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11-02-2023

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Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy: Wary eye on China, bid to reset India ties

GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly visited India for a bilateral meeting ahead of her participation in the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in March. The two sides aimed to improve their relationship, which had been strained in recent years. The meeting included discussions about the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) and other areas of collaboration. Joly's visit came after Canada's newly released Indo-Pacific strategy, which takes a blunt stance against China. During the visit, Joly and India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed deepening collaboration and strengthening economic and security ties, among other things. Joly emphasized India's importance as a partner for Canada in the Indo-Pacific region and emphasized Canada's potential as a reliable supplier of critical minerals and a major investor. No mention was made of issues that have strained the relationship in the past, such as Khalistani activities in Canada.


Canada's Shift in China Policy: From La-La Land to Indo-Pacific Strategy

  1. In November 2022, Canada released its Indo-Pacific strategy, aligning itself with the US-led allianceagainst China and supporting the "shared interests and values" of Western democracies. 
  2. This marked a shift from Canada's historically soft policy on China, which had been tested by the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and the subsequent detention of two Canadian citizens by China. 
  3. Despite efforts to repair ties with Beijing, the Trudeau government faced increasing criticism and pressure to take a tougher stance on China.
  4. In response, Canada took steps to tighten investment rules, ban Huawei 5G, and declare China's treatment of Uighurs as genocide
  5. The Indo-Pacific strategy was seen as a response to a "generational geopolitical shift," with Joly describing it as necessary for Canada to navigate the changing international landscape
  6. The Global Times, a state-run publication in China, criticized Canada's "hostility" as "absurd and dangerous."


Features of Canada's Indo-Pacific Strategy

  • The Canadian government has recently released its Indo-Pacific strategy, acknowledging China's growing influence as a disruptive global power while also recognizing its dependence on the country. 
  • The strategy is aligned with the interests of Canada's partners in the region and around the world. 
  • Despite Beijing's disregard for international rules and norms, Canada cannot ignore China's importance as its main export destination and seeks cooperation with China on important issues such as climate change and health.
  • Canada's Indo-Pacific strategy includes –
  • A $1.7 billion funding commitment over a period of five years for various initiatives, including infrastructure projects through the US-led G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
  • $403 million for an increased military presence including an additional frigate in the Indian Ocean, and increased involvement in regional military exercises.
  • The strategy outlines five main goals – 
  1. Promoting peace, resilience, and security
  2. Expanding trade, investment, and supply chain resilience
  3. Investing in and connecting people
  4. Building a sustainable and green future; and 
  5. Being an active and engaged partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Engagement with India is considered crucial to the implementation of the strategy.


Canada-India Relations: A Strained Partnership 

  • The bilateral relationship between Canada and India, supported by shared values of democracy, pluralism, expanding economic engagement, regular high-level interactions and strong people-to-people connections has been facing challenges for years. 
  • The major concern for India is Canada being a safe haven for separatist Khalistani groups and what New Delhi perceives as the Liberal Party catering to these groups for votes. 
  • Canada’s association with pro-Khalistan groups has caused friction in the relationship, and incidents such as a travel advisory by India and vandalism of a Hindu temple have only added to the tension.
  • However, both countries recognize the need to reset their bilateral ties, and Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy offers an opportunity for the two nations to come together, as it highlights India's growing strategic importance and economic growth.
  • The strategy focuses on expanding trade and investment, enhancing supply chain resilience, and promoting people-to-people exchanges
  • The possibility of a defence and security component, including deeper counter-terrorism cooperation and greater participation in Indo-Pacific security and exercises, is also implied. 
  • The ongoing negotiations for an EPTA may also pave the way for a wider reset of ties between Canada and India, though it remains to be seen if this will help them "decouple" from China.


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Exploring the blue in the India-France partnership

GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


In celebration of 25 years of India and France's strategic partnership, it is crucial to reflect on the progress and strengths of their relationship. This partnership, established in 1998, has grown stronger over the years due to shared values of peace and stability and a desire for strategic independence. 

Both nations have no major conflicts and France has become a crucial trading partner with India. France is also India's 11thlargest foreign investorand a 1.70% share of foreign direct investment inflows into India.

 

Strengthening Ties: A Look at India-France Relations


Defence Partnership

  • France has emerged as a key defence partner for India, becoming the second largest defence supplier in the 2017-2021 period.
  • Major defence deals and increased military to military engagement, such as the Scorpene submarines and Rafale fighter jets, have strengthened the partnership.
  • The Tata group has formed a partnership with Airbus to produce C-295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara, Gujarat.
  • Robust military dialogues and joint exercises, such as Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army), further fortify the relationship.
  • France is committed to supporting India in building its national industrial base for defence and critical strategic defence projects.

Geopolitical Cooperation

  • Complexities in the international geopolitical order have led to a deepening and broadening of cooperation between India and France.
  • India signed a civil nuclear agreement with France, one of the first countries to do so.
  • France played a critical role in limiting India’s isolation after the 1998 nuclear tests.
  • France supports India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)and its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Climate Change

  • Climate change is an important area of cooperation for both nations.
  • India has supported France in the Paris Agreement, expressing its strong commitment towards mitigating climate change impact.
  • The two countries launched the International Solar Alliance(ISA) in 2015 as part of their joint efforts on climate change.


Strengthening Maritime Cooperation


Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region

  • The Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region outlines the steps to strengthen ties between India and France in the Indian Ocean. 
  • Welcomed by both countries' leaders during Macron's visit to New Delhi in 2018, it highlights the importance of the region and their shared commitment to maritime security and stability.

Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund

  • The Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund is a joint initiative between India, France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to support sustainable and innovative solutions in the Indo-Pacific region
  • Established in September 2022, the fund aims to provide comprehensive solutions for maritime security, regional cooperation, and climate change adaptation
  • This trilateral grouping seeks to ensure maritime domain awarenessand security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific. 
  • The establishment of the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund demonstrates the commitment of India, France and the UAE to work together towards a free, fair, and open Indo-Pacific.

Coordinating on the Ukraine Crisis

  • Coordinating on the Ukraine Crisis refers to India and France's joint efforts to play a constructive role in resolving the conflict. 
  • Despite differences, both countries have a broad understanding and maintain open communication with key leaders involved. 
  • This coordination reflects their commitment to resolving international conflicts and promoting stability.

Shared Concerns Over China's Aggression

  • This refers to India and France's mutual concerns about China's aggressive behavior and their commitment to maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region
  • The two countries are working together to address these concerns, highlighting their strong strategic partnership.


India-France Partnership: Overview and Opportunities for Collaboration

  • The partnership between India and France is built on shared values and goals. Both countries understand the importance of maintaining strategic autonomy and are aware of global risks in various domains.
  • Political Dialogue
  • There is an ongoing high-level political dialogue between India and France, focusing on areas such as defence, maritime, counterterrorism, and the Indo-Pacific region
  • This dialogue provides a platform for the two countries to discuss and collaborate on important securityand strategic issues.
  • Areas of Cooperation
  • India and France are working together in a number of fields, including digitization, cybersecurity, green energy, blue economy, ocean sciences, and space
  • These areas are of mutual interest to both countries and provide opportunities for collaboration and joint development.
  • Understanding of Interests and Dependencies
  • India and France have a good understanding of each other's interests and dependencies, especially in relation to China and Russia.
  • This mutual understanding is important for maintaining a strong and productive partnership.
  • Potential for Further Collaboration
  • With a long-standing strategic partnership and a common interest in enhancing strategic autonomy and improving resilience, there is much potential for further collaboration between India and France. 
  • Both countries recognize the importance of working together to achieve common goals and address global challenges.


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Fact File


Lithium ‘inferred’ in J&K — how significant is this find, what next?

  • Recently, Lithium has been discovered inSalal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir in India.
  • Lithium is a valuable resource as it isa vital component in Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electronic devices like Electric Vehicles (EVs), laptops, and mobile phones.
  • Lithium can be extracted throughsolar evaporation of brine pools or hard-rock extraction of ore.
  • India currently imports a large amount of lithium, and the discovery of local deposits could reduce its dependence on imports.
  • Further exploration and extraction of the lithium deposits is necessary to determine the full extent of the deposits and assess their potential for commercial use.


Caveats with Lithium Find

  • Inferred Classification: The latest lithium find is categorized as "inferred" meaning it is estimated with a low level of confidence based on limited information.
  • Small Compared to Other Countries: The inferred lithium find in J&K is small compared to proven reserves in other countries.

Government Initiatives

  • Approved Annual Field Season Programme: The Geological Survey of India (GSI) takes up different stages of mineral exploration under the approved annual Field Season programme, including reconnaissance surveys, preliminary exploration, and general exploration.
  • Exploration by Atomic Minerals Directorate: The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) is conducting exploration to augment lithium resources in various geological domains of the country.

Potential sites

  • There is potential for lithium extraction in brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Challenges/Concerns

  • Potential challenges and concerns may arise from the extraction of the lithium, including environmental and social impacts.
  • Proper regulations are needed to ensure responsible extraction and use of the lithium deposits.


Delhi-Mumbai Expressway set to revolutionise travel between the two cities; here’s how

  • The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is a 14-lane highway that spans 1,320 km and was built by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
  • The expressway is equipped with modern features such as Intelligent Transport Systems, rest areas, and service lanes and also have a dedicated lane for electric vehicles, making it India's first green highway.
  • It is poised to bring innovation to India's road infrastructure with boast of a state-of-art traffic management system.
  • In addition, the expressway will have a dedicated 3m space for utilities such as fiber optic cables, pipelines, and solar power generation
  • To support sustainability, the expressway will feature rainwater harvesting at 500-meter intervals with over 2,000 water recharge points.
  • It cross five states – Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • The expressway will not only benefit long-distance travellers, but also boost economic development in the regions through which it passes.
  • The expressway is expected to create job opportunities and increase trade and tourism in the region.
  • The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is part of the government's plan to develop a network of high-speed corridors across the country.


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