IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th June, 2020



Modi-Morrison summit can help plug a gap in India’s diplomatic tradition.

Context: Digital summit between PM Modi and Australian PM Moorison.

What the writer intends to say:

In its preoccupation with the perennial challenges in the neighbourhood and its enduring aspiration to dance with the great powers, India has in the past missed out on the opportunities for productive partnerships with the middle powers. Thursday’s virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Australian premier, Scott Morrison, is an important part of Delhi’s current diplomatic effort to plug that big gap in India’s diplomatic tradition.

Why Australia matters:

  • With a GDP of more than US$1.4 trillion, Australia is the 13th largest economy in the world, following closely behind Russia, which stands at $1.6 trillion.
  • Australia is rich in natural resources that India’s growing economy needs. It also has huge reservoirs of strength in higher education, scientific and technological research.
  • In the global diplomatic arena, Australia punches way above its weight. Its armed forces, hardened by international combat are widely respected.
  • Canberra’s intelligence establishment is valued in many parts of the world. Australia has deep economic, political and security connections with the ASEAN and a strategic partnership with one of the leading non-aligned nations, Indonesia. Canberra has a little “sphere of influence” of its own — in the South Pacific (now under threat from Chinese penetration). All these Australian strengths should be of interest and value to India.

Slow Progress in India –Australia relationship:

  • A political dust-up between Delhi and Canberra in the wake of India’s nuclear tests in 1998 complicated the possibilities that the end of the Cold War opened up.
  • However, since 2000, Canberra has taken consistent political initiative to advance ties with India by resolving the nuclear difference and expanding the template of engagement.
  • There was a gap of nearly three decades between Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Australia in 1986 and Modi’s trip in 2014 only underlines how shortsighted India’s neglect of Australia has been.
  • It was exactly in these years that China transformed its relationship with Australia. Delhi’s temptation to judge nations on the basis of their alignments with other powers stands in contrast to Beijing that puts interests above ideology, promotes interdependence with a targeted middle power, turns it into political influence and tries to weaken its alignment with the rival powers.

New scope of growth:

  • The Indian diaspora — now estimated at nearly 7,00,000— is the fastest growing in Australia and has become an unexpected positive factor in bilateral relations.
  • Common membership of many groupings like the G-20, East Asia Summit, IORA and the Quad has increased the possibilities for diplomatic cooperation on regional and global issues.
  • The current downturn in the global economy certainly limits the immediate possibilities for realising the full potential of commercial relations between India and Australia.
  • But there are a host of emerging issues — from reforming the World Health Organisation to 5G technology and from strengthening the international solar alliance to building resilience against climate change and disasters — that lend themselves to intensive bilateral political and institutional engagement.
  • It is the geopolitical churn in the Indo-Pacific that has opened up a massive space for consequential security cooperation between India and Australia.
  • Delhi and Canberra know that neither of them can rely on the old formulae for securing their interests, thanks to the growing Chinese assertiveness and the uncertain US political trajectory.

What needs to be done:

  • Over the last few years, defence engagement between the two countries has grown and is likely to be capped by a military logistics support agreement to be unveiled at the summit. Modi and Morrison, however, must raise the level of ambition, for the scale of the security challenge in the Indo-Pacific demands more than incremental steps.
  • The two leaders must order their security establishments to develop strategic coordination in the various sub-regions of the Indo-Pacific littoral.
  • The eastern Indian Ocean that lies between the shores of peninsular India and the west coast of Australia ought to be the top priority.
  • Eastern Indian Ocean, connecting the two oceans, is at the heart of the Indo-Pacific. This is where Delhi and Canberra can initiate a full range of joint activities, including on maritime domain awareness, development of strategically located islands and marine scientific research.
  • The sea lines of communication between the Indian and Pacific oceans run through the Indonesian archipelago.
  • Given the shared political commitment to the Indo-Pacific idea between Delhi, Jakarta and Canberra and the growing pressures on them to secure their shared waters, Modi and Morrison must seek trilateral maritime and naval cooperation with Indonesia.

Besides Indonesia, three other powers present themselves as natural partners for India and Australia — Japan, France and Britain.

  • Tokyo has close ties with both Delhi and Canberra. Their current trilateral dialogue can be expanded from the diplomatic level to practical maritime cooperation on the ground. France is a resident power with territories in the Western Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. Paris and Canberra are eager to develop a trilateral arrangement with Delhi that will supplement the bilateral cooperation among the three nations.
  • Finally, there is the less discussed role of Britain. Britain continues to lead the so-called Five Power Defence Arrangement set up back in 1971, after Britain pulled back most of its forces from the East of Suez. The FPDA brings together the armed forces of the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Modi and Morrison must explore the possibilities for engagement between India and the FPDA.

It is only by building a series of overlapping bilateral and multilateral platforms for regional security cooperation that Delhi and Canberra can limit the dangers of the growing geopolitical imbalance in the Indo-Pacific.

LINK: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-narendra-modi-australia-scott-morrison-virtual-summit-c-raja-mohan-6441370/

Govt. to boost infrastructure in areas along China border

  • To ramp up infrastructure along the China border, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided new guidelines.
  • Will spend 10% funds of a Centrally sponsored scheme only on projects in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
  • The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been allocated Rs. 784 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal and the money is distributed to the border States and Union Territories depending on various criteria such as the length of the international border and population. In 2019-20, Rs. 825 crores was granted for the scheme.
  • According to the new guidelines, approved by Union Home Minister Amit Shah effective from April 1, the projects for developing strategically important villages and towns in border areas that have been identified by the border guarding forces will be given priority.
  • Around Rs. 78.4 crores has been parked for projects in areas inhabited along the 3,488 km China border.
  • Construction of roads, bridges, culverts, primary schools, health infrastructure, playfields, irrigation works, mini-stadiums, indoor courts for basketball, badminton and table tennis can be undertaken within 10 km of the border.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-to-boost-infrastructure-in-areas-along-china-border/article31741145.ece


Kolkata Port Trust renamed as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Trust

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to rename Kolkata Port as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port.


The Kolkata Port is the first Major Port as well as the only riverine port of the country. It came to be governed by a Trust on 17th October, 1870 on appointment of the Commissioners for Improvement of the Port of Calcutta as per Act V of 1870. It features at Serial Number 1 in The First Schedule, Part I—Major Ports of the Indian Ports Act, 1908 and is governed by the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

Generally, the Major Ports in India are named after the city or the town in which they are situated. Some ports, however, in special cases or in due consideration of contribution made by eminent leaders have been re-named after great national leaders in the past.

  • NhavaSheva Port Trust was renamed as Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust by the Government in the year 1989.
  • The Tuticorin Port Trust was renamed as V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust in the year 2011 and
  • The Ennore Port Limited has been re-named as Kamarajar Port Limited in the honour of Shri K Kamarajar, eminent freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
  • Recently, in 2017 Kandla Port was re-named as Deendayal Port. Besides, many airports have also been named after the great national leaders in India.

Reference: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1629041 


Cabinet approves re-establishing of Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy

Context: In a bid to improve the standardization outcomes and effective regulation and quality control of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi gave its approval to re-establish Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH by merging into it Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL)- the two central laboratories established at Ghaziabad since 1975.

Other Facts:

  • The merger, is aimed at optimizing the use of infrastructural facilities, technical manpower and financial resources of the three organizations for enhancing the standardization outcomes of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs towards their effective regulation and quality control.
  • Presently, Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) is an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH established since 2010.
  • This merger will facilitate focused and cohesive development of standards of AYUSH drugs and publication of pharmacopoeias and formularies.
  • It is also intended to accord legal status to the merged structure of PCIM&H and its laboratory by virtue of making necessary amendment and enabling provisions in the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945,

Reference: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/cabinet-approves-re-establishing-of-pharmacopoeia-commission-for-indian-medicine-homoeopathy-11591189991450.html 



Context: World Bank released its Global Economic Prospects (GEP) June 2020 report.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have “severe” short and long term effects on economic growth.
  • Sixty million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year.
  • Policy choices made today — including greater debt transparency to invite new investment, faster advances in digital connectivity, and a major expansion of cash safety nets for the poor — will help limit the damage and build a stronger recovery.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-60-million-could-be-pushed-into-extreme-poverty-in-2020-world-bank-president/article31733219.ece


Agricultural Market Reforms

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved an amendment to the 65-year-old Essential Commodities Act, removing cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The amendment will be made effective immediately via an ordinance, according to the Agriculture Ministry.


At its meeting, the Cabinet also approved ordinances to remove restrictions on farmers selling their produce outside notified market yards, as well as to facilitate contract farming and allow farmers to engage in direct marketing.

All these measures were promised in the Aatma nirbhar package

Essential Commodities Act (ECA):

The amendment to the ECA

  • Will deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities.
  • By removing theprivate sector’s fears of “excessive regulatory interference,” the Centre hopes to increase private and foreign investment, especially in cold storage facilities and the modernisation of the food supply chain.
  • Adequate processing and storage facilities will reduce wastage and increase incomefor farmers of perishable commodities.
  • To protect consumers, the amendment allows regulation during war, famine, extraordinary price riseand natural calamity, while providing exemptions for exporters and processors at such times as well.

The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020

  • It aims to openup agricultural marketing outside notified mandis for farmers and also removes barriers to inter-State trade.
  • While both agriculture and markets are State subjects, the Centre is counting on the fact that trade and commerce in foodstuffs is part of the concurrent list to push through its ordinance.


  • By allowing the farmermore choices, it will raise his income and also reduce wastage and improve quality.
  • In fact, industry sources suggest that 60% of agricultural trade already takes place outside the mandis through unregulated sales.
  • By legalising and facilitating such sales, the Centre hopes thatfarmers will benefit, rather than intermediaries.

Not all States have been on board with these reforms, especially as State governments will not be allowed to levy fees on these sales.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 is aimed at facilitating contract farming, where a private buyer contracts to purchase a crop at a certain price at the beginning of a season, transferring the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the corporate sponsor. However, farmers groups have expressed concern that corporateswill benefit more than small farmers from such direct marketing measures, and wish to see the specificprovisions of the ordinance before welcoming it.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-nod-for-amendment-to-essential-commodities-act-two-ordinances-to-promote-barrier-free-trade/article31740277.ece