MoU between India and Bangladesh

The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bangladesh on prevention of human trafficking especially trafficking in women and children: rescue, recovery, repatriation and reintegration of victims of human trafficking.

The salient features of the MoU:

  • To strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of the human trafficking, especially that of women and children and ensure the speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country;
  • enumeration of preventive measures that would be taken to eliminate human trafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights of victims of trafficking; and
  • repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously as possible and the home country will undertake the safe and effective reintegration of the victims.

Sources: PIB.

MoU between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, recently gave its approval for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Details:

  • The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation between the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the two countries.
  • It provides a structured framework and enabling environment to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector of the two countries to understand each other’s strengths, markets, technologies, policies etc.
  • It also contains an agreement between the two countries to enable their respective MSMEs to participate in each other’s trade fairs/exhibitions and to exchange business delegations, to understand policy and explore markets so that joint ventures, tie-ups, technology transfer etc. could take place.
  • It does not contain or involve any financial, legal or political commitment on the part of either party. In no case does it attract any financial liability on the part of the Government of India.

Sources: PIB.

Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX (IND- SINGAPORE NAVAL EXCERCISE)

Two Indian naval ships, INS Satpura and INS Kamorta, are participating in the bilateral naval exercise SIMBEX with the Singapore Navy which began in Singapore recently.

Background:

  • Operational interaction between Indian Navy (IN) and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) commenced with Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training exercises in 1994, which has grown steadily over the past 20 years. The operational interaction was formalised as an annual bilateral exercise ‘SIMBEX’ in 1999.
  • Since its inception, SIMBEX has grown in tactical and operational complexity. It has transcended the traditional emphasis on ASW to more complex maritime exercises, involving various facets of Naval operations such as Air Defence, Air and Surface Practice Firing, Maritime Security and Search and Rescue.

Sources: The Hindu.

China sets up Silk Road gold fund

China, the world’s biggest gold producer, has set up a gold sector fund involving countries along the ancient Silk Road which is expected to raise $16.1 billion.

  • The fund, led by Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), is expected to raise an estimated 100 billion yuan ($16.1 billion) in three phases and is said to be the largest fund set up by China.
  • In February 2015 China had also created a $40 billion infrastructure fund for Silk Road Initiative.

Silk Road Initiative:

The Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.

new silk road initiative china

  • The new project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia
  • The new initiative is a pet project of President Xi Jinping for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub.
  • Under the new Silk Route, the Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea, from which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
  • The Silk Road strategy’s ambitious vision aligns with Beijing’s goals much more closely than the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a reflection of the U.S. international trade model writ large.
  • The Silk Road strategy aims to facilitate large-scale infrastructure construction, energy sale and transport, and relocation of manufacturing industries.
  • This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, and internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi.

Indian and Silk Road Initiative:

  • Aware of India’s sensitivities regarding the perceived expansion of Chinese influence, a Beijing-Kathmandu-New Delhi trilateral development partnership is proposed as a confidence building step.
  • Relations between China and India are mutually reinforcing. From a historical point of view India is the converging point of the Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road on land.
  • Based on that, the Chinese government believes inevitably that naturally India is one of the important partners to build one belt and one road.
  • India also benefits from at least reasonable ties with most stakeholders in the New Silk Road, including Iran, where India has invested heavily in the Chabahar Port. But India must also make serious efforts to strengthen its links with Southeast Asia, and for this it must develop stronger ties with Bangladesh.
  • India will also need to work towards a manageable relationship with Pakistan, which would not only facilitate pipeline projects like TAPI, but also enable access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • India needs to change its approach towards border regions, and not allow security to cloud its overarching vision. One of the important cornerstones of China’s Silk Road vision has been its emphasis on utilizing border regions, while also making use of their strategic location.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Mongolia gets $1-bn credit gift

India recently announced a $1-billion credit line to Mongolia for infrastructure development as they upgraded their ties to strategic partnership and agreed to deepen defence cooperation besides exploring potential for tie-ups in areas such as the civil nuclear sector.

  • The two countries have inked 13 other pacts that include one on enhancing cooperation in border guarding, policing and surveillance, air services, cyber security and new and renewable energy.

Important agreements:

  • A treaty was inked by the two sides on the transfer of sentenced persons.
  • On economic cooperation, the countries have agreed to encourage development of equal and mutually beneficial trade, investment and economic cooperation, which is balanced, sustainable and leads to prosperity in both countries.
  • It was also agreed to encourage Indian companies to further explore cooperation opportunities in Mongolia’s mining sector through joint ventures and investment.

Sources: The Hindu, TOI.

A special gift from Indian PM

Prime Minister of India recently presented Mongolian President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, a specially commissioned reproduction of a rare 13th century manuscript on the history of Mongols, considered by many as the first world history.

Details:

  • The manuscript is Called Jamiut Tawarikh. This work was one of the grandest projects undertaken by the Ilkhanate king Ghazan Khan. The king’s wazir Rasheeduddin Fazlullah Hamedani wrote it in Persian and chronicled the history up to the reign of Oljeitju (1304-1316).
  • The manuscript from the Rampur Raza Library, Rampur (Uttar Pradesh), has over 80 fine miniature illustrations. It is a part of Volume 1 of the work and no other copy of it is known to exist.
  • The breadth of coverage of the work often caused it to be dubbed as the first world history.

The Prime Minister of India also received traditional fiddle- morin khuur- as a gift from Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. The ‘morin khuur’, also known as horse-head fiddle, is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.

India and Mongolia:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two-day visit to Mongolia. He is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia.

  • India established diplomatic relations in December 1955. India was the first country outside the Soviet bloc to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia. Since then, there have been treaties of mutual friendship and cooperation between the two countries in 1973, 1994, 2001 and 2004.
  • Mongolia is a landlocked country. Mongolia lies in central Asia between Siberia on the north and China on the south. It is slightly larger than Alaska.
  • The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader, Ghengis Khan, began a conquest in the 13th century that would eventually encompass an enormous empire stretching from Asia to Europe, as far west as the Black Sea and as far south as India and the Himalayas. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.

IS seizes Ramadi, closes in on Palmyra

Extremists from the Islamic State group have closed in on Syria’s ancient metropolis of Palmyra.

  • Jihadist fighters have advanced to within one km of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring Roman colonnades and an impressive necropolis.

UNESCO world heritage site:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders.
  • Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 50 sites.

Selection criteria:

Until the end of 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four criteria for natural heritage. In 2005, this was modified so that there is only one set of ten criteria. Nominated sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of the ten criteria.

Cultural criteria:

  • represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance.
  • exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design.
  • to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  • is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
  • is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
  • is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Natural criteria:

  • contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
  • is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
  • is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals.
  • contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

There are 32 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 25 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, UNESCO.