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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 28 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Supreme Court on Pegasus case
  2. Amendments proposed to Births and Deaths law
  3. India seeks vaccine loans from ADB, AIIB
  4. Sweden to launch ‘Time for India’ campaign
  5. Saudi Arabia to provide $3 billion to Pakistan

Supreme Court on Pegasus case

Context:

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana passed an order in the Pegasus snooping case related to the recent allegations of the Government using Pegasus software to spy on citizens.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights, Important Judgements), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Basics of Cyber Security; Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges; Internal security challenges through communication networks)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Pegasus Project and how dangerously compromising it is.
  2. Spyware and types of Cyber Attacks
  3. Pegasus Attacks in the past and in India
  4. History of Government’s surveillance issues
  5. Legislations on Surveillance
  6. K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance
  7. Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance
  8. SC forms committee to examine Pegasus allegations
  9. SC on Pegasus row and Privacy of Citizens
  10. SC on Pegasus row and Freedom of Press
  11. SC on Pegasus row and the petitions filed
  12. SC on Pegasus row and the ‘national security’ reason

Click Here to read about: The Pegasus Project and how dangerously compromising it is; Spyware and types of Cyber Attacks; Pegasus Attacks in the past and in India; History of Government’s surveillance issues; Legislations on Surveillance; K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance; Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance.

Click Here to read about: Cyber Attack and Cyber Security; Challenges of Cyber Security in India; Measures taken by the government to improve the Cyber Security

SC forms committee to examine Pegasus allegations

  • The Supreme Court appointed an independent expert technical committee overseen by a former apex court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran, to examine allegations that the government used an Israeli spyware, Pegasus, to snoop on its own citizens.
  • Justice Raveendran would oversee the functioning of the technical committee and would be assisted by Alok Joshi, former IPS officer (1976 batch) and Dr. Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee).

Directives given to the committee by the SC

  • The SC directed the committee not to just inquire into recent allegations of the Government using Pegasus to snoop, but travel back the trail to reports of the Israeli spyware being used to hack social media accounts of private citizens in 2019.
  • The court also wanted the committee to use its expertise to test the existing surveillance laws and procedures to see how much they valued and protected citizens’ privacy.
  • The court said the committee should come up with recommendations to prevent state and non-state players from invading the fundamental right of privacy of citizens through illegal surveillance mounted on them.
  • The SC asked the committee to suggest a “mechanism” for citizens to raise grievances on “suspicion of illegal surveillance of their devices”.
  • The court also pushed for suggestions from the committee for the setting up of a “well-equipped independent premier agency to investigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities”.
  • The Supreme Court’s seven-point “terms of reference” not only seems to deal with the recent trigger for the Pegasus controversy, but dives deep into the first public signs of the alleged use of the military grade spyware years ago.

SC on Pegasus row and Privacy of Citizens

  • Chief Justice Ramana read out that every citizen has a “reasonable right to privacy,choices, liberties and freedom”.
  • The court said the state uses surveillance but the power to spy should not affect individual rights.
  • Technology is useful, but it cannot be used to take away freedoms or launch a cyberattack on privacy.
  • The necessity to trespass on individual privacy should be proportional.
  • It is undeniable that surveillance and the knowledge that one is under the threat of being spied on can affect the way an individual decides to exercise his or her rights. Such a scenario might result in self-censorship.
  • Indiscriminate spying on individuals by the state is not allowed in a democracy, the use of technology for surveillance by the State must be evidence-based, the court said.

SC on Pegasus row and Freedom of Press

  • One of the petitioners, the Editors Guild of India, had sought an independent probe into the government’s alleged role in the Pegasus controversy.
  • The Guild had pointed out that freedom of press is a hard-won right essential to democracy.
  • The Supreme Court expressed particular concern about the protection of journalistic freedom. It said the State should not create an atmosphere that has a “chilling effect” on the freedom of the press.
  • The court said a democratic society values the importance of protecting a source. That is part of press freedom.

SC on Pegasus row and the petitions filed

  • In the Pegasus order, the court reminded the Government that the petitioners do not contend that the State should not resort to surveillance/collection of data in matters of national security. The complaint of the petitioners is about the misuse or likely misuse of spyware in violation of the right to privacy of citizens.
  • The petitions had alleged that questions and attempts to garner the truth from the government had reached a dead-end
  • The court took special care to highlight in its order about how the government refused to take a “clear stand” in court on whether the allegations were true or not. There was no specific denial of the allegations by the Union of India.

SC on Pegasus row and the ‘national security’ reason

  • The Solicitor General had refused the court’s repeated advice to file a detailed affidavit responding to the snooping allegations, blankly saying “the disclosure of certain facts might affect the national security and defence of the nation”.
  • The SC said that the State cannot keep a secret from the court merely on the bogey of ‘national security’ and expect the judiciary to remain a “mute spectator”.
  • The claim has to be backed by evidence to prove that the disclosure of the information sought by the court would affect national security concerns.
  • The court accepted that judicial review in national security matters was limited.

-Source: The Hindu


Amendments proposed to Births and Deaths law

Context:

The Centre has proposed amendments to a 1969 law that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and initiatives, Accountability and Transparency in Governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How to Register a Birth or Death presently?
  2. About the accomplishment of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in 1969
  3. Highlights of ‘Annual Report on Vital Statistics of India’ for the year 2018
  4. About the amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in 1969
  5. Registrar General of India

How to Register a Birth or Death presently?

  • The prescribed time limit for registration of birth or death is 21 days. Some States however register the births and deaths even after a year.
  • The birth or death certificate is issued free of charge by the Registrar concerned if reported within 21 days.
  • If reported within 21-30 days, it can be registered on payment of the prescribed fee.
  • Births and deaths reported after one year of occurrence shall be registered only on an order of the Magistrate of the First Class after verifying the correctness and on payment of the prescribed fee.

About the accomplishment of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in 1969

  • The Government of India had enacted the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in 1969 to promote the compulsory registration of births and deaths. The Act made registration of births, deaths and still births mandatory in India.
  • The accomplishment of the objectives of this Act was, however, poor in India. Nevertheless, efforts have been made by the Union government to fill in the gaps.
  • By 2015, almost all states and UTs except Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland had achieved a registration rate of 50 per cent or above, according to the data. The results from NFHS-5 also present a wide range figures: The rate of registration of deaths was 37 per cent in Bihar; it was 100 per cent in Goa among 22 surveyed states and UTs.
  • The rural-urban divide was considerably wide in Bihar and Nagaland; rest of the states and UTs showed compatible levels of death registration in urban and rural areas.
  • Most districts of south Indian states exhibited higher levels of death registration in the past three years 2017-2020. All districts of Kerala and majority of Gujarat and Maharashtra recorded 90 per cent or above registration of deaths.
  • Rate of registration of births was exemplarily high among the surveyed states and UTs when compared to death registrations.
  • Universal registration of births (100% registration) was found in Lakshadweep and Goa; Kerala and Mizoram recorded 99 per cent registration.
  • The district data showed high levels of birth registration of children less than five years with the civil authority in the districts of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Almost all districts of Bihar and some districts of Meghalaya and Nagaland showed comparatively low levels of birth registration with respect to other parts of the country. 

Highlights of ‘Annual Report on Vital Statistics of India’ for the year 2018

  • Arunachal Pradesh recorded 1,084 females born per thousand males, followed by Nagaland (965) Mizoram (964), Kerala (963) and Karnataka (957). The worst was reported in Manipur (757), Lakshadweep (839) and Daman & Diu (877), Punjab (896) and Gujarat (896).
  • The ratio was determined on the basis of data provided by 30 States and Union Territories as the “requisite information from six States namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is not available.”
  • The number of registered births increased to 2.33 crore in 2018 from 2.21 crore registered births the previous year.
  • The level of registration of births has increased to 89.3% in 2018 from 81.3% in 2009.

About the amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in 1969

  • Presently, the registration of births and deaths is done by the local registrar appointed by States. It is proposed that the Chief Registrar (appointed by the States) would maintain a unified database at the State level and integrate it with the data at the “national level,” maintained by the Registrar General of India (RGI).
  • The proposed change is set to say that the Registrar General of India shall maintain the database of registered births and deaths at the national level, that may be used to update:
  • Population Register prepared under the Citizenship Act, 1955
  • Electoral registers or electoral rolls prepared under the Representation of the People Act, 1951
  • Aadhaar database prepared under the Aadhaar Act, 2016
  • Ration card database prepared under the National Food Security Act, 2013
  • Passport database prepared under the Passport Act
  • Driving licence database under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 201
  • Other databases at the national level subject to proviso of Section 17 (1) of the RBD Act, 1969.
  • If the amendments are implemented, the Centre could use the data to update the National Population Register (NPR), first prepared in 2010 and revised through door-to-door enumeration in 2015.
  • Another proposed change is the appointment of Special Sub-Registrars, in the event of disaster for on the spot registration of deaths and issuance of extract thereof.

Registrar General of India

  • Registrar General of India was founded in 1961 by the Government of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It arranges, conducts and analyses the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.
  • The position of Registrar is usually held by a civil servant holding the rank of Joint Secretary.

-Source: The Hindu


India seeks vaccine loans from ADB, AIIB

Context:

  • The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The ADB is expected to lend $1.5 billion and the AIIB around $500 million for the vaccine purchase by the Government of India, which has been made under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative.
  • Recently, the Union Minister of Finance participated in the 6th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (International Institutions), GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank:
  2. Membership of AIIB
  3. Financial Capital of AIIB:
  4. India and AIIB (updates as of 2021)
  5. About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

About Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank:

  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution proposed by China. The purpose of the multilateral development bank is to provide finance to infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • It is headquartered in Beijing.
  • It commenced operations in January 2016.
  • By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, it aims to connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

Membership of AIIB

Membership in the AIIB is open to all members of the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank and is divided into regional and non-regional members.

  • Regional members are those located within areas classified as Asia and Oceania by the United Nations.
  • Unlike other MDBs (multilateral development bank), the AIIB allows for non-sovereign entities to apply for AIIB membership, assuming their home country is a member.
  • Thus, sovereign wealth funds (such as the China Investment Corporation) or state-owned enterprises of member countries could potentially join the Bank.
  • The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has officially approved 57 nations as prospective founding members, with Sweden, Israel, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Portugal and Poland the latest to be included. 
  • Countries accepted as AIIB founding members include China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Pakistan, Britain, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.
  • Founding members have priority over nations that sign up later because they will have the right to set the rules for the bank.
  • As of May, 2020, the bank currently has 78 members as well as 24 prospective members from around the world.

Financial Capital of AIIB:

  • The AIIB’s initial total capital is USD 100 billion divided into 1 million shares of 100 000 dollars each, with 20% paid-in and 80% callable.
  • Paid-Up Share Capital: It is the amount of money that has already been paid by investors in exchange for shares of stock.
  • Called-Up Share Capital: Some companies may issue shares to investors with the understanding they will be paid at a later date.
  • This allows for more flexible investment terms and may entice investors to contribute more share capital than if they had to provide funds up front.
  • China is the largest contributor to the Bank, contributing USD 50 billion, half of the initial subscribed capital.
  • India is the second-largest shareholder, contributing USD 8.4 billion.
  • Voting Rights:
  • China is the largest shareholder with 26.61 % voting shares in the bank followed by India (7.6%), Russia (6.01%) and Germany (4.2 %).
  • The regional members hold 75% of the total voting power in the Bank.

India and AIIB (updates as of 2021)

  • India was among the AIIB’s 57 founding members in 2016.
  • It is also its second-largest shareholder (with 7.62% voting shares) after China (26.06%).
  • It has received USD 4.35 billion from AIIB which is the highest of any country, with the bank so far approving loans of USD 19.6 billion to support 87 projects in 24 countries.
  • AIIB has approved financing projects in India in a host of sectors like energy, transport and water including the Bangalore metro rail project (USD 335 million), Gujarat rural roads project (USD 329 million) and Phase 3 of the Mumbai urban transport project (USD 500 million).
  • Based on the stance taken in the 6th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2021 by India – India is unlikely to alter its engagement with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), despite a host of offensive measures announced recently to reduce its trade and investment links with China.

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • It is headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank and an official United Nations Observer.
  • Japan holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by the USA, and it has a weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions (just like the World Bank).
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB defines itself as a social development organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
  • ADB aids in reducing poverty through investments in the form of loans, grants and information sharing (in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems), helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
  • India was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966 and is now the bank’s fourth largest shareholder and top borrower.

-Source: The Hindu


Sweden to launch ‘Time for India’ campaign

Context:

Sweden’s ambassador in India said that Sweden will soon launch a trade promotion event — Time for India — to boost bilateral trade and hinted that the Swedish Government may take a more liberal post-COVID visa policy for India soon.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Sweden’s ‘Time for India’ campaign
  2. 8th India-Sweden Innovation Day ’21
  3. India – Sweden Relations

Sweden’s ‘Time for India’ campaign

  • Sweden’s Ambassador in India will lead a Swedish diplomatic and economic delegation in November to Sweden and team up with the Indian embassy in Stockholm and launch a promotional campaign for Indian business.
  • The team will hold meetings and seminars in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo that are expected to be attended by a large number of companies and Swedish investors.
  • These seminars will be used to inform interested companies and people in trading and investing in India.
  • The “global entry” policy of Sweden is part of its post-COVID19 recovery plan which is being examined continuously depending on the scale of the pandemic.
  • The Business Climate Survey (BCS) reveals that Swedish companies reported growth and profit in the third quarter of 2020 despite the pandemic scenario in India.

 

8th India-Sweden Innovation Day ’21

  • India and Sweden are celebrating the 8th Innovation Day on 26th October at through an online event themed “Accelerating India Sweden’s Green Transition”.
  • The online event is hosted by India Unlimited in association with the Embassy of India in Sweden, Sweden-India Business Council, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  • India Unlimited was founded in 2013 to promote cross-cultural ties between India and Sweden in association with the Embassy of India in Sweden and Sweden-India Business Council.
  • In the last seven years, the organization has hosted a number of events in Stockholm and Gothenburg showcasing the diversity of Indian cultural, economic and social life.
  • The forum will lead discussions to analyse various aspects of technology concerning the two nations, including Sweden-India Tech Startup Ecosystems, Joint Investments in Technology, Healthcare, Energy, Transportation, Industry 4.0, Technology Parks, Sweden-India Future Trends and the scope of Artificial Intelligence.

India – Sweden Relations

  • The first India-Nordic Summit took place in the year 2018 following which King and Queen of Sweden gave a Royal Visit to India.
  • After China and Japan, India is Sweden’s third largest trade partner in Asia. The main items of Indian exports to Sweden are articles of apparel, clothing accessories; textiles yarn, fabrics, made-ups; manufactures of metals; road vehicles; general industrial machinery and equipment.
  • The main items of Indian imports from Sweden are pulp and waste paper; road vehicles; paper and paper board, general industrial machinery and equipment etc.
  • It has been argued that India can be benefited by imitating the Nordic approach to innovation systems, characterised by a strong collaboration between public sector, private sector and academia.
  • In areas like clean technologies, maritime solutions, port modernisation, food processing, health, life-sciences and agriculture, Nordic solutions have been deemed to be useful.

-Source: The Hindu


Saudi Arabia to provide $3 billion to Pakistan

Context:

Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide $3 billion to cash-strapped Pakistan in safe deposits and $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion worth of oil supplies on deferred payments.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Economic and Strategic Aspects of Saudi-Pakistan Relationship
  2. Saudi-Pakistan ties affecting India in the past
  3. Saudi Alignment over Kashmir
  4. 2015 Strains in the Relationship
  5. India-Saudi Relations
  6. Implications for India

Economic and Strategic Aspects of Saudi-Pakistan Relationship

  • Pakistan has benefited enormously from Saudi Arabia – the Muslim world’s wealthiest nation – through generous financial aid, the supply of oil on a deferred payment basis and aid during crises.
  • For instance, the Saudis provided a grant of US$10 million during the 2005 earthquake, $170 million during the 2010/11 floods, and a $1.5 billion grant when Pakistan faced an economic crisis in 2014.
  • Besides, there are around two million Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and they send back remittances worth over $5 billion every year.
  • Not only has Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan avoid major economic crises, it has also supported Pakistan’s defence by providing logistic support and financial assistance. For instance, the Kingdom assured Islamabad that it would supply 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day on a deferred payment basis in case Pakistan’s nuclear tests resulted in US and other European sanctions in 1998.
  • Pakistan has been importing mainly oil from Saudi Arabia and exports rice, meat, meat products, spices and fruits, footwear and leather goods, and chemicals.

Saudi-Pakistan ties affecting India in the past

  • The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was most prominent during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
  • Saudi Arabia had denounced the Indian action as “treacherous and contrary to all international covenants and human values” and found no justification for the Indian aggression except “India’s desire to dismember Pakistan and tarnish its Islamic creed”.
  • Saudi Arabia is also reported to have transferred arms and equipment including the loan of some 75 aircraft to Pakistan during the 1971 war.
  • After the war, Saudi Arabia consistently supported the call for the return of Pakistan’s prisoners of war and for dropping the Dacca (Dhaka) Trial against 195 of them.
  • After the war, Saudi Arabia gave loans to Pakistan enabling it to buy arms worth about $1 million by 1977, including F-16s and Harpoon missiles from the US.
  • Saudi oil and dollars have kept Pakistan’s economy on its feet after sanctions following the nuclear tests.
  • Over the last two decades, Saudi Arabia has provided oil on deferred payments to Pakistan whenever it ran into economic difficulty.
  • Saudi funding of madrasas have also led to their mushrooming, later giving rise to religious extremism.
  • In 1990, Pakistan sent its ground forces to defend Saudi Arabia against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Saudi Alignment over Kashmir

  • The alignment over Kashmir at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) crystallised since 1990, when insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir began. While the OIC has issued statements over the last three decades, it became a ritual of little significance to India.
  • In 2019, after India revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for its condemnation of India’s move. To Pakistan’s surprise, Saudi Arabia and the UAE issued statements that were nuanced rather than harshly critical of New Delhi.
  • After that, from 2019-20 Pakistan has tried to rouse the sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticised India.

2015 Strains in the Relationship

  • When, in 2015, Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan to join the coalition it was leading to undertake the ground offensive in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthis, Islamabad refused and let it be known that it would prefer to stand “neutral” in the Iran-Saudi rivalry.
  • The decision was taken keeping in mind the possible implications of joining the coalition on domestic politics and on bilateral relations with Iran.
  • The Saudi-Iran conflict in West Asia has serious ramifications for Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia sees Iranian involvement and growing salience in regional politics as a threat to its security.
  • Pakistan, for its part, is worried about India’s improving relations with West Asian countries in general and Saudi Arabia in particular. While Pakistan wants to maintain a delicate balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Saudis are not happy with this balancing game and want Pakistan to support them.

India-Saudi Relations

  • The geostrategic position of Saudi Arabia makes it an important country for India, with trade and cultural links dating back thousands of years.
  • There is a rational calculation regarding Saudi interest in expanding trade and investment in India and collaboration in the energy sector.
  • Saudi Aramco is interested in partnering with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in developing an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture with Indian public sector involvement. Saudi Arabia is already one of the three largest suppliers of oil to India.
  • That the two countries are moving beyond the traditional buyer-seller relationship is best exemplified by the joint venture for the $44 billion worth Ratnagiri refinery and petrochemical project.
  • The assumption that Saudi Arabia is tilted towards India is nothing more than an unrealistic hope.
  • The Saudi Foreign Minister’s statement in Islamabad during MBS’s visit that Riyadh is committed to “de-escalating” tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir must not be read as an endorsement of the Indian stand but as an attempt to intervene in the dispute rather than accept its bilateral nature.
  • Good relations with Riyadh and other West Asian capitals is essential for the welfare of the expatriate Indian community and their emergency evacuation should there be such a need. West Asia is also an important partner in the domains of counterterrorism and maritime security in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Indians in Saudi Arabia are the second-largest providers of remittances to their home country. They are also an important aspect of our soft-power diplomacy in the region.

Recent changes in political viewpoints

  • As Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify from its heavily oil-dependent economy, it sees India as a valuable partner in the region.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS, who is looking to invest in India, has taken a realistic view, along with UAE’s crown prince – Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, US and Japan) and a major source of energy: India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is also a major source of LPG for India.
  • New Delhi, for its part, has wooed the Arab world over the last six years 2014-20, and worked the diplomatic levers through high-level visits and dangled opportunities for investment and business.

Implications for India

  • India, which is closely watching the developments between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, has not said anything publicly, but Saudi’s silence on J&K as well as CAA-NRC has emboldened the Indian government.
  • What is key to India’s calculus is that the Pakistan-China and the Pakistan-Saudi axes are not fused together at the moment: It is not a Saudi-Pakistan-China triangle.
  • Both New Delhi and Riyadh see value in their relationship. At a time when India and China are locked in a border standoff, India would be wary of Pakistan and China teaming up. However, having Saudi Arabia in India’s corner may provide a leverage over Pakistan as Riyadh would not want a conflict and regional instability.

-Source: The Hindu

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