18 November, 2019

18 Min Read

GS-II : International Relations South Asia
Gotabaya Rajapaksa all set to become next Sri Lankan president

Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood-relations

News: Sri Lanka People’s Front party presidential election candidate and former wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is all set to become president of the island nation after his main rival conceded defeat on Sunday. 

Prelims and Mains focus: India-Sri Lanka relations,


  • Gotabaya’s election heralds the return of the family which oversaw the elimination of the dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group in 2009 into the political mainstream in Sri Lanka.
  • One of Gotabaya’s pre-poll promises was to bring back his brother—former president Mahinda Rajapaksa—as his prime minister to ensure a firm pair of hands at the helm of security affairs given that the polls followed deadly bombings by Islamist militants in April that threw the country with a population of 22 million into turmoil. Ironically, the attacks, blamed on Islamic State terrorists came exactly a decade after the elimination of the LTTE in May 2009.
  • Most Sri Lankans are Sinhalese Buddhists with Muslims and Christians making up the religious minority.


Way ahead:

  • With the return of the Rajapaksa, New Delhi will be keeping a close eye on ties between Colombo and Beijing.
  • India has been wary of increased Chinese influence in Sri Lanka during the years the Rajapaksas were in power.
  • India has also been worried about Colombo signing up for China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. With the Rajapaksas back in power, New Delhi would be worried about an increase in Chinese investments in the island nation that will grow Beijing’s sway over a country that is seen as lying within India’s sphere of influence.


Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : International Relations South East Asia

Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


News:  A report, analysing the benefits of India’s free trade agreements (FTA) with ASEAN has been released. The report has been prepared by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Prelims focus: Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

Mains focus: India’s concerns and ways to address them 



  • India had signed an FTA in goods with the regional bloc in 2009, known as the Asean–India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA). In 2014, an FTA in services was also included.
  • ASEAN compromises 10 countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.



Key findings of the report:

  1. Overall, India failed to benefit from free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).
  2. In fact, India’s trade deficit had increased ever since the country entered into FTAs with Asean.
  3. India’s net exports to countries without a trade agreement were only marginally lower than its net exports to countries with FTAs.
  4. The imports from countries with trade agreements were substantially higher, pushing India into a trade deficit.


What changed after the signing of these agreements?

India’s imports from Asean countries increased sharply in comparison to its exports to them after signing these agreements.


India’s experience with other FTAs:

India’s past experience with FTAs has not been encouraging.

India had recorded a trade deficit in all major trade agreements other than the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).


Need of the hour:

India needs to work on its manufacturing sector to benefit from any FTA.

India should not consider entering into FTAs without preparing the agriculture and manufacturing sectors adequately.


Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : International Relations South East Asia
ADMM-Plus meeting

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


News: The latest ADMM-Plus meeting where Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries and eight other nations would gather and discuss the way forward for security cooperation, is being held in Bangkok.


Prelims and Mains focus: ADMM- Plus- composition, objectives and significance.


ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus):

  • Consistent with the ADMM guiding principles of open and outward looking, the 2nd ADMM in Singapore in 2007 adopted the Concept Paper to establish the ADMM-Plus.


  • The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.



  • Agreed five areas of practical cooperation under this new mechanism, namely maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations and military medicine. In 2013, a new priority area of humanitarian mine action was agreed.



  1. To benefit ASEAN member countries in building capacity to address shared security challenges, while cognisant of the differing capacities of various ASEAN countries.
  2. To promote mutual trust and confidence between defence establishments through greater dialogue and transparency.
  3. To enhance regional peace and stability through cooperation in defence and security, in view of the transnational security challenges the region faces.
  4. To contribute to the realisation of an ASEAN Security Community which, as stipulated in the Bali Concord II, embodies ASEAN’s aspiration to achieve peace, stability, democracy and prosperity in the region.
  5. To facilitate the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme, which calls for ASEAN to build a peaceful, secure and prosperous ASEAN, and to adopt greater outward-looking external relation strategies with our friends and Dialogue Partners.

Source: The Hindu

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Germany’s Climate Protection Act

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


News:  The German parliament has passed the Climate Protection Act in an attempt to reach its climate target by 2030. This will be Germany’s first climate action law.


Prelims and Mains focus: Key features and significance of the programme..


Key highlights of the bill:

  1. With this bill, a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sectors will be imposed along with some other measures to combat climate change.
  2. The bill consists of emissions targets for different sectors of the economy such as transport, energy and housing.
  3. Pollution rights: From 2021, companies that market diesel and petrol, heating oil and natural gas in the country will need to obtain pollution rights for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.
  4. This will be regulated through a national emissions trading mechanism. The cost of these emissions will drive up the cost of using fossil fuels, making the usage of such fuels more expensive for the citizens and hence, discouraging their use and paving the way for climate-friendly technologies.
  5. The aviation tax will be increased.


Criticisms of the bill:

  • Climate package was not sufficient and that the goals were not achievable.
  • The price of CO2 was kept too low to dissuade its emissions and the increased burden on the citizens.

Source: Indian Express

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Water Quality Report 2019

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 


News: The Centre has released the Water Quality Report. The report is in line with the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) that was launched to provide clean and safe drinking water to all by 2024.


Prelims focus: Key highlights of the report, Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains focus: India’s water crisis and methods to address it


Context:  In order to ensure that clean and safe drinking water is provided to all, Department of Consumer Affairs decided to undertake a study through the Bureau of India Standards (BIS) on the quality of piped drinking water being supplied in the country and also rank the States, Smart Cities and even Districts based on the quality of tap water.


Tests Conducted

Tests were conducted on various parameters such as Organoleptic and Physical Tests, Chemical test, Toxic substances and Bacteriological tests in the first stage. 


Performance of cities:

  1. In Delhi, all the samples drawn from various places did not comply with the requirements of the Indian Standard& failed on several parameters.
  2. All the 10 samples drawn from Mumbai were found to comply with the requirements.



  • All should get clean drinking water and that is the objective of this activity.
  • State Governments are encouraged to ensure quality potable tap water to all citizens.


Way ahead:

The Union Government wants to make BIS Standards mandatory for Tap Water so as to ensure quality drinking water for all households.


Source: The Hindu

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