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Monthly DNA

12 Jul, 2020

42 Min Read

Hagia Sophia: The museum of conflicts

GS-I : World History

Hagia Sophia: The museum of conflicts


* An Eastern Orthodox patriarchal cathedral for about 900 years, an imperial mosque for 482 years and then a museum and a famed tourist spot starting 1935.

* This is the short history of Hagia Sophia, the sixth century Byzantine structure that has survived natural calamities, imperial invasions, crusades and a World War.

* The architectural marvel in Istanbul, which is revered by both eastern Orthodox Christians and Muslims, is now being turned into a mosque by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

* Hagia Sophia (literally ‘Holy Wisdom’) was built by the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I, in the first half of the sixth century. This was the third cathedral being built at the site.

* The first one, with a wooden roof, is believed to have been commissioned by Emperor Constantine I in AD 325 on the remains of a pagan temple. This was burned down by rioters in AD 404.

* The second church, ordered by Constans I, was also destroyed in a fire during the Nika riots of AD 532 that saw widespread fire and destruction in Constantinople (today’s Istanbul).

* After establishing order in the city, Justinian found the fire an opportunity to rebuild the cathedral with his stamp on it. The imperial Byzantine power was at its pinnacle under Justinian. The Empire had conquered much of the historically Roman Mediterranean coast, including Italy, Rome and North Africa (The Byzantine influence would start shrinking after the outbreak of the Justinian Plague, one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history).

* The basilica, designed by mathematician Anthemius of Tralles and physicist Isidore of Miletu, was completed in five years by more than 10,000 labourers. The Emperor reopened it in AD 537.

The Ottoman era

* Barring a few years after the Fourth Crusade, Hagia Sophia had been the cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until the fall of the city in the 15th century

* In the early 13th century, crusaders looted the building and turned it into a Roman Catholic cathedral. But after the Byzantines recaptured the city from the Venetian crusaders, they restored the cathedral and it continued to remain the seat of the Patriarch until the Ottomans came.

* On May 28, 1453, when Constantinople was under siege and the Ottomans were making steady advances into the Byzantine defence lines, Emperor Constantine XI entered the basilica to pray.

* After prayers he returned to the city walls to coordinate the war efforts. But the Byzantine defence lasted only one day. The next day, the Ottomans, under the command of Mehmed II the Conqueror, entered the city.

* Mehmed is believed to have been mesmerised by the architectural beauty of the basilica.

* The Sultan decided to turn the basilica into a mosque. The Ottomans later commissioned the renowned medieval architect Sinan to renovate the structure.

* They built massive buttresses to support the walls. A mihrab (a semi-circular niche on the wall that indicates the qibla, the direction of Mecca) and a minbar (pulpit) were installed.

* The mosque, called Ayasofya in Turkish, remained the centre of power throughout the Ottoman rule. The Byzantine architecture had also deeply influenced Ottoman constriction projects.

* It’s visible on the most major mosques the Ottomans built such as the Blue Mosque, the Sehzade Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Rustem Pasha Mosque and the Kilic Ali Pasha Complex.

A secular museum

* After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War, secularists, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (who was later called Ataturk, the father of Turks), came to power.

* Ataturk, who abolished the Caliphate and launched a strong secularisation drive in the country, closed down Hagia Sophia in 1930, seven years after the foundation of the Turkish republic.

* Five years later, the building was reopened as a museum. Since then, Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been one of the most visited monuments in Turkey, and more importantly, an emblem of Christian-Muslim co-existence. Last year alone, 3.7 million people visited Hagia Sophia.

* Turning the monument back into a mosque has been a growing demand from the Islamist sections of Turkish society.

* On Friday, a Turkish administrative court cancelled the museum status of the monument. Mr. Erdogan moved fast, issuing a decree, transferring the management of Hagia Sophia from the Ministry of Culture to the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

With this, Turkey’s Islamist politics has taken a new turn.

Source: TH

Fishermen Issue with Sri Lanka

GS-II : International Relations

Fishermen issue with Sri Lanka

GS-Paper-2 International relation – Srilanka and India (Mains-I.V)

Recently, Sri Lanka’s northern fishermen have reported a sudden increase in the number of Indian trawlers spotted in its territorial waters. The territorial waters extend seaward up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from baselines of a country.

Fishermen along the northern coast of Jaffna Peninsula have lost their nets worth lakhs of rupees in the sea, after being caught under the large Indian trawlers. These Indian trawlers are known to originate from the Indian State of Tamil Nadu.

International Maritime Boundary Line :

Indian boats have been fishing in the troubled waters for centuries and had a free run of the Bay of Bengal, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar until 1974 and 1976 when treaties were signed between the two countries to demarcate International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

However, the treaties failed to factor in the hardship of thousands of traditional fishermen who were forced to restrict themselves to a meagre area in their fishing forays.

Katchatheevu Island Issue:

The small islet of Katchatheevu, hitherto used by them for sorting their catch and drying their nets, fell on the other side of the IMBL. Fishermen often risk their lives and cross the IMBL rather than return empty-handed, but the Sri Lankan Navy is on alert, and has either arrested or destroyed fishing nets and vessels of those who have crossed the line.

Implementation of Practical Agreements:

Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line. Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner.

India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

Threat to Livelihoods:

The Sri lankan fishermen fear that their livelihoods will be hit due to trawlers which are already under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic-induced reduction in export.

Step Taken by Sri Lanka:

In the last couple of years, Sri Lanka has introduced tougher laws banning bottom-trawling and has also introduced heavy fines for trespassing foreign vessels. The Sri Lankan Navy arrested over 450 Indian fishermen in 2017 and 156 in 2018 on charges of poaching. A total of 210 arrests were made in 2019, while 34 have been made so far in 2020.

Scare of Covid-19:

The Sri Lankan fishermen have been alleging that currently the Sri Lankan Navy is reluctant to arrest the trespassing fishermen from Tamil Nadu now, due to the Covid-19 prevalence in India. However, the Sri Lankan Navy claims to be very vigilant along their borders not just to monitor illegal fishing, but also to take action on any illicit activity such as the narcotics trade.


India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka. Starting ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people-to-people linkages. Mutual recognition of each other's concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.

Source: TH

Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions


Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions

  • During 2003–2017, a total of 5,20,861 active forest fire events were detected in India, and according to the report of the Forest Survey of India, over 54% of the forest cover in India is exposed to occasional fire.
  • The study published in Science of the Total Environment used remote sensing–based models to measure primary productivity over an area and also looked at burn indices, which help to demarcate the forest fire burn scars using satellite imagery.

Common index

  • “The normalized burn ratio is an effective burn index commonly used to identify burnt regions in large fire zones. In normal conditions, healthy vegetation exhibits a very high reflectance in the near-infrared spectral region and considerably low reflectance in the shortwave infrared spectral region. These conditions get dismantled and reversed if a fire occurs,” explains Srikanta Sannigrahi, the first author of the paper in an email to The Hindu. He is a postdoctoral researcher at University College Dublin, Ireland.

Promising tool

  • He adds that the spectral differences between healthy vegetation and burnt forest areas can easily be identified and highlighted by remote sensing burn indices. It can be a promising tool for land resource managers and fire officials.
  • The team notes that the States of northeast India, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the most fire-prone in India.
  • Previous studies using forecasting models and in-situ observations in western Himalaya have shown a sharp increase of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone during high fire activity periods.
  • The current paper noted very high to high carbon emissions in the eastern Himalayan states, western desert region and lower Himalayan region.
  • They note that the occurrence of high fire intensity at the low altitude Himalayan hilly regions may be due to the plant species (pine trees) in the area and proximity to villages.
  • Villages make them more susceptible to anthropogenic activities like forest cover clearance, grazing and so on.
  • Studies have shown that the sharp increase in average and maximum air temperature, decline in precipitation, change in land-use patterns have caused the increased episodes of forest fires in most of the Asian countries.

Source: TH

Original antigenic sin


Original antigenic sin

  • Original antigenic sin, also known as the Hoskins effect, refers to the propensity of the body's immune system to preferentially utilize immunological memory based on a previous infection when a second slightly different version of that foreign entity (e.g. a virus or bacterium) is encountered.
  • This leaves the immune system "trapped" by the first response it has made to each antigen, and unable to mount potentially more effective responses during subsequent infections.
  • The phenomenon of original antigenic sin has been described in relation to influenza virus, dengue fever, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and several other viruses.

Source: TH

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)


Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)

  • Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), sometimes less precisely called immune enhancement or disease enhancement, is a phenomenon in which the binding of a virus to non-neutralizing antibodies enhances its entry into host cells, and sometimes also its replication.
  • This phenomenon—which leads to both increased infectivity and virulence—has been observed with mosquito-borne flaviviruses such as Dengue virus, Yellow fever virus and Zika virus, with HIV, and with coronaviruses.

An ongoing question in the COVID-19 pandemic is whether—and if so, to what extent—COVID-19 receives ADE from prior infection with other coronaviruses.

Source: WEB

Assam Keelback Rediscovered


Assam Keelback Rediscovered

The Assam keelback (Herpetoreas pealii), a snake endemic to Assam, has been found 129 years after it was last spotted by British tea planter Samuel Edward Peal in 1891.

Key Points

  • The snake was considered a lost species since no sighting had been reported since its discovery in 1891.
  • In 2018, it was found in the Poba Reserve Forest (RF) by a team of scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WWI), who were retracing the steps of the Abor Expedition.
  • Abor Expedition was a military expedition by the British against the Abors in 1911.

Assam Keelback:

  • The non-venomous snake was named after Samuel Peal and the place where it was found.
  • It is small — about 60 cm long, brownish, with a patterned belly.
  • It has a unique genus (Herpetoreas) belonging to a smaller group of four species, found in Eastern and Western Himalayas, South China and Northeast India.
  • It is categorised as ‘data deficient in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list.
  • This is the worst category because there is practically no information available about it and it is difficult to determine its status.

Poba Reserve Forest:

  • Poba RF is located along the Assam-Arunachal border, in Assam.
  • The National Highway -15 passes through the reserved forest.
  • The reserved forest is now under threat due to the destruction of forest cover and random hunting, poaching and illegal collection of forest resources by unscrupulous people.

Source: TH

Issue of Kachchatheevu?

GS-II : International Relations Sri Lanka

Issue of Kachchatheevu?

  • One of the major reasons complicating the issue is of Kachchatheevu Island.
  • India ceded the uninhabited island to its southern neighbour in 1974 under a conditional accord.
  • In fact, initially the 1974 border agreement did not affect fishing on either sides of the border.
  • In 1976, through an exchange of letter, both India and Sri Lanka agreed to stop fishing in each other’s waters.
  • In 2009, the Sri Lankan government declared Kachchatheevu Island as sacred land owing to a Catholic shrine’s presence on the piece of land.
  • The issue arises more out of a domestic tussle rather than the India-Sri Lanka view on the issue.
  • The Central government of India, according to the 1974 accord, recognises Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over Kachchatheevu.
  • Tamil fishermen believe that Kachchatheevu is traditionally their territory and so they have a right to fish there.
  • The Sri Lankan authorities believe that this endangers the livelihood of Sri Lankan fishermen.

Source: TH

India - Sri Lanka Relations

GS-II : International Relations

India - Sri Lanka Relations

Paper-2 I.R India and Srilanka (Mains)

In recent years, significant progress in the implementation of developmental assistance projects has further cemented the bonds of friendship between the two countries. The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old. Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction.

In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels. Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of infrastructure development, education, culture and defence.

The nearly three-decade-long armed conflict between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. During the course of the conflict, India supported the right of the Sri Lankan Government to act against terrorist forces. India's consistent position has been in favour of a negotiated political settlement, which is acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and is consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights.

Geopolitical Significance of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region as an island State has been of strategic geopolitical relevance to several major powers. Started with the British Defence and External Affairs Agreement of 1948, and the Maritime Agreement with the USSR of 1962.

Even during the J.R Jayewardene (1978-1989) and Ranasinghe Premadasa (1989-1993) tenures, Sri Lanka was chosen to build the Voice of America transmitting station (suspected of being used for intelligence gathering purposes and electronic surveillance of the Indian Ocean).

It was the massive Chinese involvement during the Rajapaksa tenure that garnered the deepest controversy in recent years. China is building state of the art gigantic modern ports all along the Indian Ocean to the south of it, in Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh, Kyauk Phru (Myanmar) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka). China’s string of pearl’s strategy is aimed at encircling India to establish dominance in the Indian Ocean.

Post-2015, Sri Lanka still relies heavily on China for the Port city project and for the continuation of Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Although the Hambantota harbour is reportedly making losses, it too has potential for development due to its strategic location.

Sri Lanka has a list of highly strategic ports located among busiest sea lanes of communication.

**Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port is the 25th busiest container port in the world and the natural deep water harbor at Trincomalee is the fifth largest natural harbour in the world. Port city of Trincomalee was the main base for Eastern Fleet and British Royal Navy during the Second World War. Sri Lanka’s location can thus serve both commercial and industrial purposes and be used as a military base.

Political Relations

  • As a country that emerged from a civil war facing human rights allegations; the domestic politics and international relations of Sri Lanka are heavily geopolitical with foreign powers having vested interests.
  • Political relations between India and Sri Lanka have been marked by high-level exchanges of visits at regular intervals.
  • In February 2015, Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena undertook his first official visit to India, and Modi paid a return visit to Colombo in March 2015. He was the first Indian prime minister to do a stand-alone visit to Sri Lanka in 28 years.
  • In June 2019, the first overseas visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Sri Lanka, in his second term, is an important symbolic gesture reflective of the special relationship between the countries.
  • Sri Lanka is a member of regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC in which India plays a leading role.
  • Recently, India has invited leaders of BIMSTEC member countries to attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers. This is in line with the government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Sri Lanka has long been in India’s geopolitical orbit, but its relationship with China has strengthened in recent years.
  • Former President Rajapaksa took Sri Lanka closer to China and sidelined Indian concerns including over the rehabilitation of Tamils displaced by the long-running Sri Lankan civil war.

History of Civil War

  • Sri Lanka has been mired in ethnic conflict since the country, formerly known as Ceylon, became independent from British rule in 1948. A 2001 government census says Sri Lanka’s main ethnic populations are the Sinhalese (82%), Tamil (9.4%), and Sri Lanka Moor (7.9%).
  • In the years following independence, the Sinhalese, who resented British favoritism toward Tamils during the colonial period, disenfranchised Tamil migrant plantation workers from India and made Sinhala the official language.
  • In 1972, the Sinhalese changed the country’s name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka and made Buddhism the nation’s primary religion.
  • As ethnic tension grew, in 1976, the LTTE was formed under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and it began to campaign for a Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where most of the island’s Tamils reside.
  • In 1983, the LTTE ambushed an army convoy, killing thirteen soldiers and triggering riots in which 2,500 Tamils died.
  • As Ethnic ties have bound southern India and Sri Lanka for more than two millennia. India is a home to more than 60 million of the world’s 77 million Tamils, while about 4 million live in Sri Lanka.
  • The Palk Strait, about 40 km (25 miles) wide at its narrowest point, separates the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka, traditionally the main Tamil area of the Indian Ocean island.
    • When war between Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sinhalese majority erupted in 1983, India took an active role.
    • Indo-Sri Lankan Accord was signed in 1987 to provide a political solution to Sri Lanka’s conflict.
    • It proposed the establishment of provincial council system and devolution of power for nine provinces in Sri Lanka (also known as The Thirteenth Amendment).
    • India deployed Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka under Operation Pawan to disarm the different militant group.
    • IPKF was later withdrawn after three years amidst escalating violence.
    • The violent conflict was ended in 2009 and at that point of India has agreed to reconstruct the war-torn areas and started many rehabilitation programs.
    • India voted against Sri Lanka in 2009, 2012 and 2013 at the US-sponsored UNHRC resolution to investigate alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

Commercial Relations

  • Sri Lanka has long been a priority destination for direct investment from India. 1st FTA India signed.
  • Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partners among the SAARC countries. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.
  • India’s exports to Sri Lanka amounted to $5.3 billion in 2015-17 whereas its imports from the country were at $743 million.
  • Trade between the two countries grew particularly rapidly after the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which came into force in March 2000.
  • While Sri Lankan exports to India have increased substantially during the past several years since 2000 when ISFTA came into force.
  • However, there has been a high growth in India’s exports to Sri Lanka, resulting in a widening of the balance of trade. This is largely because of the lack of export capacity from Sri Lanka to service Indian requirement and also due to increase in imports from India because of competitiveness of our exports.

India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA)

  • The main framework for bilateral trade has been provided by the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) that was signed in 1998 and entered into force in March 2000.
  • The basic premise in signing the ISFTA was asymmetries between the two economies, local socio-economic sensitivities, safeguard measures to protect domestic interests, and revenue implications so as not to impact high revenue generating tariff lines in the short term.
  • In a nutshell, India sought to do more without insisting on strict reciprocity from Sri Lanka.
  • This is reflected in the respective obligations of the two countries under the ISFTA where India agreed to open more tariff lines upfront and within a shorter time span of three years as against smaller and more staggered openings by Sri Lanka which was provided a longer time of eight years.
  • In order to receive ISFTA benefits, the merchandise exported between India and Sri Lanka should comply with the Rules of Origin criteria.
  • The agreement CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) which is yet to be signed between the countries, seeks to build on the momentum generated by the FTA and take the two economies beyond trade in goods towards greater integration and impart renewed impetus and synergy to bilateral economic interaction. NOW ETCA.
  • The investments are in diverse areas including petroleum retail, IT, financial services, real estate, telecommunication, hospitality & tourism, banking and food processing (tea & fruit juices), metal industries, tires, cement, glass manufacturing, and infrastructure development (railway, power, water supply).
  • The last few years have also witnessed an increasing trend of Sri Lankan investments into India.
  • Tourism also forms an important link between India and Sri Lanka and India is the largest source market for Sri Lankan tourism. In tourism, India is the largest contributor with every fifth tourist being from India.

Cultural and Educational Relations

  • The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the two Governments on 29 November, 1977, forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries.
  • The Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo actively promotes awareness of Indian culture by offering classes in Indian music, dance, Hindi and Yoga. Every year, cultural troupes from both countries exchange visits.
  • India and Sri Lanka commemorated the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhathva Jayanthi) through joint activities.
  • The two Governments also celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala in 2014.
  • The India-Sri Lanka Foundation, set up in December 1998 as an intergovernmental initiative, also aims towards enhancement of scientific, technical, educational and cultural cooperation through civil society exchanges and enhancing contact between the younger generations of the two countries.
  • Education is an important area of cooperation. India now offers about 290 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students.
  • In addition, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Scheme and the Colombo Plan, India offers 370 slots annually to Sri Lankan nationals.
  • Government of India formally launched the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists on 14 April 2015 to increase the people to people contact.
    • Subsequently, in a goodwill gesture, the visa fee for eTV was sharply reduced.

Indian Community

  • The People of Indian Origin (PIOs) comprise Sindhis, Borahs, Gujaratis, Memons, Parsis, Malayalis and Telugu speaking persons who have settled down in Sri Lanka (most of them after partition) and are engaged in various business ventures.
  • Though their numbers are much lesser as compared to Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs), they are economically prosperous and are well placed.
  • Each of these communities has their organization which organizes festivals and cultural events.
  • The IOTs are mostly employed in either tea or rubber plantations in Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces though during the last decade, the younger generation has been migrating to Colombo in search of employment.
  • A fair number of IOTs living in Colombo are engaged in business. According to Government census figures (2011), the population of IOTs is about 1.6 million.

Defence and Security Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka and New Delhi have long history of security cooperation. In recent years, the two sides have steadily increased their military-to-military relationship.
  • India and Sri Lanka conducts joint Military ( 'Mitra Shakti') and Naval exercise (SLINEX). India also provides defence training to Sri Lankan forces.
  • A trilateral maritime security cooperation agreement was signed by India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve surveillance, anti-piracy operations and reducing maritime pollution in Indian Ocean Region.
  • In April 2019, India and Sri Lanka also concluded agreement on countering Drug and Human trafficking.
  • In the aftermath of the horrific Easter bombings, Sri Lankan Prime Minister thanked the Indian government for all the “help” given.
    • The alerts issued by Indian agencies before the attacks had warned specifically about the use of radicalised suicide bombers attacking churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo.

Issues and Conflicts

  • In recent years, China has extended billions of dollars of loans to the Sri Lankan government for new infrastructure projects, which is not good for India’s strategic depth in Indian Ocean Region.
  • Sri Lanka also handed over the strategic port of Hambantota, which is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to China on a 99-year lease.
  • The opposition parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka have already dubbed the port deal as a sellout of their country’s national assets to China.
  • China has also supplied arms as well as provide huge loans to Sri Lanka for its development.
  • China also invested sufficiently in the infrastructure of Sri Lanka, which included building of Colombo international container terminal by China Harbor Corporation.
    • However, the relation between Sri Lanka and India are improving. In order to allay Indian concerns that the Hambantota port will not be used for military purposes, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China’s role to running commercial operations at the port while it retains oversight of security operations.
  • The two countries have signed civil nuclear cooperation agreement which is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
  • India is also investing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
  • India is also planning to build Trincomalee Port to counterweight the Chinese developments at Hambantota Port.

Fishermen issue

  • Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common.
  • Indian boats have been fishing in the troubled waters for centuries and had a free run of the Bay of Bengal, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar until 1974 and 1976 when treaties were signed between the two countries to demarcate International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
  • However, the treaties failed to factor in the hardship of thousands of traditional fishermen who were forced to restrict themselves to a meagre area in their fishing forays.
  • The small islet of Katchatheevu, hitherto used by them for sorting their catch and drying their nets, fell on the other side of the IMBL.
  • Fishermen often risk their lives and cross the IMBL rather than return empty-handed, but the Sri Lankan Navy is on alert, and have either arrested or destroyed fishing nets and vessels of those who have crossed the line.
  • Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.
  • Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner.
  • India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

Way Forward

  • India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka.
  • Starting of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people to people linkages.
  • Mutual recognition of each other's concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.
  • As both countries have a democratic setup there is scope for broadening and deepening the ties.
  • Both countries should try to work out a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen through bilateral engagements.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must be signed to improve the economic cooperation between both countries.

Source: TH

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Lithium Lithium, a light element commonly used today in communication device technology. It was first produced in the Big Bang, around 13.7 billion years ago when the universe came into being, along with other elements. The present abundance of lithium in the universe is only four times the origi

Owning up to criminalisation in politics

Owning up to criminalisation in politics By, Trilochan Sastry is Founder-Chairman, Association for Democratic Reforms, and Professor, IIM Bangalore Supreme court orders to check criminalisation of politics * A February 2020 Supreme Court judgment on criminalisation in politics may have far-

The problem of being over-reliant on one revenue stream

The problem of being over-reliant on one revenue stream By, Karthik Manickam is a Research Scholar at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University working on Higher Education Financing and the Privatisation of Universities Context * The U.S. Immigration and Cu

None gains: On U.S. withdrawal from WHO

None gains: On U.S. withdrawal from WHO Withdrawal of USA from WHO * On July 6, when the number of novel coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. reached over 2.8 million and nearly 0.13 million, respectively, the U.S. officially notified the United Nations of its intention to withdraw members

Invisible loads, arbitrary deletions

Invisible loads, arbitrary deletions shubashree.desikan@thehindu.co.in Context * The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced a reduction in the curriculum for the year 2020-2021 for Classes IX to XII. * This is a measure they have adopted in view of the reduced number


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