INDIA SRI LANKA RELATIONS
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidency has started.
- After Ranil Wickremesinghe stepped down as Prime Minister, the new president appointed Mahinda as the new prime minister of a caretaker government.
- Another brother, Chamal, has been appointed a minister in the government.
- The government will hold forth until fresh parliamentary elections are held in 2020. The five-year term ends next August.
- Mahinda was barred from the presidential election because he had already held the office twice. He will run the country in close coordination with his brother.
- The parliamentary configuration did not allow the new dispensation to do away with progressive amendments to the Constitution.
- They aimed to check the powers of the executive presidency, including the two-time bar.
- The Rajapaksas could clock back on these 2015 amendments when the opportunity arises.
State of polity
- President Rajapaksa is confident of winning the 2020 parliamentary election.
- A divided opposition, engaged in a tug of war between Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa, is unlikely to put up a fight to the Rajapaksa.
- Sri Lankan voters have seen that cohabitation, by which the president and prime minister are from different parties leads to paralysis of governance.
- India has communicated its desire for hastening national reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
- In the post-war years, the rulers oversaw an unprecedented militarisation of the Sinhala Buddhist majority community.
- Voters from the majority community have not forgotten that it was the Rajapaksas who crafted a victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE).
- This powered Gotabaya’s majoritarian victory in these elections.
National reconciliation requires statesmanship of a tall order. Gotabaya emerged as the newest majoritarian right-wing leader. We are not sure if he can pull it off.
Towards a Colombo reset
The election of the new president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa strengthened the narrative about Colombo’s “tilt” towards China and against India. The headline misrepresents the complex power play involving Beijing, Delhi and Colombo.
- The Great Game in the Subcontinent is not limited to just India and China.
- There are considerable interests and influence of many other powers in the region, including the US, European Union, Japan and Russia.
- The exclusive focus on major power rivalry masks the agency of South Asian political elites and their capacity to manoeuvre among the major powers.
- Although the Rajapaksas had blamed India for their defeat in the 2015 elections, they have sought to make up with Delhi in recent years.
- India has been engaging all the major political formations in Sri Lanka.
- The stage is ready for a reset in the bilateral relations between the two strong governments in Delhi and Colombo.
- India is aware that China’s economic and strategic salience in the Subcontinent will continue to grow and is not tied to the regime leadership in its neighbourhood.
- The outgoing coalition led by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe proves the irrelevance of labelling governments in Colombo as “pro-China” or “pro-India”.
- It came to power criticising the Chinese projects in Sri Lanka as financially unsustainable.
- Two years into power, the coalition extended full backing to the Chinese projects.
- So-called “pro-India” regime offered China a 99-year lease on the Hambantota project.
- The government stalled key projects of interest to Delhi.
What India can do about China
- India can’t expect its neighbours to shut down economic and commercial engagement with China.
- There are questions about the terms of China’s assistance on projects, including those under the Belt and Road Initiative.
- India can only ask Sri Lanka not to take steps with Beijing that threaten India’s security.
- Both need a clear understanding of mutual red lines relating to national security and a political comfort level to discuss cases that fall within the orange zone.
- That should help prevent the recurrence of the controversy over Chinese submarines in Colombo port as in 2014.
- Rajapaksas are reported as saying that China is a “trade partner” while India is a “close relative”.
- Other terms used to describe the new policy include “neutrality” and “non-alignment” between major powers.
- The world rediscovers the geopolitical value of Sri Lanka at the heart of the Indo-Pacific.
- It has huge opportunities to leverage its location for national benefit.
- Sri Lanka should avoid provoking India.
- India should be mindful of Colombo’s security concerns and find ways to develop long-term strategic cooperation with Sri Lanka.
- India needs to invest some political capital in resolving problems such as the long-standing dispute over fisheries.
- India, either alone or in partnership with like-minded countries like Japan, should offer sustainable terms for infrastructure development.
- India also needs to contribute more to the development of Colombo’s defence and counter-terror capabilities.
- India’s involvement in Sri Lanka’s civil war has been far more consequential than the China facto.
- Successive coalition governments in India struggled to balance the pulls and pressures from Chennai and Colombo.
- If the new government in Sri Lanka can advance reconciliation with the Tamil minority, it will be easier to strengthen ties.
- The Western powers have expressed deep concerns about the war crimes in the military campaign against the LTTE and the need to bring those responsible to book.
- India should look beyond old formulae to try and encourage reconciliation within Lanka and across the Palk Strait with Tamil Nadu.
- With a strong government in Sri Lanka, it is time for India to think boldly about its relationship with Sri Lanka.
Electoral Literacy Clubs
What are ELCs
An Electoral Literacy Club is a platform to engage school students through interesting activities and hands-on experience to sensitise them on their electoral rights and familiarise them with the electoral process of registration and voting. ELCs are also present in colleges and rural communities.
At ELCs, learning meets fun. Activities and Games are designed to stimulate and motivate students provoking them to think and ask questions. Through ELC, Election Commission of India, aims at strengthening the culture of electoral participation among young and future voters.
Who shall be the members of ELCs?
ELCs are present in Schools, Colleges and Rural Communities. Following will be the members in each type of ELC –
- Schools : Students from Class IX – XII; 14-17 year olds
- Colleges : 18 – 21 year olds
- Rural Communities (Chunav Pathshala) : All members of the village
What shall we do in ELCs?
In the ELCs, members will be part of interesting and thought-provoking, mostly classroom based activities and games. There are around 25 such activities and 6 games which have been carefully designed to impart specific learning which will help them become an ‘Empowered (Prospective) Voter’.
Promotion of e-agriculture
- E-Agriculture is a new area of knowledge emerging out of convergence of IT and farming techniques. It enhances the agricultural value chain through the application of Internet and related technologies. Basically IT helps farmers to have better access to information which increases the productivity. It also enables him to get better prices through information of change in price in different markets.
- The information related to policies and programs of government, schemes for farmers, institutions through which these schemes are implemented, new innovations in agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Institutions providing new agricultural inputs(high yielding seeds, new fertilizers etc) and training in new techniques are disseminated to farmers through use of Information technology to ensure inclusiveness and to avoid digital divide.
- Soil Management, Water Management, Seed Management, Fertilizer Management, Pest Management, Harvest Management and Post-Harvest Management are the important components of e-Agriculture where technology aids farmers with better information and alternatives. It uses a host of technologies like Remote Sensing, Computer Simulation, Assessment of speed and direction of Wind, Soil quality assays, Crop Yield predictions and Marketing using IT
National Policy for Farmers, 2007
t has important provision for use of Technology: New technologies which can help enhance productivity per unit of land and water are needed. Biotechnology, information and communication technology (ICT), renewable energy technology, space applications and nano-technology to provide opportunities for launching an “Evergreen Revolution” capable of improving productivity in perpetuity without harming the ecology.
National mission on agricultural extension and Technology: The aim of the Mission is to restructure and strengthen agricultural extension to enable delivery of appropriate technology and improved agronomic practices to farmers. This is envisaged to be achieved by a judicious mix of extensive physical outreach and interactive methods of information dissemination, use of ICT, popularisation of modern and appropriate technologies, capacity building and institution strengthening to promote mechanisation, availability of quality seeds, plant protection etc.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has established a network of 715 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in the country mandated with Technology Assessment and Demonstration for its Application and Capacity Development (TADA–CD). KVKs organize demonstrations, training programs and skill development programs for the benefit of farmers and farm women, rural youth and in-service extension personnel.
Agro-advisories are given to the farmers through various service providers and the mKisan portal. mKisan portal is a platform which provides web-based mobile advisory to farmers with the technological backstopping from Research Institutes and Agricultural Universities supporting farmers
Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) provides a suitable platform for converging all activities for inclusive growth of agricultural mechanization by providing a ‘single window’ approach for implementation with a special focus on small & marginal farmers.
Government is also using satellite data and GIS Technology for Crop Production Estimation, Horticultural Inventory, Site Suitability Analysis for crop expansion and Drought Assessment.
National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) scheme for transparent price discovery for remunerative prices for the farmers for their produce through competitive online bidding system.
Under Marketing Research & Information Network (MRIN) Scheme, support is provided to the States towards setting up and maintaining connectivity with Agmarknet portal for collection and dissemination of market information on arrivals and prices of agri-commodities.
SURYA KIRAN – XIV
Exercise SURYA KIRAN – XIV is an annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. Notably, in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, exercise SURYA KIRAN with Nepal is an important exercise in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the realm of changing facets of global terrorism. The aim of this exercise is to conduct a Battalion level combined training between Indian Army and Nepal Army to increase interoperability in jungle warfare and counter terrorist operations in mountainous terrain, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, medical and environmental conservation including aviation aspects.
Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme
|1||Issuance||By Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.|
|2||Eligibility||Restricted for sale to resident entities including individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), Trusts, Universities, and Charitable Institutions.|
|3||Denomination||The Bonds will be denominated in the multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.|
|4||Tenor (time to maturity of a bond)||The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option in 5th, 6th year and 7th year.|
|5||Minimum size||The minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.|
|6||Maximum limit||The maximum limit of subscribed shall be 4 KG for the individual, 4 Kg for HUF and 20 Kg for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March).|
|7||Sales channel||Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange, either directly or through agents.|
|8||Interest rate||The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 percent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.|
|9||Collateral||Bonds can be used as collateral for loans|
|10||Payment||Payment can be made through demand draft, cheque, and electronic banking.
Cash payment is allowed up to a maximum of Rs 20,000.
The issue price of the Gold Bonds will be Rs 50 per gram less for those who subscribe online and pay through digital mode.
|11||Tax treatment||The interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted.|
|12||Tradability||Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date, as notified by the RBI.|
- Sovereign Gold Bonds are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold.
- The sovereign gold bond scheme was launched in November 2015 to reduce the demand for physical gold and shift a part of the domestic savings, used for the purchase of gold, into financial savings.
- Gold and crude oil have significant role in India’s widening current account deficit. The government, however, chose not to increase import duty on gold when it raised duty on non-essential imports to narrow the current account deficit, fearing a surge in gold smuggling.
- The main objective of the scheme is to develop a financial asset as an alternative to purchasing metal gold.