One of the key contentious issues between India and Bangladesh — the sharing of Teesta river waters — finally made it to the joint statement, reaffirming India’s commitment to settle the issue “as soon as possible.”
According to the statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “conveyed that deliberations are under way involving all stakeholders with regard to conclusion of the Interim Agreements” on at least two rivers, Teesta and Feni. While it was not very different from what was said in the joint statement in 2011, there was one critical difference. In 2015, the Chief Minister of West Bengal visited Bangladesh and participated in key meetings. Later in the evening, Mr. Modi said he would “make it [Teesta deal] happen.” “We should not lose hope ever about this deal,” he added.
India, however, addressed another long-standing demand of its neighbour — to stop the construction of the Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project on the Barak river on the eastern edge of Bangladesh.
“Prime Minister Modi also conveyed that the Tipaimukh project is not likely to be taken forward in its present form due to statutory requirements on the Indian side, and that India would not take any unilateral decision that may adversely impact Bangladesh,” the statement said. Besides, the statement reiterated India’s earlier position of not initiating “any unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of their river-interlinking project which may affect Bangladesh.”
The two countries signed and exchanged 22 instruments, including four agreements, three protocols, 14 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and one letter of consent on a range of issues.
More power supply
A few topics were elaborately treated in these instruments. Firstly, much stress was laid on augmenting power generation and supply. The Palatna project will be operational and 100 MW power will go to Bangladesh, while overall supply will be augmented from 500 to 1,000 MW. “Both sides welcomed the consensus to evacuate power from the north-eastern region of India (Rangia/Rowta) to Muzaffarnagar of India through Bangladesh,” the statement said.
Both sides also claimed to have made substantial advance in connectivity. India will get access to its north-eastern States through Bangladesh, while Bangladesh will have access to Nepal and Bhutan. Moreover, the Bangladesh shipping industry will substantially gain from an agreement on waterways connectivity.
India has also agreed to “remove all barriers to ensure unfettered bilateral trade (to)…narrow the trade imbalance.”
The Bangladesh Television will enter into an agreement to allow BTV in the Prasar Bharati’s DTH platform.
The Indian proposal on opening Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was appreciated by Bangladesh, while both Prime Ministers “expressed satisfaction” at the proper utilisation of the $800-million credit line provided to Bangladesh in 2011. India will now provide a second credit line of $2 billion to the neighbouring country.
The agreements have addressed another contentious issue — the demand and supply gap in visas. “Prime Minister Hasina appreciated the concurrence of the government of India to the opening of a Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Guwahati as well as the upgrading the Bangladesh Visa Office in Agartala to an Assistant High Commission. Mr. Modi appreciated Bangladesh’s nod for opening of India’s Assistant High Commissions in Khulna and Sylhet,” the statement said.
Both the Prime Ministers underscored the need to preserve the “memory and legacy” of the 1971 liberation war. With the ratification of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), both sides agreed that this was the most constructive and fruitful phase of cooperation between the two countries in recent times.
4.BSF may take over security along India-Myanmar border
The back-to-back attacks on security forces in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in the past week have prompted the Union government to reconsider the Union Home Ministry’s long-standing demand for handing over the India-Myanmar border to the Border Security Force, Ministry sources said here on Sunday.
Khaplang Pangmi, chairman of the Myanmar-based NSCN(K); Kughalu Molatonu, general secretary; Alezo Chakesang from Nagaland, information secretary; and other senior members of group and its affiliate organisations have been named in the first information report filed by the National Investigation Agency in the Manipur case.
5.G7 summit opens with tough line on Ukraine
The leaders of Germany and the United States hammered home a tough line on Russia on Sunday at the start of a G7 summit dominated by crises in Ukraine and Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel kicked off the day by treating U.S. President Barack Obama to some traditional Bavarian beer garden hospitality, with frothy ale, pretzels and oompah brass music played by locals in lederhosen.
But after the smiles in the sunshine, both leaders issued a stark warning to President Vladimir Putin over what Mr. Obama said was his “aggression” in Ukraine.
The Greek crisis threatened to overshadow the G7 summit, which Ms. Merkel has hoped to focus on other pressing global issues — from climate change and Islamist extremism to women’s rights, public health initiatives and the fight against poverty.
A senior government official told The Hindu that to devise a strategy to counter the Islamic State threat, “we have decided to come up with a new national policy.”
“To begin with, we will bring all the stakeholders concerned to a common table and share the various strategies that can be adopted,” according to the official.
Since the recruitment by the militant outfit is done online, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in June this year gave the go-ahead for the creation of a revamped “cyber security architecture” within the Intelligence Bureau comprising 500 officials.
The need for a specialised wing was realised following the growing threat of radicalisation of youth through cyber means.
India’s move to insert safeguards against offshore litigation follows the initiation of more than 17 cases of international arbitration against it by global companies including Vodafone and Deutsche Telecom under bilateral investment agreements with various countries.
Many of these offshore arbitrations allege tax terrorism by Indian authorities for the retrospective tax notices against several global companies, while some were triggered by the SC’s cancellation of the 2G licences.
“India is unlikely to reverse any policy affecting investments made by foreign investors on Indian soil…We don’t normally roll back say foreign direct investment caps in any sector…however, if something necessitates rollbacks then the BIPPAs (bilateral investment protection and promotion agreements) will protect the government against offshore arbitration…there will also be protection against allegations of tax terrorism,” a top official told The Hindu .
The U.S. is keen to sign the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to provide comfort to American companies that they will not be treated unfairly in India. India sees it as another way of making itself a more attractive destination to foreign investors.
The commercial and strategic dialogue will be held on September 21-22 in Washington, just days before Mr. Modi lands in the U.S. to attend the UNGA. In particular, in the talks held on Friday, the two sides looked at similar agreements India has already concluded. While the U.S. preferred a model BIT close to the India-Japan CEPA, Indian officials pushed for something closer to the Canadian investment treaty. “The final model BIT could be somewhere between those two,” one official source said.
“India is unlikely to reverse any policy affecting investments made by foreign investors here”
3.Modi to visit Ireland, Turkey
After clocking 16 countries between March and July this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set for the next international tour that will include Ireland, Turkey and the United States, where he will attend the Annual General Assembly meeting of the United Nations in New York in September.
There could also be a possible stopover in Frankfurt on his way back from the U.S.
The Prime Minister will also travel to the U.K. in November and dates are being finalised for his visit to Russia for an Inter-Governmental Commission meeting.
Mr. Modi, who has earlier travelled to Astrakhan as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2006, is keen that the meeting should be held in the Caspian city. The Astrakhan visit could be towards the end of November or early December.
Astrakhan is an important destination as it is part of the North South Transport Corridor, which is being fast-tracked. The North South Corridor will allow India better connectivity to Russia, bringing down freight rates.
Astrakhan is a city in southern European Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast. The city lies on two banks of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of 28 meters below sea level.
4.Navy aligns indigenisation plan with ‘Make in India’
The Navy has unveiled a 15-year plan to achieve full indigenisation in all phases of warship construction, from ship-building to systems to weapons, and aligned it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India.” The Navy wants to involve private industry in a big way in this initiative.
The Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan 2015-2030 is aimed at enabling the development of equipment and systems through the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian industry over a 15-year period, the Navy said in a statement.
A warship can be broadly divided into three segments — float, move and fight. The Navy has achieved 90 per cent indigenisation in the float category, while the move (propulsion) and fight (weapons) components stand at 60 and 30 per cent respectively, which are priority areas to be addressed.
Among platforms, a major area of concern is helicopters. “This is one area where there is a huge opportunity for indigenisation of our future naval aviation assets,” Navy Chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan said last week.
The Navy issued its first 15-year indigenisation plan in 2003 and then revised it in 2008. The current revision was done to dovetail it with the ‘Make in India’ pitch. The Navy has individual plans for capacity augmentation — the Indian Maritime Capability Perspective Plan for fleet augmentation, Maritime Infrastructure Augmentation Plan and the Maritime Cooperation Roadmap all of which are from 2012 to 2027.
The plan’s objective is to have a 200-ship navy by 2027 as was recently stated by Vice Chief of Navy Vice Admiral P. Murugesan.