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GS Paper II –International Relations

Act East policy promoting ties with Asia-Pacific region

What’s Happening-
India’s “Act East” policy aimed at reviving age-old ties with the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) nations has strengthened trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region and encouraged manufacturers to create value chains with these countries: Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.

Key Points discussed were:

  • India’s trade with nations of the region has grown ten times during the last 10 years: Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • The Indian manufacturers who set up businesses in countries such as Myanmar, they would get benefit under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) for export to the U.S. and European Union.

Less duty for exports:

The GSP gives the benefit of zero or less duty for exports from least developed countries to the U.S. and E.U.

To boost trade:

  • Projects such as Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport connecting Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar.
  • The Union Cabinet had last year cleared a proposal to create a ₹500-crore project development fund to increase economic presence in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, which can act as gateways for market access to China and E.U. 

Benefits:

  1. Increased regional connectivity.
  2. Reduction in transaction cost of trade.
  3. Skill development.
  • were imperative if the India-CLMV trade and tourism were to reach their potential.

Background-
About Kaladan Project:
The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is a project that will connect the eastern Indian seaport of  with Sittwe seaport in  by sea.
It will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa in  via Kaladan river boat route and then from Paletwa on to  by road transport.
Originally, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2014 but is expected to be operational only by June 2018.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.

GS Paper II –International Relations

Ways of sharing

The time is ripe for India and Bangladesh to consolidate gains on key issues

What’s Happening-
India’s to allow its border roads in Mizoram and Tripura to be used by Bangladeshi forces as they construct border outposts in the inhospitable terrain of the Chittagong Hill Tracts shows just how far the two countries have come to bridging their trust deficit.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The decision, conveyed last week in Dhaka during the meeting of Home Ministry and security officials working on closer border management cooperation.
  • Ms. Hasina’s visit will build on the boost that relations received from the historic agreement that was signed in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka. 
  • There is speculation about a defence partnership agreement, movement on the Teesta water-sharing agreement, the Ganga water barrage project, and other energy and connectivity projects.

Teesta River and Farraka Barrage Issue:

  • water-sharing is a highly emotive subject, and movement on Teesta water-sharing has been held up largely because of West Bengal’s reservations.
  • To address them, the Central government needs to reach out to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
  • Similarly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has raked up the Farakka Barrage project.

Others:

  • Meanwhile, she faces the task of addressing India’s mistrust over Chinese investment in Bangladesh, with $38 billion pledged in infrastructure cooperation and joint ventures during President Xi Jinping’s visit last year. 

Background-
2010, when the MoU for the  was originally signed.
The terms of that agreement have now been fully implemented.
Farakka Barrage:
The Farakka Barrage is a dam on the Bhagirathi river located in the Indian state of West Bengal.
India uses it to control the flow of the  river.
The dam was built to divert the Ganges River water into the Hooghly River during the dry season, from January to June, to flush out the accumulating silt which in the 1950s and 1960s was a problem at the  on the .
Bangladesh claims that its rivers were drying up because of excess drawing of water by India.
In May 1974 a joint declaration was issued to resolve the water–sharing issue before the Farakka Barrage began operation.

GS Paper III Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Railways to roll out high speed indigenous rakes

Key Points discussed were:

  • Aptly named ‘Train-2018’, the first train set — a rake without a separate locomotive — is expected to be ready by March next year and likely to be pressed into service in Delhi-Lucknow or Delhi-Chandigarh sector.

Similar to Delhi Metro:

  • A train set, much like a Delhi Metro rake, comprises of many coaches that are individually powered by a propulsion system, eliminating the need for locomotive.
  • For the first time in Indian Railways, these train sets will have automatic plug type doors that will open and close at stations, wide windows for panoramic view, and ergonomically designed seating.

Environmental Friendly:

  • Equipped with bio-toilets, all coaches in the fully AC train set will be inter-connected so that passengers can move from one coach to other with ease.

Governments Aim:

  • Aim is to reduce travel time between cities.
  • To achieve that Railway Ministry have launched Train-2018 project to manufacture two train sets at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai on a pilot basis.

What’s Happening-
Trial run by March 2018, the train will reduce travel time.
The railways will soon manufacture its own train sets that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kilometre per hour, after its global bid in this regard failed to elicit positive response.

Background-
Integral Coach Factory (ICF) is a manufacturer of  located in , , .
It was established in 1952, is owned and operated by the .
The coach factory primarily manufactures rolling stock for Indian Railways but also exports railway coaches to other countries.

Global tender
As per the Rs. 200 crore project, two train sets will be manufactured, in collaboration with foreign players on transfer of technology basis, for which the ICF has floated a fresh global tender.
The railways had floated a global tender for procurement-cum-maintenance and manufacture of 15 train sets with 315 coaches in June, 2015.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.