GS Paper III –International Relations.

India, Rwanda sign aviation, visa deals

What’s Happening-
India and Rwanda have concluded a bilateral air services agreement enabling direct flights between the two countries.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) concluded during Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the African nation.
  1. Rwandan Airways will begin direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai in April.
  2. Setting up of an entrepreneurial development centre in Rwanda
  3. Exemption of visa for entry of diplomatic and official passports.
  4. The agreements were signed in the presence of a large business delegation from India at the newly constituted India-Rwanda Business Forum organised by the FICCI and the Rwandan government.

Encourage tourism:

  • The Rwandan government wants to encourage tourism from Indian side.
  • With the air services agreement, that should happen.
  • They also want Bollywood films to be shot here, because they have noticed how tourism to New Zealand picked up after Bollywood started shooting films there.
  • Mr. Ansari enquired about:
  1. President Paul Kagame’s governance model that had helped Rwanda become one of the cleanest, most well-run states in the region.
  2. How Rawandan Government are overcoming ethnic majoritiarianism by concentrating on a shared linguistic and cultural heritage.

Rwanda is a  in  and  and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland.
Located a few degrees south of the .
India is represented in Rwanda through its Honorary Consulate in .
Rwanda has been operating its  in  since 1998 and appointed its first resident High Commissioner in 2001.
Both countries are members of the .
Two countries signed agreements to mutually exempt visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders.
Trade Relations:
The main items of Indian exports to Rwanda are pharmaceuticals, vehicles, plastics and machinery.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at 210 million dollars and have seen a growth of over 350% in the time period between 2005 and 2009.

GS Paper II – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

The Maintain law, order on SYL canal issue: SC

What’s Happening-

  • Even as Punjab denied any liability on its part to share water with Haryana, the Supreme Court stood firm by its decision to construct the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal and urged the neighbouring States to maintain law and order at any cost.

Key Points discussed were:

Status quo:

  • The Supreme Court’s call for status quo in the inter-State water dispute came amidst Punjab’s affidavit that the Punjab Termination of Water Agreement Act of 2004 was still in force.

Background: What is the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, and the controversy over it?

  • The creation of Haryana from the old (undivided) Punjab in 1966 threw up the problem of giving Haryana its share of river waters.
  • Punjab was opposed to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana, citing riparian principles, and arguing that it had no water to spare.
  • At an inter-state meeting convened by the central government in 1955, the total calculated flow (read water) of the Ravi and Beas — 15.85 million acre feet (MAF) — had been divided among Rajasthan (8 MAF), undivided Punjab (7.20 MAF) and Jammu and Kashmir (0.65 MAF).
  • In March 1976, a decade after the Punjab Reorganisation Act was implemented, and even as Punjab continued to protest, the Centre issued a notification allocating to Haryana 3.5 MAF out of undivided Punjab’s 7.2 MAF.
  • To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej and its tributary Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Yamuna, cutting across the state, was planned.
  • On April 8, 1982, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ceremonially dug the ground at Kapoori village in Patiala district for the construction of the 214-km Sutlej-Yamuna Link (or SYL) canal, 122 km of which was to be in Punjab, and 92 km in Haryana.

How did the controversy develop further in 2016?

  • In March 2016, Supreme Court started hearings into a presidential reference to decide on the legality of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.
  • The presidential reference was made by the Centre days after the Punjab Assembly passed the Act. As the hearings resumed, the Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the Centre, took a pro-Haryana stance, saying the Centre stood by the SC’s orders asking Punjab to complete the work on SYL in its territory.
  • The development has triggered a political storm in Punjab.