The HOTSPOT News Analysis (HNA) - 3-12-2019

The HOTSPOT News Analysis (HNA) - 3-12-2019

 

Power of Siberia

  • It is the first cross-border gas pipeline project between Russia and China
  • Under the contract, Russia will deliver 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China over the next 30 years.
  • It connects Siberia in Russia to China’s Yangtze River delta in Shanghai
  • It is not only central to China’s energy security but also for bolstering special ties between Beijing and Moscow

Relevance: Current events of international importance

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/putin-xi-launch-landmark-russian-gas-pipeline-to-china/article30137425.ece

 

Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)

Topic – Ranks and Indices

  • PMI an indicator of the economic health and investor sentiments about the manufacturing sector
  • In a PMI data, a reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points shows contraction of economic activities.
  • The PMI is constructed separately for manufacturing and services sector. But the manufacturing sector holds more importance.
  • The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) originally developed PMI and is now estimating it for the US economy. ISM’s PMI index was based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.
  • For India, the PMI Data is published by Japanese firm Nikkei but compiled and constructed by Markit Economics. A manufacturing PMI and a services PMI are prepared and published by the two. The Nikkei and markit economics websites says that PMI data are based on monthly surveys of carefully selected companies.

How PMI is different from IIP ?

  • The popular index that measures growth in the industrial sector as far as India is concerned is the CSO prepared Index of Industrial Production. IIP shows the change in production volume in major industrial subsectors like manufacturing, mining and electricity. Similarly, the IIP also gives use based (capital goods, consumer goods etc) trends in industrial production. It covers broader industrial sector compared to PMI.
  • But compared to volume based production indicator like the IIP, the PMI senses dynamic trends because of the variable it uses for the construction of the index.
  • For example, new orders under PMI show growth oriented positive trends and not just volume of past production that can be traced in an ordinary Index of Industrial Production. Inventory level shows recessionary or boom trends. Employment scenario is also sentimental indicator. Hence, the PMI is more dynamic compared to a standard industrial production index.

Why in news: The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 51.2 in November, up from 50.6 in October.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/business/manufacturing-pmi-improves/article

 

Beyond Editorials

India-Sri Lanka

Why in news: In the last week Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabaya Rajapakasa visited India.

Significance of the visit

  • To ensure consistent communication to avoid problems in the past
  • To allay concerns of  both ends

Concerns of India

  • Slow pace of reconciliation in the Tamil majority North and East
  • Sri Lanka’s welcoming of Chinese investment for major projects including the Hambantota port and Colombo harbour and military engagement with China
  • Slow pace of clearance for Indian projects

Concerns of Sri Lanka

  • Indian intelligence agencies role in Sri Lankan domestic politics

Way forward

  • Reduce India’s meddling in Sri Lankan internal affairs
  • Sri Lanka should address India’s concerns related to growing Chinese presence in Lankan soil.
  • As both countries have a democratic setup there is scope for broadening and deepening the ties.
  • Both countries should try to work out a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen through bilateral engagements.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must be signed to improve the economic cooperation between both countries .
  • India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka.
  • Starting of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people to people linkages.
  • Mutual recognition of each other's concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.
  • Dignity, Peace , Equality, and Justice for Tamils should be ensured by Sri Lanka

Geopolitical significance of Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region as an island State has been of strategic geopolitical relevance to several major powers.
  • It was the massive Chinese involvement during the Rajapaksa tenure that garnered the deepest controversy in recent years.
  • China is building state of the art gigantic modern ports all along the Indian Ocean to the south of it, in Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh, Kyauk Phru (Myanmar) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka).
  • China’s string of pearl’s strategy is aimed at encircling India to establish dominance in the Indian Ocean.
  • Post 2015, Sri Lanka still relies heavily on China for Port city project and for continuation of Chinese funded infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
  • Although the Hambantota harbour is reportedly making losses, it too has potential for development due to its strategic location.
  • Sri Lanka has a list of highly strategic ports located among busiest sea lanes of communication.
  • Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port is the 25th busiest container port in the world and the natural deep water harbour at Trincomalee is the fifth largest natural harbour in the world.
  • Sri Lanka’s location can thus serve both commercial and industrial purposes and be used as a military base.

Recent political developments

  • Political relations between India and Sri Lanka have been marked by high-level exchanges of visits at regular intervals.
  • In February 2015, Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena undertook his first official visit to India, and Modi paid a return visit to Colombo in March 2015. He was the first Indian prime minister to do a stand-alone visit to Sri Lanka in 28 years.
  • In June 2019, the first overseas visit of Indian Prime Minister to Sri Lanka, in his second term, is an important symbolic gesture reflective of the special relationship between the countries.
  • Sri Lanka is a member of regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC in which India plays a leading role.
  • Recently, India has invited leaders of BIMSTEC member countries to attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers. This is in line with the government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
  • Sri Lanka has long been in India’s geopolitical orbit, but its relationship with China has strengthened in recent years.
  • Former President Rajapaksa took Sri Lanka closer to China and sidelining Indian concerns including over the rehabilitation of Tamils displaced by the long-running Sri Lankan civil war.

Recent commercial  developments

  • Sri Lanka has long been a priority destination for direct investment from India.
  • Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partners among the SAARC countries. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.
  • Trade between the two countries grew particularly rapidly after the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which came into force in March 2000.
  • While Sri Lankan exports to India have increased substantially during the past several years since 2000 when ISFTA came into force.
  • However, there has been a high growth in India’s exports to Sri Lanka, resulting in a widening of the balance of trade. This is largely because of the lack of export capacity from Sri Lanka to service Indian requirement and also due to increase in imports from India because of competitiveness of our exports.
  • The agreement CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) which is yet to be signed between the countries, seeks to build on the momentum generated by the FTA and take the two economies beyond trade in goods towards greater integration and impart renewed impetus and synergy to bilateral economic interaction.
  • The investments are in diverse areas including petroleum retail, IT, financial services, real estate, telecommunication, hospitality & tourism, banking and food processing (tea & fruit juices), metal industries, tires, cement, glass manufacturing, and infrastructure development (railway, power, water supply).
  • The last few years have also witnessed an increasing trend of Sri Lankan investments into India.
  • Tourism also forms an important link between India and Sri Lanka and India is the largest source market for Sri Lankan tourism. In tourism, India is the largest contributor with every fifth tourist being from India.

Recent cultural and educational relations

  • The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the two Governments on 29 November, 1977, forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries.
  • The Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo actively promotes awareness of Indian culture by offering classes in Indian music, dance, Hindi and Yoga. Every year, cultural troupes from both countries exchange visits.
  • India and Sri Lanka commemorated the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhathva Jayanthi) through joint activities.
  • The two Governments also celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala in 2014.
  • The India-Sri Lanka Foundation, set up in December 1998 as an intergovernmental initiative, also aims towards enhancement of scientific, technical, educational and cultural cooperation through civil society exchanges and enhancing contact between the younger generations of the two countries.
  • Education is an important area of cooperation. India now offers about 290 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students.
  • In addition, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Scheme and the Colombo Plan, India offers 370 slots annually to Sri Lankan nationals.
  • Government of India formally launched the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists on 14 April 2015 to increase the people to people contact.

Defence and security cooperation

  • Sri Lanka and New Delhi have long history of security cooperation. In recent years, the two sides have steadily increased their military-to-military relationship.
  • India and Sri Lanka conducts joint Military ( 'Mitra Shakti') and Naval exercise (SLINEX).
  • India also provides defence training to Sri Lankan forces.
  • A trilateral maritime security cooperation agreement was signed by India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve surveillance, anti-piracy operations and reducing maritime pollution in Indian Ocean Region.
  • In April 2019, India and Sri Lanka also concluded agreement on countering Drug and Human trafficking.
  • In the aftermath of the horrific Easter bombings, Sri Lankan Prime Minister thanked the Indian government for all the “help” given.

Fisherman issue between India and Sri Lanka

  • Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common.
  • Indian boats have been fishing in the troubled waters for centuries and had a free run of the Bay of Bengal, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar until 1974 and 1976 when treaties were signed between the two countries to demarcate International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
  • However, the treaties failed to factor in the hardship of thousands of traditional fishermen who were forced to restrict themselves to a meagre area in their fishing forays.
  • The small islet of Katchatheevu, hitherto used by them for sorting their catch and drying their nets, fell on the other side of the IMBL.
  • Fishermen often risk their lives and cross the IMBL rather than return empty-handed, but the Sri Lankan Navy is on alert, and have either arrested or destroyed fishing nets and vessels of those who have crossed the line.
  • Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.
  • Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner.
  • India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

Related information

BIMSTEC:

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.

ISFTA

  • The Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA), which was signed on 28th December 1998 and entered into force with effect from 1st March 2000, provides duty free concessions to a wide range of products traded between the two countries.

 

Anti- AIDS Fight

  • SDG 3.3- Ending the epidemics of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by 2030
  • New key indicator to track the progress of controlling AIDS is “ the number of new HIV infections per 1000 uninflected populations”
  • UNAIDS- The lead U.N. agency that coordinates the battle against HIV
  • 90-90-90 target stated that by 2020, 90% of those living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained anti retroviral therapy and 90% of all people on such therapy  will have viral suppression.
  • Way forward
    • High level of political commitment, financial support, health system thrust, public education, civil society engagement and advocacy by affected groups.
  • Improved survival rates in persons with HIV bring forth other health problems
    • Risk factor for cardiovascular disease with ageing
    • Anti retroviral drugs increases the risk of atherosclerosis
    • Mental health disorders in case life long therapy
  • HIV related deaths in India is declined by 71

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