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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Raul Castro resigns as Cuba’s Leader
  2. Hot Springs and Gogra Post in India-China border
  3. European Council on EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

Raul Castro resigns as Cuba’s leader

Context:

  • Raul Castro resigned as head of Cuba’s Communist Party, ending an era of formal leadership by himself and his brother Fidel Castro that began with the 1959 revolution.
  • Cuba’s Party congress chose Mr. Díaz-Canel to be its leader, adding that crucial post to the title of president he assumed in 2018. He replaces his mentor Raul Castro sealing a political dynasty that had held power since the 1959 revolution.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Cuba’s History
  2. Cuba–India relations

Cuba’s History

  • From the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902.
  • In 1940, Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952.
  • Open corruption and oppression under Batista’s rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement, which afterwards established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro.
  • Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.
  • The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
  • In 2019, a new Constitution was approved which officially recognizes the right to private property, while also reassuring the central government’s authority over the regulation of production and land.

Cuba–India relations

  • India was among the first nations to recognize Cuba following the 1959 Cuban revolution.
  • India opened its embassy in Havana in 1960 itself symbolizing Indian solidarity with the Cuban revolution.
  • India has always voted in favour of UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to the United States embargo against Cuba.
  • Cuba has publicly expressed support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council on numerous occasions.
  • Both nations are also members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Trade

  • The main commodities exported from India to Cuba are pharmaceutical products, organic chemicals, plastic and rubber articles, machinery and mechanical appliances.
  • The main commodities Cuba exports to India are tobacco products including cigars, raw hides and skins, and leather.

India’s Support to Cuba

  • India donated a 5 KW solar power plant to Cuba in 1995.
  • In 2008, India wrote off a $62 million loan and interest that it had provided to the Cuban government.
  • India provided Cuba with $2 million in cash in the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma in August–September 2008.
  • Citizens of Cuba are eligible for scholarships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

-Source: The Hindu


Hot Springs and Gogra Post in India-China border

Context:

During the 11th round of discussions between the senior military commanders of India and China to resolve the over 11-month long standoff in eastern Ladakh – there are reports that China had refused to vacate two of the four original friction points -Hot Springs & Gogra Post.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India and its neighborhood, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are PP15 and 17A?
  2. Where are Hot Springs & Gogra Post?
  3. What is the importance of this region?

What are PP15 and 17A?

  • Along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India in China, Indian Army has been given certain locations that its troops have to access to patrol the area under its control. These points are known as patrolling points, or PPs, and are decided by the China Study Group (CSG).
  • CSG was set-up in 1976, when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister, and is the apex decision-making body on China.
  • Barring certain areas, like Depsang Plains, these patrolling points are on the LAC, and troops access these points to assert their control over the territory. It is an important exercise since the boundary between India and China is not yet officially demarcated.
  • PP15 and PP17A are two of the 65 patrolling points in Ladakh along the LAC.

Where are Hot Springs & Gogra Post?

  • Both of these are close to the Chang Chenmo river in the Galwan sub-sector of the LAC in eastern Ladakh. While Hot Springs is just north of the Chang Chenmo river, Gogra Post is east of the point where the river takes a hairpin bend coming southeast from Galwan Valley and turning southwest.
  • The area is north of the Karakoram Range of mountains, which lies north of the Pangong Tso lake, and south east of Galwan Valley, which became a major flashpoint and a violent faceoff in June 2020 had left 20 Indian and at least four Chinese troops dead.

What is the importance of this region?

  • The area lies close to Kongka Pass, one of the main passes, which, according to China marks the boundary between India and China.
  • India’s claim of the international boundary lies significantly east, as it includes the entire Aksai Chin area as well.
  • Hot Springs and Gogra Post are close to the boundary between two of the most historically disturbed provinces (Xinjiang and Tibet) of China.
  • Both PP15 and PP17A are in an area where India and China largely agree on the alignment of the LAC, which comes southeast from Galwan Valley, turns down at Konga La and moves towards Ann Pass before reaching the north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • China has a major post of the People’s Liberation Army a few km east of Kongka La, while Indian posts lie southwest of it.

-Source: Indian Express


European Council on EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

Context:

The Council of the European Union approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to “reinforce its strategic focus, presence and actions” in this region with the aim to contribute to “regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development,” at a time of “rising challenges and tensions in the region.”

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (International Groupings, Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. European Union (EU)
  2. Council of the European Union
  3. What is the Indo-Pacific Region?
  4. Significance of Indo-Pacific for India

European Union (EU)

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one.

EU policies aim to

  1. Ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market;
  2. Enact legislation in justice and home affairs;
  3. Maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

In January 2020, the United Kingdom became the first member state ever to leave the EU.

Note: United Kingdom is not a part of the EU now.

EU FORECASTS RECESSION OF HISTORIC PROPORTIONS - Legacy IAS Academy

Council of the European Union

  • The Council of the European Union is one of three legislative bodies and together with the European Parliament serves to amend and approve the proposals of the European Commission, which holds legislative initiative.
  • The Council of the European Union and the European Council are the only EU institutions that are explicitly intergovernmental, that is forums whose attendees express and represent the position of their member state’s executive, be they ambassadors, ministers or heads of state/government.
  • The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months among the governments of EU member states, with the relevant ministers of the respective country holding the Presidency at any given time ensuring the smooth running of the meetings and setting the daily agenda.
  • Its decisions are made by qualified majority voting in most areas, unanimity in others, or just simple majority for procedural issues.

What is the Indo-Pacific Region?

The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07. The term ‘IndoPacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.

The idea has gained eminence in recent times due to:

  1. Increasing geopolitical connect between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in both the geo-economics
  2. Eastward shift of the world’s economic “centre of gravity” towards the Asian continent .
  3. Growing Eminence of India
  4. Politico-military aggressiveness of China.

Indo Pacific is an inclusive and representative term that reflects the contemporary interconnectedness of trade, technology and supply chains in a wider region.

  • Moreover, the Indo-Pacific is being redefined, ironically, by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), debt-trap diplomacy, fictional territorial claims and a divide-and-rule strategy.
  • Indo Pacific is wider than the “Asia-Pacific” which represented the trans-Pacific strategic and economic impulses after World War II, and was confined to East and South-east Asia.
THE INDO-PACIFIC REGION 38 At least 38 Worlds A G) iii 62% Worlds GDP Worlds Trade Worlds Contairer Trade 55% Indo-Pacific Reg um

Significance of Indo-Pacific for India

  • Greater Role in the Region- This concept is a shift from the Asia-Pacific (included North-east Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania), where India did not have a major role to play. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) launched in 1989 did not include India, as did the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) launched in 1996, though India was admitted into ASEM in 2006. India still remains outside APEC despite stated US support for its inclusion. However, India is a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Play the Role of a Net Security Provider where India is expected to assume the responsibility for stability in the region by following capacity building, military diplomacy, military assistance and direct deployment.
  • Ensure Freedom of Navigation– as the region includes some vital trade routes and world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca. Around 95% of India’s foreign trade comes by the Indian Ocean.
  • Develop a Security Architecture– as there are issues like territorial and water disputes between countries, piracy concerns, North Korean nuclear capability and greater militarization in the region.
  • Containment of China– In the backdrop of China’s aggressive expansionists tendencies including Belt and Road Initiative, String Of Pearls Theory, Indo-Pacific presents an opportunity to capitalise on China’s key strategic vulnerability, viz., its energy lifelines transiting the Indian Ocean and to showcase Indian Navy’s capability to moderate China’s behaviour, thereby dissuading its future aggressiveness.
  • Help achieve Strategic Objectives
    1. Gives an extension to India’s ‘Act East Policy’
    2. Entry in multilateral groupings– such as Nuclear Supplier’s Group and permanent seat in UN Security Council.
    3. Create alliances with smaller powers– as it would entail continued engagement with China while simultaneously developing strong economic and security alliances in East and South East Asia and across the Indian Ocean region
    4. Increasing role of ports– where different countries are trying to setup their bases in different ports of the region. E.g., India has secured access to Duqm port in Oman for military use and develop the Agalega Island in Mauritius. The Indian Navy has secured a logistics facility in Singapore that will allow it to refuel and rearm and has similar facilities in Vietnam.
  • Help achieve Economic Potential- India is targeting a sustained 7.5-8% economic growth and aims to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025. The Indo-Pacific can aid this as there is
    1. Presence of natural resources– like oil and hydrocarbons in South China sea, which can help India diversify its import basket.
    2. Presence of high market potential for Indian exports such as engineering services, ICT services etc.
    3. Development of North Eastern States- that can become a gateway for India to integrate with this region.
    4. Integration of Blue Economy Aspirations– where, ocean ecosystems bring economic and social benefits that are efficient, equitable and sustainable for the entire region.

-Source: The Hindu

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