Current Affairs - International
Recently, Trinidad and Tobago entered into an agreement with the Indian government to share India Stack, a collection of open application programming interfaces and digital public goods related to identity, data, and payment services.
- Bilateral Agreement on India Stack Sharing: Trinidad and Tobago has signed an agreement with the Indian government to share India Stack, which includes open APIs and digital public goods for identity, data, and payment services.
- Cooperation for Digital Transformation: Both nations have committed to collaborating on digital transformation efforts.
- This includes capacity building, training programs, sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge among public officials and experts, and developing pilot or demo solutions.
- Expanding Reach of India Stack: In addition to Trinidad and Tobago, India has signed agreements with Armenia, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda for sharing India Stack.
- Mauritius and Saudi Arabia are in advanced stages of finalizing cooperation on this front.
- A similar agreement was recently signed with Papua New Guinea, and the UPI, a component of India Stack, has been accepted in countries including France, UAE, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.
The United States, Japan, and South Korea are set to sign a new security pledge called the "duty to consult," committing the three countries to consult with each other in the event of a security crisis or threat in the Pacific.
- Shared Security Environment: The "duty to consult" pledge acknowledges that the security environments of the three countries are fundamentally interlinked, and a threat to one is considered a threat to all. It seeks to strengthen cooperation and coordination in response to security challenges.
- Consultation and Information Sharing: Under the pledge, the three nations agree to consult, share information, and align their messaging in the face of a security threat or crisis.
- Respect for Existing Commitments: The commitment to consult does not alter existing bilateral treaty commitments between the United States and Japan or the United States and South Korea.
- It also respects each country's right to defend itself under international law.
- Historic Gathering: The summit is the first of its kind held by US President at Camp David, a historic location for diplomatic gatherings.
- It has previously hosted significant talks, including discussions that led to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.
- Countering China's Influence: The United States views the summit as an opportunity to counter China's influence and bullying tactics in the region.
- US Commitment to the Pacific: The summit underscores the United States' commitment as a permanent Pacific power and its intent to strengthen partnerships with key allies in the region.
- Bolstering Cooperation: The summit represents an opportunity for Japan and South Korea to move beyond historical antagonisms and deepen their cooperation on regional and global challenges.
Recently, India and China have jointly announced their commitment to resolve outstanding matters along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh efficiently, while also emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace in the border regions.
- The announcement comes following the 19th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting held on August 13-14, 2023.
- Positive Dialogue on LAC Resolution: Both nations engaged in a productive and comprehensive discussion during the recent meeting, focusing on resolving remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.
- Expeditious Resolution and Continued Dialogue: India and China have concurred to promptly address the outstanding matters through both military and diplomatic channels.
- Progressive Disengagement: In recent times, the two countries have made significant strides in disengaging their military presence at various disputed points along the border, including Gogra, Galwan Hot Springs, and Pangong Tso. However, tensions persist near Depsang and Demchok.
- Restoring Normalcy for Bilateral Relations: External Affairs Minister has underscored the restoration of normalcy at the border as a prerequisite for restoring regular bilateral relations.
- Divergent Perspectives on the Crisis China regards the border crisis as a historical issue and has advocated for separating border discussions from broader bilateral talks. India, on the other hand, has resisted such a separation, contributing to the ongoing challenges in their relationship.
On 8th August, 2023, India hosted the 5th meeting of the India-Vietnam Joint Trade Sub-Commission (JTSC), signifying a renewed focus on enhancing bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two nations.
- Vietnam's Trade Significance: Vietnam ranks as the 23rd largest global trade partner of India and holds the 5th position among ASEAN countries in bilateral trade.
- Bilateral Trade: The two nations recorded bilateral trade amounting to USD 14.70 billion during the fiscal year 2022-23, with Vietnam contributing 11.2% to India's overall trade with ASEAN.
- Expansion of Trade: Notably, Vietnam emerges as a vital destination for India's iron and steel products, as well as agricultural and animal commodities, including meat products, animal fodder, cereals, and marine items.
- Exploring Untapped Potential: The meeting revolved around a comprehensive review of bilateral trade and economic cooperation progress.
- Both sides deliberated on strategies to unlock untapped potential, allowing the business communities of the two nations to mutually benefit from the partnership between two of the world's fastest-growing economies.
- Identifying Growth Sectors: Both nations identified promising sectors for expanded trade cooperation, encompassing agriculture, fisheries, textiles, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery, energy, and the automobile industry.
- Addressing Concerns and Proposals: The Indian side raised pertinent issues, including pending registration of Indian fishery and meat establishments for export, market access limitations in public procurement of pharmaceuticals, and anti-dumping duties imposed on specific Indian products.
- Potential Avenues: The Indian delegation also emphasized potential avenues in the service sector, proposing collaboration in IT, financial services, education, tourism, healthcare, telemedicine, and the start-up ecosystem.
Amid escalating clashes between regional forces and the military in Ethiopia's Amhara region, the Council of Ministers has announced a state of emergency on 4th August.
- Prime Minister's Decision: The announcement was made by the prime minister's office, responding to the region's leader's acknowledgment that regular law enforcement efforts were inadequate to contain the escalating violence.
- Approval Required: The declaration of the state of emergency needs to be approved by the Parliament to become effective.
- National Security Threat: The declaration highlights the increasing threat posed to national security and public peace by the ongoing activity, which includes armed extremist groups.
- Economic Consequences: The declaration also points out severe economic damage caused by the clashes and unrest in the Amhara region.
- Background of Instability: The Amhara region, Ethiopia's second most populous, has experienced instability since April, following efforts by federal authorities to disarm the region's security forces after the conclusion of the two-year war in the neighboring Tigray region.
- Tensions and Clashes: Recent reports indicate clashes across the Amhara region as militia members attacked army units and protesters blocked roads.
- Tourism and Communication Impact: Flights to Lalibela and Gondar, popular tourist towns, have been suspended, and internet access has been disrupted.
- State of Emergency Measures: The state of emergency enforces a ban on several activities, including protests.
- Violators could face imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- The decree empowers authorities to detain suspects without a court order, conduct searches, and impose curfews.
- Potential Extension: While the powers initially apply to the Amhara region, the order states they may be extended to other parts of Ethiopia if the situation warrants.
Recently, India extended a financial grant of Rs 45 crore to bolster Sri Lanka's distinctive digital identity project, signifying a substantial step towards enhancing the country's digital evolution.
- Pivotal Assistance: India's financial aid of Rs 45 crore significantly contributes to Sri Lanka's digital identity project, aligned with the framework of Indian grant assistance.
- The initiative holds the potential to play a central role in the successful execution of Sri Lanka's digitization agenda.
- Crucial Partnership Milestone: The President's office in Colombo confirmed the receipt of funds from India, marking an important milestone in the partnership between the two nations.
- Revolutionizing Administrative Landscape: Sri Lanka's unique digital identity project carries the promise of transforming the country's administrative structure.
- The initiative aims to streamline service delivery, ensuring more efficient and accessible services for its citizens.
- Path to Efficiency: The financial support from India underscores the firm commitment of the neighbouring nation to propel Sri Lanka's journey towards a digitally empowered future.
Recently, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has advised including Venice, the beloved tourist destination in Italy, in its 'heritage danger list' due to the adverse effects of climate change.
- Issues Threatening Venice's Integrity: The draft resolution emphasizes the lack of significant progress in addressing issues related to mass tourism, development projects, and climate change.
- These problems lead to deterioration and damage to building structures, urban areas, and the cultural and social identity of the city, jeopardizing its environmental and landscape attributes and values.
- Climate Change Impact on Venice: The major problems facing Venice include climate change and its consequences, and the organization calls for increased efforts to safeguard the city and its cultural heritage.
- Over-Tourism as a Concern: Over-tourism has also become a significant issue for Venice, affecting its cultural and environmental integrity.
- UNESCO acknowledges efforts to combat over-tourism, such as banning large ships from entering certain areas like the San Marco Basin – Giudecca Canal.
- Threat to Venice's Outstanding Universal Value: Despite some measures, Venice still faces challenges due to human intervention, continuing development, climate change, and mass tourism.
On 31st July, Myanmar's National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) agreed to extend the state of emergency by six months, as announced on the junta's Myawady TV channel.
- Extension of State of Emergency: This extension could lead to the delay of elections, which the Junta had previously pledged to conduct by August.
- Background on State of Emergency: The state of emergency was initially declared in February 2021, following the military's removal of the democratically elected government of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
- Since then, Myanmar has experienced turmoil and unrest.
- Constitutional Provisions for Emergency Declarations: Myanmar's constitution allows for an initial declaration of a state of emergency for one year.
- It can be extended for a maximum of two half-year terms, as per the discretion of the military-dominated NDSC.
- Violations of Constitutional Provisions: In January of the current year, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing declared an emergency for the third time, breaching the constitutional limit.
- Today's extension marks the second instance of the Junta's violation of the constitutional provisions concerning the state of emergency.
Recently, India’s Foreign Secretary and his Bhutanese counterpart held discussions to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various areas.
- Progress on Bilateral Cooperation: Both Foreign Secretaries appreciated the progress in cooperation across diverse sectors, including energy, development partnership, cross-border connectivity, trade, digital development, science, technology, skill development, and people-to-people ties.
- Continued Cooperation: The two sides agreed to continue working together to enhance cooperation, in line with the Joint Statement issued during the official visit of Bhutan's King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, to India in April 2023.
- Bhutan's Five Year Plan: During the India-Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks (Plan Talks), the Bhutanese side shared details about Bhutan's 13th Five Year Plan.
- India's Commitment to Partnership: Indian Foreign Secretary assured Bhutan of India's commitment to partnering with Bhutan based on its priorities and advancing the bilateral partnership into newer areas.
- Technological Collaboration: India is expanding its technological footprint through digital and space collaboration, benefiting Bhutan through investments and expertise in these areas.
- Priority on Bhutan's Socio-economic Progress and Territorial Integrity: India places Bhutan's socioeconomic progress and territorial integrity as a top priority in its foreign policy objectives, strengthening the bond between the two neighboring countries.
- High-Level Exchanges: The visit of Bhutan's Foreign Secretary reinforced the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between India and Bhutan to discuss mutual interests.
- Strong Bilateral Relationship: India and Bhutan share an exemplary bilateral relationship marked by trust, goodwill, mutual understanding, strong friendship, and close people-to-people ties.
- Reaffirming Friendship: The visit of Bhutan's Foreign Secretary reaffirmed and strengthened the relationship between the two countries.
Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of India and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) of Papua New Guinea have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate and share INDIA STACK.
- INDIA STACK's Significance: INDIA STACK, which comprises Digital Public Infrastructures (DPIs), is now open for any country interested in digitalization.
- This collaboration allows like-minded nations to cooperate, innovate, and implement DPIs to create a technology and innovation sharing ecosystem.
- Topics Discussed: The MoU aims to enhance capacities and facilitate the sharing and implementation of population-scale Digital Public Infrastructure and Transformational Platforms/projects to improve living standards and enhance efficiency and transparency in governance.
- Previous Collaborations: Prior to this agreement with Papua New Guinea, India signed MoUs with four other countries on sharing INDIA STACK during a meeting held in June 2023.