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 based on the flawed Two Nation Theory. 

J&K Conflict

  • Post-independence, one of the first issues 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. 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 has 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 encouraged 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, Pakistan held a general election in which Awami League based in East-Pakistan (led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) won the election. The PPP and Awami League failed to reach a 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 West Pakistan’s control. 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 Line of Control (LOC) in operation code-named as Koh-e-Paima. The plan was to control the heights and push mujahideens into the valley to create instability.

Cross border Terrorism

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

Present stalemate in talks

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


1947 As part of its pullout from the Indian subcontinent, Britain divided it into secular (but mainly Hindu) India and Muslim Pakistan on August 15 and 14.
1947/48 The first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir was fought after armed tribesmen (Lashkars) from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) invaded the disputed territory in October 1947.
1954 The state’s constituent assembly ratified the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.
1963 Following the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan – Swaran Singh and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – held talks under the auspices of the British and America regarding the Kashmir dispute.
1964 Following the failure of the 1963 talks, Pakistan referred the Kashmir case to the UN Security Council.
1965 India and Pakistan fought their second war.
1966 On January 10, 1966, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed an agreement at Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan), agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines.
1971 India and Pakistan went to war a third time over East Pakistan.
1972 Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed an agreement in  Shimla.
1974 The Kashmiri state government affirmed that the state “is a constituent unit of the Union of India”. However, Pakistan rejected the accord with the Indian government.
1988 The two countries signed an agreement that neither side would attack the other’s nuclear installations or facilities.
1989 Armed resistance in the Kashmir valley began.
1998 India detonated five nuclear devices at Pokhran. Pakistan responds by detonating six nuclear devices in the Chaghai Hills.
1999 Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee met with Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. Kargil war was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan later in the same year.
2001 Tensions along the Line of Control remained 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 was bombed near Panipat. Sixty-Eight people were killed. (Samjhauta Express)
2008 Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai including Taj Hotel killing 166 people.
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 In September, India launched “surgical strikes” on terrorist units in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, less than two weeks after an attack on an Indian army base left 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”.
2020-21 Following the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, Pakistan has been violating ceasefire violations.

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:-
1. Sutlej
2. Ravi
3. Beas
Western Rivers

The water of the following rivers belongs to Pakistan.
1. Chenab
2. Jhelum
3. Indus
However, India can make limited use and build run of the river hydro Projects to generate hydroelectricity. Pakistan has the right to raise objections on the Indian projects if Pakistan is not satisfied with the design of Indian projects on these rivers. 
Indus Water treaty
  • Treaty also established a ‘Permanent Indus Commission (PIC)‘ with each country having one commissioner to share data and cooperate in all the matters related to the treaty. 
  • It is said to be the most successful water treaty globally as it has survived the India-Pakistan wars. 

Should India (unilaterally) review Indus Water Treaty?

Why in the news?

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

Yes, India should review the treaty

  • In 1960, India gave the most genuine deal to a lower riparian state, hoping that Pakistan would ensure peace. But Pakistan didn’t keep its end of the bargain.
  • Kashmir has been suffering because they cant utilize the waters of 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, a 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 uses Indian control over water to recruit terrorists & justify the fight for Kashmir to control Indus.  
  • India is a lower riparian state in many rivers like Satluj, Brahmaputra etc. China can stop water & India will not have a moral high ground to oppose it.
  • Effect on India’s other lower riparian state: The abrogation of the Indus Water Treaty will send an alarming signal to friendly lower riparian countries such as Bangladesh, which receives around 90% water from rivers passing through India. 
  • 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 in the Indus Water Treaty regarding one party unilaterally denouncing the treaty. Treaty can be modified when both countries ratify the modifications. 
  • Brahma Chellaney (expert on International Water Affairs) believes that future wars in Asia could be driven by issues related to water. The Abrogation of the Indus Water Treaty has the potential to result in such conflict. 

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

Project River
Kishanganga Project Kishenganga Project was constructed by India on the Jhelum river.
It is a run-of-the-river project designed to divert the water of the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin. In 2010, Pakistan appealed to the International Court of Justice against the project.
In the final award of 2013, ICJ has allowed India to complete the construction of the Kishanganga dam with minor modifications.
Wullar Barrage / Tulbul Project 1985 India constructed barrage on Jhelum river near Wullar lake.
– Pakistan saw it as a violation of the Indus water treaty because of less water flow in the river Jhelum.  
Salal Dam The 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

  • Kashmir issue involves 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 annexe the Kashmir state forcefully. He approached Delhi and signed Instrument of Accession acceding Kashmir to India, after which Indian forces landed in Kashmir to stop falling the whole Kashmir valley into the hands of invaders. 
  • Under the influence of Mountbatten, JL Nehru 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 who came to Kashmir would withdraw & then a plebiscite would take place. India alleged that the stalemate over Kashmir could not end. A plebiscite could not happen as Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from the PoK, which was a necessary condition for restoring 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 moves with the 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 that a successfully trained Mujahedeen campaign could also be launched in Kashmir. Hence, they started a proxy war against India by weaponizing & training militants
    2. In the 1980s, various social and religious organizations that wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully formed the 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 Mohammad Yusuf Shah was imprisoned. As the MUF cadres were suppressed, they began to cross over to Pakistan for support, where ISI started 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 the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
  • 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 the commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen of South Kashmir. On July 8, 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.  
  • Repealing Article 370: On August 5, 2019, the President of India gave assent to the constitutional amendment, which abolished Article 370 of the Indian constitution. It led to a major upsurge in the state. 

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.
  • In 1949, it was renamed as ‘Northern Areas of Pakistan’ and put under the direct control of the Pakistan federal government.
  • In 2020, it was made the fifth province of Pakistan. 
Gilgit-Baltistan Issue

India’s stand on Gilgit-Baltistan

  • India believes that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are “an integral part of India”.
  • Before this move, Pakistan’s federal institutions had maintained that Gilgit-Baltistan is an UN-disputed area. Its residents cannot be declared citizens of Pakistan until India and Pakistan resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

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 ethno-geographically distinct regions: 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 here. 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 an IED attack in Pulwama 
  • Terrorist groups which attack India are active in Pakistan & terrorists are trained on Pakistani soil. E.g., Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahidin etc., operates from safe havens in Pakistan. 

Why Pakistan is using terrorism as tool ?

  • The realisation that Pakistan can’t defeat India in a conventional war. As a result, the 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.  
  • It is part of ISI and Pakistan Army’s ‘Bleeding India by Thousand Cuts‘ approach.
  • 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 used 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 on making this area terrorism free. India believes that all the nations in Asia must ensure that their lands are not used for terrorist activities.

  • Diplomatic Isolation of Pakistan: But Pakistan hasn’t responded to these urges. Hence, India should expose Pakistan on various International and regional platforms and isolate Pakistan on the international front.
  • Use Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to blacklist Pakistan (Pakistan is already in Greylist). 
  • Mossad Way: India should 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 to Pakistan.
  • Support 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 should take a leading role in the process to adopt 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 in J&K is as per the Shimla Agreement of 1972. But the boundary 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 realized that Pakistan Army had purchased specialized clothing for very low temperatures from a supplier in London. The R&AW alerted the Indian army, and during one of the operations, the military 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, making it the world’s highest & the most challenging 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 

  1. Saltoro Ridge at Siachen overlooks the entire region and provides an advantage of height.
  2. Control of the area prevents Pakistani and Chinese troops from linking up.
  3. Pakistan’s control over Siachin will make Leh and Kargil vulnerable as control over Siachin will give Pakistan the ability to oversee the Ladakh region and the crucial Leh-Srinagar highway.

Way Forward : India can demilitarise the Siachin Glacier provided that present situation is recorded and Pakistan assures to maintain 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 interpreting 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 the Sind Government Resolution of 1914 signed between 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. Further, 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 problems 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.
  • It creates problems in exploiting resources as the region is rich in oil and gas below the sea bed.

Areas of Engagement

The 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 (birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev ji), Katas Raj Temple (Hindu temple in Pakistan), Ajmer Sharif (Sufi shrine in India) etc.
  • Trade and Commerce: India and Pakistan collectively constitute 90% of the region’s GDP, and peace between the two states could yield a 405% rise in trade at the bilateral level.
  • Electric grid: Pakistan is an electricity deficit while India has become surplus. 
  • Medical tourism
  • Energy pipeline: TAPI, IPI pipelines etc.
  • Social networking platforms have led people from the two states to establish a connection.
  • Bollywood and Pollywood: Hindi and Punjabi movies have a huge demand in Pakistan. 

It is advised that both countries shift their focus from geopolitics to geoeconomics to boost their economies and bring millions out of poverty. Both countries should remove their preconditions to start the talks. 

India-US Relations

India-US Relations

India-US Relations

This article deals with ‘India-US 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.

History of India-US relations

Before  Independence

  • In the beginning, due to British control over India, the communication between India and the US at an independent level was impossible. Although Indians in the USA started Ghadar Movement and raised voices for the independence of their motherland, they had to wait till World War 2 for the US to pressure Britain to give the right to self-determination to Indians. Later, US President Roosevelt argued that the Atlantic Charter, which advocated the right to self-determination, applies to India as well, in contrast to Churchill’s view that the right to self-determination applies exclusively for Nazi areas won in the war. 
  • Apart from that, the relationship between the people of India and the USA was developing, corroborated by the fact that
    1. A large number of American Missionaries were active in India. 
    2. Rabindranath Tagore, Lala Lajpat Rai and Swami Vivekananda visited the USA.  
    3. Ambedkar studied at Columbia University from 1912-16. 

Initial Years

  • Soon after independence, India developed amicable relations with the USA. The Indian leaders acknowledged the positive role played by America in exerting pressure on the British Government to expedite the grant of independence to India. The democratic ideals of America fascinated the Indian leaders. 
  • The US also made available to India vast quantities of food grains to tide over the food shortage problem through the PL-480  Scheme.
  • IIT Kanpur was established with US help. 
  • Norman Borlaug & the Ford Foundation of the USA played an important role in introducing the Green Revolution in India.  
  • During the Indo-China conflict of 1962, the US-supported India and even decided to supply military equipment and weapons.  

Cold War Period

  • The emergence of free India coincided with the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as two Super Powers. With faith in their respective ideologies and way of life, both these powers looked suspiciously towards each other and set up military blocs like NATO, CENTO, SEATO, ANZUS, and the Warsaw Pact to meet the possible threat from the other. When India gained independence, there was the option of joining either of the two power blocs. However, India decided to keep away from these blocs and follow an independent foreign policy.
  • A major shift occurred when Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister in January 1966. Her first foreign policy move was to visit the US in March 1966. She was received warmly by President Johnson. In response, India softened its stand on the Vietnam war and devalued its currency (rupee). But gradually, strains started to develop due to America’s consistent support to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, its decision to provide shelter to the Naga rebel leader Phizo in the US in 1967 and US arms supplies to Pakistan. In return, India supported the Arabs in West Asia in their war against Israel and hardened its stance on Vietnam.
  • The relationship became more bitter during the war of 1971. Pakistan received massive military supplies from the US even before the Bangladesh crisis, including 100 tanks of M‐47 category, B‐57 bomber aircraft and other lethal weapons. Meanwhile, India signed the Indo‐Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation to counter the US-Pakistan axis. During the 1971 war, the US-supported Pakistan and dispatched the aircraft carrier  USS Enterprise to the Indian Ocean to help Pakistan in East Pakistan. 

End of Cold War

  • The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Like the rest of the world, India wasn’t prepared for this development. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the US as the sole Super Power, India’s relations with the United States have undergone a significant shift.
  • After the disintegration of USSR, the closer cooperation and integration with the West became Russia’s top priority. As Russia and America moved closer, Russia neglected its traditional relations with long‐standing friends like India. India’s trade with Russia came down from 16% of its exports in 1989-90 to 9% in 1991-91. Russia also refused to supply cryogenic technology to India under US pressure.


  • India suffered from the Balance of Payment crisis due to the Persian Gulf War, which led to an exponential rise in the price of oil and the repatriation of Indian workers. IMF loan saved the Balance of Payment crisis, but it came with the condition of SAP. SAP (Structural Adjustment Plan) consisted of disinvestment, privatization, currency convertibility, and reducing tariff & subsidies in agriculture. The US government strongly supported India’s case for financial assistance from the institutions like the World Bank and IMF.  
  • The reasons behind the change in relations are
    1. Strategic Reason: The US is trying to contain hegemonic China in the Asia-Pacific region. India can prove a vital ally in this pursuit.
    2. Economic Reason: India’s 1.2 billion population can be an important market for US products.  

Issue 1: Indo – US Trade Issues

Indo - US Relations

Trade Imbalance

  • Trade between India and US $ 120 billion (2021).
  • US is the largest Trade Partner of India, while India is the 9th largest trade partner of the USA. 
  • But Trade Balance is in India’s favour, with India having a current surplus account. To bridge this gap, India has started to buy the following from the USA.
    • Gas and Crude Oil 
    • Commercial Aircrafts
    • Military hardware
  • Indo-US Trade is well below its potential. For example, South Korean Trade with the USA is 1.5 times that of India, although the South Korean GDP is 40% lesser than India.


  • CAATSA, i.e. Countering American Adversaries through Trade Sanctions Act, is a US act that aims to counter the aggression by Iran, Russia and North Korea. According to the act’s provisions, the USA can impose sanctions on any country doing trade with these nations. 
  • It is problematic for India as
    1. Wrt Russia: India imports defence products like S-400, Kamov Helicopters etc. and has joint projects like Brahmos with Russia.
    2. Wrt Iran: India used to import vast amounts of Irani oil, which was impacted due to CAATSA. 

Generalized System of Preference (GSP) Issue

  • GSP was started in 1974. 
  • It provides opportunities to the world’s poorest and developing countries to use trade to climb out of poverty and grow.
  • India was getting the benefits of this scheme. But, under the Trump regime, the GSP of 94 products from India was removed by the USA. It impacted Indian exports to the USA.
  • In return, India imposed retaliatory tariffs on US imports like almonds, apples etc. 

India-US Solar Dispute

  • India launched National Solar Mission in 2011 to increase India’s solar electricity capacity to 100 GW. 
  • Under the scheme, the government offered financial support of ₹1 Crore / MW if the orders were placed with domestic (/Indian) manufacturers. 
  • The US took the matter to WTO in 2013, alleging this to be violative of TRIMs. India lost the case in Dec 2017 and agreed to change rules and procedures. 
  • Present Issue: India says they have implemented the order, but the US disagrees. 

Digital companies

US complains that the Indian government’s policies to restrict companies from sending personal data of Indian citizens outside India act as a significant barrier to digital trade for US companies.

Intellectual property rights

  • US concerns include software piracy, film and music, and weak patent protection in India. Due to these issues, India remained on the Priority Watch List of the U.S. 2021 “Special 301” report.
  • India amended the Patents act to recognize products rather than process patents to address these concerns.
  • The US has raised concerns about insufficient patent protections, restrictive standards for patents, and threats of compulsory licensing.

Dairy Industry Issue

  • US dairy products are banned in India on religious and cultural grounds. 
  • Reason: US dairy products are derived from cows that consume feed containing internal organs, blood and tissues of the animals of ruminant origin, while the cow in India is considered sacred and herbivore.
  • In 2015, the US proposed the permit entry of US dairy products with a ‘red dot’ (non-veg products). But India has not accepted the proposal. 

Harley Davidson Issue

  • The US demands duty cuts on bikes imported to India. 
  • In 2018 India reduced the import duty from 75% to 50%, but the US wants it to be zero. 

WTO disputes between India-US

India and US are fighting following disputes at Dispute Settlement Mechanism  under the WTO

  1. Poultry and poultry products from the US
  2. Countervailing duties on Indian steel products.
  3. The subsidy provided to Indian solar cells and modules under the provisions of the National Solar Mission
  4. Indian schemes to promote its exports, such as MEIS and SEIS.
  5. Renewable Energy Programs of the USA.
  6. US measures concerning non-immigrant visas
  7. The increased tariff on steel and aluminium. 

Issue 2: Defence Cooperation

#2.1 US foundational Defence Pacts

  • The US considers 4 defence pacts as the foundation of her defence cooperation. These include 
    1. General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) – Signed in 2002.
    2. Logistics Support (LEMOA) – Signed in 2016.
    3. Communication (COMCASA) – Signed in 2018 .
    4. Basic Exchange & Cooperation Agreement (BECA) – Signed in Oct 2020. 
  • The USA has signed all of them with India. 
Signed in 2002 
Signed in 2018 
Signed in 2016 
Signed in 2020


  • GSOMIA = General Security of Military Information Agreement.
  • It was signed in 2002.
  • GSOMIA facilitates cooperation in intelligence sharing between the USA and the signatory.


  • LEMOA = Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
  • India signed it in 2016. 
  • Under this agreement, US and Indian forces can access each other’s resources for logistical purposes. 


  • COMCASA = Communication Compatibility & Security Agreement.
  • India signed it in 2018. 
  • Pentagon signs this agreement before transferring its sensitive communication and IT technology used in US planes and drones to any other country.


  • BECA = Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement.
  • India signed it in October 2020. 
  • With this, the US and India can share highly classified geospatial and satellite data.

Importance of foundational agreements

  • It signals the affirmation of the mutual trust between India and the USA.
  • Strengthen India’s conventional offensive and defensive capacity as India can access sensitive data and buy advanced US weapons to get an edge over its rivals, namely Pakistan and China. 
  • It will result in close cooperation between Indian and US armed forces, especially to contain Chinese expansionism. 
  • Apart from the military, these agreements will also help the US and Indian armed forces to cooperate in providing humanitarian assistance during disasters.

Issues with these foundational agreements

  • Russia Factor: After signing these agreements, the USA wants India to buy American weapons and move away from Russia. Close cooperation between India and Russia can expose its technology to Russians.
  • It imperils India’s policy of Strategic Autonomy by unduly binding India to the US systems and procedures.
  • More favorable to the US: These agreements are more favorable to the US. The provisions of these agreements have been formulated by US policymakers giving precedence to US interests.

But India remains reluctant to become fully plugged into US defence systems due to India’s longstanding commitment to non-alignment (and its post-Cold War variants of strategic autonomy/ omni- or multi-alignment). Moreover, India’s preference for India to be a pole in a multipolar world is also not entirely in concordance with an American view that does not see the benefits of multipolarity in the same way.

#2.2 Weapon Trade

  • The USA has become the second-largest arms supplier to India. 
  • During Barack Obama’s term, the US recognised India as a “Major Defence Partner (becoming the only non-NATO member to get this tag). 
  • Later in 2018, India was moved to Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA)-1 list. It gives license-free access to almost 90% of dual-use technology to India. 

Buying Weapons

  • The US has become 2nd biggest armaments supplier to India.
  • India has bought or has signed deals to buy the following weapons.
Aeroplanes 1. Boeing C17 Globemaster military transport
2. C – 130 J Super Hercules
3. P8-I Poseidon Maritime Patrol  
UAV 1. India has bought the  Guardian Drones (naval & unarmed version of Predator UAVs)     
Helicopters 1. Romeo MH-60 Seahawk (it is the most advanced naval helicopter which can hunt submarines)
2. Chinook
3. Apache  
Howitzer 1. M-777 Ultralight Howitzer
C-17 Globemaster 
Super Hercules 
P8-I Poseidon 
(Maritime Patrol) 

#2.3 Military Exercises and Alliances

Malabar Exercise

  • Trilateral Naval Exercise between India, US and Japan (Note: Australia is not part of this). 


  • The ‘Quad’ consists of India, the United States, Japan and Australia
  • Main Aim: To secure Indo-Pacific.

#2.4 Other aspects

US Presence in the Indian Ocean

  • Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is the Military base of the US army.
  • India doesn’t like an influential nation in her footsteps as it challenges the Indian position of ‘net security provider’ in the Indian ocean.

Fight against terror

  • The US frequently helps India in its war against terror. E.g.:
    • US played the main role in listing Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar as an international terrorist by the UN 
    • US is also helping India to control Pakistani terrorism using FATF.

Issues in India-US defence relations

  • The difference in core goals of defence engagement: From the Indian perspective, the core goal of defence engagement with the US is that the US should assist the Indian defence industry in manufacturing technology in India. For the US, its defence diplomacy with India is to establish a long-term relationship that would allow both India and the US to jointly address contingencies in the region that may arise in the future. 
  • US equipment is costly. India wants to deal on the basis of fixed costs. On the other hand, suppliers favour’ life cycle costs’-based bidding asserting that they offer expensive equipment, but the costs come down when it comes to contracts for long-term maintenance.

Issue 3: Nuclear Diplomacy in the US- India relations 

Timeline of Indo-US Nuclear Deal
  • 1974: India experimented with the Nuclear Explosion named Pokharan-1. The USA opposed it. 
  • 1978: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed under the leadership of the USA, in which India was not accepted as a nuclear state. India resented NPT, terming it as Nuclear Apartheid. 
  • 1998: Nuclear Test (Pokharan-2) was conducted, making India a nuclear power. In retaliation, the US imposed economic sanctions on India.  
  • 2000: Clinton’s visit to India marked the beginning of a new era, followed by Jaswant – Talbot Dialogue.
  • 2008: This process culminated in the Civil Nuclear Deal signed in 2008. 

Bush – Manmohan Civil Nuclear Deal

  • It was signed in 2008.
  • The main provisions of the agreement were
    1. India agreed to the separation of civil & military nuclear programs.
    2. India allowed inspection of the civilian program.
    3. India agreed to refrain from transferring nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them.
    4. India agreed to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group.
    5. In return, the US offered nuclear fuel & technology. The US also ensured supplies for the civilian program from the 44‐nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Issue 4: Indian diaspora in USA and H1-B Issue

  • India has a 4-million-plus strong diaspora in the USA, accounting for about 1% of the total population. It is the second-largest Asian community in the country.
  • Indian diaspora includes many professionals, business entrepreneurs and educationalists with increasing influence in society.  
  • Examples include
    1. Kamala Harris: US Vice-President
    2. Satya Nadella: Microsoft Head
    3. Sundar Pichai: Google Head
    4. Nikki Hellay: Seasoned politician who has held important positions like US Ambassador to UN.  
  • The Indian community has assimilated into their adopted country and is a catalyst to forge closer and stronger ties between India and the USA.

H1-B Visa Issue

About H1-B Visa

  • H1- B visa is a non-immigrant visa given by the US to skilled workers (technical or theoretical skill in the specialized field) for a specific period of time.
  • It was started in 1952 to attract quality workers from other countries.
  • Lottery System: US administration grants H1-B visas to 85,000 workers annually, of which 20,000 are reserved for those who have one of their Masters in the US. The process to select is completely random based on the Lottery System. 

H1-B Visa
H1-B Visa issue

Changes introduced by Trump

Trump introduced some changes in the H1-B visa regime to make companies hire US workers and give visas to highly expert workers. These changes were 

  1. The minimum salary to be considered eligible for an H1-B visa increased from $60,000 to $130,000 per annum.
  2. Spouse of H1-B visa holder can’t work in the USA.
  3. Preference to be given to students with US education for H1-B visas. 

These changes impact Indian interests because out of the 85,000 H1-B visas, approximately 70% are Indians. 

Other Cooperation

  • Space Cooperation: The two sides have had a long history of cooperation in the Civil Space arena. NASA and ISRO are cooperating on various projects. India also helps multiple US companies to launch their satellites at cheap rates. 

Other Irritants

  • Question of Human Rights: There have been profound differences between India and America on human rights. Various NGOs, including Amnesty International and Asia Watch, have raised voices against human rights violations in India and draconian acts like TADA. 
  • Religious Freedom: Various US Congress committees and NGOs such as Freedom House frequently comment on the status of religious freedom in India, which impinges Indian sovereignty and tarnishes the image of India in international forums.
  • Afghan Question: USA and India were not on the same page on the Afghan question. India was not in favour of handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban as it endangers security in India.

India-Sri Lanka Relations

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. In 1815, the population composition of Sri Lanka was 3 million Sinhalese Buddhists and 300,000 Tamil Hindus. 
  • From the 1830s onwards, the British started transporting indentured labour from India, especially from Tamil Nadu, to Ceylon to work on tea plantations. The Tamils who the British transported 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 other powers as well. Sri Lanka has several 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. Hence the importance of Sri Lanka is increasing rapidly. 

2. Defence Cooperation

  • India has trained many Sri Lankan officials at the National Defence Academy and India Military Academy.
  • India and Sri-Lankan navy and coast guards constantly undertake intelligence sharing.
  • India and Sri Lankan armies conduct joint military exercises such as MITRA, SHAKTI, IN-SLN etc.

3. Tamil Factor

  • The Tamil factor has historically dominated the India-Sri Lanka relations.
  • Both countries can cooperate to solve the Tamil problem and implement the 13th Constitutional Amendment in letter and spirit. 

4. Trade & investment

  • India and Sri Lanka have already signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1998 & CEPA is on the cards. 
  • India has the  2nd largest FDI in Sri Lanka.  
  • India and Sri Lanka have signed a Currency Swap Agreement of $1 billion. 
  • India exports petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, two-wheelers and vegetables while imports rubber products, spices and electric wires. 
  • Indian firms operational in Sri Lanka include Tata, Jet Airways, Ashoka Leyland, Ceat, Apollo etc.
  • Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) plans to establish a six million ton per annum refinery in Sri Lanka. 

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 than the increased movement of Indian professionals in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka fears that Indian firms may ultimately dominate the Lankan economic space and might eventually lead to the loss of jobs for the Sri Lankan native population.

5. Cultural

  • Buddhism is followed by the majority of Sinhalese. It was spread due to the efforts of Ashoka.
  • India is building  
    • Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka and
    • Buddhist circuit in India (Sinhalese are Buddhist). 
  • Rabindranath Tagore had influenced Sri Lankan national anthem – “Sri Lanka Matha” (we salute mother, Sri Lanka). 

6. Developmental Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka is one of the primary recipients of Indian development aid. For example, $167.4 million lines of credit to develop and upgrade the tsunami-damaged Colombo-Matara rail link.
  • 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

  1. SAARC
  3. South Asian Economic Union

Present issues faced by Sri-Lanka

Economic hardships

  • Sri Lanka is facing a balance of payment crisis due to various reasons, such as 
    1. Debt trap diplomacy of China
    2. Fall of tourism in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and Easter bomb blasts of 2019.
    3. Agriculture crisis due to overnight transition to organic farming.
    4. Increase in oil prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
  • Indian government helped Sri Lanka by providing credit lines, currency swaps and financial assistance. 

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 robust political base among the majority population, the Sinhalese, for defeating the LTTE in 2009.
  • Riots against minority Muslim groups are also rising due to increasing Islamophobia in Sri-Lankan society. Such riots 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, barring some tensions caused due to 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. They consist of 3/4th of the Sri Lankan population. They speak Sinhalese and follow Buddhism.
  • Tamils in Sri Lanka are predominantly Hindus. 
  • The Muslims, mainly of Tamil origin, speak both Tamil and Sinhala.
Composition of Sri Lankan Population
Composition of Sri Lankan Population

There are two types of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Ceylonese Tamils Tamils whose forefathers had gone to Sri Lanka centuries ago.
– Their population is estimated to be 2.5 million.
They are concentrated in Jaffna and the northern & eastern coast.
Indian Tamils Tamils 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.
Tamil Areas in Sri Lanka

Reason for Sinhalese Anti-Tamil feeling

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

Side Topic – 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 Scholars and theorists allege that India used the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) to train Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka. The aim was to use Tamil insurgents to destabilize the anti-India regime while also ensuring that the Tamil rebels did not succeed in creating a separate state. 
The R&AW supported the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO). But 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 The Lankan army killed Prabhakaran. 
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

India- Sri Lanka Issue
  • Nehru – Kotelawala Agreement, 1953: Under the agreement, India agreed to the repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamils who want to accept Indian citizenship. But at the same time, India rejected the Sri Lankan demand of granting citizenship to all Tamils 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 to get Sri Lankan citizenship.
    2. 5 lakh 25 thousand to get Indian citizenship in a period spanning over 15 years.
    3. The remaining 1.50 lakh stateless person’s fate was to be decided later.
  • Rajiv – Jayewardene Agreement (Indo-Sri Lanka Accord), 1987 :
    1. Creation of an autonomous unit comprising northern and eastern provinces (Tamils are concentrated in this area).
    2. Emergency to be lifted from northern and eastern provinces.
    3. Grant of official language status to Tamil, Sinhalese and English.

But 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:-

  1. Divide entire Sri Lanka into provinces.
  2. Adoption of the Federal System and give more powers to states.
  3. Remove Sinhalese Only Language Act and give equal status to the Tamil language.
  4. Land and Police should be provincial subjects.

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 has happened, but the rest of the provisions haven’t been implemented.
  • Later, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka declared this Accord unconstitutional, saying that Land and Police being Union subjects is the 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 many political killings of both Indian and Sri Lankan leaders like Rajiv Gandhi (in 1991) and Premadasa (in 1993).

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. A $ 350 million grant to build houses is one of the significant grants by India in any country. 
  • India’s IRCON has constructed the train service at the north-western Sri Lankan town of Talaimannar – the closest point to India.  
  • Many Sri Lankan Tamils are still living as refugees in India.

Issue 2: Fishermen Issue


Fishing has been happening in this region since the Sangam period without any problem.


  • Indian fishermen venture into Sri Lankan waters, and Sri-Lankan Navy either fires upon them or arrests them. It leads to large scale suffering upon the fisherman community.
  • 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 has been a resurgence of Sri Lankan fishermen in the 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 terrible 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 leading cause of 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. 
  • Indian trawlers are not equipped 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 Indian Tamils are the most prominent sympathizers of Sri-Lankan Tamils and their cause.


  • Tamil Nadu fishermen are not allowed to venture into the coastal waters of Andhra. If Indian fishermen typically 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 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 and 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 time 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 a sacred area. It has been a part of Raja of Ramnand’s territory, who controlled it as the lead zamindar. After the abolition of the Zamindari system, Katchatheevu became a part of the Presidency of Madras. No maps of Sri Lanka showed it as its territory. However, seeing its 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. But 1974 had a provision under which Indian fishermen had the right to dry their nets on the island. 
  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS) changed the situation under which all the rights of Indian fishermen were taken away. Since then, Indian fishermen have been facing issues with Lankan authorities.
  • In 1991, Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution demanding the retrieval of Katchatheevu Island from Sri Lanka and making the fishing grounds around the island accessible to the Tamil fisherman.
  • In 2008, the AIDMK filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) asking that the SC declare the 1974 and 1976 agreements unconstitutional.  
  • In 2014, the Union Government informed the Madras High Court that Sri Lankan sovereignty over the Katchatheevu island is a settled matter, and Indian fisherman doesn’t enjoy any fishing rights in the Sri Lankan waters.

Issue 4: China Angle

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


Chinese Debt Trap in Sri Lanka
Chinese Debt Trap in Sri Lanka
  • China is following Debt Trap Diplomacy in Sri Lanka.   
  • China is trying to change the ‘Balance of Power in the Indian Ocean’, impacting India’s position as a Net Security Provider in the Indian Ocean.
  • Chinese projects don’t allow the development of auxiliary industry materials like cement, steel, labour etc., is also imported from China. Hence, jobs are not created in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has allowed China to build enclaves around the Colombo port, where Chinese people will reside. To authorize these enclaves, a separate statute has been passed by the Sri Lankan Parliament. 
  • Chinese projects are turning out to be White Elephants. ‘(epitomized by the Hambantota port, which was later given to China on a 99-year lease).
  • These projects impact Indian security as 
    1. Hambantota Port impacts the Indian position in the Indian ocean.
    2. Jaffna Hybrid Energy Project: A Chinese company was awarded the contract to install a hybrid renewable energy system about 50 km away from the Tamil Nadu coast.

What is India doing to counter this?

  • India is developing Trincomalee as Petroleum Hub and building infrastructure around it. 
  • India is developing Kakesuthai and Trincomalee as a port. 
  • India is developing the Eastern Terminal at Colombo port along with Japan (January 2021 update: Due to large scale demonstration by the trade unions against the privatization, the Sri Lankan government has cancelled this project).
  • India has decided 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 aid of ₹ 5 billion in 2009 to reconstruct 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 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. 
  • 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 an important pillar of the 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 to India in the past.
  • Both India and China were part of the Silk Road Trade
  • Chinese inventions like paper making, sugar making etc., also travelled to India.

Initial Years

Both became independent at the 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 the Chinese Army entered Tibet and took it over, India recognized Tibet as part of China. India gave up its rights over Tibet in 1954 (like the Right to station the army, control over post & telegraph etc.).

It 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 a more cautious approach and advocated for a military build-up and the creation of roads near the China border along with US cooperation to balance China. But unfortunately, he died in 1950, and India’s China policy came entirely into the hands of Nehru.

Panchsheel, 1954

India was disappointed in China’s Tibet policy. But, for the sake of friendship and as a 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 other’s internal affairs; 
  4. Equality and mutual benefit;  
  5. Peaceful co‐existence

Prelude to the 1962 War

  • During 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 the India-US was collectively conspiring against China. In March 1959, there was a massive Tibetan uprising known as Lhasa Uprising. China crushed the uprising brutally. After the Lhasa Uprising of 1959, Dalai Lama came to take refuge in India. It made China suspicious of India. 
  • The global situation changed as well.  Khrushchev came to power in USSR, and he was a reformist, unlike Stalin. Khrushchev was not liked by Mao & China started to fear both USA & USSR. 
  • 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. He advocated that revolution was the only way ahead.
  • This period also saw the tense situation of the Cuban Missile crisis in which the 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 India supported the uprising in Tibet.
  • China is an ambitious country & both India & China wanted to be leaders of the Afro-Asian world.
  • Undefined borders between China & India: China refused to accept the Macmohan Line & India declined to accept Aksai Chin as part of China.
  • For MaoNehru was a bourgeois leader, and he viewed Nehru and his policies with suspicion. 

Impact on Sino – Indian Relations

  • There was a freeze in Sino-Indian relations till 1988. There was a situation of permanent hostility.
  • The emergence of an alliance between China & Pakistan.  
  • It pushed India to the side of the USSR.
  • Massive militarization & nuclearization was seen in India.

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

  • In 1986-87, both armies came to near conflict in Sumdorung Chu in the eastern sector.
  • After that, PM Rajiv Gandhi visited China, which marked the new beginning in Indo-China relations and a Joint communiqué to restore friendly ties & work towards a mutually acceptable solution to border disputes. 
  • Deng Xiaoping era, too, had dropped the revolutionary spirit of Mao and favoured a market-oriented economy. It played an essential 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 Tiananmen Square. Moreover, the fall of communism, the 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 neighbourhood 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 a financial crisis in India as it choked its remittances from the region. India and China began to develop proximity and mutual understanding for their 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.

Xi Jinping Era

  • The present era is the Xi Jinping Era, marked by the concentration of power in the hands of Xi by demolishing the old leaders and placing the loyals in the politburo.
  • Big country diplomacy: Xi regime has shed the earlier strategy of remaining low key and now started to follow Big Country Diplomacy. It has achieved this via large scale investments in infrastructure projects in other countries, developments of 5G technology, up-gradation of the military etc.
  • Wolf Warrior Diplomacy: The shift in Chinese foreign policy from conservative, passive and low-key to assertive, passive and high-profile. The term is based on a 2015 Chinese movie titled ‘Wolf Warrior’, which involves a group of Chinese soldiers who go out of China and carry out offensive attacks in enemy countries. The examples include the aggressive attitude wrt border issues (against India, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines etc.) and aggressive counter of the anti-China narrative post-COVID-19. 

Recent visits and developments

2003 Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit marked an improvement in the post-1998 nuclear-test freeze in relations.
2014 President Xi Jinping visits India .
2015 Modi paid a 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 resulted in a bloody stand-off between Indian and Chinese armies.
2021 China adopted a new land border law that allows  Beijing to safeguard its territorial integrity on its 22,000-km long land border with 14 countries, including India. It states that the People’s Liberation Army will be deployed to prevent encroachment. It could formalize Chinese encroachment on Indian territory. It concerns India because India shares log disputed border with China.  

Under the policy, China is also building border defence villages across the LAC between India and China.

Issue 1: 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 It lies on Himachal & Uttaranchal Border .
Middle sector is relatively peaceful, unlike the Western and Eastern sectors.
Eastern Sector It relates to disputed McMahon line .
China demands almost the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
China questions Indian sovereignty over Sikkim.

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

1. Aksai Chin Issue

  • The territorial dispute over Aksai Chin can be traced back to the failure of the British Empire to demarcate a legal border between its Indian colony and China. 
  • Two borders between India and China were proposed during the British Raj – 
    1. Johnson Line: It shows Aksai Chin under Indian control.
    2. 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 of Aksai Chin. 

Note: Main reason for annexing Aksai Chin was to build a road connecting Xinjiang Region and Tibet to strengthen its hold over Tibet. The only way to build a motorable road was to pass through Aksai Chin. Till the war of 1962, the 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 the 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 the 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, the right to station troops & maintain communication etc.
  • But, China disputed this line as an imperial line drawn by the Britishers.    
  • China insists 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. On the other hand, Tibetans hold that Tibet was independent before the 1950 Chinese operation. In the Yuan Dynasty period, China and Tibet had established a priest-patron relation which in no way implies that Tibet became a vassal of China.  
  • In 1959, Lhasa Uprising started in Tibet. The Chinese Army crushed it, and as a result, Dalai Lama took refuge in India. It worsened the Sino-India relations leading to the War of 1962.
  • India continues to officially support that Tibet was 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 the majority while Tibetans will be reduced to a minority in Tibet, diluting the overall cause of Tibetan autonomy.
  • China’s massive military build-up and infrastructure development in Tibet.
  • Plans to divert or dam rivers (e.g., Zangmu, Dagu etc., on the 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 earth etc.
  • Geoengineering Experiments: Recently, there have been 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. 

Side Topic: Why is Tibet so important for China?

  • Buffer between powers across Himalayas i.e. India and China.
  • Source of water as it is house to large number of glaciers. Major rivers like Brahmaputra and Satluj originates in Tibet.
  • Tibet is resource rich and China has planed to extract minerals such as gold and rare earth metals from the region.

Galwan Issue

  • Chinese soldiers crossed the LAC around the Galwan River valley during May 2020. 
  • It was followed by killing at least 20 Indian soldiers in a clash with Chinese forces. It 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 like Daulat Beg Oldie Road, which has challenged the Chinese superiority in the region.
  • Response to Doklam Crisis (dealt below).
  • Reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir: China had earlier also protested against the formation of the new Union Territory of Ladakh and accused India of transforming the status quo unilaterally.
  • The global backlash against China for spreading and mishandling of COVID-19
  • Signs of new Chinese aggressiveness and part of ‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy‘. 
  • The Chinese response to India’s participation in Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and challenge to Chinese position in Indo-Pacific region. 

Doklam Issue

  • Doklam (Donglang in Chinese) plateau is disputed between Bhutan (not India) and China.
  • Town named Yadong in Chumbi Valley (in China) is connected to Lhasa with an all-weather road. China was building a road connecting Yadong to the Doklam Plateau, which facilitated the fast mobilization of Chinese troops to Doklam in case of war. Indian troops intervened to block Chinese soldiers since the area was 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, the Indian Post in Sikkim, has the advantage of height wrt Chinese forces in Chumbi Valley. China wants to build a 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 a counterforce to balance China will suffer.

Side Topic: Salami Slicing Policy

  • The term ‘Salami Slicing Policy’ was coined by Hungarian Matyaas Rakosi in 1940s.
  • Salami Slicing means a strategy of carrying out small actions in a covert manner that eventually accumulates into a larger action.
  • Using this strategy, China initiates territorial claims by staking claims to territory. Then, it carries out 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 it’s diplomatic and military might to resolve the dispute by avoiding a forceful intervention.

Side Topic: Stapled Visas

  • Stapled Visa is a visa where the country’s stamps are not placed directly on the passport, but pages are 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 the case of China, Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are given Stapled Visas. 
  • The reason given by the Chinese Foreign Ministry is that since J&K and Arunachal Pradesh are contested territories, so they can’t directly stamp the passport of a person’s belonging to that region. Stamping a passport would imply recognition of the status quo

Issue 2: India-China Economic Issues

China has become India’s largest trading partner. But India has a huge trade deficit with China of 77 Billion $, contributing to India’s 25% trade deficit with the whole world. 

India-China Trade Issues

Why is  India  Important to  China?

India is essential for Chinese growth because it provides China with 

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


  • Huge Deficit: India has a huge trade deficit of $ 63 Billion with China. 
  • Currency Manipulator  China keeps the Yuan undervalued to promote Chinese exports. 
  • Non-Tariff Barriers: Indian Farm sector, agro-processing industry and Pharmaceutical Sector face Non-Tariff barriers from China. 
  • Security implications
    • Chinese Mobiles can be used for surveillance.
    • Significant Chinese investment in Power Sector results in the transfer of the blueprint of Indian Power Grids in Chinese hands.
    • India’s excessive dependence (up to 80%) on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API).
    • 5G security issue, especially with Huawei due to its alleged links with CCP.
  • There are large scale Chinese investments in Indian startups. Chinese companies indulged in the hostile takeover of Indian companies during Covid pandemic.
  • Negative impact on Indian Industrial Growth: The import of Chinese goods is not good for the development of Indian industries. The dumping of cheap Chinese goods negatively impacts the MSME sector as they cannot compete with cheap Chinese products. 

How to address?

  • Foreign Trade Policy 2015 recommended concentrating on things like Buddhist tourism & the 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 the API issue). 

Recent steps taken by India to address this

  • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme to boost domestic manufacturing under AtmaNirbhar Bharat.
  • The Indian government has banned more than 100 Chinese apps, including Tiktok. Ban is a big blow for Chinese companies as India was one of the most significant user bases of these companies.
  • The 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 have been barred from taking part in road projects.

Issue 3: Chinese foray into the Indian neighbourhood

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

Examples to corroborate this

1. Pakistan

  • China is working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through the Indian territory under Pakistan’s occupation. Chinese presence is there on Gwadar port. 

2. 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 the help of the Chinese government.
  • China’s trade with Bangladesh is now about twice that of India.

3. Sri Lanka

  • China has leased Hambantota port for 99 years and donated a frigate to the Sri Lankan Navy.

4. Maldives

  • China owns around 70% of the Maldives’ debt.
  • The Maldives has also signed China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The Maldives has changed laws to lease out several prime islands to China.

5. Myanmar

  • China is building Kyaukpyuport in Myanmar.

6. Nepal

  • Nepal has signed an agreement to become a part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Nepal is raising the issue of Kalapani at the behest of China.
  • Nepal uses Chinese cards and is building infrastructure to connect Nepal with China via Tibet.

Issue 4: 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

China is becoming an enormous naval power, corroborated by the Chinese navy’s having the largest number of personnel. Along with that, China is producing the largest number of ships. Moreover, China already commissioned the first indigenous Aircraft Carrier in 2018.

Military Reforms done by China

  • People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be cut by 3 lakh personnel as PLA want to focus on the modernisation of the army. 
  • The first Oversea Chinese Military Base in Indian Ocean Region has become operational in Djibouti.
  • All armed forces were brought under a joint operational military command in 2020 (on the lines of the US Army).  

Issue 5:  String of Pearls

String of Pearls

  • The theory was given by the Pentagon.
  • The theory says that China is trying to increase its naval presence in the Indian Ocean & counter India by surrounding it. It is developing a 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 overseas military base
String of Pearls

Impact on India

  • China can use it to impose an embargo on India in case of war (note: 90% Indian Trade passes through the Indian Ocean).
  • It disturbs the balance of power heavily in favour of China.
  • It marks the entry of extraterritorial power in the Indian Ocean, countering the Indian position of ‘Net Security Provider in the Indian Ocean’. 

Steps taken by India

India is taking following steps in the neighbourhood to counter China

Srilanka India is developing Kakesuthai & Triconmale port. 
Andaman & Nicobar Islands These islands can act as an iron choke to a string of pearls as
1. Most Chinese oil & trade flows through Malacca, and Andaman & Nicobar islands overlook Malacca Strait.
2. India has also established a naval air station in Andaman & Nicobar called Baaz.
Myanmar India has stepped up its engagement with Myanmar and made significant investments to counter Chinese encroachment.
Seychelles India is trying to counter it with soft diplomacy and investments.  
Iran India is developing Chabahar port in Iran.
  • Apart from that, India is trying to contain China through the 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 the South China sea ) 
    3. Making a strategic partnership with Mongolia.
    4. India has made strategic ties with Japan. 
    1. Malabar practice with US & Japan .  
  • Military Modernization: Agni, Sukhoi, Nuclear submarines, Aircraft Carrier-Vikramaditya are not meant for Pakistan but to fight against a powerful nation like China.
  • India has leased Guardian drones and bought P-8I from the USA for surveillance in the sea
  • India is building roads and infrastructure on the North-Eastern border for faster mobilization of troops. 

Issue 6: One Belt One Road  (OBOR) INITIATIVE

OBOR  consists  of  following  elements.

1 . Silk  Road  Economic  Belt  (SREB)

  • The Eurasian land corridor from the Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea.

2. Maritime  Silk  Road  (MSR)

  • It aims to develop ports across the Indian Ocean. 

3. Digital Silk Road (Latest 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. E.g.: 
    • Huawei is constructing PEACE (Pakistan – East Africa Cable Express) to connect Pakistan to Kenya via Djibouti.
    • Alibaba’s massive investment in e-commerce.
    • Promoting Beidou in contrast to GPS.
One Belt One Road  (OBOR)
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the largest infrastructure project under which China invested in over 2600 projects in 100 countries. Analysts believe the OBOR initiative will impact  4.4 billion people and generate $ 2.5 trillion in 10 years. 
  • It 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

1. Restructuring Economy

  1. In 2008, due to Great Depression, there was a decrease in demand for Chinese products abroad. Hence, China changed its economy to an ‘Internal Consumption Led Economy’. But, now there is an issue of overcapacity in the infra sector, and China wants to address this by exporting infra projects.
  2. Rising labour costs: China is shifting production to underdeveloped western regions.

2. Strategic Reasons

  • China is decreasing its dependence on Malacca Strait (80% of Chinese energy and exports pass through it) and addressing the Malacca Dilemma.

3. 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.

4. Diversifying Trade Routes

  • China wants to diversify its trade routes as excessive dependence on a single route is a  strategic vulnerability. 

5. Development of Under-developed areas

  • China’s economic development was primarily concentrated in its eastern coastal provinces. OBOR will provide outlets to its underdeveloped southern and western provinces and 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 the innumerable benefits

1. Economic

  • Road to Central Asia: It will enhance  India’s  connectivity  with  (1) Central  Asia  through  China, (2) Russia and (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

  • Better economic relations improve political relocations and mutual trust.  

3. Strategic

  • It will help in balancing Pakistan and China relations.   

4. Other

  • 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 the 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 (part of OBOR) passes through POK.    
  • It is ‘opaque’ in nature as 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 as a ‘security provider’ in the region. 
  • OBOR promotes  Chinese neo-colonialism as loans are being used as a debt trap. E.g.
    • Seen in Hambantota (where China took over the port for 99 years in case of loan default)
    • 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) 
  • A  stronger China is a strategic risk for India. India has 4078 km of the disputed border with China, and China claims a large portion of Indian territory (nearly 80,000 sq. km).
  • Due to this, relations with the USA may get hampered.  
  • Environmental and Social Risks: Due to insufficient ecological feasibility studies and other risks, its compliance with environmental and labour standards is poor. 

Indian Answer to OBOR

  • India has started the ‘Cotton Route‘ to strengthen economic ties between countries in the Indian Ocean rim. 
  • It has also launched Project Mausam and Spice Route, apparently responding to China’s Belt and Road initiative.          
    • Project Mausam aims to re-establish India’s ancient maritime routes in the Indian Ocean. 
    • Spice Route aims to revive old links between 31 countries in Asia and Europe with India, especially Kerala. 
  • India & Japan have developed an Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) to counter China’s OBOR. 
  • India is also developing a large number of standalone projects which can be joined under one OBOR like project at a 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). 

Issue 7: China – Pakistan Axis and CPEC

China & Pakistan describe their friendship as ‘higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, sweeter than honey.’

Areas of Cooperation between China and Pakistan

  • NSG Membership: China opposed India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, demanding India’s parity with Pakistan.
  • Infrastructure investment: via China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • Terrorism: China has been shielding various Pakistan-based terrorists from being listed as a ‘Global Terrorist’ by the UN.   
  • Military cooperation: China’s military cooperation with Pakistan, especially after CPEC, involves 
    • Bolstering the Pakistani navy. E.g., planned acquisition of eight submarines.
    • China will provide Pakistan’s four advanced naval warships of Type-054 Class (1 has already been delivered in August 2020).
  • Chinese relations with Pakistan also give China the chance to make easy inroads into the Islamic world and help keep China’s Xingjian extremism under check. 


  • CPEC is a 3200 km route consisting of highways, railways, and pipelines that will connect Gwadar port to Xinjiang in China.  
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor      (CPEC)

Importance of CPEC for Pakistan

  • China is investing   $62 billion in CPEC. 
  • It will create over 7 lakh direct jobs in Pakistan. 
  • China will also invest heavily in Power Sector. It will help Pakistan as the country is desperately short of power.  
  • It will relieve the USA pressure on Pakistan.  

Voices against CPEC in Pakistan

  • Debt Trap: Voices are being raised regarding the ability of the pandemic hit economy to pay back debt.
  • CPEC is marred by corruption shown by the incident of Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, the head of CPEC Authority, who was found to possess disproportionate assets.

Indian Concerns

  • Sovereignty Issues: CPEC passes through the disputed Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). 
  • Security Implications in Indian Ocean Region: Chinese access to Gwadar port impacts the Indian position as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean.
  • Energy Security of India: Gwadar Port overseas Hormuz Strait and China can blockade Indian oil supplies in conflict. 
  • Heavy Infra building in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir (PoK) will help faster mobilisation of Pakistani troops in case of any future war.
  • The threat of a ‘Two front war‘: It can lead to a situation when India has to a face ‘Two Front War’ in case of future confrontation of India with either of these countries. 

Potential Benefits which can accrue from CPEC to India

  • One of the arms of CPEC can be expanded to the Indian states of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir without any significant infrastructure costs.  
  • India can get overland access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Issue 8: South China Sea Issue

China’s Aggressive claims  in  the  South  China  Sea


  • China claims vast regions of the South China Sea through the Nine-Dash line theory.
  • While other nations like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia etc., lay claim on them based on UNCLOS. E.g.: 
    • Paracel Island (conflict between China vs Vietnam) 
    • Spratly Island 
    • Paratas Island etc. 
Nine-Dash line theory

Earlier, the Philippines has approached the International Court of Arbitration to settle this issue. The court declared the claims of China to be illegal. But China declined to accept the judgement.

Interest of China

  • Seabeds of the South China Sea have reserves of oil and natural gas.
  • It is essential for the fisheries and food security of China and South Asian countries.
  • It is important to control the South China Sea through which half of the world shipments pass.
  • The control of this area helps maintain the Chinese hegemony in the region & oust US influence from the neighbourhood.

Indian Stand

  • India has taken a neutral stand that countries involved should negotiate and resolve it peacefully.  
  • India has also emphasized freedom of navigation for all South China Sea littoral countries.

Importance of the South China Sea and its littoral states for India

  • Around 55 % of India’s trade with the Asia pacific passes through the South China Sea. 
  • With its presence in the South China Sea, India can pressure China to counterbalance China in South Asia & Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 
  • To secure the energy supplies (India ships oil from Sakhalin to Mangalore through this region). 
  • India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd has invested in areas China claims to be disputed (like Oil Block 127 & 128 of Vietnam). 
  • Vietnam, with which China has issues, is India’s strategic partner.

Issue 9: River Issues

India and China constitute 17% and 20% of the world population, respectively. But as far as water resources are concerned, China has 7% of the world’s water resources while India has only 4% of the world’s water resources. Hence, water is a precious resource for both India and China.

North-South Water Diversion Plan

  • Problem with China: Although southern parts of China have water, Northern parts have an acute water shortage. Ideas have been given for a long time to use Tibetan water resources to meet the thirst of the north. It leads to the North-South Water Diversion plan.
  • This project is worth $33 billion. With this project, China intends to divert the water of Brahmaputra towards its Northern water-deficit region. 

Dams on the Brahmaputra

  • Under the Chinese North-South Water Diversion Plan, the plan is to build four dams – Dagu, Jeixu, Zangmu & Jiacha on the Brahmaputra.

Problems which India can face

  • India and China don’t have any river water-sharing agreements. 
  • Impact on the sediment flow: The sediments offer immense ecosystem services for the downstream economies of India’s N-E states and Bangladesh.  
  • Potential use as political leverage in border disputes: Apprehension of China using water in conflict events to create flooding downstream. 
  • Any significant diversion of water could impact hydroelectric projects downstream, especially Lower Siang and Upper Siang Project in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Environmental Impact: Several concerns emerge, such as increased pollution in the river (Siang- Brahmaputra’s main artery recently turned blackish grey as it entered India), the potential impact on climate change, a threat to biodiversity in the region and altering the monsoonal patterns of the area.   
  • Increased disaster vulnerability: Artificially controlling and consequent sudden release of water flow increases the probability of floods, especially in lower riparian areas of India and Bangladesh.  
  • Chinese record on shared waters is not good. Earlier, it virtually stopped the Irtysh river from going into Kazakhstan. 

Way forward

India and China should sign a treaty on the model of the Indus Water Treaty with China.

Areas of Convergence

  • Multilateral Forums : Both India and China have shown their belief in upholding of the United Nations charter and its non-interference policy, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), World Trade Organization (WTO)- where both fight for G7 countries, East Asian Summit.
  • Climate Change : Upto some extent both the nations have shown their seriousness on environment related issues. In the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) minister’s meet, the ministers from these nations advocated for the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
  • Economic: On several platforms, both the nations have called for support to multilateralism, and appreciate the central role of the U.N. in international affairs.
  • Wuhan Spirit : peaceful, stable and balanced relations between India and China will be a positive factor for stability amidst current global uncertainties
  • People to People Contact : People-to-people exchanges are thriving.
    • Practising yoga,
    • Bollywood movies ,
    • ‘Sister-state relationship’ between Tamil Nadu and Fujian Province.



This article deals with Globalization. This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

When did Globalization start?

There is no agreement on this.

  • 1st view: Since old times as world was never isolated. There was trade & exchange of culture & ideas.
  • 2nd view: It happened during the 15th & 16th centuries when Europeans connected new countries through colonialism.
  • 3rd view: It was during Industrial Revolution due to the invention of the steam engine.

Finally, although there is no agreement on the definition, everyone agrees that the pace of globalization has increased during the 1990s with the advent of the internet & telecommunication.

Note – India’s concept of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ is in line with Globalization. Hence, Indians have been experiencing Globalization for a long.

What exactly is Globalization?

  • Globalization is a process of increasing interdependence, interconnectedness and integration of economies and societies to such an extent that an event in one part of the globe affects people in other parts of the world. 
  • Due to globalization, the world has become a “global village”. 
  • Due to globalization, the concept of the sovereignty of states is diluting. MNCs are encroaching and sometimes becoming more powerful than States.
  • It has various aspects – social, political, economic etc. 
  • Whether it is beneficial or not is a matter of debate. It has both sides:-   
    • Some consider it the cause of the rising standard of living throughout the world. 
    • Others think globalization to be the soft underbelly of corporate imperialism that plunders and profiteers on the back of rampant consumerism.

Factors helping Globalization

International Trade

  • Trade is the most significant contributor to Globalization.  
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Regional Integration & Global institutions such as WTO plays an important role in promoting globalization. 


  • ICT has connected offices situated in different parts of the world.
  • BPOs in India can work for companies based in the US and EU at a fraction of the price.

International Governmental Organisations

  • Organizations like WTO, UN, European Union (EU), ASEAN etc., have integrated different parts of the world.


  • People are travelling in different parts => such surge in tourism was never seen before.

International Sports

  • CWG, Olympics, FIFA etc., play an important part in globalization.

Negatives of Globalization in general

  • Attack on the sovereignty of nations by MNCs, institutions like WTO, IMF etc. and other powerful countries. 
  • It has led to the spread of terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy etc. 
  • Globalization has negatively impacted Micro and Small Scale Industries. E.g., Women silk spinners and twisters of Bihar lost their jobs once the Chinese and Korean silk yarn entered the market. Weavers and consumers prefer this yarn as it is somewhat cheaper and has a shine.
  • Increased Insurgencies  
    • Adivasis have been uprooted from their ancestral lands by MNCs. 
    • Support of diaspora to insurgencies. E.g., Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers relied on the Tamil diaspora.
    • Environmental damage due to overfishing, forest depletion etc.
  • Disease Spread: Diseases spread like fire in the forest because of increased global connectivity & movement. E.g., Covid-19’s rapid spread during 2019-20. 
  • The global economy became too fragile, corroborated by frequent depressions and slowdowns. 
  • Inequality has increased as capitalists have exploited the situation to their advantage. 
  • Increased vulnerability of workersMNCs keep on shifting their manufacturing bases based on the cheap availability of labour. E.g., Nike shifted their production from Japan to South Korea to Indonesia, India and Thailand when labour became expensive in these economies. 
  • Globalization has given impetus to the culture of materialism and consumerism. 
  • Exploitation of farmers
    • Globalization has exposed farmers to global competition.
    • WTO obligations regarding the de-minimus limit have led to lower farm subsidies in developing nations. 
    • MNCs are controlling farmers through contract farming.
    • Seed monopoly by MNCs like Monsanto.

Then how much Globalisation is required?

  • Outright rejection of globalization and a retreat into autarky is neither practical nor desirable as nobody wants to be the next Myanmar or North Korea. 
  • Also, nobody wants to be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – who opened their border for all goods with the same tax as on domestic goods and had double-digit negative growth in 2009. 
  • Countries that find the golden middle, like Chile and Singapore, tend to thrive. 

We can’t live in isolation, and we can find a warning against isolationism in a parable about a well-frog- the ‘Kupamanduka’ that persistently recurs in several old Sanskrit texts.  


Socio-cultural Globalization & India

  • Socio-cultural Globalisation has increased cross-cultural contacts. 
  • Globalization has resulted in the penetration of western food culture like McD, Pizza Hut, KFC etc. & western cloth culture. 
    • Critics say that it is Westernization and not Globalization because of the imbalance of transfer.  
    • But MNCs also adapt to the local cultures, e.g. McDonald’s doesn’t serve beef burgers, Pizza Hut comes with Indian flavours etc. 
  • In theory, globalization tends to reduce poverty by promoting economic growth in developing countries. Some scholars have argued that ‘trade is good for growth, growth is good for the poor, and so trade is good for the poor’.  
  • Cultural Homogenization: We all watch the same television programmes, buy the same commodities, eat the same food, support the same sports stars. Hence, cultural diversity is being destroyed. 
  • The use of ‘English’ is rapidly increasing, and multilingual speakers are growing as well. 
  • In reaction, there is a rise of right-wing parties to protect local values & culture.
  • Globalization has, through greater exposure, liberalized our attitudes, reduced our biases and predispositions about people, situations and communities worldwide.
  • Due to Globalization, many languages are becoming extinct every year. A UNESCO report states that nearly 1,500 ethnic languages are globally becoming extinct every day.

Economic Globalization & India

Economic globalization comprises of two aspects :

  • Globalization of production  
  • Globalization of markets  

Positive Impacts

  • Creation of jobs. E.g., jobs in the BPO sector. 
  • Bringing in improved technological processes. 
  • MNCs are providing revenue by way of paying taxes. 
  • Global Corporations bring better work culture to India.
  • The indirect impact is that to attract more MNCs to India, the government invests a lot in infrastructure (roads, faster railway services, and aeroplane facilities). 
  • It has led to the IT revolution in India due to the setting up of a huge BPO sector providing services to their clients in the developed world.  

Negative Impacts

  • Worsening of labour conditions as the chief aim of MNCs is the maximization of profits (the main thing that seduces MNCs to manufacture in India is cheap labour ). 
  • MNCs repatriate their profits to their respective countries rather than investing in India.
  • Global Corporations are deriving small companies and artisans out of business. 
  • Big MNCs violate human rights & damage environment. 
  • The health sector has been significantly impacted. Due to patent protection, the price of patented drugs has skyrocketed.
  • It has impacted agriculture negatively because of the creation of seed monopoly and dumping of food crops by the US & Europe.
  • For its survival in the face of global competition, Indian industry has transformed itself from labour-intensive processes to capital intensive processes by adopting global technologies and automatic machinery. It has resulted in a high rate of unemployment in India.

Impact of Globalization on various sections of society

1. Society as a Whole

Family structure

  • Globalization promotes the value of individualism and has led to the nuclearization of families.
  • New forms of families are emerging. E.g., Single-parent households, live relationships, female-headed households, dual-in career families (both husband and wife are working) etc.

Marriage values

  • Children are taking their own decision to select their partners.  
  • Finding partners: Younger generations have started depending on internet marriage sites like ‘, Bharat Matrimony’ etc. Family involvement in finding a groom/bride is reducing. 
  • Marriage is now seen as a contract rather than a sacrament. 
  • Due to globalization, we are observing a large number of divorces. 

Caste System

  • Globalization has brought about information technology and the internet, which have also helped, though indirectly, consolidate and promote caste solidarity. For example, matrimonial websites help in locating the same caste grooms. Similarly, caste-based forums are mushrooming on the web and social media.

Social interactions and festivals

  • Due to the value of individualism, social interactions have been reduced. 
  • People prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day rather than Holi and Diwali.


  • Youth is increasingly becoming westernized and consumerist in their thinking.

Food & clothing 

  • People have abandoned local foods & attracted to junk food which has increased health disorders.
  • Males prefer western suitings, but they are inappropriate for the Indian climate.  

Withdrawal of Government from Social Sector

  • LPG Reforms led to a general reduction of the state’s public spending. The state has now taken the role of regulator instead of the service provider. 
  • The government has placed significant budget cuts on health, education and social security.  

2. Female

Globalization affects different groups of women in various places in different ways. On the one hand, it may create new opportunities for women to be forerunners in economic and social progress. But, on the other hand, it may take away job opportunities by providing cheaper avenues in the form of assembly-line production or outsourcing.

Positive Impacts

  • Globalization has opened new avenues of jobs for women, raising self-confidence and bringing about independence. 
  • Working from home and flexible hours are physically less burdensome.
  • Globalization has posed a challenge to the institution of Patriarchy.
  • The feminist movement has spread to India due to globalization, making women more vocal about their ideas.
  • Women in India are inspired by women worldwide to fight for their rights. E.g., fighting for maternity leave.
  • Modern ideas like Equality of Sexes and Equal wages for both sexes have reached India. 
  • Due to globalization, India has signed conventions like CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women). 

Negative Impacts

  • Double Burden / Second Shift: Women are suffering two-fold. As women in developing countries move into the workforce, their domestic responsibilities are not alleviated. Hence, women are forced to work two full-time jobs.
  • Globalization exploits cheap women labour in countries like India, Bangladesh etc. 
  • Globalization has exacerbated gender inequalities => although it has benefitted women, but has benefitted men more than women. 
  • Globalization has corrupted the value system of males =>  Due to the objectification of women, cases of rape and sexual exploitation have increased.      
  • With the encroachment of MNCs, small women entrepreneurs have gone out of the market. E.g., Women silk spinners from Bihar aren’t able to compete against Chinese silk yarn. 
  • Male members have moved to other nations (especially from Indian states like Punjab and Kerala). Women have to pass almost the whole of their life without their husbands. 

3. Farmers and Agriculture

Positive impacts of globalization

  • Globalization has provided greater access to better technology like 
    • High yield varieties
    • Genetically Modified Crops (GM crops)
    • Micro-irrigation techniques
  • Foreign investment in agriculture through contract farming and food processing has helped farmers. 
  • Globalization has given access to farmers to foreign markets. 

Negative impacts of globalization

  • With globalization, farmers were encouraged to shift from traditional crops to export-oriented ‘cash crops’ such as cotton and tobacco. But such crops need far more inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and water.
  • Exposed to competition from World =>  good produce in Jamaica can make the price of sugarcane fall in India. 
  • MNCs use IPRs to create seed monopolies. E.g., Monsanto’s monopoly over BT cotton seed. 
  • Due to WTO obligations and de-minimus limits, state support for agriculture has declined substantially.  
  • MNCs control farmers through Contract Farming due to monopsony in exotic products.
  • Crops grown in contract farming usually require high doses of fertilizers and pesticides that damage the environment.
  • The number of suicides has increased since LPG reforms in India. E.g., Vidharbha is called the suicide capital of India.

4. Old Age


  • Children are migrating either to work in MNCs in cosmopolitans or other countries. (also known as Empty nest syndrome)  

Economic Impact

  • With new kinds of jobs and technological changes, they are not fit for employment in many sectors.

Psychological Impact

  • They cannot accept encroachment of foreign values, which has occurred at a huge pace. It leads to clashes between parents and children (especially girl children).

Health Impact

  • Due to agreements like TRIPS price of patented drugs have skyrocketed. It has impacted Old age the most.

5. New Generation / Youth  

Positive Impacts

  • New avenues of Job: New avenues of jobs have opened. E.g., IT sector, BPO, Sharemarkets etc. 
  • More political awareness: Due to the idea of individual liberty, justice etc., among the youth. 
  • Rise of entrepreneurial spirit: Globalization has led to the end of the monopoly of Parsis, Marwaris etc., in the industry. India has seen the rise of startup culture & first-generation millionaires (e.g., Ola, Oyo etc.). 
  • Pressure for protection of children: 
    • India has signed international conventions like   Convention on Child Rights
    • NGOs & Social workers like Kailash Satyarthi’s efforts got global recognition.
  • Youth see themselves as global teenagers. They belong to a much bigger community than the community they were born into. The younger generation embraces Western popular culture and incorporates it into their Indian identity.

Negative Impacts

  • Change in value system: Individualism had increased suicidal tendencies & loneliness. 
  • Hyper consumerism:  Globalization has engulfed a feeling of relative deprivation in the youth. 
  • Increased Competition: Now they have to compete not just with their countrymen but the whole world. 
  • Globalization is also changing family institutions, and the nuclear family is increasingly the norm. Youth are not as close to their grandparents as were earlier generations and spend less time with the older generation resulting in loss of wisdom handed down from generation to generation.
  • Drugs: Globalization has brought drugs like heroin, smack etc. to India.

6. Art Forms 

  • Globalization has led to the fusion of Indian and Western Art forms—E.g. Fusion Music, Fusion Dance etc.
  • Packaging and branding of traditional folk and festivals.
  • Tourism to see Indian culture. E.g., Langar of Golden Temple to ruins of Hampi have become tourist destinations.
  • Yoga has become world-famous.  
  • Foreign culture is also penetrating India, and hence, right-wing groups have revived cultural nationalism. E.g., campaigns against Valentine’s Day etc. 

Glocalisation  vs Homogenization vs Clash of Civilisation

With the increase in globalization, what will happen? 

There are three contrasting views regarding this:-

  1. All cultures will become similar/ homogeneous. 
  2. It will lead to an increasing tendency towards Glocalization. 
  3. Clash of Civilizations will happen at a large scale. 


Glocalisation refers to the mixing of the global with the local.

Glocalisation = Globalization + Localisation

Arguments for Glocalization

  • It is a strategy adopted by foreign firms to enhance their marketability
  • Glocalization can be seen in the following things in India,   
    • Netflix is making Indian TV Series.
    • Foreign TV channels like MTV and Cartoon Network use Indian languages. 
    • McDonald’s is selling Indian Burgers.
    • English movies are dubbed in Hindi to increase marketability and cater to a larger Indian audience.
    • Bhangra pop & remixes have become extremely popular.

  • But the ratio of influence of the western culture on local cultures is more. 

Argument for  Homogeneity

Homogeneity due to globalization in India can be seen at 2 levels

Socio-cultural level

  • Common values of Globalization like modernization and the promotion of democracy.
  • Homogenous food habits (Mcdonaldization, pizza culture etc.). 
  • ‘English’ is becoming the global lingua-franca.
  • Creation of Global Celebrities like Britney Spears and Ronaldo. 

Economic level

  • Large corporations have a presence in the whole world.
  • Same corporate culture. 
  • Same production techniques. 
  • Use of crypto-currencies like Bitcoins, Ethereum etc.

In fact, Globalisation is the Americanization of the world.

3rd view – Cultural polarization

  • Samuel Huntington dismissed the idea of a global monoculture as well as Glocalization. 
  • He was the proponent of a phenomenon known as the ‘clash of civilizations, ‘ i.e. the civilizational conflict between the USA and China and between the West and Islam.

Does economic globalization promote prosperity and opportunity for all?

Points in favour

  • The magic of the market: Economic globalization can expand opportunities and prosperity. 
  • It lets the country produce goods in sectors where it enjoys a ‘comparative advantage’ & import other goods, thus benefiting from economies of scale
  • MNCs bring with them access to modern technology in the developing world. 
  • Economic freedom promotes other freedoms: When people become rich, they demand democracy and rights. 

Points against

  • Deepening of poverty and inequality: Winners are USA & MNCs, and losers are people of the developing countries who are exploited. 
  • Globalization is often alleged as the soft underbelly of Capitalism.
  • Globalization promotes ethics of consumerism & feeling of relative deprivation
  • Example of Bhutan: People are happy even without outside links. 

Previous year UPSC GS Mains questions

  • Critically examine the effect of globalization on the aged population in India.
  • Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India?
  • To what extent globalization has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain.



This article deals with Regionalism’ . This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Regionalism?

The phenomenon in which people’s political -loyalties become more focussed on a particular region in preference to the nation or other parts of the state of which that region is sub-part is called Regionalism.

In the Indian context, regionalism is rooted in India’s diversity vis a vis caste, religion, language, ethnicity etc. When all these factors get geographically concentrated along with the feeling of relative deprivation, it results in Regionalism.

Is Regionalism a threat to National Integration?

The politics of regionalism has two connotations.

Positive Connotation

This type of Regionalism is not a threat to National Integration. It is manifested in the form of 

  • The desire for preserving identity based on language, culture and ethnicity
  • To protect socio-economic interest
  • For administrative convenience  

Negative Connotation

Any demand of regionalism that acts as a threat to nation-building efforts is referred to as a negative form of regionalism. For example, Son of Soil policy & demand for secession. 

The second form can be seen as a threat, while the first form is not a threat per se.

Characteristics of Regionalism

  • Regionalism is conditioned by economic, social, political and cultural disparities. 
  • Regionalism, at times, is a psychic phenomenon. 
  • Regionalism is built around as an expression of group identity and loyalty to the region. 
  • Regionalism supposes the concept of the development of one’s own region without considering the interest of other areas. 
  • Regionalism prohibits people from other regions to be benefited by a particular region.

Types of Regionalism

  1. Demand for Separation: It includes the demand to secede from the Indian union and become a sovereign state. E.g., Khalistan, Azad Kashmir, Naga etc. 
  2. Supra-state regionalism: Group of states are involved which share common issues & build common identities. E.g., North-eastern states for economic development and rivalry between North and South Indian States on language.
  3. Inter-state regionalism: It is between states on specific issues. E.g., disputes between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Kaveri and disputes between Punjab and Haryana over Chandigarh and Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal. 
  4. Intra-state regionalism is between the regions within the same state due to a lack of equitable sharing of benefits within the state. E.g., Coastal area vs western region in Odisha and Jaipur (Amer) vs Jodhpur (Marwar) in Rajasthan. 

Causes of Regionalism in India

Regionalism is a pre-independence phenomenon. But it became predominant in the post-independence period. The establishment and role of the Justice Party in Chennai, and to a lesser extent, of Akali Dal in Punjab in the pre-independence period are examples of emerging regionalism in India.

1. Linguistic Reorganisation of States

  • After Independence, Indian states were divided into linguistic lines. It generated sub-national identity and thus regionalism. 

2. Historical and cultural factors

  • History has divided India into “Aryans” and “Dravidians”. 
  • Different regions have their own local heroes & people tend to mobilize around them—E.g. Shivaji in Maharashtra, Periyar in Tamil Nadu, or Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab. 

3. Economic underdevelopment

  • Sometimes, the development of a particular community raises the regional aspirations of the community. E.g. After Green Revolution, Sikh Jatts of Punjab became economically prosperous, and they started to demand separate Punjab from other Hindi speaking regions. 

4. Politico-administrative factors

  • Some region-based parties use these. E.g., Shiv Sena claims to protect Maratha interests and Akali Dal to protect Punjabi (& Sikh) interests.
  • Undue interference in state affairs by the central government gives birth to regionalism.

5. Economic Development

  • Sometimes the development of a particular community raises regional aspirations of the community. E.g. after Green Revolution, Sikh Jatts of Punjab became economically prosperous, and they started to demand separate Punjab from other Hindi speaking regions. 

6. Religion

  • Religion plays a significant role in regionalism when combined with dominance and linguistic homogeneity, as seen in Punjab or fed on a sense of religious orthodoxy and economic deprivation as seen in Jammu and Kashmir.

7. Disintegration  of Congress Party

  • After Nehru, central leaders started to impose their mandate on regional leaders. As a result, local leaders moved away to form parties like NCP in Maharashtra, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal etc. They encouraged regionalism.

Son of the Soil Movement / Nativist Movement

  • “Son of the soil” doctrine argues that the state belongs explicitly to the main linguistic group inhabiting it, the sons of the soil or local residents.
  • The ‘sons of the soil’ or nativist movements emerged in the sixties and seventies in some parts of India. 
  • Shiv Sena of the sixties and seventies and the Assam movement, which culminated in 1985, belong to this genre. 

Why the son of the soil?

  • Cultural prejudice is the main reason behind the rise of nativist movements. The more dissimilar the immigrant population is ethnically or culturally, the stronger is likely to be the opposition. 
  • Indian economic model has not been able to create enough employment opportunities. There remains a competition for jobs.
  • Rising aspirations of the local middle class.
  • Politicians with vested interests try to consolidate their voting base using this—E.g. Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

Note: In some areas like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi etc., the Son of the Soil theory is not there, but in Maharashtra, Karnataka etc., it is present. 

Not Present in Punjab, West Bengal, Delhi etc. because

  • Son of Soil theory is for middle-class jobs and not for menial jobs.
  • It is not an issue of political parties. E.g., Akali Dal is Jatt dominated party, and Communist Party refused to use anti-migrant sentiments in Calcutta because of its ideological commitment. 
  • Symbiotic Relationship: Punjabis want cheap agricultural labour. Hence, they don’t raise voices against the immigration of cheap labour from Bihar and Eastern UP.
  • In Delhi, culture is purely cosmopolitan. 

It is present in Maharashtra because 

  • Political parties like Shiv Sena, MNS etc. use this as political tool.
  • Competition between migrants and nativists is for middle class jobs. 
  • If national party is weak, the native political parties become more assertive. 

Various Regional Aspirations


1. Demand of Dravida Nadu (Supranational Regionalism)

  • Its genesis lies in the Self-Respect Movement of Tamil Nadu started in  1925
  • Later it stood against the imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi areas. 
  • The demand of  Dravida Nadu in the 1960s made it a secessionist movement. 

2. Gorkhaland

  • Gorkhas are demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland by seceding from West Bengal. 
  • Reason 
    • Gurkhas speak Nepali, while the West Bengal Government of Mamata Banerjee tried to impose Bengali on them by making it compulsory in schools. 
    • The region is under-developed compared to other parts of West Bengal. 

3. Khalistan Movement

  • During the 1980s, the Khalistan movement to create a Sikh homeland, often called Khalistan, cropped up in Punjab. This demand also has the colours of communalism, as their demand is only for Sikhs.

4. Shiv Sena and MNS Targeting North Indians

  • Shiv Sena & MNS in Mumbai frequently attack North Indians.

Border disputes between States

1. Maharashtra vs. Karnataka

  • The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is over the Belagavi region. 
  • Belgaum is a Marathi-speaking region in Karnataka. At the time of independence, it was part of the Bombay presidency. But it was integrated with Mysore (now Karnataka) by the State Reorganization Commission. Maharashtra wants it to be unified with Maharashtra.
  • Countermovement is run by Kannada groups who argue that Belagavi is now a Kannada-speaking district.

2. Assam vs. Mizoram

  • Issues started when Mizoram was the district of Assam and was known as Lushai Hills District. In 1933, the British government demarcated the boundary between Lushai Hills, Cachar district of Assam and neighbouring Manipur state. However, Mizos rejected this demarcation, arguing that Mizos were not consulted while demarcating this boundary.
  • Things became more complicated when Mizoram became a full-fledged state of the Indian Union. Subsequently, an agreement was signed between two states that a status quo would be maintained at the no man’s land at the boundary.

3. Andhra and Odisha

  • A territorial dispute exists between Andhra and Odisha. Andhra Pradesh demands the inclusion of certain Telugu villages in Odisha. In 2021, the issue became important as the Andhra Pradesh government announced Panchayat polls in a group of villages in Odisha.

Impact of Regionalism in India

Positive Impact

  • It can lead to inter-group solidarity in a particular region. People belonging to a region may feel the need to come together to protect their vested interests, setting aside their differences. E.g., Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council, which was formed in 1985, has served to protect an otherwise endangered tribal identity in the state.
  • Due to regionalism, the most important basis for forming identity was language. Hence, it has kept communalism and political identity formation based on religion in check.
  • Given the increasing uncertainty in the contemporary globalized world, regionalism has become a source of identity among people. 
  • Regionalism has helped in promoting democracy in India. Regional parties like Shiv Sena, DMK, Akali Dal etc., fight to capture power via democracy. 
  • It may induce competition among people of a region and propel them to do better to improve the status of their region. E.g. Competitive Federalism in India. 

Negative Impact

  • Regionalism at times transforms into secessionism.
  • Son of Soil Policy impacts the Fundamental Rights of citizens like right to life or right to carry out any profession.
  • It can cause significant damage to private and public property.  
  • Regionalism creates sub-national feelings in the people. E.g., Naga Nationalism or Punjabi Nationalism vs Indian nationalism. 
  • Development plans can be implemented unevenly to curb regionalist and secessionist demands.
  • Regionalism also becomes a hurdle in international diplomacy. E.g., Tamil Parties impact diplomacy with Srilanka & Trinamool Congress with Bangladesh (like in settlement of Teesta Water dispute).

Ways to Combat Regionalism

  • Making India truly federal in word and spirit. 
  • Doing away with regional imbalances. 
  • Not imposing single culture on the whole nation. E.g., imposing Hindi in the entire nation will face backlashes from Non-Hindi speaking states.  
  • As suggested by Sarkaria Commission, three language formulas should be strictly implemented. 
  • Encouraging ‘People to People’ contact and making people aware of other cultures using TV & Radio. 
  • Taking steps to end the prejudices of Cow Belt against North Easterners & South Indians.

Federalism to Combat Regionalism

  • Other countries with ethnic and linguistic diversities face many problems like secessionist movements as they weren’t able to accommodate regional aspirations.  
    1. Nepal was recently facing Madhesi Agitation.  
    2. Pakistan is facing Baluchi & Sindhi movements.
    3. Sri Lanka has experienced a Tamil civil war.  
    4. Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia.     
    5. Yugoslavia broke due to various sub nationalisms at play.
  • But India, despite such a massive diversity of cultures, is still united. The reason for this is federalism and devolution of power which gives a sense of meeting regional aspirations by various groups. 
  • Indian federalism provides democratic ways to meet local aspirations of people
    • Indian federalism provides democratic ways to meet the local aspirations of people. 
    • Sovereignty is constitutionally shared. States enjoy significant power. People feel that they are governed by their own people. Cooperative.
    • 73rd and 74th Amendments led to the formation of Panchayati Raj and Urban Local Bodies.
    • Regions under the 5th and 6th Schedule enjoy certain autonomy. 
    • Article 371 has special provisions helpful in addressing the concerns of some states.

Other factors why India hasn’t faced Regionalism 

  • Linguistic reorganization of states: Unlike our neighbours, India recognized early that language is the reason behind regionalism & opted for the linguistic reorganization of the states in 1956. And by 1966, all prominent language speakers have states of their own. It led to the regionalism problem getting subdued in India.
  • Unlike other countries, India has a peculiar situation where economically most backward regions are politically most powerful. E.g., UP is one of the most backward states in India, but they decide who will make the Government at Union. Hence, they can’t complain of political apathy & discrimination. 
  • Economic interdependence between different regions has necessitated migration to different cities and states, thereby reducing loyalties towards a particular region.
  • The wave of globalization: India is becoming homogenous under the wave of globalization. Globalisation has subsumed regionalism. 

Previous year UPSC questions on Regionalism

  1. Growing feeling of regionalism is an important factor in generation of demand for a separate state. Discuss.
  2. What is the basis of regionalism? Is it that unequal distribution of benefits of development on regional basis eventually promotes regionalism? Substantiate your answer.



This article deals with Secularism’ . This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Secularism?

  • Secularism is defined as the principle of separation of state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. 
  • But nature and extent of separation may take different forms depending upon the different values it intends to promote.

Three models of Secularism


US Model

  • US Model is of the view that religion is a private affair of person and state passively respects all religions. 
  • In this model, ‘ARM LENGTH DISTANCE’ is maintained between state and religion.  

French Model

  • It is also known as Laicite/Militant Secularism.
  • Due to a long battle against religious influence on laws and government, Laicite was introduced in France.  
  • It is followed in France and Quebec province of Canada.
  • Laicite secularism believes in total separation between religion and state (i.e. religious activities and symbols are banned in the public sphere).
  • This model also restricts wearing hijab and the Sikh turban in the public sphere. 
  • But, French secularism has come under criticism that rather than promoting diversity, freedom of thought and multiculturalism, it is interfering with the basic right to religious self-expression. Recently, this model came into controversy due to backlash by Islamists against Charlie Hebdo’s publication of offensive cartoons of Prophet Mohammad and denial of the French government to condemn such acts. 

Indian Model

The Indian idea and practice of secularism, although inspired by western ideas yet, is rooted in India’s unique socio-historic circumstances like religious diversity and support for all religions. 

Features of Indian secularism are as follows:-

  • The Wall of Separation between state and religion is porous, i.e. state can intervene in religion to promote progressive voices within every religion. E.g., Abolition of Untouchability (among Hindus) and Abolition of Triple Talaq (among Muslims). 
  • However, religion is prohibited from interfering in state matters, disallowing the mobilization of electoral support on religious lines. 
Indian Model of Secularism

It is sometimes argued that the concept of secularism has been imported from the west. But it is clear from the above differences that strict church and state separation is the central area of focus in the West, while in India, peaceful co-existence is the main focus.

Provisions regarding Secularism in India

Provisions regarding Secularism in India
  • Articles 25 to 28: Deals with freedom of religion to all.  
    1. Article 25: guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. 
    2. Article 26: every religious denomination has the freedom to manage its religious affairs. 
    3. Article 27: Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion. 
    4. Article 28: Freedom to attend religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions. 
  • Articles 14 (Equality before law and equal protection of law), Article 29 (Protection of distinct language, script or culture of minorities ), Article 44 (Uniform Civil Code) and 51A, by implication, prohibit the establishment of a theocratic state. 
  • Judicial pronouncements regarding secularism
    1. In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court had declared secularism as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution
    2. Rev Stanislau vs the State of MP held that forcible conversions are not included in the right to propagate religion as it may disturb public order. 
    3. In the Church of God (Full Gospel) in India vs K. K. R. Majestic Colony Welfare Association (2000)it was held that the right to religion is subject to public order, and no prayers should be performed by disturbing the peace of others. 
    4. Ismail Farooqui vs Union of India (1994)Supreme Court held that “the concept of secularism is one facet of the right to equality.”
    5. The Doctrine of Essential Practices pronounced by Supreme Court.
  • Section 123(3) of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951  prohibits political parties to ask for votes on religious lines. 

Challenges to Secularism

  • Frequent recourse to revivalist events such as Ghar Wapsi etc., breeds fear amongst the minorities.
  • Incidents of lynching, especially of Muslims, in the name of cow vigilantism. 
  • Charges of ‘Love Jihad‘ by far-right Hindutva groups in case of inter-religion marriages. BJP ruled states like UP and MP are bringing laws against so-called Love Jihad.
  • Communal Riots and Targeted Violence.
  • Religious hate speech, falsification of history and dissemination of wrong information. 
  • International events such as the rise of ISIS (Daesh), instigation by foreign agencies such as ISI etc. 

Previous year UPSC questions on Secularism

  • How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West?



This article deals with Communalism’ . This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Communalism can be defined as allegiance to one’s own ethnic/religious group rather than wider society. Although it is exclusive in outlook, a communalist considers his religion superior to other religions. 

Stages of Communalism

Communalism is manifested at three levels

Mild When people belonging to the same community believe that they have the same secular interest.
Moderate When people belonging to different communities believe that they have different secular interests.
Extreme When people believe that they not only have different interests but mutually antagonistic and hostile interests (i.e. one community can prosper only at the cost of another community).

Note: Communalism is an ideological tool often used by the upper class to mobilize people to achieve their own political goals. 

6 types of Communalism

Often there is a perception in the society that communalism is a threat to national security. But, it is not a threat to national security per se. It depends upon the type of communalism we are looking at.

According to Sociologists, there are 6 types of Communalism.


1. Assimilationist

  • When a large religious community tries to bring into its fold small communities.  
  • E.g., Hindu organizations projecting Tribals as Hindus. 

2. Welfarist

  • When a religious community makes an effort for the welfare of the members of that community.
  • E.g., Christian organizations doing welfare work for Christians.

3. Retreatist

  • When the religious community forbid their members from participating in political affairs.
  • E.g., Bahi Community.

4. Retaliatory

  • When members of the religious communities are made to believe that their interests are mutually antagonist to the interests of other religious communities.
  • E.g., the Hindu-Muslim community.

5. Separatist

  • When people demand a separate state based on religious identities within the federal framework.
  • E.g., Punjabi Suba Movement by Punjabi Sikhs. 

6. Secessionist

  • When people demand secession based on religious identities.
  • E.g., Khalistan Movement. 

The last three threaten national integration, but the first three aren’t. Hence, we cant say communalism is always a threat to national integration.

Characteristics of Communalism

  • Communalism is an ideological concept. 
  • It is a total commitment to a set of beliefs & unwillingness to accept other beliefs.
  • It mostly rests on prejudices. 
  • It closes the self and is highly emotional.
  • It causes rivalry and violence among the masses. 
  • The higher class people and elites use it as an instrument for division and exploitation.
  • It strikes at the roots of secularism and national integration.

Evolution of Communalism in India

The genesis of communalism in India can be traced back to British rule.

  • With the emergence of secular education, a new educated middle class emerged. But the aspirations of the middle class were not getting satisfied in the absence of adequate economic opportunities. Communal Politics emerged to get the largest pie for their community.
  • In India, socio-economic classes coincided with religious distinctions. E.g.,
    • Hindu Zamindars vs Muslim peasants in Bengal, Kerala etc.
    • Hindu Banias vs Muslim (Jatt) Peasants in Punjab. 
  • Divide and Rule Policy of Britishers: To counter the growing national movement.

However, the overthrow of the colonial state was only the necessary condition to fight the menace of communalism but not sufficient condition. There were other forces at play too. Even in the post-independence period, the Government failed to control communalism. After independence, communalism persisted and has been the biggest threat to the secular fabric of our nation. As a result, the following communal violence outbreaks happened in India:-

  1. Anti-Sikh riots of 1984
  2. Mass killing and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley (1989) 
  3. Riots after Babri Masjid demolition (1992) 
  4. Godhra riots of 2002
  5. Assam violence between Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims (2012)
  6. Muzzafarnagar riots (2013)
  7. Delhi riots (2020) 
Communal Riots in India

Causes of Communalism

Failing of Minorities to integrate into mainstream

  • Muslims failed to intermix in the national mainstream and insisted on sustaining a separate identity. 

Vote Bank Politics

  • Various religion base parties use communalism to consolidate their vote banks.

Communal way of history writing

  • British historians like James Mill described the ancient period as the Hindu period and the medieval period as the Muslim period.

Economic Causes

  • If a certain religious community is economically weak, it leads to the feeling of relative deprivation and leads to the rise of communalism.

Absence of Uniform Civil Code

  • In the absence of a Uniform civil code, there is a perception that all communities have divergent and contradictory interests. 

Psychological factors

  • Hindu groups consider Muslims are crusaders, fundamentalists and unpatriotic.
  • On the other hand, the Muslims believe that they are treated as inferior in India.  

Politics of Appeasement

  • Political parties try to appease communities for votes epitomized by Shah Bano Case. This promote Communalism.

Provocation of Enemy Countries

  • E.g., Pakistan fosters Communal feelings, especially in Kashmiri Muslim Youth.

Social factors

  • Issues like beef consumption, Hindi/Urdu imposition, conversion efforts by groups etc., further created a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. 

Present issues related to Communalism

Love Jihad

  • Ultra Right Hindu outfits allege that organized conspiracy is going on under which Muslim males marry Hindu females with the sole purpose to convert them into Islam.
  • Although the term ‘love jihad’ has no legal basis, states like UP, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh are planning to make a law against ‘love jihad’.

Problems in State Machinery to fight Communalism

  • National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) fights for communal violence-related causes. But its recommendations are advisory in nature.
  • Various commissions have given suggestions to solve the issue of communal violence. Prominent among them are SACHAR COMMITTEE and RANGANATH MISHRA COMMISSION.
    • Sachar committee (2010) : Recommended to set up Equal opportunity commission (EOC). 
    • Ranganath Misra Commission: Recommended reservation for minorities. 
  • There is no specific act to deal with communal violence and targeted violence. It was also held in the Sajjan Kumar vs NCT of Delhi Case (2018) regarding communal riots against Sikhs of 1984.
  • The role of police in communal riots is highly controversial. It is further aggravated by the large scale concentration of the dominant caste in the police.  

Impact of Communalism

1. On Politics

  • Organization of political parties on a communal basis.
  • Voting in elections also happens on a communal basis.
  • Large scale riots near elections to polarise voters.

2. On Society

  • It has created a wide rift among the people.
  • Hampers unity of the nation and creates various sub-national feelings.
  • Curbing of Progressive voices. E.g. Voices for the abolition of Triple Talaq is being opposed.  

3. On Economy

  • The vandalization of public property like burning of buses, trains etc.
  • Badly impacts the investor’s confidence.

Ways to eradicate Communalism

  1. Building solidarity and assimilation of various religious groups by fostering a secular culture, e.g. celebrating each other’s religious festivals.
  2. Swift and prompt response to radicalization by a militant group on social media through police action and psychological counselling. 
  3. Ensuring that political parties refrain from using religion in order to h votes through strict vigilance by institutional mechanisms such as the Election Commission. 
  4. The Parliament should frame stern laws against communal violence.
  5. CBI or a special investigative body should investigate communal riots within a stipulated time frame. Further, special courts should hear such cases for quick delivery of justice to victims.
  6. A pluralistic settlement where members of different communities live should be encouraged by removing existing barriers as religious segregation strengthens communal identities and reinforces negative stereotypes of other religious groups.
  7. Government should not ban minority practices in order to appease the majority group. E.g. the state should not show a preference for vegetarianism. 
  8. Uniform Civil Code should be formulated and implemented with the consensus of all religious communities so that there is uniformity in personal laws.
  9. Equal Opportunities Commission should be formed. 
  10. The state should show zero Tolerance toward riots.  
  11. Promote the Indian ideology of Vasudeva Kutumbakam, i.e. the whole world is a family.

Previous year UPSC questions on Communalism

  • Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India.

Safety of Women at Workplace

Safety of Women at Workplace

This article deals with topic titled ‘Safety of Women at Workplace.’


Note – This article is part of our series on Society for UPSC examination. For more articles, click here.


According to NSSO Data, Women’s workforce participation has decreased to 21%  ( one of the lowest in the world ) .



Initiatives taken so far

      • Vishakha Guidelines by  Supreme Court in 1997


      • Protection of Woman from Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act  based on  Vishaka Judgement


    • She Box Portal to enable woman employees  to file harassment complaints at workplace






Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2012

      • It  defines sexual  harassment  as laid down by SC in Vishaka  case.


      • It puts the legal responsibility on the employer to provide a safe & conducive environment for the woman  worker.


      • Formation of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) or, in case of unorganised sector , formation of 5 member Local Complaint Committee under the supervision of District Collector.


      • Those who  donot  comply  with the Act’s provisions will be fined up to Rs 50,000.


      • 2015 study : 36% of Indian companies have not constituted ICC


      • Non inclusion of the armed forces and all paramilitary forces within its purview.


      • If a complaint is found to be “malicious” , she is liable for punishment. This will discourage victims


      • Limited time period of 90 days to file complaint


      • Provide security to only women and not men


      • Punishment   for misconduct is as per the service rules of the employer ( if it exists), else as per the rules of the act. The Act is, however, silent on the situation where employers’ service rule contains less stringent punishment provisions.






Current Cases

Oct 2018 #MeToo Campaign : Large number of women came forward to share their old experience of harassment at workplace by men in power