India’s national power and global influence is on the rise. The country seeks to pursue its national interest in its immediate and extended neighbourhood and beyond.
In this regard, it is important to look at certain developments around the world holistically.
1. Indian Foreign Policy this week
Visit of the Bhutan Foreign Minister to India
Dr Tandi Dorji, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan will be visiting India as part of a bilateral visit from 17th-23rd November.
He will be holding discussions with his counterpart Dr S Jaishankar and will review the entire gamut of the friendly relations between the two nations. Economic cooperation, development assistance and hydro power cooperation are the three elements of this unique and time-tested relationship.
The visiting dignitary will also be paying a visit to Gaya and Rajgir in the state of Bihar which are popularly known Buddhist heritage sites. He will then be proceeding to Kolkata in West Bengal before emplaning to Bhutan.
Winter Session of the Parliament
As the winter session of the parliament begins, one of the critical bills that will be re-introduced in the house is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. This bill seeks to provide citizenship to members of six communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The six communities are: Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis. Under the existing law, a foreign national who is a legal immigrant in India, can apply for citizenship if they have stayed for a period of not less than 11 years. The amendment to the law seeks to re define the term ‘illegal immigrant’ and reduce the time period of stay to six years.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs
In this coming session of the Parliament, the opposition will also raise the issue of the situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and question the government regarding the recent spate of killings in the valley by Pakistan state sponsored terrorists.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs will also be considering the ‘Registration of marriage of Non resident Indian Bill, 2019 that has been referred to it. The bill seeks to make registration of NRI marriages compulsory. This will protect Indian citizens, especially women and children who tend to suffer abuse and other atrocities.
2. Indian Neighbourhood watch
No end to the Afghan Presidential election stale mate
There is no end to the stalemate caused due to alleged irregularities in the Afghanistan Presidential elections. Even as the Election Commission has begun a recount of the votes, the opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah has boycotted it questioning the credibility of the commission and its methodologies. He has asked for tallying the polled votes to the bio metrics that have been collected before casting of the votes.
India is closely watching the situation.
Sri Lankan Presidential Elections
Lt. Colonel Gotabaya Rajapaksa has won the Presidential elections conducted on 16th November 2019. He was a candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Perumana party. He has earlier served as the Defence Secretary under his brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is credited with crushing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a terrorist group.
PM Narendra Modi has conveyed his wishes to him and hopes to work together to bring the two nations together.
It needs to be seen what foreign policy stand will the new President take vis a vis India and China. His brother was considered to be close to the Chinese. India will have to deftly handle this situation.
News from the ‘Land of pure’
There is intense lobbying currently going on for the post of Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff committee in the Pakistan Army. Lt General Zubair Hayat is set to retire later this month.
This post is largely ceremonial and hasn’t met for a long time now. General Qamar Bajwa will seek to plant a trusted confidante here.
In other news, the sit in protests in Islamabad is still continuing as Maulana Fazlur Rahman refuses to give up and is demanding the resignation of the ‘selected PM’, Imran Khan Niazi. Analysts have pointed out that the captain is unable to face the bouncers and the selectors (read as Pakistan Army) are beginning to lose patience.
Protests against China in Nepal
The people of Nepal have expressed their outrage and have condemned imperialistic activities of a certain ‘middle kingdom’ which seeks to suppress the development of the Himalayan nation by forcing economically unviable projects and indulging in debt trap diplomacy.
3. Protests around the world
The people of Iran are out on the streets protesting against a planned hike in the price of petrol and associated products. The government has threatened to send the armed forces to control the situation. Observers believe that the protests in Sudan, Lebanon and neighbouring Iraq have influenced these protests. Iran has been severely affected by the US led sanctions and its economy is struggling to generate jobs and ensure growth.
Yemen peace deal
The Houthi rebels and the government in exile have agreed on a ceasefire and are negotiating a peace deal. This will have to be closely monitored.
China sends troops to Hong Kong, even as it questions Indian actions in Jammu And Kashmir
China has sent troops from the main land into the Hong Kong (SAR) territory. The troops came out of their barracks for the first time and cleared the thrash left behind by the protestors. This is being seen as a threatening gesture by the international community and questions are being raised as to whether China will be sending troops to crush ‘democratic’ protests.
4. Elections around the world
– Sidama Referendum in Ethiopia- On 20th November, the people of this region will vote in a referendum to decide on the creation of an autonomous region within Ethiopia.
– Gibraltar local parliamentary elections (November 17th)
– Belarus Parliamentary elections (November 17th)
– Montserratian general elections (November 18th)
– Marshall Islands general elections (November 18th)