4,300 from Afghan, Pak get citizenship

The central government recently said that it had granted citizenship to about 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the last one year.
This is
nearly four times the number granted to such persons in the preceding five years under UPA-II.

  • Officials say there are about two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan living in India.
    During the entire tenure of UPA-II, they said the total number of citizenships granted to such persons was only 1,023.

Other details:

  • In the last one year, nearly 19,000 refugees have been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh. Around 11,000 long-term visas were given in Rajasthan and 4,000 long-term visas were given in Gujarat.
  • There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and north-eastern States. Sikh refugees mostly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh.
  • In April, the Home Ministry had rolled out an online system for submission of Long Term Visa applications and for its processing by various agencies. The decision has been taken to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had come with the intention of settling permanently in India.

The government had, in july 2014, relaxed the norm mandating online submission of applications in view of the difficulties faced by such applicants.
Under the simplified process, the centre had allowed those who had fled Pakistan or Afghanistan, citing religious persecution, prior to 31 December 2009, to apply for Indian citizenship.
And, children belonging to minority communities, who entered India on their parents’ passport, were also allowed to apply without a passport for grant of the Indian citizenship after regularisation of their stay in India.

The Centre had also set up a task force to expedite pending citizenship requests from nearly one lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh in september 2014.

Indian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration and naturalization. For conditions and procedure for acquisition of Indian citizenship, refer: http://indiancitizenshiponline.nic.in/acquisition1.htm.

Sources: The Hindu, MHA.

India raises with U.S. arms sale to Pak.

India and the US have signed a new strategically important 10-year defence framework pact envisaging joint development and manufacture of defence equipment and technology including jet engines, aircraft carrier design and construction.

  • Both sides also finalised two project agreements for hi-tech mobile power source and next generation protective suits for chemical and biological warfare.

Details:

  • The framework agreement was decided during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January and focuses on issues ranging from maritime security and joint training.
  • The new Framework agreement provides avenues for high level strategic discussions, continued exchanges between armed forces of both countries, and strengthening of defence capabilities.
  • The two countries have also agreed to pursue co-development and co-production projects that will offer tangible opportunities for American defence industries to build partnership with the Indian industries including in manufacturing under ‘Make in India’.
  • Framework also recognises the transformative nature of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). DTTI is an important element of the Defence Agreement. The first framework agreement, which expires this year, was signed in the US in 2005 by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his then US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld.

Sources: The Hindu.

China, Pakistan launch economic corridor link worth $46 bn

China and Pakistan recently launched a plan for energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan worth $46 billion, linking their economies and underscoring China’s economic ambitions in Asia and beyond.

Details:

  • The plan, which would eclipse US spending in Pakistan over the last decade or so, is part of China’s aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in West Asia and Europe.
  • The corridor would transform Pakistan into a regional hub and give China a shorter and cheaper route for trade with much of Asia, West Asia and Africa.
  • The Corridor will link China’s underdeveloped far—western region to Pakistan’s Gwadar deep—sea port on the Arabian Sea via PoK through a massive and complex network of roads, railways, business zones, energy schemes and pipelines.
  • The corridor will pass through Pakistan’s poor Baluchistan province, where a long-running separatist insurgency that the army has vowed to crush will raise questions about the feasibility of the plan.
  • The corridor — expected to be ready in three years and provide about 10,400 MWs of electricity — gives China direct access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.
  • The planned Chinese spending exceeds that of the US, which has given $31 billion to Pakistan since 2002, according to the Congressional Research Service. About two-thirds of that was earmarked for security.

Sources: The Hindu.