Insights Daily Current Affairs, 30 September 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Trilateral Meet between India, Afghanistan and Iran to Take Chabahar Agreement Further
A Trilateral meeting was recently held between India, Afghanistan and Iran to take Chabahar agreement further.
- Discussions were held on Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor i.e. Chabahar Agreement which was signed in May, 2016 in Tehran in the presence of Prime Minister of India and Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan.
- During the meeting, it was decided to organize a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar within two months to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by Chabahar Port.
Where is Chabahar port?
It is located on the Makran coast, Chabahar in southeastern Iran. Its location lies in the Gulf of Oman. This coast is a relatively underdeveloped free trade and industrial zone, especially when compared to the sprawling port of Bandar Abbas further west. Also, it is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
For India, Chabahar is of strategic importance for the following reasons:
- It is the nearest port to India on the Iranian coast, which provides access to the resources and markets of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- It is located 76 nautical miles (less than 150km) west of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, being developed by China. This makes it ideal for keeping track of Chinese or Pakistani military activity based out of Gwadar.
- Also, Chabahar port is suitably located to serve India’s outreach in the region to Afghanistan and beyond as well as link with International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to which India is one of the initial signatories.
- The port will cut transport costs/time for Indian goods by a third.
- From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Target terror: India strikes across LoC
India has carried out surgical strikes targeting “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC).
- The operations were focused to ensure that these terrorists do not succeed in endangering lives of citizens in our country.
- During the counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who were trying to support them. The operations have since ceased.
- The government has said that the Indian armed forces are fully prepared to deal with any contingency which may arise.
- The “surgical strikes” could force militants across the LoC to shift their sanctuaries further back into Pakistani territory, bolstering the image of Indian forces as a capable striking power.
What is a surgical strike?
A surgical strike is essentially a swift and targeted attack on specific target that aims to neutralise them while ensuring minimum collateral damage to the surrounding areas and civilians. Neutralisation of targets with surgical strikes also prevents escalation to a full blown war.
Surgical strikes are part of India’s Cold Start doctrine and have proved effective in foiling a new infiltration bid by terrorists groups across the LoC who were ready to attack several locations in Jammu and Kashmir and other Metro cities in India.
Significance of surgical strikes:
Surgical strikes gain importance in India’s case as Pakistan has repeatedly shown its intention to use tactical nuclear weapons on Indian Forces, even risking the collateral damage to its own troops, to stop Indian military operations. Therefore, the covert surgical strikes are a powerful weapon for the Indian armed forces to carry out the necessary dirty work while ensuring the status-quo between the opposing armies on the LoC.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
IMF to disburse $102 million to Pakistan
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has completed the twelfth and final review of Pakistan’s three-year economic reform program supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement.
- The Board’s decision enables the immediate disbursement of the final tranche in an amount equivalent to the SDR 73 million in the IMF currency or about $102.1 million.
- The go-ahead follows the approval on September 4, 2013, by the Executive Board of the 36-month extended arrangement under the EFF in the amount of SDR 4.393 billion (about $6.15 billion, or 216% of Pakistan’s current quota at the IMF).
What is Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement?
It is an IMF lending facility to help members with balance of payments problems that need an adjustment period longer than that provided for under a standby arrangement.
A country requesting an extended fund facility outlines its objectives and policies for the period of the arrangement, usually about three years, and each year presents a detailed statement of the measures it plans over the next 12 months.
What is the EFF designed for?
The EFF was established to provide assistance to countries: (i) experiencing serious payments imbalances because of structural impediments; or (ii) characterized by slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments position. The EFF provides assistance in support of comprehensive programs that include policies of the scope and character required to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Pak. loses $7 bn. by avoiding India goods
According to a study by the New Delhi-based Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Pakistan suffered a loss of about $7 billion in 2014 by importing items from other countries at a higher cost instead of sourcing them from India.
- The objective of the study is to show Pakistan that they can save on the foreign exchange front if they cooperate in South Asia.
Highlights of the study:
- The study found out that the loss was substantial considering Pakistan’s GDP (nominal, 2015) was only about $270 billion.
- The study covered 5,200 items. These included refined petroleum, palm oil, aviation spirit, motor vehicle parts, edible oil, cotton, milk powder, marine products, machinery as well as chemicals and allied products.
- The study notes that Pakistan incurred huge losses by importing items from the global market at prices higher than the price at which the same product is available from India. Many products that Pakistan imported from third countries were at least three times more costly than the price of the same item from India in export markets, it added.
Pakistan is a net-importing nation with a trade deficit of $22 billion in 2015. In 2015, it imported around $44 billion, while it exported only items worth $22 billion. India-Pakistan trade is far below potential and negligible.
Trade between India and Pakistan in 2015-16 was just $2.6 billion, while according to various estimates the annual bilateral trade has the potential to surpass $20 billion if both countries cooperate and remove barriers and restrictions. Currently, most of the trade happens indirectly through Dubai, Singapore, port of Bandar Abbas (Iran).
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
- Best Tourist Friendly Airport: Airports Authority of India’s Tirupati Airport has been awarded as “Best Tourist Friendly Airport” under the category for “State Annual Excellence Awards for the year 2015-16” by Andhra Pradesh Tourism. The State Annual Tourism Excellence Awards under various segments of Travel and Tourism Industry are awarded by Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh for maintaining excellent Customer friendly relations with tourists and passengers, coinciding with World Tourism Day Celebrations.
- World’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station: China will build the world’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station at a popular section of the country’s Great Wall, as part of its preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The station will be at Badaling, the most visited section of the Great Wall which lies about 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Beijing. The Badaling station will be located 102 metres (335 feet) below the surface, with an underground construction area of 36,000 square metres (387,501 sq feet), equal to five standard soccer fields, making it the deepest and largest high-speed railway station in the world.