10 December, 2019

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India, France to deepen defence partnership

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

Prelims and Mains focus: about Indo-France defence ties, security threats in the IOR and their impact on India’s interests, belt and Road initiative

News: India and France are ready to sign a pact on securing communication links between their top military officials in a sign of their deepening defence partnership, especially in the Indian Ocean region.


This comes against the backdrop of an increased Chinese footprint and the persistence of Islamic State. The pact with India will be the first outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance for France.

Indo-France defence cooperation

  • The two countries have scaled up defence cooperation with a logistics support pact signed last year.

  • Geography and commercial interests dictate India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region. France has territories with 1.5 million of its nationals and 9 million sq. km of French exclusive economic zone in the Indian Ocean, which requires Paris to keep a close eye on the region.

  • India and France also want to ensure that the Straits of Hormuz in the energy-rich but politically volatile Gulf region with Iran and its neighbours remains peaceful.

  • There is also the threat from the Islamic State that both sides, particularly France, are keen to combat.

  • A third common interest is the steadily increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean.

Issues in the Indian Ocean Region

There is a lot of unregulated fishing in this ocean, which is a big issue for all the countries, particularly for East African countries. They need these fisheries because of the protein coming from the Indian Ocean.

If not controlled, it could be pillaged and if it is pillaged, it could be contested like what we see in the South China Sea (competing claims by China and its neighbours over the South China Sea that has led to friction in the region).

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a strategy to protect its Sea Lanes of Communication and Chinese interest in Hambantota in Sri Lanka was suspected to be aimed at ensuring a permanent presence in the form of a base there.

India-France Defence cooperation

Indo-French cooperation in this area is ambitious and several collaborative projects are currently being considered. Bilateral military contacts are being strengthened through joint exercises.

France and its defence industry also actively contribute to the “Make in India” programme in the defence sector. The first conventional submarine, Scorpene, which started being built in India in 2008 with transfer of technology and support from DCNS, began sea trials in 2015, and the second in January 2017. An agreement on India’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets was concluded in September 2016. This has paved the way for unprecedented technological and industrial cooperation for the next four decades to come.

Maritime security cooperation: France and India’s respective leaders desired in March 2018 to give a fresh impetus to this longstanding area of our cooperation, which was initiated with the launch of the first bilateral naval exercise, Varuna, in 1983. Now bolstered by a joint strategic vision in the Indian Ocean, the cooperation between our two countries has become resolutely operational in several areas:

  • Exchange of information in the area of maritime surveillance: implementation since 2017 of a “White Shipping” agreement and the conclusion in March 2018 of a general security agreement laying down the framework for the daily exchange of data on the Indian Ocean region for the purposes of security and stability in the region.

  • Heightened cooperation at multilateral bodies: France and India are determined to deepen their coordination at international organisations through concrete steps: support to France’s candidacy at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), where India plays a prominent role; France’s chairing of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in 2020, which will be an opportunity to closely associate India with France’s priorities.

Note: To know about other areas of India-France cooperation, click on the link below:


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • The Belt and Road Initiative is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

  • Belt” refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, called “the Silk Road Economic Belt“; whereas “road” refers to the sea routes, or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.The BRI announced in 2013, is made up of a “belt” of overland routes and a maritime “road”, which aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa.

  • It was known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road until 2016 when the Chinese government considered the emphasis on the word “one” was prone to misinterpretation.

  • The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road designed to provide an impetus to trade from China to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and from China through the South China Sea towards the South Pacific.

  • The Chinese government calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. Some observers see it as a push for Chinese dominance in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. The project has a targeted completion date of 2049, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Significance of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Project

  • In the wake of the global slowdown, BRI offers a new model of development to China to maintain its economic growth. OBOR envisions building networks of roadways, railways, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, associated infrastructure projects which helps Chinese economy.

  • BRI has domestic and international dimension: as it visualises a shift from developed markets in the west to developing economies in Asia, Africa And a shift in China’s development strategy concentrating on provinces in central and western China instead of the developed east coast region.

  • Strategically important as China utilizes its economic clout to build it soft power.

Why India is boycotting Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Project?

  • CPEC violates India’s sovereignty as it passes through the part of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that belongs to India and no country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • India also raised concerns regarding unsustainable debt trap, environmental concerns, and transparency in assessment of project costs, and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities.
  • India is too big to be isolated and India’s continued objection will make China to consider its core concerns.

Source: mint

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LS passes Citizenship Bill amidst Opposition outcry

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prelims and mains focus: about the key features of the Cab and the controversy around it, about NRC, ILP

News: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) that seeks to give citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Govt.’s stand

  • Under the principle of reasonable classification citizenship can be granted and there is no violation of Article 14. India can’t be a mute spectator to the religious persecution of minorities happening in our neighbouring countries. We have given refuge to everyone without exception at various points of time in history.
  • The Muslim population had grown to 14% from 9.8%. This Bill will not affect Indian Muslims or their rights at all.
  • Other neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka were not mentioned as those were not theocratic states.
  • This is a simple amendment but hits at illegal migrants.
  • This will benefit the Bengali refugees the most. There is no need to fear now. Anyone who has or does not have document is welcome.
  • Refugees need not fear but those coming here illegally are not welcome.
  • The northeast would not be touched. The majority of parties representing the northeastern States supported the Bill, as their concerns had been taken care of.

ILP for Manipur

Union Home Minister told the Lok Sabha on Monday that Manipur would be brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system, thereby exempting it from the provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Nagaland and Mizoram are protected by the ILP and it will continue to remain protected.

As per the Bill, the amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, if approved, will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland that are protected by the ILP system. The addition of Manipur to the list of ILP­protected States means that the Bill will only be applicable in some parts of Tripura and Assam.

Citizens of other States require the ILP to visit the protected areas as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. This means that the illegal migrants from the six minority communities who will become Indian citizens as per the proposed amendment will not be able to take up jobs, open businesses or settle down in these areas and will require a permit to enter the States.

The ILP can be extended to Manipur through an executive order. Such an arrangement existed before.

Several northeastern States, including the BJP-ruled Manipur, have erupted in protests against the Bill. There is a fear that “outsiders” could settle in these areas, affecting the indigenous communities and local tribes.

About NRC

The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951.

The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.

In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.

The Assam government released the final draft of NRC on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants. The names of 40.07 lakh people have been left out.

Why is it being carried out?

Crisis of identity: Influx of immigrants has created a crisis of identity among the indigenous. Locals fear that their cultural survival will be affected, political control weakened and employment opportunities undermined because of immigrants.

Environmental degradation: Large areas of forest land were encroached upon by the immigrants for settlement and cultivation. The state experienced declining percent of land area under forest from 39% in 1951-52 to about 30% now.

Increase financial burden: Immigration has increased pressure on the part of state government, as the government has to increase the expenditure on education and health facilities to the immigrants.

Assam agitation:

The failure of government to respond the issue of illegal migration led to the agitation by the Assamese under the leadership of All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and All Assam Student’s Union (AASU). Assam witnessed governmental instability, sustained civil disobedience campaigns and worst cases of ethnic violence. Assam accord was the result of this agitation.

Illegal voters: Most of the Bangladeshi immigrants have got their names enlisted in the voting list illegally, thereby claiming themselves as citizens of the state. The immigrant’s population act as a vote bank for the political parties in Assam.

Source: The Hindu

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Putin, Zelensky meet in first ­ever Paris summit

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora

Prelims and Mains focus: About the crisis in Crimea and its implication for regional stability, geographical locations associated with it.

News: Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday met Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time ever at a Paris summit aimed at agreeing measures to help end five years of conflict in the east of Ukraine.

About the meeting

The meeting was mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The diplomats hope the summit will help to bolster trust between the two men.

The four­way talks are expected to be followed by a hotly­awaited bilateral meeting between wily ex­KGB agent Putin and ex­comedian Zelensky who won the presidency this year.

About Ukraine criris

Thousands have been killed and one million have fled their homes since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014 — kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia’s estrangement from the West. Separatists seized control of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions shortly after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

The issue of Crimea, whose seizure gave Mr. Putin a popularity boost at home but led to international sanctions against Moscow, is not on the table at this summit.

Its aims include agreeing to disband illegal militias, the departure of foreign fighters from Donetsk and Lugansk, and Ukraine taking back control of its border with Russia, according to a French presidential source.

Source: The Hindu

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Slowdown can be early warning for growth recession

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Prelims and Mains focus: About the growth recession and its impact on the Indian economy

News: The term ‘growth recession’ has gained traction after comments made by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan. The question is whether the current economic slump is a recession, an economic slowdown or a growth recession.

What does growth recession mean?

Growth recession is a situation in which growth is slow for a few quarters but not negative to be a technical recession, when low growth pushes up unemployment. The term was coined by Solomon Fabricant. Growth recessions are more common than recessions as growth has often slowed at different periods in various countries. An indicator of growth recession is when the growth rate reduces substantially, coinciding with a job contraction. It combines the feature of both an economic slowdown and a recession as growth slows while the economy experiences job contractions just as during an economic recession.

What about recession and slowdown, then?

During a growth recession the economy continues to expand, albeit at a lower rate. That is, the economy experiences slow jobless growth. During a recession both the size of the economy and available jobs contract simultaneously. The difference with respect to an economic slowdown is in terms of employment: due to significant costs of hiring, companies are reluctant to cut back on employment as they expect a cyclical reversal. Therefore, as opposed to growth recession and recession, an economic slowdown does not always imply a reduction in the number of jobs.

Is India experiencing a growth recession?

The jury is out on whether India is experiencing a growth recession as we don’t have credible data on the number of jobs available. Payroll data suggests that there continues to be some job creation in the formal economy. Employment data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy shows substantial deviation over the last couple of months.

Are there similar instances in the past?

India has experienced many growth recessions and slowdowns in the last two decades. A slowdown can be an early warning of a growth recession. In 2002, we experienced a slowdown that was reversed by 2003. There was a slowdown in 2008 due to the global financial crisis, which was followed by expansionary fiscal and monetary policy to address this. The 2011-2013 slump was a severe instance of growth recession as unemployment rose sharply and growth collapsed for successive quarters.

When will the recovery cycle begin?

Many have indicated that recovery will be slow and it will be two more quarters before we return to 7% growth. Recent evidence suggests a V-shaped recovery is unlikely and we may experience sub-6% growth this quarter and the next. The finance ministry has initiated policy interventions, including a corporate tax cut. Such interventions will start showing an impact from the second quarter of 2020 and the next fiscal might see a growth rate of 7%.

Source: mint

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