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3rd March 2021 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. The anatomy of a spring ceasefire
  2.  Recalibrating relations with EU

Editorial: The anatomy of a spring ceasefire


  • The February ceasefire has triggered widespread speculation about its durability, significance and implication for bilateral relations in general.


  • GS Paper 2: India and its neighbourhood

Mains Questions:

  1. Terrorist activities and mutual distrust have clouded India-Pakistan relations. To what extent the use of soft power like sports and cultural exchanges could help generate goodwill between the two countries? Discuss with suitable examples. 15 marks
  2. “Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member-states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.

Dimensions of the relationship

  • Background of the India Pakistan Relationship
  • Two majors source of conflicts
  • Territorial Disputes
  • Way Forward

Background of India Pakistan Relationship

The term “Intractable rivalry” captures the flavour of the India Pakistan relationship over the decades, since the 2 countries became independent of British rule in 1947. At one level, it could be argued that a relationship has been managed reasonably well given the fundamental contradiction between India’s status-quoist approach to Kashmir which lies at the heart of their conflict and Pakistan’s determination to alter the status quo and obtain Kashmir. At another Indian policymaker’s inability to find there be out of the difficulty reflects the constraints imposed by major policy choices.

Two major Sources of conflict

  • Identity: The partition of 1947 arose from the contrasting conception of national identity to which both the nations continue to cling. In terms of Kashmir (the most sensitive issue between the two) both the states laid their claims based on their identities. Pakistan claimed Kashmir on the basis of being an Islamic state and that majority population in Kashmir is Muslim. While India justified its claim based on its secular identity.
  • Political Systems: The security issue surrounding Kashmir is closely related to the larger problem of 2 political systems. The internal weaknesses of both the countries made them prone to consolidate their identities with regards to other states. While India sought to protect itself from west (especially US), Pakistan did the same for India. Neither was internally stable.

Territorial Disputes


  • Due to political differences between the two countries, the territorial claim of Kashmir has been the subject of wars in 1947, 1965 and a limited conflict in 1999 and frequent ceasefire violations and promotion of rebellion within the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The then princely state remains an area of contention and is divided between the two countries by the Line of Control (LoC), which demarcates the ceasefire line agreed post-1947 conflict

Siachen Glacier:

  • Siachen Glacier is located in Northern Ladakh in the Karakoram Range.
  • It is the 5th largest glacier in Karakoram Range and the 2nd largest glacier in the world.
  • Most of the Siachen Glacier is disputed between India and Pakistan.
  • Before 1984, neither of the two countries had any permanent presence on the glacier.
  • Under the Shimla Agreement of 1972, the Siachen was called a barren and useless.
  • This Agreement also did not specify the boundary between India and Pakistan.
  • When India got intelligence that Pakistan was going occupy Siachen Glacier, it launched Operation Meghdoot to reach the glacier first.
  • Following the success of Operation Meghdoot, the Indian Army obtained the area at a higher altitude and Pakistan army getting a much lower altitude.
  • Thus, India has a strategic advantage in this region.
  • Following the 2003 armistice treaty between the two countries, firing and bombardment have ceased in this area, though both the sides have stationed their armies in the region.

Sir Creek Dispute

  • Sir Creek is a 96 km tidal estuary on the border of India and Pakistan. The creek, which opens up into the Arabian Sea, divides the Gujarat state of India from the Sindh province of Pakistan.
  • Sir Creek Dispute: The basic cause of the Sir Creek dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh. While the disputed area of Sir Creek involves only a few square miles of land, the land border demarcation has a direct impact on the maritime boundaries of both countries, involving a few hundred square miles of the ocean territory.
    • Pakistan’s Position: Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek, with its eastern bank defined by a “green line” and represented on a 1914 map belongs to it. Accepting Pakistan’s premise on the “green line” would mean loss of about 250 square miles of EEZ for India.
    • India’s Position: India says that the green line is an indicative line and felt the boundary should be defined by the “mid-channel” of the Creek as shown on a map dated 1925. India supports its stance by citing the Thalweg doctrine in international law. It states that river boundaries between two states may be, if the two states agree, divided by the mid- channel. Pakistan maintains that the doctrine is not applicable in this case as it most commonly applies to non-tidal rivers, and Sir Creek is a tidal estuary.

Significance of Sir Creek

  • Security importance: Sir Creek has been primarily viewed as a maritime, or a strategic issue. Over the year this region has become main route to smuggle drugs, arms and petroleum product to India.
  • Maritime boundary: The resolution of sir creek will help in determining the limits of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and continental shelves.
  • Economic value: Much of the region is rich in oil and gas below the sea bed, and control over the creek would have a huge bearing on the energy potential of each nation.
    • The Sir Creek area is also a great fishing destination for hundreds of fishermen from both India and Pakistan.
  • Ecological value: The ecological significance of this region, and the growing concerns of climate threats, necessitate reconfiguring this dispute as a unique opportunity for transboundary cooperation.
    • Pakistan declared the western side of Sir Creek a Ramsar site back in 2002, but India has not yet done the same on its side of the disputed border.
    • Being a declared Ramsar site in its entirety, the Sir Creek area could grant residents on both sides better economic opportunities. It could help create joint eco-tourism opportunities.

Way Forward

  • In order to strengthen the bilateral engagements between India and Pakistan need of the hour is to employ perfect balance of soft and hard power diplomacy coupled with International diplomacy.
  • International Organizations can be used for building pressure over Pakistan for carrying out anti-terrorist activities like Pakistan’s inclusion on the FATF Grey list makes it harder for its government to access international markets at a time when its economy is weakening.
  • UN’s designation of Masood Azhar as Global terrorist will built pressure on Pakistan to freeze its assets and dilute the existence of its jaish e Mohammed based organization which is responsible for carrying out many attack on Indian army establishments.
  • Initiation of bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan based on the “UFA” agreement aimed at combating terrorism, freeing fishermen, meeting of military personnel, encouraging religious tourism will bring new dimensions to the diplomatic engagements.
  • India’s diplomatic engagement with other South Asian countries and Western powers like USA will help India in creating pressure over Pakistan, for curbing its funding to terrorist activities and bringing an end to the influence of non-state actors in its politics, as both countries being nuclear powers cannot afford to take route of militarised attack and war like situation.

Editorial: Recalibrating relations with EU


  • Realising the vision of a self-reliant India would entail localising an increasing share of value added along supply chains through investments and phase-wise reduction of import tariffs with strategic partners such as the European Union (EU).


  • GS Paper 2: India EU relationship

Mains Questions:

  1. Forging stronger ties with the region could help India strengthen manufacturing and revitalize exports. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the relationship

  • Background of relationship
  • Areas of Cooperation
  • Reasons of growing relationship between EU and India
  • Issues between India and EU
  • Way Forward

Background of the Relationship

  • India-EU relations date to the early 1960s, with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community.
  • First India-EU Summit took place in 2000. In 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership.
  • 15th India- European Union (EU) Summit was held through a virtual medium. Key Outcomes of the Summit
    • ‘India-EU Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025’ was adopted to guide cooperation between India and the EU over the next five years.
    • Agreed to establish regular High-Level Dialogue to guide negotiations on Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) and to address multilateral issues of mutual interest.
    • Agreement between India-EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community) on research and development cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy was signed.
    • Adopted declarations on Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy, decided to launch a dialogue on maritime security, renewed Agreement on Scientific cooperation.

Areas of cooperation

  • Economic and commercial relations
    • EU as a block is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for €80 billion worth of trade in goods in 2019 (11.1% of total Indian trade).
    • Also, EU is the biggest foreign investor in India, with €67.7 billion worth of investments made in 2018 (22% of total FDI inflows).
  • Defence and security cooperation
    • EU and India have instituted several mechanisms for greater cooperation on pressing security challenges like counter-terrorism, maritime security, and nuclear non-proliferation.
    • Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region in New Delhi (IFC-IOR) has recently been linked-up with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) established by the EU Naval Force (NAVFOR).
  • Cooperation in Science and Technology
    • EU is supporting the Mobilize Your City (MYC) programme in India currently in three pilot cities to reduce their urban transport-related Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
    • Also, both have official mechanisms in fields such as Digital Communications, 5G technology, Biotechnology, artificial intelligence etc.
  • People to People Relations
    • India and the EU organize Festivals of culture (e.g. Europalia-India festival), exchanges on heritage such as yoga & Ayurveda etc.
    • There are over 50,000 Indian students currently studying in various European Universities, many of whom are under EU’s Erasmus Mundus scholarship programme for higher education.

Reasons of growing relationship between India and EU

  • Changing Geopolitical developments: As highlighted by EU strategy on India, released in 2018, EU sees EU-India relations in the context of broader geopolitical developments, primarily the rise of China. Impact of China in Europe and Asia (e.g. Belt and Road initiative) has pushed EU to change the nature of its partnerships in the region, particularly with India.
  • Convergence of interests in the Indian Ocean as the Indian Ocean is the main conduit for global trade and energy flows. India, EU see each other as partners in securing the Indian Ocean by strengthening institutions, rule of law, and a regional security architecture.
  • Retreat of the U.S. from global leadership and uncertainty of US policy under Trump has provided opportunities for EU- India cooperation and trilateral dialogues with countries in the Middle Fast, Central Asia and Africa.
  • Strategic rivalry between the US and China: Both EU and India have a common interest in avoiding a bipolarized world and sustaining a rules-based multilateral trading system with the United Nations and the World Trade Organization at its core.
  • Green governance: After the US exit from the Paris climate agreement, India and the EU stand to gain from a joint leadership on global governance matters such as climate change, clean energy or circular economy.
  • New emerging world order after COVID-19: As EU seeks to move away from a global supply chain that is overly dependent on China, India can emerge as its most natural ally.

Issues between India and EU

  • Stalled EU-India BTIA: It is being negotiated since 2007 and both sides have major differences on crucial issues such as
    • EU’s demands: significant duty cuts in automobiles, tax reduction on wines, spirits etc, a strong intellectual property regime, relaxation in India’s data localisation norms, protection to all its items with Geographical Indication etc.
    • India’s demands: ‘Data secure’ status (important for India’s IT sector); Ease norms on temporary movement of skilled workers, relaxation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) norms etc.
  • Trade imbalance: India accounts for only 1.9% of EU total trade in goods in 2019, well behind China (13.8%). Trade imbalance is expected to further increase with ratification of the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement, which will make Indian exports less competitive.
  • India’s perception of EU: It views EU primarily as a trade bloc, preferring bilateral partnerships with Member States for all political and security matters. This is evident from lack of substantive agreements on matters such as regional security and connectivity.
  • Brexit: It is unclear how U.K.’s withdrawal from EU will affect India’s relation with EU as whole.
  • Human Rights concerns of EU: The European Parliament was critical of both the Indian government’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Way forward

  • To translate their common values into common action, EU and India in can work in third countries to consolidate democratic processes and build capacities of transitioning regimes through strengthening electoral and parliamentary institutions.
  • EU can collaborate with India to facilitate connectivity and infrastructure projects in third countries, particularly smaller states in South Asia that often fall prey to power politics and fiscal instability resulting from China’s loans and political influence as part of its BRI.
  • Thus, as highlighted by EU strategy on India, adopted in 2018, India EU should take their relations beyond “trade lens”, recognizing their important geopolitical, strategic convergences.

February 2024