1.Agreeing to disagree (The Hindu)

2.When India meets Switzerland (The Indian Express)

 

1.Agreeing to disagree (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on recent statement mark by India and China to end Doklam stand-off. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India and China in separate announcement mentioned to end the Doklam military stand-off which can be seen as a welcome sign, it witness that diplomacy has prevailed over the harsh rhetoric of the past 10 weeks. There are differing versions of statements from both countries and the lack of further information leave several questions unanswered about the terms of the disengagement.
  • However both the countries have been able to issue statements even if they were designed to satisfy their domestic audiences. It suggests that in diplomatic negotiations, each took into account the other’s constraints. The decision came a week before the BRICS summit which will be held in Xiamen, the opportunity can guide the bilateral spirit beyond the summit.

BRICS summit in China

  • The 9th BRICS Summit “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” will be held in Xiamen, Fujian Province between September 3-5, 2017 under China’s Chairmanship.

End of Doklam stand off

  • The standoff between India and China at Doklam has not affected the bilateral trade but the crisis has broader policy implications, including in trade, in the longer term.
  • While total trade between the two nations stood at $71 billion in 2016, India witnessed a massive trade deficit of $46 billion with China, partly due to non-tariff barriers imposed by the giant neighbour on India. Although Doklam crisis has hit trade through Nathu La Pass, trade through this route accounts for not even 1% of the total bilateral trade. The issue has also resulted into the cancellation of the Nathu La route for Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrims.
  • According to the analyst, while trade between the two countries hasn’t been dampened so far, but continued belligerent rhetoric from China has prompt private people to vent their anger against Chinese goods, as was noticed earlier when some people called for a boycott of Chinese toys and even crackers, even though the Indian government hasn’t put any curbs on Chinese products.

Way ahead

  • Statements from China during the stand-off indicate that it no longer recognises the gains made in the Special Representative talks in 2012. Nor does it regard the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction near Batang-La to have been settled. India has made it clear that it does not consider the Sikkim boundary settled either, and both sides will have to walk swiftly to come back to some semblance of an accord on such basic issues before they can move further.
  • It was a complex relationship and the ties between the two Asian powers were under stress at present, with the situation being exacerbated by the rise of ultra nationalism which always reduces the space for any government to make concessions in larger interest of peace and stability.

Question– Explain the geo-political implications of Doklam stand-off between India and China.

2.When India meets Switzerland (The Indian Express)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the views of Swiss president ahead of the visit to India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Switzerland’s swift recognition of India’s independence in 1947, the prompt adoption of diplomatic contacts and the conclusion of the Treaty of Friendship in 1948, laid the foundations for the good relations between our two countries that continue to this day.
  • Switzerland holds India in great esteem; a vast country of diverse cultures with a rich heritage, an emerging economic power and the world’s largest democracy.President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard will come on a three-day state visit to India; it will be just the fourth visit by a Swiss President to India.

Background of the relation

  • The Treaty of Friendship was a sign of India’s appreciation for Switzerland, which speaks of “perpetual peace” and “unalterable friendship”, which has served as a basis for both the countries’ political relations. These have been reinforced in recent decades by regular high-level visits.
  • Both the countries have been able to conclude numerous agreements in a wide range of areas, such as trade, investment, development cooperation, education, visas, migration, air transport and cooperation in science and technology. The two sides have also signed a joint declaration on the mutual automatic exchange of financial account information in 2016.
  • Switzerland is the seventh largest trading partner for India with the total bilateral trade including merchandise exports, bullion and IT services and software exports, amounting to $18.2 billion in 2016-17.
  • India is one of Switzerland’s most important trading partners in Asia and Switzerland is the 11th largest foreign investor in the country.
  • As of the end of 2015, Swiss direct investment in India had led to the creation of up to 1, 00,000 jobs, which is why a sound investment protection framework is important. Tourism is also thriving with many Indian nationals travelling to Switzerland to discover the country and many Swiss enjoy travelling to India.

Highlights of the visit

  • According to the President of the Swiss Confederation, the main aim of the recent visit will be to further deepen that cooperation and to take a determined approach to addressing global challenges for the benefit of both our countries.
  • Both the countries will launch a programme to mark their friendship anniversary under the heading “70 Years of Swiss-Indian Friendship: Connecting Minds -Inspiring the Future”.  
  • President mentioned that, at the time when nationalism and protectionism are gaining ground in many places, both the countries want to seize the opportunities offered by openness and cooperation. This will include the free trade and economic agreements currently being negotiated by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and India. 
  • Cooperation in the fields of transport, energy and vocational education and training will also be on the agenda, as will digitalisation and climate change.
  • Both the countries have common experiences in the Climate policy. India has unpredictable monsoon rains and there is melting of glaciers in the Himalayas that will have an impact on the lives of millions of people in India.
  • The glaciers are receding in Switzerland too, which has an influence on water management and energy production. The thawing of the permafrost will make country’s hillsides more unstable which in turn poses a threat to many villages and valleys. It would, therefore, make sense to further deepen cooperation in the areas of climate change and sustainable development.
  • Switzerland has decided to take steps to improve energy efficiency and boost the share of renewable energies in the energy mix as a part of ‘Energy Strategy 2050’. India’s energy strategy is also currently being drawn up thus shares the same priorities. There is increase use of renewable energies and in the field of energy efficiency a number of joint projects are already under way between our two countries-

For example- ‘CapaCITIES’, where Switzerland is helping municipal authorities in India to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Way forward-

  • Switzerland is among the most competitive countries in the world with its capacity for innovation, well-trained skilled labour, excellent infrastructure and political stability. Both the countries have great deal of potential in the bilateral relations that has yet to be tapped; this visit can see the development.
  • As India has initiated numerous reforms in recent years to further improve its framework conditions. Significant investment is also planned in public transport and renewable energies. Switzerland and its businesses can contribute a great deal of know-how in these areas.
  • With globalisation and digitalisation, it seems that the distance between India and Europe is shrinking.

Question– Analyse the importance of relation between India and Switzerland, along with different fields of co-operation, also explain the areas where both the countries are yet to tapped their potential.