- India called upon the Council to urge Pakistan to end cross border infiltration, dismantle terror infrastructure and stop being a terrorism epicentre
- "It is time that moral and material support provided by Pakistan to the perpetrators of this continuing heinous violence on the Indian soil should attract this Council's attention," it said.
- "India has been a long-suffering victim of terrorism emanating from our neighbourhood. The fundamental reason for disturbances in Kashmir is cross-border terrorism promoted by Pakistan which is so ruthless that it does not shy away from using civilians and even children by putting them in harm's way, at the forefront of violent mobs instigated and supported by their handlers from across the border," it added.
- "We urge this Council to take a holistic view of this threat and not permit the use of terrorism as state policy to be masqueraded as advocacy of human rights," it added.
▼ India signs MoU with South Africa [09-13-16]
India and South Africa signed an MoU for the promotion of bilateral cooperation in the field of information and communication technologies
- MoU will establish inter institutional cooperation and relation between two parties to promote cooperation in ICT
- Cabinet has been apprised of MoU
- The Cabinet also approved MoUs with Kenya and Mozambique apart from an extradition treaty with Afghanistan
- MoU was signed between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of NHPDM
- Cabinet was also apprised of an MoU signed between India and Mozambique in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports
▼ Dedicated health fund by WHO committee nations [09-12-16]
India along with 10 other member countries of WHO’s South East Asian Regional Committee on September 9, 2016 decided to set up a dedicated fund for building preparedness for health emergencies in the region.
- Joint funding stream will be established under South East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund
- Decision was made at Colombo based 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee Meeting
- Member countries also passed a resolution for promoting physical activity and expanding health workforces across the region
- Less physical activity is a major contributor to rising non communicable diseases in the region
- 4/5 of adolescents in the region are not getting enough exercise
- Earthquakes, cyclones and floods have caused health emergencies in SE Asian region
- It has also been threatened by emerging diseases such as SARS, MERS, Zika and Pandemic Influenza
- WHO South East Asia region committee comprises the following 11 states:Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
▼ India signed bilateral ASA with Greece [09-9-16]
India on 7th Sept 2016 signed the bilateral air services agreement with Greece to permit unlimited points of call for domestic airlines in Greece.
Both countries have signed MoU in this regard under the Open Sky Policy
- This will be the first ASA with Greece known for its beauty and tourist sports
- Indian government has signed the MoU with the country under the provisions of the new Civil Aviation Policy
- The aim is to improve international air connectivity for Indian carriers
- Indian government has signed the MoU with Greece under the provisions entering into a reciprocal Open Sky Air Services Agreement on reciprocal basis with SAARC nations and countries with territory located beyond 5000 km radius from Delhi
▼ PRABAL DOSTYK-16 - IndoKazakhstan's joint army exercise [09-8-16]
PRABAL DOSTYK-16 is a joint army exercise conducted by India and Kazakhstan from 7th-17th September 2016.
- The Indian army is represented by a platoon strength
- Kazakhstan Army contingent comprises platoon from Special Ops Force Unit
- This is a pioneering endeavour being conducted in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan
- Primary aim of the 14 day exercise is to enhance interoperability while undertaking counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations
- The first stage will be about gaining knowledge of tactics, drills,weapons and equipments
- The second stage will be when the armies will jointly execute a helicopter borne operation in a simulated environment.
- PRABAL DOSTYK-16 means Robust Friendship and the aim is to foster good bilateral ties between the two nations in the field of military and diplomacy
▼ UK and Iran appoint ambassador in each other’s country after 2011 [09-8-16]
United Kingdom and Iran in September 2016 appointed ambassadors in each other’s country for the first time since 2011.
- The appointment marks the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations
- Nicholas Hopton, a Middle East specialist and former Britain ambassador to Qatar and Yemen was appointed as UK ambassador to Iran
- Hamid Baedinejad, a key figure in the Iranian nuclear negotiating team was appointed as Iranian ambassador to the UK
- Foreign Office announcement came a year after the start of the British Embassy in Tehran
- Embassy was reopened in August 2015 by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and two countries resumed ties in Charge d’Affaires level
- British embassy in Tehran was closed after being stormed and ransacked by protestors in 2011.
- UK also ordered the Iranian embassy in London to be closed
▼ India, Chile expand preferential trade agreement [09-7-16]
India and Chile have expanded their preferential trade agreement with the South American nation offering duty concessions on as many as 1798 goods to Indian exporters compared to 178 items earlier.
- India, in turn, has offered concessions to Chile on 1031 products as against 296 earlier.
- Development would help both nations to boost bilateral trade from the level of USD 2.64 billion in 2015-2016
- India’s export to Chile comprises transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, yarns of polyester fibre, tyres and tubes, chemicals, textiles, readymade garments, plastic goods, leather, engineering goods, imitation jewellery, sports goods and handicrafts
- Major items of import are copper ore, iodine, copper cathodes, molybdenum ores, lithium carbonates, metal scrap, chemicals, pulp and waste paper, fruits and nuts, fertilisers and machinery.
- Indian export basket with Chile is diversified and keeping the wide variety of tariff lines offered by Chile, expanded PTA will benefit India
- PTA was earlier signed between India and Chile in march 2006 and came into force from August 2007
- Chile has been cooperating with India at the internal fora and expansion of the PTA will enhance trade and economic relations between the two nations
- Expansion will be an important landmark in relations between India and LAC countries (Latin American and Caribbean countries)
- PTA is likely to result in doubling of exports in future.
- Among the LAC countries, Chile is the third largest trading partner of India during 2015-2016
- India’s bilateral trade with Chile stood at USD 2.64 billion with exports at USD 0.68 billion and imports at USD 1.96 billion in 2015-2016
- Meanwhile, Indian naval ship Trikand has arrived at Dar Es Salaam on a visit s part of deployment to East Coast of Africa and Island Nations in the Western Indian Ocean
- The last such visit by IN ship to Tanzania was in March 2016 when Indian Naval ship Sutlej visited Dar Es Salaam as part of Survey deployment.
- The current visit seeks to strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and Tanzania and reaffirm India’s commitment towards enhancing maritime cooperation between the two nations.
▼ India and Egypt sign Maritime Transport Agreement [09-6-16]
India and Egypt on 2nd September 2016 signed an agreement on maritime transport. Agreement will help the two nations to step on cooperation on the seas and not just maritime commerce.
- Transit of naval vessels will also form part of the commerce
- Agreement was signed after delegation level talks between PM Narendra Modi and visiting President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
- The Egyptian president is on a three day visit at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee
- The Union Cabinet earlier approved the signing of an agreement between India and Egypt on Maritime Transport
- It has been decided that an agreement will be signed on mutually convenient date and venue
- Proposal was approved with a view to strengthening cooperation and rendering sustained mutual assistance and advice on merchant shipping and related maritime matters.
- The two leaders also agreed that a special and enlarged India by the Nile Festival will be held in 2017 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of India’s independence
- They also called for a proposal to have the inaugural Egypt by the Ganga Festival in 2017
▼ India’s USD 500 million Line of Credit to Vietnam [09-6-16]
India has extended the money for facilitating deeper defence cooperation with the SE Asian nation, as the two countries elevated their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to respond to emerging regional challenges.
- Two sides recognised the need to cooperate in response to emerging regional challenges.
- Decision to upgrade the Strategic Partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership captures the intent and path of future cooperation
- It will provide new direction, momentum and substance to bilateral cooperation
- The PM of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc also held talks with PM Modi.
- Vietnam earlier hd Strategic Partnership with only Russia and China.
- Talks between the Indian PM on his maiden visit to the nation and its PM covered the full range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
- The two countries signed 12 agreements in a wide range of areas including IT, space, DTAA and white shipping information sharing.
- An agreement on constriction of offshore patrol boats was also signed between the two nations
- USD 5 million has also been granted for the establishment of a Software Park in Telecommunications University in Nha Trang
- Growing economic opportunities in this region will now be tapped to achieve trade target of USD 15 billion by 2020.
▼ Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panglong held [09-1-16]
Numerous representatives of Myanmar’s ethnic tribes gathered in the country’s capital city for historic peace talks to end separatist insurgencies that have claimed many livesKhun Than Myint was the facilitator of the meeting, whose official title is Union Peace Conference — 21st Century Panglong.The Panglong Agreement was brokered in 1047 by Gen. Aung SanThe 1947 deal guaranteed ethnic minority the right to secede and autonomy if they worked with the federal government to break away from Britain altogether Aung San was assassinated the following year and the deal fell throughThe first uprising launched by Kachin insurgents soon began after independenceOther ethnic groups have taken up arms as wellRebel armies control remote territories rich in jade and timber located in north and east along the border with China and Thailand, representing various ethnic groups that resisted Burmanisation, a push by the ethnic minority in Burma to propagate language, religion and culture in ethnic minority regions.
The 5 day talks have been called in Naypitaw by new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi
|Chronology of events
India and Sri Lanka signed an MoU on 15th Sept to support livelihood of fishing and farming community in Hambantota district
United States President Barack Obama designated the nation’s first marine national monument- Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument- in the Atlantic Ocean
AIR launched a multi media and mobile app for Balochi people in the Afghanistan Pakistan region and other parts of the world, radio service being on shortwave which cannot be blocked
Indian ship Trikand arrived at Mozambique on 18th Sept as part of the Indian Navy’s increasing footprint and operational reach.
Joint Sea-2016 - The recent joint naval exercises conducted between China and Russia in the South China Sea
The Union Cabinet approved the signing and ratification of agreement for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes with Samoa
Yangzhou, Chinese city is set to host India Week celebrations with a business and investment meeting to be attended by CEOs of top Indian firms.
Chandigarh Administration and French Development Agency (AFD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoUs) on Chandigarh Smart City Project and ‘Technical Cooperation’ in the field of Sustainable Urban Mobility on Sept 25, 2016
Govt of India on 28th Sept 2016 approved signing a MoU with Singapore to give a boost to innovation, creativity and technological advancement in both countries.
Services of SCATSAT-1 would be utilised by American space agency NASA and European Space Agency EUMETSAT, ISRO said on 27th Sept 2016