Every year, major portion of Prelims and Mains is covered by the questions from Current Affairs and topics of National and International importance. When we talk about International relations or importance, it should not only limit to relations of India with International countries and the initiatives which are being taken, but it also covers various dimensions of importance of international organizations to acknowledge and shed light on the new approach India has taken to look out and solve age old issues being faced by sub continents and the world as a whole. UPSC picks such International organizations which show this newer approach of India and ask questions on these lines, and aspirants must prepare themselves for such questions and should have knowledge about this. Year of Establishment, Headquarters, Recent Summits, Number of Members are some basic questions which are surely expected, but let’s discuss what else can be asked and let’s just have a deeper knowledge about these organizations and recent initiatives or themes of recently held Summits.
Here, we have compiled the list of top 10 organizations which have been in news and are extremely important from UPSC Civil Services Exam’s point of view. Although, in this article, we have tried to cover all the dimensions, but still a comparative study is strongly advisable.
- REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP (RCEP):
RCEP is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 10 member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc and its six FTA partners, viz., India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It accounts for 40% global GDP and half of the world population. It aims to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers and liberalize investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions. The recent 19th Summit by the organization was held in Hyderabad in 2017.
Relations with India
- Few member of association wants India to eliminate duties on 90% of the trade items while India believes that it may affect local manufacturing and Jobs
- It may affect India’s Generic medicine manufacturing as some members pushing rules beyond TRIPS.
- India already has FTA with many RCEP members except China and has huge trade deficit with China which is around 52 billion.
- Many member are demanding to open Public procure Segment while India is not keen on the matter.
- India is looking for a greater share in Services sector
- India fears that RCEP would further aggravate the trade deficit with China.
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The organization was established on 8th August 1976 in Bangkok, Thailand. It started with the members viz, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore and then it is gradually joined by Brunei, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar and Cambodia. ASEAN as a group is 6th largest economy with 4.4 million hectares and 3.3 percent in land. The ASEAN economic community blueprint 2025 overwrites its previous AEC and addresses in areas like non-trade barriers and trade in services. The organization also faced some challenges recently like the members have failed to negotiate on Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea and they have 10 different tax systems in place.
Apart from this, ASEAN has played a crucial role of contributing to political and economic stability in the region. Two decades of the Look East Policy, now renamed as Act East Policy by the government, have brought some positive results for India in making ASEAN an important regional partner.
The recent summit was held in 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The theme of the Summit was ‘parting for change engaging the future’. 15th Indian ASEAN summit and RCEP took place during the Summit. The next Summit is scheduled to be held in Singapore in 2018.
Relation with India:
- India promised to help building its Kaladana project in Myanmar.
- MODI gave 2 rice seed varieties to INTERNATIONAL GENE bank to International RICE research INSTI to reduce global hunger.
- India signed a FTA in goods in 2009 and an FTA in services and investments in 2014 with ASEAN.
- India has a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with various countries of the ASEAN region which has resulted in concessional trade and a rise in investments.
- ASEAN Countries see India as an alternative to the growing disturbances in South China Sea.
- Shanghai Cooperation Agreement
Shanghai Cooperation Agreement is an economic, political and military organization, established in 2001 in Shanghai. The organization, headquartered in China, is present in 5 other countries including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The recent summit held by organization was in 2017 at Astana, Kazakhstan, where India and Pakistan were the members. Next Summit is scheduled to be held in June 2018 at Qingdao, China. The organization has 4 members with observer status viz. Iran, Mongolia and Afghanistan Belarus. Now, the organization represents 40% world population and 20% world GDP. The membership of the organization offers a platform for India to engage with Pakistan in a wider regional setting.
Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) – Anti Terrorism Structure (RATS) introduced by Shanghai Cooperation Agreement specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence. And India can deepen its defence cooperation with the help of this system.
- Wassenar Agreement (WA):
Wassenar Agreement was established in 1966 in Wassenar, Netherlands near Hague. It is an elite club of countries which subscribe to arms export controls like MISSILE Technology Control Regime and NSG. The goal of the Agreement is to promote transparency and prevent misuse or dual use of goods and technologies.
Relations with India
- Since India is a non-signatory to NPT (NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS) and china is not a member of WA it gives us the access to the dual use products and enables our intake into NSG.
- Australia Group:
- Australian Group, established in 1985 with over 15 member countries, is an informal forum of countries that ensure exports do not contribute to development of chemical or biological weapons. It Started after violation of 1925 Geneva protocol by Iraq in Iran-Iraq war where they were using chemical weapons. First meeting took place in Brussels in June 1985 and after this the member countries meet every year in Paris. Presently, the group has 43 member countries where India has recently joined and 43rd member on 19th Jan 2018. It could be beneficial in acquiring NSG membership.
BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs“), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The organization headquartered in Shanghai, China was formed in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neil. 1st meeting was held in Yekaterinburg Russia in 2006 between foreign ministers. It consists of 40% population, 45% of world growth since 2009 and 23% GDP of world. New Development Bank (NDB) -treaty signed in 2014 and came into force in 2015.
The organization supports public or private projects through loans guarantees equity participation and other financial instruments.
The resent summit held in 2017 in XIAMEN, China in September based on the theme, ‘Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future Declaration’. BRICS action agenda on economic and trade cooperation supporting inter market linkages and financial integration. Coordination Centre of BRICS Agriculture will be established in India.
P.S: Read more about Action Plan for 2017-2020 for enhancing research in ICT 5G, Nanotechnology and Internet of things.
The next Summit is scheduled to be held in Johannesburg South Africa in 2018.
- QUADRILATERAL Meeting:
- Japan recently proposed a Quadrilateral and US endorsed plan to form a grouping along with India and Australia to provide alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific. The theme of QUADRILATERAL Meeting was Free and Open Indo-Pacific, which aimed at promoting Peace, Prosperity and Stability. India highlighted its Act East Policy as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. Britain and France are also proposed to enter the grouping. The grouping is seen as building a strategic partnership to deal with China’s rise and its implications, which could clearly not be countered with India’s ‘neighborhood first’ policy.
Challenges which are being faced and could be faced in future:
India is a member of EAST ASIA Summit with other Quad members but not a part of APEC which can cause a problem in its effective working in Indo Pacific.
- Indian Ocean will now have presence of US if not China.
- Inclusion of global players in neighborhood may come with opposition from neighbour including China.
G20 established in 2008 with an aim to increase international economic cooperation. It consists of 19 countries along with European Union. The list of members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US and the European Union. Its importance lies in the fact that it consists of two thirds population and 80% of the world GDP. The recent Summit was held at HAMBURG Germany in 2017 with the theme ‘Shaping an interconnected world’, which encouraged to fight protectionism while recognizing legitimate trade defence instruments and to increase International Tax cooperation and address issue of excess steel capacity. It also discussed Counter terrorism and Refugee crisis and initiated Paris agreement on climate change which is irreversible and took note of USA’s withdrawal.
- Missile Technology Control Regime:
MTCR was established in 1987 by the group of 7 countries, viz, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US. It is a multilateral export control regime, with consensus of 35 member countries which are voluntarily committed to the non-proliferation of missiles, capable of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Israel, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia have also agreed to voluntarily follow MTCR export rules, but are not yet adherent members.
Relations with India
- India joined MTCR in June 27 2016.
- MTCR membership can be used as a bargaining chip against China which is not a full member of the regime and aspiring to be one as it has blocked India’s way to NSG
- India being a member of the regime will have some obligations like sharing critical information about its military and technological assets.
- India can buy high-end missile technology and run joint programmes for development of unmanned aerial vehicles with other countries.
- The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
The organization was formed on June 6th 1997 and is present in India, Bhutan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The organization consists of 22 percent of World Population and its permanent secretariat is in Dhaka established in 2014. The organization acts as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia and with SAARC’s falling prominence due to Pakistan’s cross border terrorism, BIMSTEC gained lot of importance. It does not have written charter unlike SAARC and hence it is flexible. As per the recent reports and news, The Free Trade Agreement proposed in 1998 did not come into force and the region is posed with challenges like refugee issues and ethnic tension.
How it can help India? : It helps developing Northeastern India.
- Like Motor Vehicle Agreement signed with BBIN India envisages, same with BIMSTEC which can help movement of goods, people and services.
- BIMSTEC region has huge natural water resources and hydro-power potential in the Himalayan region
Ques. Which of the following options is correct regarding to “Quadrilateral” meeting ?
- A grouping formed by Japan, Britain, India, USA.
- France is being proposed to join.
- Theme of the group is Free and liberated INDO-PACIFIC
- It provides alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific
Revise previous year questions, study the topic and practice tests in the test series where quality questions are prepared meticulously keeping in mind the relevance of the topic in the examination.