Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena visited China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping from 25th March to 29th March 2015. Apart from the bilateral meetings in Beijing, he also attended the Bo Ao Forum in Hainan on 28-29 March. This was Sirisena’s maiden visit to China since taking office.
While connectivity as a principle cannot be faulted with it is the geopolitical implications of such projects, for instance the China-Pakistan economic corridor that has raised concerns amongst India’s strategic and security establishment. Firstly, there is the question of infrastructure or for that matter any other developmental projects in an area which is considered disputed not only by India but also by Pakistan.
The Indian Army has a proud record of achievements – both in peace and war. Political leaders, government officialdom and people – all have absolute confidence in the Army as is evident from their eagerness to call for the military help in any eventuality too dangerous or difficult for others. Such absolute love and confidence should be a great source of happiness for the soldiers.
Existing Agreements need to be Diligently Implemented
The Special Representatives of the Prime Ministers of India and China met on March 23, 2015 at New Delhi to discuss the resolution of the territorial dispute. This was the 18th round of border talks that have made little progress so far. A typically bland statement was issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after the talks: “The Special Representatives continued the discussions to reach a mutually acceptable Framework for resolution of the Boundary Question on the basis of the Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles.”
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) forthcoming annual summit meeting in Bashkortostan in Russia in July 2015 , it is expected that India’s status would be elevated from an Observer to a full member. If reports are true, it would indeed be a positive development for India. A regional Grouping, the SCO, comprises of countries some of whom are part of its extended / strategic neighbourhood. Today India’s neighbourhood is in a state of flux, the shape of future scenario in Afghanistan is uncertain.The process of withdrawal of Western coalition forces from Afghanistan has begun.
The President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia from 18th March. A joint statement issued at the conclusion of Yameen’s visit to the Kingdom said that the two sides have expressed their desire to strengthen cooperation in foreign affairs, defence, Islamic affairs, justice, economic, investment and trade sectors, providing support to the issues of the Muslim nation as well as education, health and social affairs to realize their common interests. The Saudi Fund for Development will continue to finance development projects in Maldives.
Parliament has just approved the vote on account and remitted the Budget proposal to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The expenditure proposals will be considered by the individual ministries to whom the Demands for Grants pertain. The taxation and other tax related proposals will be examined by the Standing Committee on Finance. Both these would now be considered for final approval with such modification as the Finance Minister considers appropriate post the Parliamentary Recess period. These both would be approved and concluded in the first half of May.
Strategic Encirclement of India
When Asia’s leaders meet at the annual East Asia summit to discuss geo-strategic and economic issues of common interest, most of the discussions on the sidelines of the summit are centred on China’s aggressive posturing in its area of influence. China’s recent assertiveness in the South China Sea and its belligerence on the Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands are indicators of its growing proclivity to settle territorial and boundary disputes by force rather than through diplomatic negotiations.
As part of his recent three nation Indian Ocean tour, Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Seychelles after 34 years; Indira Gandhi being the last in 1981. Modi led a high level delegation which included among others Foreign Secretary and National Security Adviser, and his visit saw signing of four pacts, including one on bolstering maritime security and closer cooperation in ‘ocean economy’.
Evolution of Bilateral Relations and Areas of Cooperation