India-Iran Relations

India- Iran Relations

This article deals with ‘India-Iran Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Brief History

  • With the creation of Pakistan in 1947, India and Iran lost the geographical contiguity.
  • In 1950, India and Iran signed a Treaty of Friendship and Perpetual Peace marking the beginning of diplomatic relations between independent India and Iran.
  • In 1953, Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated a coup to remove Iran’s elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh and instituted the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

From 1953 till 1979 (Under Shah’s regime)

  • In Cold War Politics
    • Shah of Iran allied with the U.S.A. after signing the Baghdad pact in 1954.
    • India was non-aligned.
  • Along with that, due to its affiliation to CENTO, Iran also developed proximity with Pakistan.
  • During the 1965 and 1971 war, Iran provided military assistance to Pakistan.
  • Hence, nothing significant happened during this period.

Period between 1979 – 1990s

  • In 1979, Islamic Revolution happened in Iran and Iran came under the control of the theocratic regime of Ayatollah.
  • Post-1979, India and Iran began to establish proximity.
    1. During the Iran-Iraq war, India remained neutral.
    2. In 1983, both countries established an India-Iran Joint Commission (JC) to promote economic cooperation and organise foreign minister-level meets.
    3. During the 1990s, Afghanistan came under Taliban rule. Northern Alliance was fighting against Talibs. Pakistan was supporting the Taliban while India & Iran were supporting the Northern Alliance.
    4. Meetings between heads of government started. In 1993, Narasimha Rao visited Tehran while in 1995, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani visited India. In 2001, Vajpayee and Khatami signed the Tehran Declaration while, in 2003, Khatami, on his visit to India, signed the New Delhi Declaration.
    5. During this period, India started to import gas & oil from Iran in huge amount.

Post 2005-06

  • But after 2005-06, relation dipped due to the nuclear programme of Iran as a result of which Iran was placed under Western sanctions. India was forced to reduce trade with Iran under western pressure.
  • Initially, India maintained that Iran had the right to have its own nuclear programme. But  Western Pressure on India to reduce trade relations with Iran was too large for India to ignore.

Geo-political dynamics of Iran

Iran is the leader of Shia World

There is a Shia-Sunni divide in the whole Islamic world

  • Iran = Leader of Shias
  • Saudi Arabia = Leader of Sunnis
Shia versus Sunni

Developing Nuclear Weapon

  • Iran wanted to develop a Nuclear Weapon for the regime’s security.
  • But  Saudis & Israel are  US allies and they don’t want this because it will disturb the Balance of Power in the Middle East in Iran’s favour.

India-Iran Cooperation

1 . Strategic Aspects 

  • Iran is key in the fight against Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban etc. which pose danger to India as well.
  • Iran is the key player instability of Afghanistan where India has created assets.
  • Iran is also important for securing Sea Lanes of Communication (SLoC) by combating piracy in the Indian Ocean region.
  • India aspires to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region where Iran is a major stakeholder.
  • Due to the sectarian divide, India can use Iran to contain Pakistan (which is a Sunni country).

2. Energy Cooperation

  • Iran has the 2nd largest reserves of Natural Gas.
  • ONGC Videsh Ltd. has stakes in the Farzad-B gas field in Iran (the world’s biggest natural gas field).
  • India also wants to set up a joint-venture fertiliser plant in Iran for exploiting cheap natural gas.
  • IPI Pipeline (Iran – Pakistan – India) is from Iran to India is also on the cards. (But  India fears the safety of the IPI pipeline passing through Pakistan and India favours that Iran take the responsibility for the security of the pipeline.)

3. Cultural Relations between India and Iran

  • India’s large Shia population has an emotional connection with Iran.
  • Lucknow is influenced by Persian (/Irani) culture.
  • Hyderabad’s Qutb Shahi Dynasty was Persian (/Irani) in origin.

4. Connectivity

Chabahar Port in Iran is the key in all connectivity projects of India as

  • It provides an alternate route to Afghanistan.
  • Provide connectivity to Central Asia and Europe, via International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • It is an important part of the Ashgabat Agreement.

5. Other Points of Cooperation

  • Indian Wheat and Pharmaceuticals are in great demand in Iran. Even during sanctions, wheat and pharmaceuticals were exported to Iran from India because these two items were out of the ambit of sanctions. 
  • India and Iran have stakes in the Indian Ocean and both can cooperate for regional security from piracy.

Challenges in India-Iran relations

  • Economic Challenges :
    • Due to Western sanctions, it is difficult for Indian companies to trade with Iran.
    • Due to decades of harsh economic sanctions, Iran is facing huge unemployment and inflation. These conditions are creating huge unrest in Iran.
  • Political Challenges :
    • Fundamental authority rests with Supreme Leader Khamenei, an unelected cleric.
    • India has huge stakes in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel. Indian bonhomie with Iran can upset these Middle Eastern powers which are at odds with the Iranian regime.  
  • Involvement in Proxy Wars: While Iran itself facing an economic crisis at home, the Iranian regime is fighting and supporting a large number of proxies in the Middle East as part of its foreign policy. These include
    • Saudi vs Iran Cold War in the Middle East is going on. 
    • Heavy military expenditure in Syria for supporting Bashar al Assad.
    • Yemen where Iran is supporting Houthi rebels.
    • Iran is supporting Hezbollah in Palestine and Lebanon.
  • Kashmir Issue: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has equated the ongoing Kashmir conflict with that of Yemen and Bahrain in many of his sermons.
  • Issue of Farzad-B gas field: ONGC Videsh Limited discovered the gas in the Farzad-B gas field in 2008.  As India was waiting for the contract, Iran asserted that India will not be given any preferential treatment and will have to compete with other bidders.  India is upset that Iran wishes to auction the Farzad-B field even when India has asserted in 2017 that it is willing to put in $11 Billion in the project. India asserts that it expects preferential treatment in the Farzad-B field as Indian firms in 2008 had discovered gas in the field.

Chabahar Port Issue

The idea of Chabahar port came up in 2003 when Iranian President Khatami visited India and a deal was signed between the two states.  Post-1947, the partition has deprived India of physical access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Chabahar port was envisaged as a project to correct this historical injustice.

In 2016, the Trilateral Agreement was signed between India, Iran and Afghanistan.  Under this agreement, India committed to developing Chabahar port as well the land-based route connecting Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan. India has committed to invest $500 million in this project.

Importance of Chabahar Port

India- Iran Relations

Its importance can be seen in two aspects

1 . Strategic Importance

  • Alternate Route to Afghanistan
    • Route => Chabahar to Zaranj to Delaram .
    • It will help to end Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for trade
  • Counter China at Gwadar Port
    • It will help to counter the Gwadar port of  Pakistan built by  China.
    • Chabahar is located 72 kilometres west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
  • It will help in Anti-Piracy Operations.

2. Economic importance

  • Increased connectivity with energy-rich Central Asia is in line with India’s Connect-Central Asia policy.
  • It will act as a lynchpin in the International  North-South Transit Corridor that connects India to Central Asia, Russia and Europe.

Still an Issue

  • US sanctions – Due to economic sanctions on Iran, it is difficult for India to fund the project. Although the USA has provided a sanctions waiver for the Chabahar port, it has been difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries that they can be targeted by the USA.
  • It is still difficult to reach Afghanistan’s hinterland via this route because of the presence of the Taliban.
  • Saudi Arabia and Israel will be antagonised because of Indian association with such mega projects in Iran.

2020 Update : Iran has decided to proceed with the construction of rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan, without India as India was finding it difficult to built the infrastructure due to US sanctions.

Issue : Increasing Chinese influence in India

  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Under the BRI umbrella, China is presently strengthening its ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and other Middle East countries using engagements such as the construction of stadiums, railways, industrial parks, 5G highways, clean energy project etc.
  • 25-year comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement:  $400 billion agreement includes allocations in Iran’s transport, manufacturing sector etc.
  • Gwadar-Chabahar connectivity: Iran proposed a tie-up between Gwadar and Chabahar. 
  • Bandar-e-Jask port: Iran has offered this port to China which is located just 350km away from Chabahar to China.
  • In  2019, a joint naval exercise was conducted between China, Iran, and Russia in the Gulf of Oman.
  • China is offering its GPS to Iran and has committed to built infrastructure for 5G.
  • China continued to buy Iranian oil even after the U.S. sanctions waivers expired, although in smaller volumes. In contrast, India stopped buying Iranian oil last year after U.S. waivers ended.

Issue: US out of Iranian nuclear deal

  • In 2015 an agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear deal, was reached between Iran and the P5+1 group — U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany — on Tehran’s nuclear programme. The JCPOA was designed to stop Iran from producing its own nuclear weapons and set up a framework limiting the amount and degree to which Iran was allowed to enrich uranium.
  • However, in 2018 USA unilaterally announced to decertify the nuclear deal on account of non-compliance by Iran and announced two rounds of economic sanction on it.
  • Dec 2020: New President Joe Biden has made it clear that his administration will revive the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Limitations agreed by Iran under JCOPA

  1. Low enriched Uranium stockpile can’t exceed 300 kg.
  2. Enrichment of Uranium cant exceeds 3.67% (for weapons 90% enrichment is required but after 20% enrichment, 90% can be achieved very quickly).
  3. UN & IAEA Inspectors can inspect facilities.

In return, Iran gets termination of all economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed on it by the UN Security Council (UNSC), the European Union (EU) and the US.

US has pulled out of the deal and imposed sanctions

Sanctions include

  • No individual or company can trade with Iran.
  • sanctions re-imposed are “extraterritorial” i.e. they apply to not just American individuals and businesses, but to non-American businesses or individuals as well.

US problems and Reasons for withdrawal

  • The deal doesn’t have binding restrictions on Iran’s Ballistic Program.
  • Many of the restrictions in JCPOA have sunset clauses i.e. provisions will become less strict over the years. 
  • The deal doesn’t prevent Iran to prevent sponsorship of terrorism in the region.

Implications of US withdrawal from JCOPA on India

  • Higher Oil price 
    • Iran was India’s third-biggest supplier.
    • India will have to face the added cost of having to recalibrate Indian fuel refineries that are used to process Iran’s special crude.
    • Iranian oil came with discounts on freight, and favourable terms of payment including non-dollar payments.
  • Indian projects impacted 
    • Chabahar project: Chabahar port is nominally exempted from U.S. sanctions, but suppliers are reluctant to deliver equipment.
    • It has prevented ONGC Videsh to invest in the Farzad B gas field.
  • Remittance: More than 50% of the total remittance received by India last year came from the gulf region. Any disturbance in the region would lead to a decline in such remittances.
  • Security of Indian Ocean Region disturbed => Volatile situation at Strait of Hormuz impacts Indian trade negatively. It also gives opportunity to outside powers to set base in the Indian Ocean which impacts the Balance of Power.
  • Giving Space to China: If India succumb to US pressure while China remains firm, then India will lose strategic space to Chin

Approach of Other nations to deal with this

  • China is routing transactions through the Bank of Kunlun. U.S. sanctions on this bank are ineffective since it is carefully insulated from the U.S. financial system.  (India must learn from this)
  • European countries have attempted to bypass sanctions through a special mechanism called INSTEX.

Indian payment approach

  • India has given the responsibility to UCO Bank to route the payment as it has no exposure to the US financial system. 
  • Oil payments are being made in rupees only against earlier arrangements of 45% rupees and 55% Euros.

India Bangladesh Relations

India Bangladesh Relations

This article deals with ‘India Bangladesh Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Brief History

  • Bangladesh became  Independent in 1971 with the military & political assistance of India.  In 1970, the Bengali Awami League Party won the Pakistani National Elections. But West Pakistan refused to recognize the election results and used brutal force to suppress the agitation by the Awami League Party. This situation led to a near war scenario, with armed East-Bengalis forming the Mukti Bahini (freedom force). India’s support to the Mukti Bahini by training and the supply of arms became imminent with millions seeking refuge in India. Pakistan’s pre-emptive strike at India provided the Indian army with the much-needed excuse to attack East Pakistan. By December 1971, Bangladesh emerged as an independent state.
  • Independence was won under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. He and his party Awami League was  Anti-Pakistan (and Anti-China)  and Pro-India (and USSR). India was the first country to recognize Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971. From 1971 to 1975, came the era of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who assumed power. In 1972, India and Bangladesh signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which became the foundation of the modern India-Bangladesh relations.
  • In 1975, Mujibur Rehman was assassinated due to a military coup by Zia-ur-Rehman. It ended the honeymoon period between Indo-Bangladesh relations. The regime thus formed was Pro-China, US & Pakistan and Anti-India & USSR. Later, he established Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) .
  • Hence, due to historical reasons, BNP has a propensity to incline its policies to favour Pakistan and China while the Awami League favours a partnership with India. The BNP is not favourably disposed to India and has at times stated that it is suspicious of India.
India Bangladesh Relations

Various aspects of Indo-Bangladesh relations

Geopolitical Importance

  • Bangladesh shares a border of 4,096 km with India (longest border of India).
  • Bangladesh can act as an outlet for the North Eastern States which are land-locked and have a shorter route to the sea through Bangladesh. Eg: Chittagong and Ashuganj ports are just 70 and 40 km from the Indo-Bangladesh border with the North-Eastern States.
  • Act-East policy: Bangladesh can act as a ‘bridge’ to India’s economic and political linkages with South East Asia.
  • Bangladesh is an integral part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.

Security Importance

  • Bangladesh can also help India to overcome the strategic vulnerability of Chicken Neck by providing an alternate route.
  • Bangladesh is also important for the Security of the Bay of Bengal  & tackling pirate activities.
  • Various Joint exercises of the Army ( Sampriti) and Navy (Milan) take place between the two countries.
  • Bangladesh can help to contain insurgency in the North-East.
  • In 2013, the nations also signed an extradition treaty.

Economic importance

  • Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has reached $9 billion apart from large unaccounted informal trade. But trade potential between two countries is 4 times this amount.
  • Bangladesh presents investment opportunities for Indian companies.
  • India and Bangladesh can cooperate in the blue economy(deep sea fishing, hydrocarbons, disaster management etc).
  • India is also developing business haats  (trading centres)  on Tripura-Bangladesh and Meghalaya – Bangladesh border.
  • India announced a $ 2 billion Line of Credit (LOC) for Bangladesh in 2015. The new LOC will cover projects in the areas of Roads, Railways, Power, Shipping, SEZs, Health & Medical Care and Technical Education. 

Cultural importance

  • Bangladesh is closely linked to India through its shared culture and ethnicity with West Bengal.
  • The Bengali language acts as a bridge between West Bengal, Tripura and Bangladesh.
  • Rabindranath Tagore is equally famous in Bangladesh (‘Amar Sonar Bangla’  was written by him).

Multilateral Cooperation

India and Bangladesh are co-partner in various multilateral Groups

  • Most important of which are SAARC & BIMSTEC.
  • Bangladesh supports India’s bid for observer status at OIC  and helps in countering Pakistan’s statement on Kashmir at OIC Forums. 

Energy Sector Cooperation

  • Bangladesh is an energy deficit country. India is providing 600 MW of power to Bangladesh since 2010.
  • Maitree thermal power plant is being developed as a joint venture between the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) at Rampal. 
  • Rooppur nuclear power plant (Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant) is being made by  Russia’s Rosatom and  Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
  • Many Indian public sector units such as Indian Oil Corporation etc. are working with their Bangladeshi counterparts in the oil and gas sector of Bangladesh.
  • ONGC Videsh Ltd has acquired two shallow-water blocks in Bangladesh.


  • Passenger train service ‘Maitree Express’ between Kolkata and Dhaka operates 3 days a week. 
  • Regular bus services are present between Kolkata-Dhaka, Shillong-Dhaka and Agartala-Kolkata via Dhaka. 
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) – Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) will significantly boost connectivity by road.

To reduce the influence of China

  • ‘Neutral’ Bangladesh helps to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy.


  • About 10,000 Indian citizens are estimated to be living in Bangladesh. Most are engaged in the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector or as professionals in MNCs, Indian or Bangladeshi companies.

Issues in Indo-Bangladesh relations 

India and  Bangladesh resolved the most contentious land boundary issue. But  there  are  still  some  contentious  issues  that need to  be  resolved

  1. Teesta  Water  Treaty:  Teesta originates in Sikkim and enters Bangladesh after passing through West Bengal. There is conflict on water sharing between West Bengal and Bangladesh.
  2. Ganga Water: Treaty was signed in 1996 but India constructed Farakka Barrage to supply water to Hooghly and in the dry season, Bangladesh doesn’t get a fair share of water. India constructed the Farakka dam in West Bengal, about 11 miles from Bangladesh’s border. India maintains that it needs the barrage for the purpose of flushing the Hooghly River to make it free from silt and therefore keep the port of Calcutta operational and also to meet the demand from Kolkata for industrial and domestic use, and for irrigation purposes in other parts of West Bengal. 
  3. Border Issue:  India and Bangladesh have a 2,979 km land border and 1,116 km of the riverine boundary. Due to the porous border, there is rampant smuggling, trafficking in arms, drugs and people.
  4. Illegal  Immigration / NRC Issue:   Historically people of Bangladesh have been moving into the region of Brahmaputra valley due to the lack of habitable and arable land in Bangladesh. India perceives this movement as illegal immigration into Indian territory. According to the NRC draft, 40 lakh people living in (just) Assam are Bangladeshis. India’s initiation of the National Registration of Citizenship and Citizen Amendment Act has ignited popular resentment in Bangladesh. 
  5. Chakma Refugee Issue: The Chakmas and Hajongs living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts fled erstwhile East Pakistan in 1964-65 since they lost their land to the development of the Kaptai Dam. In addition, they also faced religious persecution as they were non-Muslims and did not speak Bengali. They eventually sought asylum in India. The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after five decades. According to the 2011 census, 47,471 Chakmas live in Arunachal Pradesh alone.
  6. Transit  Rights  –  India wants transit rights to develop its North-East but Bangladeshis see it as an infringement of its sovereignty.
  7. Security  Concerns –  Bangladesh provides safe havens to insurgents active in North East.
  8. Tipaimukh  Hydro-Electric  Power  Project built by India on the  Barak river at the junction of Mizoram, Assam and Manipur for electricity generation (capacity = 1500 MW) and irrigation. Bangladesh says that the dam will affect the water supply downstream and affect the flow of water in summers.
  9. Rohingya crisis: There are 11 lakh Rohingyas refugees in Bangladesh. India is providing financial help to Bangladesh via ‘Operation Insaniyat’ but Bangladesh expects India to put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas.
  10. Bangladesh uses China card to supplement its bargaining capacity against India. 
  11. Growing Islamic radicalisation in Bangladesh can destabilise the Indian Subcontinent. The Islamic NGOs of foreign nations have been promoting Wahhabism in Bangladesh. Pakistan has links with many such NGOs in Bangladesh which it uses to target India.
  12. India and Bangladesh compete in some sectors like Textile in the world market.

Conclusion: India should adopt the Gujral doctrine of unilateral support to its smaller neighbours to gain their confidence especially given China’s presence.

Things done by India

  • India has played the main role in Bangladesh’s Independence.
  • Land Boundary issue solved: In 2015 the enclaves of India and Bangladesh in each other’s countries were exchanged and strip maps were signed.   India lost some land and EEZ but accepted the agreement for sake of friendship.
  • Maritime Issue solved: India accepted the settlement of the maritime boundary arbitration between India and Bangladesh, as per the UNCLOS award in 2014 where India lost a large chunk of EEZ.
  • SAARC satellite launched by India provides free access to transponders to Bangladesh.
  • The Visa  regime in India has been liberalized for  Bangladeshi tourists and businesses
  • Border Haats have been developed on Bangladesh-Meghalaya & Bangladesh – Tripura border.
  • 130 km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project has been constructed for transportation of petroleum to Bangladesh.
  • India is exporting 660 MW of electricity daily, will add 500 MW more.
  • India provides duty-free, quota-free access for Bangladeshi exports to India.
  • India also gives a line of credits and loans to Bangladesh and provides developmental aid.
  • Indian companies are investing in Bangladesh. Eg: Tata is establishing a three billion USD steel plant in Bangladesh.

Issue: Teesta Water Dispute

54 rivers pass from India to   Bangladesh. Being a lower riparian state, Bangladesh is affected by dams built on them.

About Teesta

Teesta Issue
  • Teesta originates in Sikkim & after passing through West Bengal, it enters Bangladesh
  • It is very important for irrigation on both sides.
  • The problem arises due to the severe shortage of water in the dry months.


  • India has built three Projects on Teesta like Gajoldoba Barrage (in Jalpaigudi) to divert water to other areas. As a result, Indian regions started to prosper but Bangladeshis are raising voice against this.
  • Radical Islamic Parties like Jamaat-i-Islami is using this issue to consolidate people against Sheikh Hasina.
  • In 2011,  Teesta Accord was drafted which proposed to divide Teesta waters between India & Bangladesh in the ratio 50:50%respectively. But, West Bengal Government is acting as an impediment to signing this Accord.

Importance of Teesta Accord for India

  • PM Hasina is an important ally of India who has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against Anti-Indian terror outfits and has helped India in containing the influence of China in the Bay of Bengal region. Signing the deal will consolidate her position in Bangladeshi polity.
  • Not signing such a deal give oxygen to radical elements. Jamiat-e-Islami is becoming powerful by portraying Sheikh Hasina as a puppet of India.

Bangladesh’s trust in India will increase if there are more water-sharing agreements.

Teesta & Indian Internal Politics

  • Teesta is the “lifeline” of north Bengal; ruling parties have never touched it for fear of losing the northern base. 

China Factor in Bangladesh 

  • Bangladesh is part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR project) & has also attended the OBOR Summits.
  • China is increasing its Defence Partnership with Bangladesh => recently Bangladesh procured two submarines from Beijing.
  • China is using Bangladesh as an outlet for Kunming Province by investing Chittagong Port Project).
  • Bangladesh is part of the BCIM project.
  • China is financing 25 energy projects in Bangladesh including  Bangladesh’s 2nd Nuclear power plant.
  • Bangabandhu-1, the first communication satellite of Bangladesh will be launched with Chinese help.
  • As part of its soft diplomacy, China is training Bangladeshi personnel, including Chinese language teachers.

But points in Indian favour

  • During the freedom struggle,  Communist China helped Pakistan and opposed the creation of Bangladesh.
  • China also cast a veto in the Security Council to block new Bangladesh’s entry into the United Nations.
  • The issue of China building dams on the Brahmaputra unilaterally impacts Bangladesh as well.

New Moore Island Issue

  • New Moore Island is a small uninhabited offshore sandbar landform in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta region. It emerged in the Bay of Bengal in the aftermath of the Bhola cyclone in 1970 and disappeared at some later point. For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal but later in 2010, the rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them as the island was submerged.
  • New Moore Island, in the Sundarbans, has been completely submerged. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols. Bangladesh was using the argument of extension of its continental shelf according to which it can demand up to 350 NM EEZ.  Although the island was uninhabited and there were no permanent settlements or stations located on it, both India and Bangladesh claimed sovereignty over it because of speculation over the existence of oil and natural gas in the region.
  • The Resolution: In the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PAC), the dispute was settled in July 2014 by a final verdict not open to appeal and in favour of Bangladesh. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) verdict awarded Bangladesh with 19,467 km2 out of 25,000 km2 disputed area with India in the Bay of Bengal. However, New Moore Island has fallen in India’s part of the Bay of Bengal.
New Moore Island Issue

Land Boundary Agreement

  • When India became independent, Sir Radcliffe demarcated the boundary between India and Pakistan as well as India and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). While dividing the territory in East Pakistan, Radcliffe did not pay attention to small patches of land called ‘enclaves’.
  • These enclaves were, in the pre-independence era, called Chitmahals and they were used by the Raja of Cooch Behar and Maharaja of Rangpur as stakes in the game of chess. In 1947, kings were asked whether to join India or Pakistan (Cooch Bihar joined India and Rangpur joined Pakistan (now Bangladesh)). Hence, Feudal belonging of land in earlier times  is the genesis of the problem
Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement

Timeline of Events

1958 Nehru-Noon Agreement to solve this issue but didn’t fructify because of deterioration in the situation.   
1974 Awami League was in power.  Mujibur Rehman and Indira Gandhi went for Land Boundary Agreement.
– In this, physical exchange of enclaves was to take place.
– But this needed ratification by Parliament with Special Majority.
– Bangladesh ratified this but India failed.
1975 Mujibur Rehman was assassinated.  
1982 Until complete exchange takes place, India decided to give a corridor known as Tin Bagha Corridor on lease so that Bangladeshis can use that to come to their enclaves. It was opposed by most of the opposition parties.  
2011 & 2015   2011: Awami League came to power (Congress Government in India at that time ).
– India and Bangladesh agreed on a protocol that required Constitutional Amendment. This was passed in 2015 (100th Constitutional Amendment Act ).
As per this protocol, India gave 111 enclaves and Bangladesh gave 51 enclaves. 
– People living in these enclaves were given the following options
1. They can choose to stay back and acquire new citizenship status.
2. Or can leave the enclave and go back to the country whose citizenship they have.  

Potentials & prospects

  • North-East India, Bangladesh & Myanmar should create a tourist circuit.
  • Bangladesh is an electricity deficient country.  The hydropower potential of northeastern states and  Bhutan can be harnessed to satisfy the need of Bangladesh. 
  • India can jointly develop Bangladeshi ports  (like Ashuganj)  to connect them with our northeast.
  • BIMSTEC  and  SAARC  have opened up avenues for the multilateral exchange of goods and services.
  • India and Bangladesh can cooperate on climate change as West Bengal and Bangladesh are low lying areas and will face large scale submergence of land due to ocean level rise.

India-Pakistan Relations

India-Pakistan Relations

This article deals with ‘India-Pakistan Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Brief History

Common history

  • Pakistan was part of India before 1947.
  • Pakistan was formed on the basis of the flawed Two Nation Theory.

J&K Conflict

  • Post-independence, one of the first issue faced by India and Pakistan was the accession of Kashmir. Pakistani Army under the guise of Tribals attacked Kashmir. But Maharaja of Kashmir signed ‘Instrument of Accession’ with India and as a result, Indian forces were airlifted to Kashmir culminating in the creation of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since then J&K remained the core issue between India & Pakistan.

Indo-Pakistan Wars

In the subsequent period, India and Pakistan have fought three wars

  • War of 1965: India lost to China in 1962 which emboldened Pakistan to take away Kashmir from India via force. But the 1965 war was a military stalemate and USSR brokered peace between India and Pakistan via Tashkent Agreement.
  • War of 1971: In December 1970, Pakistani held a general election in which Awami League based in East-Pakistan (led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) won election. The PPP and Awami League failed to reach at power-sharing agreement and consequently, Awami League supporters in East Pakistan initiated a massive protest to seek autonomy. The Pakistani army began to suppress the Bengalis in East Pakistan due to which they began to leave their country and take refuge in India. India’s R&AW saw it as an opportunity to break East-Pakistan away from the control of West Pakistan. The R&AW began to train and support the Mukti Bahini movement. Witnessing renewed unrest, the Pakistani Military launched a strike on India in North India. India perceived the attack as an attack on the sovereignty and decided to retaliate militarily. The Indian forces entered deep inside East Pakistan and captured around 90,000 Prisoners of War (POW). Bangladesh was finally born out of the conflict. The crushing defeat of 1971 came as a big blow to Pakistan.
  • Kargil War of 1999:  India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces when they occupied the positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC).

Cross border Terrorism

  • Most of the terrorist attacks that occur in India have their origin in Pakistan.
  • India is a victim of terrorism a number of times
    • 2001: attack on Parliament
    • 2008: Mumbai attacks
    • 2016:  Pathankot Airbase  Attack
    • 2016: Uri attack on Military base
    • 2019: Pulwama Attack
  • These have seriously impacted India’s relations with Pakistan.

Present stalemate in talks

  • In the last four years, India has consistently repeated that Talks cannot resume till Pakistan actually cracks down on state-funded terrorist organisations. This boycott includes suspension of trade and refusal to attend meetings hosted by Pakistan (including SAARC meetings). 
  • Pakistan also has used various international and regional platforms to raise its voice over the Kashmir issue and revocation of Article 370 by India in Aug 2019.


1947 Britain, as part of its pullout from the Indian subcontinent, divides it into secular (but mainly Hindu) India and Muslim Pakistan on August 15 and 14 respectively.
1947/48 The first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir is fought, after armed tribesmen (lashkars) from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) invade the disputed territory in October 1947.
1954 The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India is ratified by the state’s constituent assembly.
1963 Following the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan – Swaran Singh and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – hold talks under the auspices of the British and Americans regarding the Kashmir dispute.
1964 Following the failure of the 1963 talks, Pakistan refers the Kashmir case to the UN Security Council.
1965 India and Pakistan fight their second war.
1966 On January 10, 1966, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan sign an agreement at Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan), agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines and that economic and diplomatic relations would be restored.
1971 India and Pakistan go to war a third time, this time over East Pakistan.
1972 Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sign an agreement in the Indian town of Shimla.
1974 The Kashmiri state government affirms that the state “is a constituent unit of the Union of India”. Pakistan rejects the accord with the Indian government.
1988 The two countries sign an agreement that neither side will attack the other’s nuclear installations or facilities.
1989 Armed resistance in the Kashmir valley begins.
1992 A joint declaration prohibiting the use of chemical weapons is signed in New Delhi.
1998 India detonates five nuclear devices at Pokhran. Pakistan responds by detonating six nuclear devices of its own in the Chaghai Hills.
1999 Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee meets with Nawaz Sharif, his Pakistani counterpart, in Lahore. Kargil war was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan later in the same year.
2001 Tensions along the Line of Control remain high, with 38 people killed in an attack on the Kashmiri assembly in Srinagar.
2007 On February 18, the train service between India and Pakistan is bombed near Panipat, north of New Delhi. Sixty-Eight people are killed, and dozens injured. (Samjhauta Express)
2012 In November, India executes Pakistani national Kasab, the lone survivor of a fighter squad that killed 166 people in a rampage through the financial capital Mumbai in 2008, hanging him just days before the fourth anniversary of the attack.
2016 India launches what it calls “surgical strikes” on terrorist units in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in September, less than two weeks after an attack on an Indian army base leaves 19 soldiers dead.
2019 In the early hours of February 26, India conducts air attacks against what it calls Pakistan-based rebel group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)’s “biggest training camp”, killing “a very large number of terrorists”.

Important Issues

Issue 1: Issues related to Indus Water Treaty,1960

Indus Water treaty

  • It was signed in 1960.
  • It was brokered by World Bank.
  • Treaty allocates the water in the following manner:-
Eastern Rivers The water of the following rivers belongs to India exclusively:- Sutlej Ravi Beas
Western Rivers The water of the following rivers belongs to Pakistan. However, India can make limited use and build run of the river hydro Projects  (but can’t divert the water of these rivers). These rivers include:- Chenab Jhelum Indus
Indus Water treaty
  • It is said to be the most successful water treaty in the world as it has survived various India-Pakistan wars.

Should India (unilaterally) review Indus Water Treaty?

Why in news?

  • Pakistan is stopping India to make projects like Kishanganga Hydro-Electricity Project (HEP) and taking India to the International Court of Arbitration on minor grounds.
  • Pakistan is sponsoring attacks on India. In such a situation, the Indian government is of the view that treaties signed under goodwill shouldn’t be obliged.

Yes, India should review the treaty

  • In 1960, India gave the most genuine deal to the lower riparian state with the hope that Pakistan will ensure peace. But Pakistan didn’t keep its end of the bargain.
  • Kashmir has been suffering because they cant utilise three rivers i.e. Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Even Kashmir Assembly has passed a resolution to revoke the Indus Treaty twice.
  • Given the climate change and melting of the glaciers,  review of the treaty is the need of the hour.

Other points to keep in mind

  • It can worsen India’s terror problems as Pakistan use  Indian control over water to recruit terrorists & justify fight for Kashmir to have control of the Indus. 
  • India is a lower riparian state in the case of many rivers like Satluj, Brahmaputra etc. China can stop water & India will not have a moral high ground to oppose it.
  • Indus Water Treaty was signed under the guarantee of the World Bank. => India still needs funds from World Bank.
  • It will help Pakistan to Internationalize the Kashmir Issue.
  • Legally, abrogating the treaty isn’t workable. There is no clause regarding one party unilaterally denouncing the treaty. Treaty can be modified only when both the countries ratify the modifications.
  • Brahma Chellaney is of the opinion that future wars in Asia could be driven by issues related to water itself. The Abrogation of the Indus Water Treaty has the potential to result in such war.

Side Note: Indian Projects on Tributaries of Indus which were contested by Pakistan

Project River
Kishanganga Project Jhelum
Wullar Barrage / Tulbul Project 1985 India constructed a barrage on the Jhelum river near Wullar lake.
Pakistan saw it as a violation of the Indus water treaty because of less flow of water in river Jhelum.  
Salal Dam Issue emerged in 1978 when India constructed Salal Dam  64 kilometres away from the Indo-Pak border on the Chenab River. Pakistan objected to the construction of the Salal Dam.
– In 1978, after negotiations, India decided to lower the height of the Salal Dam and assured Pakistan that the dam would be used only for the generation of power.
Ratle Dam Chenab 
Pakal Dul Dam Chenab
Miyar Dam Chenab
Lower Kalnai Dam Chenab
Baglihar   Dam In 2005, Pakistan objected to India’s 450 Megawatt Baglihar Dam constructed on the Chenab River.
A neutral expert was appointed for arbitration. The verdict was announced in 2011 in favour of India. 

Issue 2: Kashmir Issue

  • This is the issue of three contesting nationalisms i.e. Indian, Pakistani & Kashmir
  • At the time of independence, a Princely State could either join India or Pakistan, as was announced in the provision by Lord Mountbatten. Kashmir posed some difficulty because it was a Muslim majority state ruled by a Hindu monarch, Maharaja Hari Singh. Initially, Hari Singh was reluctant to join either India or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan launched a campaign by sending its troops disguised as tribesmen to forcefully annex the state of Kashmir.
  • Hari Singh had his own fears. He never wanted to accede to Pakistan as he feared that a Muslim state of Pakistan would soon integrate the Muslims of Kashmir thereby relegating him to minority status. He also had similar concerns for India, as he thought that if he acceded to India, a socialist Nehru would strip him of the privileges he enjoyed. As Pakistani tribesmen reached Kashmir, Hari Singh panicked and began to make frantic requests to India for help. India, led by Nehru, decided to assist Hari Singh only if he acceded to India. Once Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession, thereby acceding Kashmir to India, Indian troops landed in Kashmir. The troops were able to stop the onslaught by Pakistani forces but by then, one-third of Kashmir had fallen into the hands of the invaders.
  • JL Nehru under the influence of Mountbatten took the issue of J&K to the UN for dispute resolution. It was decided in the UN that two states would maintain the status quo i.e. Pakistani infiltrators which came to Kashmir would withdraw & then plebiscite would take place. India alleged that the stalemate over Kashmir could not end and a plebiscite could not happen as Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from the PoK which was a necessary condition for restoration of peace leading to a future plebiscite.
  • Later it became part of Cold war politics.  This issue was regularly supported by the US because Pakistan was part of the capitalist block & India stalled all such move with help of the veto power of Russia.
  • In the Shimla Agreement of 1972, it was decided that India & Pakistan would resolve this issue bilaterally & any third power wouldn’t be involved. 
  • The situation deteriorated at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s. The reasons for this were as follows
    1. In 1989, as Soviet rule ended, Pakistan’s ISI started developing confidence about the fact that a successfully trained Mujahedeen campaign could also be launched in Kashmir.  Hence, they started a proxy war against India & weaponised & trained militants.
    2. In the 1980s, various social and religious organisations who wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully formed Muslim United Front (MUF). They participated in the 1987 elections but were badly defeated. The MUF alleged that the elections were rigged, after which the MUF candidate Mohmmad Yusuf Shah was imprisoned. As the MUF cadres were suppressed, they began to cross over to Pakistan for support where ISI began to train them with arms and ammunition. The JKLF militants attacked a Hindu Kashmiri Pandit, Tika Lal Taploo in 1989 and asserted that Kashmiri Pandits should leave the valley immediately resulting in a mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
  • In the period from 1999 to 2002, the ISI used Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in a ‘fidayeen phase’ of the campaign. The idea was to attack army camps, zero down on targets, terrorize the Kashmiri population and cause a psychological blow to the Indian forces, Indian people and the Indian state. 
  • Kashmiri Intifada: Burhan Wani was commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen of South Kashmir. On 8th July 2016, the Indian armed forces killed Wani in an encounter. His death led to an upsurge in the valley. Lakhs of people attended his funeral. The ISI, through social media, instigated the youth to resort to stone-pelting against the Indian forces.  Stone pelting in 2016-17 has emerged as a cult in Kashmir.  The ISI, according to R&AW, had earmarked ₹1000 crores to be given to groups in Kashmir to create stone-pelting led unrest in 2016.
  • Repealing Article 370: On August 5, 2019, the President of India gave assent to the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, issued under Article 370(1) of the Constitution of India. While exercising power under Article 370 (1), the President has repealed all the clauses of Article 370. By virtue of those modifications, all the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir
  • In the present situation, Pakistan has adopted a two-point strategy on Kashmir
    1. Firstly, it asserts that they are fighting for the rights of Kashmiri Muslims and insists that it hasn’t any control over non-state actors in Kashmir.
    2. Secondly,  all regimes in Pakistan have continued with the policy that Kashmir is the core central issue and  Pakistan would rest only when it succeeds in taking Kashmir from India.
Kashmir Issue

Gilgit-Baltistan Issue

  • Gilgit Baltistan was part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been under Pakistan’s control since 1947, following the invasion of Kashmir by tribal militias and the Pakistan army.
  • 1949: It was renamed as ‘Northern Areas of Pakistan’ and put under the direct control of the Pakistan federal government.
  • 2020: It was made the fifth province of Pakistan.
Gilgit-Baltistan Issue

India’s stand on Gilgit-Baltistan

  • India said that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are “an integral part of India”.

Importance of Gilgit-Baltistan

  • Strategic Location: Gilgit Baltistan lies at the intersection of the Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia and China.
  • Large Territory: The territory of Gilgit Baltistan is more than five times larger than Pakistan occupied Kashmir. It consists of two ethnic-geographically distinct territories: Baltistan, which was part of Ladakh, and Gilgit.
  • Water and Energy Security: Gilgit Baltistan is also significant due to its water and energy resources. Before entering Pakistan, the Indus River passes through it. Important glaciers like Siachen Glacier are located in GB. The hydroelectric potential of the Indus River makes it vital for energy security as well.
  • Chinese Interference: China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  passes through Gilgit Baltistan and China is building large scale infrastructure in this area.

Issue 3: Terrorism

  • Almost all terror attacks in India originate from Pakistan. For example
    • 2001: Parliament Attack
    • 2008: Attack in Mumbai
    • 2016: Pathankot Airbase Attack 
    • 2016: Uri Attack
    • 2019: 44 CRPF Men killed in IED attack in Pulwama
  • Terrorist groups which attack India are active in Pakistan & terrorists are trained on Pakistani soil. Eg : Jaish-e-Mohammad , Hizb-ul-Mujahidin etc.

Why Pakistan is using terrorism as a tool?

  • The realisation that Pakistan can’t defeat India in a conventional war. As a result,  Deep State in Pakistan has nurtured Islamic Radical Groups (Mujahideens) as strategic assets.
  • After the success of Afghan Mujahideens against the USSR, the Pakistani deep state started to use it as a strategy against India in Kashmir. Mujahideens in Afghanistan against USSR.
  • It is part of ISI and Pakistan Army’s approach of ‘Bleeding India by Thousand Cuts‘.
  • Using Nuclear Bluff since the world will not let two nuclear-powered nations to go on war.
  • Whenever, the governments of two nations have tried to indulge in confidence-building measures (Bus Diplomacy, Sports, Summits, Kartarpur Corridor), the Pakistani deep state has been able to use the cross-border terror activities to derail such Indo-Pak dialogue.

What should be India’s response?

India is responding in a very responsible way and has always stressed making this area terrorism free. It has stated that terrorism has not only affected India but all the nations. Governments of all the nations in Asia must ensure that their lands are not being used for terrorist activities.

  • But Pakistan hasn’t responded to these urges and hence India should expose Pakistan on various International and regional platforms and try to isolate Pakistan on the international front.
  • Use Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to blacklist Pakistan (Pakistan is already in Greylist). If Pakistan still continues to finance terrorists, Pakistan’s economy will suffer as no investment will come to Pakistan. 
  • Mossad Way: carry out covert operations inside Pakistan to kill high-value human targets.
  • Conducting Surgical Strikes on the training camps in Pakistan to neutralise the terrorists (as was conducted by the Indian army post-Uri attack).
  • Pressurising China to stop giving unconditional support given to Pakistan.
  • Give support to Balochis and other sub-entities in their fight for independence to bleed Pakistan as a counter-strategy.
  • Economic Efforts: Indian government has already withdrawn the “Most Favoured Nation” or MFN status accorded to Pakistan to punish it for supporting terrorism in India.
  • India has been pushing for the adoption of a universal definition of terrorism and steps needed to tackle it under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

Issue 4: Siachin Glacier

India-Pakistan Relationship

Importance of Siachen glacier

  • It is the largest source of fresh water in the Indian sub-continent.
  • Siachin is the source of the Nubra river that feeds the mighty Indus.
  • Siachen is near Karakoram pass, forming almost a triangle with India, China & Pakistani Occupied Kashmir.


  • Line of Control (LOC) in J&K is as per Shimla Agreement of 1972 but boundary line was specified only till NJ-9842  from where Siachen starts. Both countries claim Siachin belongs to it.
  • The matter was Non-Controversial till the 1980s. In 1984, the Indian R&AW came to know that Pakistan had purchased specialized clothing for very low temperatures for its army from a supplier in London. The R&AW alerted the Indian army and during one of the operations, the army found a Pakistani expedition team in a place near Siachen. Before the Pakistani expedition could resort to any adventurism, the Indian army launched Operation Meghdoot and Indian troops captured it. Now India controls the heights.

Should Siachen be demilitarised?

Yes, it should be demilitarised

  • India lost around a thousand army personnel due to weather related casualties and ₹7,500   crore was spent on military operations in the last  4  years.
  • At Siachen glacier,   temperatures dip to as low as  – 45°  C,  is the world’s highest & the toughest battlefield. 
  • Due to global warming, glaciers are becoming very unstable. As a result frequency of Avalanches has increased.
  • Demilitarization would increase trust and confidence between  India and  Pakistan.

No, it shouldn’t be demilitarised

Siachen  is  strategically  important  to  India  for a number  of  reasons such as

  • Saltoro Ridge at  Siachen overlooks the entire region and provides an advantage of height.
  • Control of the area prevents  Pakistani and  Chinese troops from linking up.
  • Pakistan control over Siachin will make Leh and  Kargil vulnerable.

Way Forward: India can demilitarise the Siachin Glacier provided that the present situation is recorded and Pakistan assures to maintain the status quo.

Issue 5: Sir Creek Issue

Sir Creek is a 96 km strip of water that is disputed between India & Pakistan. Originally named  Ban Ganga, Sir Creek is named after a British representative. The Creek opens up in the Arabian Sea and roughly divides the Kutch region of Gujarat from the Sindh Province of Pakistan. The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh.

Sir Creek Issue
  • The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime  line between Pakistan  & India
    • Pakistan lays claim to the entire creek as per Sind Government Resolution of 1914 signed between the then Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch.
    • India sticks to its position that the boundary lies mid-channel as depicted in another map drawn in 1925.
  • India supports its stance by citing the Thalweg Doctrine in  International law.  
  • The issue involves losing a vast amount of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rich with gas and mineral deposits.

Problems arising due to unresolved dispute

  • A maritime boundary isn’t properly demarcated which creates confusion for fishermen.  Their boats cross boundaries &  they end up being arrested by the other side.
  • Creates security problem as well like
    • Terrorists are frequently using this route to enter India.
    • Even 2008 Mumbai Attackers used this route.
  • Cartels (drugs & illegal weapons etc.)  transact their business in the disputed waters so that they are beyond the reach of both Indian and Pakistani agencies.

Way forward for resolution

Designating the non-delineated area i.e. Sir Creek and its approaches-as a zone of disengagement or a jointly administered maritime park. 

Areas of Engagement

Focus should be on low hanging fruits for building amicable Indo-Pak relations

  • People to People contact by opening religious tourism to places like Kartarpur Sahib, Nankana Sahib, Katas Raj Temple, Ajmer Sharif
  • Trade and Commerce :  India and Pakistan collectively constitute 90% of the GDP of the region and peace between the two states could yield a 405% rise in trade at the bilateral level.
  • Electric grid : Pakistan is electricity deficit while India has become surplus .
  • Medical tourism
  • Energy pipeline : TAPI , IPI pipelines etc.
  • Social networking platforms have led to the people from the two states establishing a connect .

India-US Relations

History of India-US relations

Before  Independence Ambedkar studied in Columbia University from 1912-16 .
– Roosevelt (US President during World War II) supported Indian independence   
Initial Years PL-480  started by USA to address food shortage of India after independence
– IIT Kanpur  established with US help
– Green Revolution : Norman Borlaug  & Ford Foundation played important role  
Cold War Period – Pakistan was member of US led groups like SEATO. India was non-aligned and ideologically closer to USSR During 1971 war, US dispatched aircraft carrier  USS Enterprise to Indian Ocean to help Pakistan in East Pakistan      
NUCLEAR ISSUE 1974: India experimented Nuclear Explosion – Pokharan 1. This was not supported by USA 1978 : Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty signed & India was not accepted by nuclear states . India resented NPT & CTBT terming it Nuclear Apartheid   
End of Cold War Cold war ended with collapse of  USSR & unipolar world emerged with US being the sole super-power US stopped Russia many times to supply needed technology like Cryogenic engine in 1990s  
1990s Balance of Payment crisis due to Persian Gulf war => one lakh workers repatriated and high price of oil on global spot market prior to war .  IMF loan that India got came with condition of SAP SAP(Structural Adjustment Plan)  consisted of disinvestment , privatisation , convertibility of currency , reducing tariff & subsidies in agriculture  
US- India Engagement 1998 : Nuclear Test (Pokharan 2) was conducted=>  US imposed Sanctions on India . Nuclear issue again became major source of tension   2000: Clinton’s visit to India  & beginning of new era   followed by Jaswant – Talbot Dialogue This process culminated in Civil  Nuclear Deal  finally signed in 2008        Bush – Manmohan Civil Nuclear Deal Signed in 2008 India agreed for separation of civil & military nuclear programmes India allowed inspection of civilian programme US to offer fuel & Technology Russia & France were the main beneficiary of this deal  

India-Sri Lanka Relations

India-Sri Lanka Relations

This article deals with ‘India-Sri Lanka Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Brief History

  • The earliest mention of Sri Lanka dates back to the time of the Ramayana. Ravana, the king of Lanka, who held Sita captive in Lanka, was rescued by Ram with the help of Hanuman.
  • The native people of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) were colonially under the British.
  • From the 1830s onwards, the British started to transport indentured labour from India, especially from Tamil Nadu, to Ceylon to work on tea plantations. The Tamils who were transported by the British settled in the northern part of Ceylon. 

Areas of Cooperation 

1 . Geopolitical Importance

  • Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region is strategically and geopolitically important not for India only but for other powers also. Sri Lanka has a number of highly strategic ports located among the busiest sea lanes of communication.
  • Nowadays Indo-pacific is emerging as the centre of Interest for almost all the major powers and hence importance and role of Sri-Lanka is increasing rapidly.

2. Defence Cooperation

  • India has been training Sri Lankan officials at the Defence University of India.
  • India and Sri-Lankan navy and coast guards constantly undertake intelligence sharing.

3. Tamil Factor

  • India-Sri Lanka relations are historically dominated by the Tamil factor. Tamils have been in North and East Sri Lanka. Sri-Lankan government is not implementing the terms of the 13th Constitutional in letter and spirit.

4. Trade & investment

  • Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has already been signed (in 1998) & CEPA is on the cards. India-Sri Lanka FTA gives duty-free preferential access to each other’s goods in a time-bound manner.
  • India has the  2nd largest FDI in Sri Lanka. 
  • India exports petro-products, pharmaceuticals, two-wheelers and vegetables while importing rubber products, spices and electric wires.
  • Indian firms operational in Sri Lanka include Tata, Jet Airways, Ashoka Leyland, Ceat, Apollo, and so forth.
  • Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is planning that a six million ton per annum refinery be established in Sri Lanka through direct investment.

Issue regarding CEPA

  • India envisages services based cooperation in CEPA. However, Sri Lanka has had expressed some reservations, it hopes for more economic and technical cooperation rather than the increased movement of Indian professionals in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka fears that Indian firms may ultimately come to dominate the Lankan economic space and might eventually lead to the loss of jobs for the Sri Lankan native population.

5. Cultural

  • India is building 
    • Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka and
    • Buddhist circuit in India (Sinhalese are Buddhist).
  • Rabindranath Tagore had influenced Sri Lanka’s national anthem – “Sri Lanka Matha” (we salute mother Sri Lanka).

6. Developmental Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka is one of the major recipients of development credit given by India. For example, under a line of credit of $167.4 million, the tsunami-damaged Colombo-Matara rail link has been repaired and upgraded.
  • India has built 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of Tamils in Northern and Eastern Provinces with a grant of $ 350 million.

7. Multilateral Cooperation

Both are members of

  • South Asian Economic Union

Present issues faced by Sri-Lanka

Economic hardships

  • The rural population and lower middle class in Sri Lanka are facing economic hardships due to joblessness, increasing living costs, rise in household debt etc.

Security concerns

  • Sri Lanka witnessed the deadly terror attack (Easter attacks) in April 2019 killing more than 250 people. 

Majority sentiment

  • The Rajapaksas enjoy a powerful political base among the majority population, the Sinhalese. This is due to the fact that it was during the Rajapaksa regime that Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE in 2009.
  • Riots against minority Muslim group are also rising due to increasing Islamophobia in Sri-Lankan society. These are led by Sinhala majoritarian groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena.

Issues between India and Sri-Lanka

Issue 1: Tamil Issue

India – Sri Lanka relations have generally been cordial, although there have been some tensions mainly caused because of ethnic conflict between people of Indian origin – mainly Tamils- living in Sri Lanka & Sinhalese (ethnic majority constituting 70% of Sri-Lankan population).

Ethnic Composition of Sri-Lanka

  • Sinhalese is the predominant community, which is about three-quarters of the population, are Buddhist and speak Sinhalese.
  • Tamils in Sri Lanka are largely Hindus.
  • The Muslims mainly of Tamil origin speak both Tamil and Sinhala.

There are two types of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Ceylonese TamilsTamils whose forefathers had gone to Sri Lanka centuries ago.
– Their population is estimated to be 1 million.
They are concentrated in Jaffna and the northern & eastern coast.
Indian TamilsTamils whose forefathers were taken by Britishers as plantation workers.
Their population is estimated to be ~ 1 million.
They are concentrated in the districts of Colombo, Kandy & Trincomalee in traditional tea garden areas.
India-Sri Lanka Relations

Reason for Sinhalese Anti-Tamil feeling

  • The reason for this is colonial. Tamils were in minority but Britishers favoured Tamils over Sinhalese in all opportunities.
  • When Britishers went back
    • Sinhalese majority started to capture every property and post from Tamils.
    • Sinhalese Only Act was passed & Tamil lost the status of official language. 
    • Ceylon Citizenship Act was passed which made it virtually impossible for Indian Tamils to obtain citizenship and over 700,000 Tamils (consisting of up to 11% of the country’s total population) were made stateless.
  • After that, state backed pogrom of Tamils started in which Tamils were massacred & their houses burnt.
  • In retaliation, Tamils started a civil war under the leadership of LTTE headed by Prabhakaran.

Sri Lanka vs LTTE: Timeline of Events

Post-1948 Sri-Lanka got independence in 1948.
– Sri-Lanka was suspicious of India and aligned itself with the US in the 1970s and 1980s.
– Sri-Lanka was continuously persecuting the Tamils and refused to grant citizenship to Tamils.
Pre- 1976 It is widely alleged by scholars and theorists that India used the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) to train Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka. The aim was to use Tamil rebels to destabilize the anti-India regime while also ensuring that the Tamil rebels do not succeed in creating a separate state.
– The R&AW supported the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO).  
– As the R&AW had gradually succeeded in destabilizing the Sri Lankan government, it slowly stopped supporting the rebels.
1976 Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), a separatist and insurgent militant force, was formed by V Prabhakaran.
– LTTE also began to seek support from Tamil political leaders in Tamil Nadu.
1976 – 2009 Civil War continued.
– Large scale violence and human rights violations were observed.
2009 – Prabhakaran was killed.
– LTTE-Sri Lanka Civil war ends.
– More than 1 lakh died in the civil war.

To deal with the situation, various agreements were signed like

Tamil Issue on India-Sri Lanka relations

  • Nehru – Kotelawala Agreement, 1953In the pact, India accepted in principle the repatriation of the Indian population in Ceylon. But Jawaharlal Nehru only supported voluntary repatriation of those who accepted Indian citizenship. India disagreed with Sri Lankan position that suggested granting Indian citizenship to people, who failed to qualify for Sri Lankan citizenship
  • Shastri – Sirimavo Agreement, 1964: It sought to solve the problem of 9 lakh, 75 Thousand stateless persons, in Sri Lanka using the following formula:
    1. 3 lakh people will get Sri Lankan citizenship.
    2. 5 lakh 25 thousand will get Indian citizenship. They were to move to India in a period spanning over 15 years.
    3. The remaining 1.50 lakh stateless persons fate was to be decided later.
  • Rajiv – Jayawardene Agreement (Indo-Sri Lanka Accord), 1987 :
    • An autonomous unit comprising northern and eastern provinces where Tamils are concentrated) would be constituted.
    • Emergency was to be lifted from northern and eastern provinces.
    • Tamil, Sinhalese and English would be the official languages of Sir Lanka.
    • Deployment of IPKF to guarantee and enforce the cessation of hostilities between the Lankan army and Tamil militants.

The agreement was vehemently opposed by both Tamil & Sinhalese extremists.

XIII Amendment

It was the direct outcome of the Accord of 1987 and its terms were as follows:-

  • Divide entire Sri Lanka into provinces.
  • Adoption of Federal System and give more powers to states.
  • Remove Sinhalese Only Language Act and give equal status to the Tamil language as well.
  • Land and Police should be provincial subject.

What was the rationale?

  • Use Federalism to give some power to Tamils and end the feeling of deprivation among Tamils.

Present status

  • Division of states have been done but the rest of the provisions aren’t implemented.
  • Later, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka declared this Accord to be unconstitutional saying that Land and Police being Union subject is a fundamental feature of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) posting in Sri Lanka was an utter failure

  • Crores of ₹ were spent on troops trying to restore order.
  • Hundreds of troops were killed in clashes with Tamils.
  • Even ethnic conflict wasn’t brought under control.
  • Operations of IPKF changed ethnic violence into civil war, which Sri Lanka was forced to continue even when Indian forces left in 1990
  • It led to a large number of political killings of both Indian and Sri Lankan  leaders like
1991 Death of Rajiv Gandhi
1993 Death of Premadasa who got IPKF removed.

India’s rehabilitation measures for Sri Lankan Tamils

  • The construction of 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of Tamils in Northern and Eastern Provinces. $ 350 million grant to build the houses is one of the largest grants by India in any country.
  • Building of train service at the north-western Sri Lankan town of Talaimannar – the closest point to India by IRCON International Ltd., a Government of India owned company. This completed the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line. 
  • India agreed to provide citizenship to two-thirds of the people of Indian origin; But the ethnic conflict between native Tamils (Eelam Tamils) and the Singhalese erupted into a protracted civil war, revolting an influx of Tamil refugees into India.

Issue 2: Fishermen Issue


  • Fishing is happening in this region since the Sangam period without any problem.


  • Indian fishermen venture into Sri Lankan waters and they are fired upon by the Sri-Lankan Navy.  According to Joint Working Group on Fisheries (JWGF) data, 111 boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen and 51 Indian fishermen were arrest or detention in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province in 2019.
  • The Indian fishermen saw a golden business opportunity during the LTTE era as the Sri Lankan government had disallowed the easy movement of Sri Lankan fishermen in waters owing to military operations. However, with the LTTE war over, since 2010, there is a resurgence of Sri Lankan fishermen in Palk Bay. They were trying to reclaim their legitimate lost base and, in the process, became engaged in conflict.
  • Unscientific Fishing by Indian Fishermen :
    • Indian fishermen use grill & synthetic nets which is bad for the overall ecology. On the other hand, Sri-Lankan Fishermen use ordinary nets.
    • Indian fishermen use Trawlers (and not boats) and venture into Lankan waters. These trawlers are the main cause behind overexploitation.
  • Tamil Fishermen still argue that they have a sovereign right over Katchathevu Island and go near the island to catch fish. In the process, Sri Lankan Navy arrest them.
  • Trawlers are not fitted with GPS and as a result, they don’t know about the exact coordinates.
  • Some scholars argue that Sri Lankan government wants to aggravate this issue because Indians Tamils are the biggest sympathisers of Sri-Lankan Tamils and their cause.


  • Tamil Nadu fishermen are not allowed to venture into the coastal waters of Andhra. If Indian fishermen normally observe such territorial limitations, there is no reason why they should not do so with northern Sri-Lanka
  • Establish Palk Bay Authority in which Fishermen of both sides should have a dialogue to arrive at a solution.
  • Solve trawler issue as trawlers & synthetic nets are the main culprit. Government should offer a voluntary buy-back scheme for trawlers along with a rehabilitation package.
  • Indian government should equip Indian boats with GPS.
  • Government should generate other jobs to end the overdependence of coastal areas on fishing.

Palk Strait has always been a bridge between India and Sri-Lanka since times immemorial leading to the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Let it be a bridge and not a barrier between Indian and Sri Lanka.

Issue 3: Katchatheevu Island Issue

Katchatheevu is a small island located about 10 miles northeast of Rameswaram. The fishermen used it to dry their nets and catch fish.  It also has a Catholic shrine and has been declared as a sacred area  It has been a part of Raja of Ramnand‘s territory who was controlling it as the lead zamindar. When the Zamindari system was abolished, Katchatheevu became a part of the Presidency of Madras. No maps of Sri Lanka showed it as its territory. However, seeing it’s a strategic location, Sri Lanka started claiming it. The issue was discussed some times during the meeting between Indian and Sri Lankan leaders.

Katchatheevu Island Issue

However , in 1974 Indira Gandhi signed an agreement whereby Katchatheevu was given to Sri Lanka. This 1974 agreement had secured the rights of Indian fishermen only to dry their nets and use the Church for religious observance.

But then in 1976, delimitation of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) was agreed upon as required by the UNCLOS. With this, Indian fishermen do not have any right to even engage in drying of nets and use of Church because the 1976 agreement superseded the 1974 agreement. Since then our fishermen are facing innumerable problems.

In 2008, the AIDMK filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) asking that the SC declare the 1974 and 1976 agreements as unconstitutional. The Indian government produced the facts in the highest court and clarified the issue of Katchathevu, stating that the island has not been ceded. Consequently, the AIDMK’s petition was disposed of by the court.

Issue 4: China Angle 

  • Sri Lanka is an important part of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) and the most important pearl in the so-called Pearl of String Theory.
  • China has already invested $4 billion in Sri Lanka.
  • The most important development in this regard is Hambantota Port was developed with Chinese loans. Later, Sri Lanka wasn’t able to service debt and was forced to give the port to China on lease for 99 years.


  • China is following Debt Trap Diplomacy in Sri Lanka.  
  • China is trying to change ‘Balance of Power in Indian Ocean‘ which impacts India’s position as a Net Security Provider in the Indian Ocean.
  • Chinese projects don’t allow to development of the auxiliary industry as cement, steel, labour etc. is also imported from China. Hence, jobs are not created in Sri Lanka.
  • Chinese projects are turning out to be White Elephants  (epitomised by the Hambantota port which was later given to China on a 99-year lease).

What India is doing to counter this ?

  • India is developing Trincomalee as Petroleum Hub and building infrastructure around it.
  • India is developing Kankesuthai and Trincomalee as a port.
  • Development of the Eastern Terminal at Colombo port along with Japan.
  • India to lease and manage the Mattala airport in Hambantota. (although, it is the emptiest airport in the world)
  • India has given a $300 million Line of Credit to upgrade Sri-Lankan Railways.
  • Indo – Sri Lanka Nuclear Cooperation Agreement has been signed (the first such deal signed by Sri Lanka with any country).
  • India has given the aid of ₹ 5 billion in 2009 for the re-construction of Tamil areas destroyed in the Civil War.

India can never match the Chinese in terms of Economic Muscle. India should also focus on ‘People to People Contact’ and also use Buddhism and Buddhist Tourism Circuit to gain goodwill in Sri Lanka.

Issues with Indian Projects in Sri-Lanka

  • Delay in their completion and implementation.
  • Many of these projects, like Mattala airport, are not seen as profitable for India.
  • Indian ventures are seen as reactive to the increasing Chinese influence in the country.
  • Over-concentration of Indian development funding to Tamil areas.

India-China Relations

India-China Relations

This article deals with ‘India-China Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Brief History

Historical Ties

  • Sino-Indian friendship dates back to ancient times. 
  • Buddhism travelled from India to China.
  • Chinese travellers like Fa Hien, Xuanzang etc. have travelled India in the past .
  • Both India and China were part of Silk Road Trade .
  • Chinese inventions like paper making, sugar making etc. also travelled to India .

Initial Years

Both became independent at same time

  • But at the time of independence, India was Non Aligned whereas China under the leadership of Mao was Communist .
  • Nehru wanted good relations with China . Due to this reason, when Chinese Army entered Tibet and took it over, India recognised Tibet as part of China and  gave up Indian rights over Tibet  in 1954 (like Right to station army , control over post & telegraph etc).

This removed the buffer of Tibet which acted as a barrier between India and China  . The British had always maintained Tibet as a buffer, and its annexation heightened Indian concerns.

Vallabhbhai Patel favoured more cautious approach and advocated for a military build-up and creation of roads near the China border along with US cooperation to balance China. Unfortunately, he died in 1950 and India’s China policy came fully in the hands of Nehru.

Panchsheel, 1954

India was disappointed at China’s Tibet policy. But, for the sake of friendship and as confidence building measure, they signed Panchsheel .

Five principles of Panchsheel were also incorporated in the agreement of 1954 . These were

  1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity & sovereignty;
  2. Mutual non‐aggression;
  3. Mutual non‐interference in each others internal affairs;
  4. Equality and mutual benefit; 
  5. Peaceful co‐existence.

Prelude to 1962 War

  • During the period of the 1950s, when China began to consolidate its position in Tibet, the US, through its CIA, covertly supported Tibetans. The CIA’s support of arms and equipment convinced Mao that India-US-USSR trio was collectively conspiring against China.  In March, 1959, there was a massive Tibetan uprising known as Lhasa Uprising . China crushed the uprising brutally . After Lhasa Uprising of 1959, Dalai Lama came to take refuge in India .  This made China suspicious of India .
  • Global situation changed as well.  Khrushchev came  to power in USSR and he was reformist unlike Stalin . Khrushchev was not liked by Mao & China started to fear  both USA & Russia.
  • India had considerable influence in Africa, with Nehru constantly pitching for aggressive non-violent and non- revolutionary policies. According to Mao, this created a misleading effect on African leaders, who were being influenced to fight for freedom in a non-violent way and he advocated that revolution was the only way ahead.
  • This period also saw the tense situation of Cuba Missile crisis in which USA and USSR reached at the brink of nuclear war. China decided to exploit this situation.

War of 1962

Reasons of War

  • Case of Tibet : Chinese felt that uprising in Tibet was supported by India .
  • China was ambitious country & both India & China wanted to be leaders of Afro-Asian world .
  • Undefined borders between China & India. China refused to accept Macmohan Line & India refused to accept Aksai Chin is part of China .
  • For Mao , Nehru was bourgeois leader  and he viewed Nehru and his policies with suspicion.

Impact on Sino – Indian Relations

  • There was freeze in Sino-Indian relations till 1988 . There was situation of permanent hostility .
  • Emergence of alliance between China & Pakistan . 
  • It pushed India to the side of USSR  .
  • Massive militarisation & nuclearisation was seen in India .

Confrontation in 1986-87 and Rajiv Gandhi’s visit in 1988

  • In 1986-87, both the armies came to near conflict in Sumdorung Chu in the eastern  sector .
  • After that, PM Rajiv Gandhi visited China  which marks the new beginning in Indo-China relations and Joint communiqué stressing on  need to restore friendly relations & work towards a mutually acceptable solution to border dispute was signed.
  • Deng Xiaoping era too had dropped the revolutionary spirit of Mao and favoured a market oriented economy. This too played an important role in the new Sino-Indian rapprochement.

Fall of USSR and Indo-China Relations

  • In 1989, when USSR began to disintegrate, there were protests in China that challenged the CCP rule in China. These were brutally crushed  resulting in the suppression and massacre of the mobs at the Tiananmen Square.  Moreover, the fall of communism, Berlin Wall and the independence of the satellite states of the Soviet Union made the survival of CCP uncertain. The CCP, out of its need for survival, initiated a good neighborhood policy to build up relations with India.
  • As the Cold War ended, India lost the power backup of the USSR and as the Gulf War progressed, it created financial crisis in India as it choked its remittances from the region. India and China began to develop proximity and mutual understanding for their own survival. China wanted India not to internationalize the Beijing massacre while India conveyed to China that it would support the Chinese ideology of opposing any western interference in internal affairs.

Recent visits and developments

2003 Another landmark visit : Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit brought about marked improvement in the post 1998 nuclear-test freeze in relations.
2014 President Xi Jinping visits India .
2015 Modi’s visit to China .
2016 President Xi Jinping Visit to India in BRICS Summit (Goa) .
2017 Doklam Issue started .
2018 – Wuhan Summit : Informal Summit between Modi and Xi Jinping to normalize relations post Doklam crisis.
Modi visited China to participate in SCO Summit .
2020 Galwan Crisis resulting in the bloody stand-off between Indian and Chinese armies.

Issue : Territorial Disputes

India-China Relations

There are three sectors  where boundaries are disputed by India & China

Western Sector – Aksai Chin in J&K : Held by China & demanded by India .
– Shaksgam Valley : Given by Pakistan to China (from Pakistani occupied Kashmir).
Middle Sector Himachal & Uttaranchal Border .
Middle sector is relatively peaceful, unlike the Western and Eastern sectors.
Eastern Sector Disputed McMahon line .
China demands almost whole of Arunachal Pradesh .
China questions Indian sovereignty over Sikkim .

Since boundaries are not clearly demarcated . Hence, lot of incursions take place .

1 . Aksai Chin Issue

  • Territorial dispute over Aksai Chin can be traced back to the failure of the British Empire to clearly demarcate a legal border between its Indian colony and China.
  • Two borders between India and China were proposed during the time of the British Raj –
    • Johnson Line :  It shows Aksai Chin under Indian control .
    • Macartney-MacDonald Line  : It places Aksai Chin under Chinese control.

Conflicted Claims

Indian Claim Johnson Line  is correct Aksai Chin is part of J&K
China Claim Macartney-MacDonald Line  is correct Aksai Chin is part of Xinjiang

During  the war of 1962 , China took control over  Aksai Chin.

Note : Main reason for annexing Aksai Chin was to built a road connecting Xinjiang Region and Tibet to strengthen hold over Tibet . Only way to built a motorable road was to pass through Aksai Chin. Till the war of 1962, Chinese were ready to accept Arunachal Pradesh and other disputed regions as part of India provided India accepted Aksai Chin as part of China. Chinese always felt that the Indian claim on Aksai Chin was to undermine the Chinese influence in Tibet as  historically India had never occupied, nor was of any strategic importance to India.

2. Tibet Issue

  • Tibet’s political system was based on Buddhist faith. Dalai Lama was also the political head of the country.
  • Tibet’s  political connections with China varied from time to time. But Dalai Lama, both the spiritual and political head of the Tibetans, never owed any allegiance to the Chinese emperor like the rulers of Korea and Vietnam did.
  • 1914 Shimla Agreement : Under the provisions of Agreement
    • Inner Tibet was placed under China .
    • Outer Tibet was placed under Dalai Lama .
    • Agreement also demarcated a line between Tibet & North East India known as Macmahon Line .
    • India was  given certain  rights in Tibet like free entry in Tibet, right to station troops & maintain communication etc.
    • Issue :  China disputed this line as imperial line drawn by Britishers .   
  • Post  World War 2 , China refused to accept this line . Nehru wanted good relations with China => Due to this reason, when Chinese Army entered Tibet and took it over, India recognised Tibet as part of China and   gave up Indian rights over Tibet  in 1954 .
  • China continues to insist that Tibet has been a part of China since the 12th century Yuan Dynasty  and has branded the military operation to invade Tibet in 1950 as an exercise of peaceful liberation. Tibetans, on the other hand, hold that before the 1950 Chinese operation, Tibet was independent, and that, in Yuan Dynasty period, China and Tibet had established a priest-patron relation which in no way implies that Tibet became a vassal of China.  
  • 1959 : Lhasa Uprising started in Tibet. It was crushed by the Chinese army and as a result Dalai Lama took refuge in India => relations worsened leading to War of 1962 .
  • India continues to officially support that Tibet is a part of China as recognized in 1954 but, ironically, still supports the Tibetan government in exile in India as Tibet can give India the required leverage against China.

Latest Issues

  • China is increasing the number of Han Chinese in the region to change the demography of the Tibetan area. Soon, the Han Chinese will become majority while Tibetans would be a minority in Tibet, which will then dilute the overall cause of Tibetan autonomy.
  • China’s massive military build-up and infrastructure development in Tibet .
  • Plans to divert or dam rivers (eg : Zangmu, Dagu etc. on Brahmaputra)  that rise in Tibet and flow into India .
  • China’s ‘Gold Rush’ in Tibet: China’s has started mineral mining  to extract precious metals, rare earths etc
  • Geo-engineering Experiments: Recently there are reports of China’s geoengineering experiments to “trigger natural disasters such as floods, droughts and tornadoes to weaken” an enemy in the event of a war.

Galwan Issue

  • Chinese soldiers crossed the LAC around the Galwan River valley during May 2020.
  • This was followed by killing of at least 20 Indian soldiers in a clash with Chinese forces. This was the first such clash in the border area in at least 45 years.
Galwan Clash

Reasons for Galwan confrontation

  • India is developing large scale infrastructure along LAC . Eg : Daulat Beg Oldie Road  .
  • Response to Doklam Crisis (dealt below).
  • Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir : China had earlier also protested against the formation of new Union Territory of Ladakh and accused India of trying to transform the status-quo unilaterally.
  • Global backlash against China for spreading and mishandling of COVID-19 .
  • Signs of new Chinese aggressiveness and part of ‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’ .
  • Chinese response to India’s participation in Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and challenge to Chinese position in Indo-Pacific region.

Doklam Issue

  • Doklam (Chinese = Donglang) plateau is a disputed area between Bhutan (not India) and China .
  • Town named Yadong in Chumbi Valley (in China) is connected  to Lhasa with all weather road . China was building road connecting Yadong to Doklam Plateau  which would have facilitated fast mobilisation of Chinese troops to Doklam in case of war . Indian troops intervened to block  Chinese  soldiers  since the area is disputed.  
Doklam Crisis

Importance of Doklam

  • India can’t allow this because that will bring Chinese troops within striking distance of the Chicken’s Neck, or Siliguri Corridor.
  • Sikkim is one of the few sectors where India has a strategic advantage vis a vis China . Doka La which is Indian Post in Sikkim has advantage of height wrt Chinese forces in Chumbi Valley . China wants to build base in Doklam to nullify the Indian advantage .
  • India serves as a virtual security guarantor of Bhutan. If India abdicates its responsibilities towards Bhutan, India’s image as counterforce to balance China will suffer .

Side Topic : Salami Slicing Policy

  • Term was coined by Hungarian Communist Matyaas Rakosi in 1940s.
  • Salami Slicing means a strategy of carrying out small actions in a clandestine manner that eventually accumulate into a larger action.
  • Using this strategy, China initiates territorial claims by staking claims to a territory. Then, it carries out an intensive propaganda  at all platforms (domestic and international) to claim the territory. The propaganda by China is so intense that it positions the territory in concern as a ‘dispute’. Then China uses all its diplomatic and military-might to resolve the dispute by avoiding a forceful intervention.

Side Topic : Stapled Visas

  • Stapled Visa is a visa where the stamps of the country are not placed directly on the passport, but on pages stapled to it. When the visitor leaves the country , his visa and entry and exit stamps are torn out, leaving no record on his passport.
  • In case of China , Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are given Stapled Visas.
  • Reason given by Chinese Foreign Ministry : J&K and Arunachal Pradesh are contested territories, so they will not directly stamp  passport of person’s belonging to that region. Stamping  passport would imply recognition of this situation. Instead, stapled visa is provided.

Issue : India China Economic Issues

China  has  become  India’s  largest  trading  partner  with  their  bilateral  trade  volume  increasing  from  less  than  $3 Billion  to  nearly  84 Billion $. But India has huge trade deficit with China of 51Billion $ which contributes to 25% trade deficit of India with the whole world .

Chinese Current Account Deficit

Why is  India  Important  to  China?

India  is  extremely  important  for  Chinese  growth  because  it  provides  China  with

  • Access to a billion  plus  market  for  its  products .
  • Avenue  for  investment  of  surplus  Chinese  capital.
  • Alternative market due to  depression  in  the  western  market .


  • India has huge trade deficit of $ 51 Billion with China  .
  • Currency Manipulator :   China keeps Yuan undervalued  to promote Chinese exports.
  • Indian Farm  sector  ,  agro-processing  industry  and Pharmaceutical Sector face Non-Tariff barriers from China .
  • Dumping   cheap  Chinese  products in Indian market  is adversely  effecting Indian  MSME.
  • Security  implications
    • Chinese Mobiles  can be used for surveillance.
    • Large Chinese investment in Power Sector (as a result, Chinese are getting blueprint of Indian Power Grids).
    • Excessive dependence (upto 80%) on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API)  .
    • 5G security issue especially with Huawei due to it’s alleged links with CCP  .

How to address ?

  • Foreign Trade Policy 2015 recommended to concentrate on  things like Buddhist tourism & entertainment sector .
  • India should effectively implement Make in India and Assemble in India .
  • Increase trade competitiveness of Indian goods .
  • Use Anti Dumping Duties .
  • Promote Chinese investment in Indian manufacturing , SEZ ,NIMZ etc so that Chinese Companies make products  in India .
  • Implement Katoch Committee report (to address API issue).

Recent steps taken by India in wake of Galwan crisis

  • Indian government has banned more than 100 Chinese apps including Tiktok and PUBG . Ban is a big blow for Chinese companies as India was one of the biggest user base of these companies.
  • Government introduced changes in FDI rules which mandate “prior approval” from the Centre for foreign investments from countries “that share border with India”.
  • India has invoked stringent quality control norms to curb poor quality Chinese imports.
  • Chinese companies were barred from taking part in  road projects .

Issue : Chinese foray in Indian neighbourhood

Since past few years , Chinese influence on India’s Neighbouring countries has been increasing. This has particularly been because of the Belt and Road initiative of China and its Financial investments . Thus, growing Chinese influence in the region could pose a challenge for India .

Examples to corroborate this

Pakistan China is working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) , which even passes through the Indian territory under Pakistan’s occupation. Chinese presence is there on Gwadar port.
Bangladesh China is financing 25 energy projects in Bangladesh and has extended its support to build Bangladesh’s Second Nuclear power plant. Bangabandhu-1 which is the first communication satellite of Bangladesh was negotiated and financed through help of Chinese government.
China’s trade with Bangladesh is now about twice that of India.  
Sri Lanka China has leased Hambantota port for 99 years and has also  donated a frigate to the Sri Lankan Navy .  
Maldives China owns around 70% of the Maldives’ debt.
Maldives has also signed China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Maldives has changed laws to lease out several prime islands to China .  
Myanmar China is building Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar.
Nepal Nepal is a part of Belt and Road Initiative.
Nepal is raising issue of Kalapani on the behest of China .
Nepal is using Chinese card and is building infrastructure to connect Nepal with China via Tibet.

Issue : India vs China – Defence Comparison

Sector China India
Defense budget >140 billion USD (4 times India) ~38 billion USD
Troops 2.3 million (23 Lakh) 1.3 million (13 Lakh)
Submarines 56( 5 nuke powered) 14(1 nuke powered)
Warships 75 (1 aircraft carrier under trial) >30 (2 aircraft carriers)
Fighter jets >1600 >550
Battle tanks >7000 >3000
Missiles Large arsenal
ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles)
SLBM (submarine launched)
Limited arsenal
Agni-V has range of 5000 kms

Military Reforms done by China

  • People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be cut by 3 lakh personnel as they want to focus on Modernisation of army .
  • First Oversea Chinese military base in Indian Ocean Region   has been built  in Djibouti .
  • All armed forces will come under a joint operational military command by 2020 (on lines of US Army) 
  • Regrouping China’s existing seven military area commands into four strategic zones.

Impact on India

  • India will have to deal with strong Western Military Area Command  instead of earlier Lanzhou & Chengdu.
  • China’s move to have a base in Djibouti threatens India’s role as security provider in Indian Ocean Region.

Issue :  String of Pearls

String of Pearls

  • Theory was given by the Pentagon .
  • Theory says that China is trying to increase its naval presence in Indian Ocean & counter India by surrounding it . It is developing string of ports around India for this purpose . These pearls include
Kyaukpyu  Myanmar
Chittagong Bangladesh
Hambantota Srilanka
Marao Atoll Maldives
Gwadar Pakistan
Djibouti China’s first oversea military base
String of Pearls

Impact on India

  • It can be used for imposing embargo on India in case of war (note : 90% Indian Trade passes through Indian Ocean) .
  • It disturbs balance of power heavily in favour of China .
  • It marks the entry of extra territorial power in Indian Ocean .

Steps taken by India

Srilanka India is developing Kakesuthai & Triconmale port.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands They can act as iron choke to string of pearls
1. Most of Chinese oil &  trade flows through Malacca and Andaman & Nicobar islands overlook Malacca Strait  .
2. India has also established  air naval station in Andaman & Nicobar called Baaz .
Myanmar After opening up of nation, India has stepped up its engagement with Myanmar .
Seychelles Trying to counter it with soft diplomacy . 
Iran India is developing Chabahar port in Iran .

  • Apart from that, India is trying to contain China  through following ways
    1. Formation of Quad consisting of India, USA, Japan and Australia to contain China.
    2. Making alliances with Vietnam ( Vietnam too had issues with China in South China sea )
    1. Mongolia is also strategic partner of India now .
    1. India has made strategic ties with Japan .
    1. Malabar practice with US & Japan . 
  • Military Modernisation : Agni, Sukhoi, Nuclear submarines , Aircraft Carrier-Vikramaditya   are not meant for Pakistan but to fight against powerful nation like China .
  • India is building roads and infrastructure in North Eastern border for faster mobilization of troops .

Issue : One Belt One Road  (OBOR) INITIATIVE

OBOR  consists  of  following  elements.

1 . Silk  Road  Economic  Belt  (SREB)

  • Eurasian  land corridor from Pacific coast  to  Baltic Sea.

2. Maritime  Silk  Road  (MSR)

  • Aims  to  develop  ports across  the  Indian  Ocean .

3. Digital Silk Road (New addition)

  • It is the virtual Dimension of OBOR
  • It is about
    • strengthening internet infrastructure , 
    • lowering barriers to e-commerce,
    • developing common technology standards,
    • promoting cyber security
    • Promoting Chinese 5G technology
  • China is deploying its nationally developed platforms based on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data , Cloud Computing, Quantum Computing to pursue these goals.
  • Eg :
    • Huawei is constructing PEACE (Pakistan – East Africa Cable Express) that will connect Pakistan to Kenya via Djibouti .
    • Alibaba’s massive investment in e-commerce .
    • Promoting Beidou in contrast to GPS .

One Belt One Road  (OBOR)
  • Analysts  believe  that  the  OBOR  initiative  will  impact  4.4  billion  people  and   generate  $ 2.5  trillion  in  10  years.
  • This will involve
    • Building physical infrastructure (highways, railways, ports in coastal nations, fibre-optic lines)
    • Establish free trade zones (by coordinating customs, quality supervision, e-commerce etc.)
    • Increasing cultural exchange etc.

Reasons  behind  OBOR  Initiative

Restructuring Economy 1. In 2008 , due to Great Depression, there was decrease in demand of Chinese products abroad . Hence, China changed it’s economy to ‘Internal Consumption Led Economy’ . But , now there is issue of overcapacity in infra sector  and China wants to address this by exporting infra projects  .  

2. Rising labour costs : Hence, China is shifting production to underdeveloped western regions  .  
Strategic Reasons China is decreasing it’s dependence on Malacca Strait (80% of Chinese energy and exports pass through it) and addressing the Malacca Dilemma .
Using Vast  Forex  Reserves China  has  forex  reserves  exceeding  $ 3 Trillion  . China wants to  put this large surplus reserves in building railways, highways, industrial parks along the Silk Road Economic Belt .
Diversifying Trade Routes China wants to diversify it’s trade routes as excessive  dependence  on  a single  route  is  a  strategic vulnerability. 
Development of Under-developed areas China’s economic development and progress has been mostly concentrated in its eastern coastal provinces. OBOR will  provide outlet to its  underdeveloped  southern  and western  provinces,  to markets and coasts. Development of regions like Xingjian will help in containing Uighur militancy as well.

Should India  Join Or Not ?

OBOR  has specific  risks  and  opportunities

Arguments in favour of joining

India should join this initiative because of innumerable benefits

1 . Economic Reasons

Road to Central Asia It will enhance  India’s  connectivity  with  
1. Central  Asia  through  China   
2. Russia 
3. Eurasia  
Connectivity to North East It will increase connectivity of North East India with South East Asia and China .
It will also give a push to  tourism in the North East .  
Decreasing Trade Deficit with China Chinese experts say that India’s participation in the Silk Road project will ease the trade deficit.

2 . Political Reasons

  • Better  economic  relations  improves  political  relocations  and  mutual trust. 

3. Strategic Reasons

  • It will help in balancing Pakistan  and  China  relations .  

4 . Other Reasons

  • India may also face some difficult choices in the road ahead, because as a co-founder of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation  it will be asked to support many of the projects under the B&RI.
  • It will lead to revival of ‘continentalism’ & old ties .
  • With OBOR & other initiatives, China is making new world economic order. Not being part of it may isolate India from New Economic Order.

Arguments that India shouldn’t join

  • Sovereignty Issues:  CPEC (which is part of OBOR) passes through  POK .   
  • It  is ‘opaque’  in nature => OBOR may be nothing but an economic disguise for the ‘string of pearls’ .
  • It is detrimental to India’s geopolitical interests in the Indian Ocean Region . It challenges India’s stature of ‘security provider’ in the region  . 
  • OBOR promotes  Chinese neo-colonialism  as loans are being used as debt trap . Eg :
    • Seen  in Hambantota
    • Malaysia halted projects   
    • Myanmar also wants the port built by China to scale down
    • Even in Pakistan , voices are raised against CPEC (termed it as next East India Company)
  • stronger  China  is  a  strategic  risk  for  India  given  the  fact  India  has  4078  km of  disputed  border  with  China  and  China  claims  a  large  portion  of  Indian territory  (nearly  80,000  sq  km).
  • Due to this, relations  with  USA  may  get  hampered.

Indian Answer to OBOR

  • India recently proposed the ‘Cotton Route’ to strengthen economic ties between countries in the Indian Ocean rim.
  • It has also launched Project Mausam and Spice Route apparently in response to China’s Belt and Road initiative. 
    • Project Mausam aims to re-establishment of India’s ancient maritime routes in Indian Ocean.
    • Spice Route aims at revival of old links between 31 countries in Asia and Europe with India especially Kerala .
  • India & Japan have come up with Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) to counter China’s OBOR.
  • India is also developing large number of standalone projects  which can be joined under one OBOR like project at later stage (China too used this strategy). These projects include
    • Chabahar Port project and the International North South Transportation Corridor 
    • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement (BBIN MVA).