Bangladesh-India Land Boundary Agreement 1974 and Protocol thereunder of 2011 Some personal insights
The unanimity with which the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha finally, on May 6 and 7 respectively this year, passed the Bangladesh-India Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 and the Protocol thereunder of 2011 was indeed a historic, game-changing development in the tortuous post-Partition annals of this fragmented sub-continent. It finally put to rest some of the demons released by the Radcliffe Award that drew the lines across the map partitioning the historic geo-political configuration that used to be India until August 14, 1947.
While last year China created an avoidable controversy by sending its giant drilling rig HD-981 for drilling for oil within the EEZ of Vietnam to bolster its claims in South China Sea, of late Beijing has adopted innovative strategy of building islands of sand for supporting its maritime claims.
Paresh Baruah’s United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent and S S Khaplang’s National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) have joined hands with seven other militant organisations active in India’s north-east to form the United National Liberation Front of West South-east Asia. According to news reports, the meeting took place in the Sagaing region of Myanmar where Chinese intelligence personnel are known to be active.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Canada has been significant in in many ways. The first stand-alone visit by an Indian Prime Minister in over forty-two years seems to have rejuvenated a long neglected relationship. The visit generated business worth CAD $1.6 billion and saw the signing of sixteen commercial agreements between various Indian and Canadian Companies. While India and Canada have a longstanding bilateral relationship based on shared democratic values, pluralistic societies and strong people-to-people contacts, this is a partnership that has so far not realized its full capacity.
Forty-six billion dollars. A figure like this not only makes for a great headline but also creates a hype which deflects from the fine print and details that lie behind this number. Not surprisingly, the focus of attention – in Pakistan, in India and in other parts of the world, including the US – is the big number and how it will be a ‘game-changer’, how it will change the destiny of Pakistan, how it will change the strategic balance in the region and so on and so forth.
The policy shift being attempted by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in which he sought to relegate India to the fourth circle of priority and appease Pakistan has had mixed reception in the Indian strategic community. It ranges from disappointment over side-lining of India to a resigned acceptance of an emerging situation in which India's space may get constricted. The result is both a sort of detachment over what happens in Afghanistan and hope of seeing China and Pakistan getting steadily bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.
In an effort to restructure the growth vehicle of the nation, Sh. Narendra Modi has announced a paradigm shift from the erstwhile Planning Commission to a new institution named ‘NITI Aayog’ or the National institute of Transforming India. NITI Aayog, in a departure from the working methodology of the Planning Commission, will serve as a ‘Think Tank’ of the Government – as a directional and policy dynamo.
It was all gung-ho in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi as President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan – the first-ever visit of a Chinese President in almost a decade--to sign projects worth almost $50 billion to get the much-trumpeted China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) rolling. The CPEC project largely hinges on connecting Kashgar with Gwadar, the port projected as a strategically important outpost located at the northern tip of the Straits of Hormuz.
The saga for procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) actually began in 2001, gathered steam in 2007 and was stuck in price negotiations for the past three years.
Meanwhile, the IAF's combat fighter jet strength was depleting fast. Over the past couple of years, the Air Force top brass was alarmed enough to tell the government that its conventional combat edge even against Pakistan was in danger of being lost.