Foreign Relations of India:- India has friendly relations with several countries in the developing world. Countries considered India’s closest include the Russian Federation, Israel, Afghanistan, France, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the United States. Russia is the largest supplier of military equipment to India, followed by Israel and France.
- The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also known as the Foreign Ministry, is the government agency responsible for the conduct of foreign relations of the country.
- MEA has a States Division, established in 2014, to foster closer links between Indian missions and posts abroad and states/union territories.
- MEA upscaled its Global Cyber Issues cell to create the new Cyber Diplomacy (CD) Division which has been entrusted with the responsibility of projection and safeguarding of Indian interests on the subject in international fora.
- In 2020, India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ continued to be accorded the highest priority, with a focus on creating mutually beneficial, people-oriented, regional frameworks for stability and prosperity. With strategic autonomy at its core, India continued to step up its engagement with all the major powers of the world, taking independent decisions in the national interest.
- Bilateral trade crossed US$ 1 billion as a result of initiatives including ‘Air Freight Corridor.’
- The year witnessed several key developments in India Afghanistan ties, including, the delivery of wheat and pulses to Afghanistan from India, expansion of air freight corridor between the two countries, and commencement of work for several India-assisted socio-economic developmental projects in Afghanistan identified under the New Development Partnership announced in 2017.
- India’s proposal to establish a “Corridor” to facilitate smooth and easy access for Indian pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, currently located on the Pakistani side of the International Border, was agreed to by Pakistan.
- In solidarity with Bangladesh’s efforts to provide succor to those displaced from North Rakhine State in Myanmar, India launched Operation Insaniyat & supplied 3 tranches of humanitarian aid.
- During Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India (West Bengal) it was decided to open a Bangladesh Bhavan at Shantiniketan.
- India is assisting Myanmar to create an environment conducive to the return of displaced persons through the Rakhine State Development Programme.
- The two countries have signed a Land Boundary Crossing Agreement whereby designated boundary points were opened up to the normal movement of visa-holding travellers, including from third countries.
- Bhutan: Both countries jointly celebrated in 2018 the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations.
- Nepal: In Nepal, the Arun III hydroelectric project and the Nepal India Ramayana Circuit were launched in May during the Prime Minister’s state visit. India is the largest trade partner of Nepal and one of the largest investors.
- China: The closer developmental partnership between India and China reached a new milestone in 2018 with the first Informal Summit between Indian Prime Minister and Sino President held in 2018.
- Maldives: The 14th edition of the Trilateral Joint Naval Exercise, “Dosti-14” between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives was held in the Maldives.
- Mauritius: External Affairs Minister led a delegation to the 11th World Hindi Conference held in Mauritius in 2018.
- Seychelles: The visit of President of India to Seychelles in 2018 saw signing of 6 important agreements pertaining to various sectors of cooperation and gifting of US$ 30 million worth Dornier aircraft to Seychelles for enhancing EEZ Surveillance.
South East Asia And East Asia
- India launched Operation ‘Samudra Maitri’ for earthquake and tsunami assistance to Indonesia.
- India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership continued making strides in 2018.
- India-Republic of Korea (ROK) bilateral relationship, elevated to the level of Special Strategic Partnership gathered further momentum.
- Following the Prime Minister’s historic visit to Mongolia in 2015, bilateral relations were upgraded to Strategic Partnership.
Gulf And West Asia
- The region is one of our largest trading partners with a trade of US$ 123 billion in 2017-18, energy supplies with over 50 per cent of crude oil and 70 per cent of LNG requirements.
- A huge diaspora of over 9 million contributes to the goodwill between the countries besides contributing to annual remittances of over US$ 38 billion (in 2017).
- In December, the India Ports Global Limited company assumed responsibilities for operations in Iran’s Chabahar port, which will provide sea land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- The Trilateral Agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran for establishment of International Trade and Transit Corridor through Chabahar came into effect in 2018.
West Asia and North Africa (WANA)
- This region is a primary source of rock phosphates and its derivatives, and potash—the key raw materials for the production of various fertilizers.
- More than 80 per cent of requirements of rock phosphates are sourced from the countries in this region.
East & South Africa
- The year saw first ever visits by an Indian President to Swaziland (Eswatini) and Equatorial Guinea in 2018 and the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda.
- President also visited Zambia (2018) and Prime Minister visited Uganda after a gap of 21 years and South Africa.
- The region is rich in all known minerals. India sources about 18 per cent of its crude oil requirements from this region (Nigeria alone accounts for 11-12 per cent). India imports over US$ 2 billion worth of gold from Ghana per year.
- India also sources a significant amount of raw cashew nuts from countries in the region including Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
- A Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) or FC-G5S has been established by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to deal with the threat of terrorism.
- India has been contributing troops including military observers and police personnel for MONUSCO (UN Stabilization Mission in the Domestic Republic Of Congo).
Europe And Eurasia
- Central Europe: PM Modi participated in the first ever India- Nordic summit at Stockholm and interacted with the leaders of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.
- Western Europe: India and France marked twenty years of their Strategic Partnership which was established in 1998.
- European Union: A multi-tiered institutional architecture of cooperation exists between India and the EU with summit level meetings since 2000. The relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2004.
- Russia: The ‘Special and Privileged’ Strategic relationship with Russia, which constitutes an important dimension of India’s foreign policy, attained a new high with the first landmark Informal Summit between Russian President and Indian Prime Minister in 2018.
- The first-ever Trilateral Summit involving leaders of India, the U.S. and Japan took place in Buenos Aires.
- India and the US held their first 2+2 dialogue between foreign and defence ministers, consolidating the global strategic partnership.
- India’s elevation as a Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-I partner country for the purpose of U.S. trade in dual-use items reflected benefits to India as a major defence partner of the U.S.
United Nation And International Organization
- India continued to be the largest cumulative contributor of UN Peacekeeping troops, having provided more than 200,000 troops and police personnel since 1950s.
- As on 31 October 2018, India is the fourth largest Troop Contributing Country (TCC) with 6,608 personnel deployed in 9 peacekeeping missions.
Election to international bodies
- India was also elected to following UN Bodies:
- UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for the term 2019-2021.
- Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) for the term 2019- 21;
- Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS for the term 2019-2021;
- UN-Women (Executive Board of UN-WOMEN) for the term 2019-2021;
- CPD (Commission on Population and Development) from 2018 to 2021; and
- CSD (Commission for Social Development) from 2018 to 2021.
- India was re-elected as a member of the International Telecommunications Union Council (ITU) for 2019-2022 term.
- India was re-elected to the Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations (CNGO) for the term 2019-2022.
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
- India played a pioneering role on climate change and global warming issues with the holding of the First General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance in 2018.
- The General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was inaugurated in Delhi, along with the 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Global Re-invest Meet.
- The ISA is the first UN-affiliated inter-governmental organization to be headquartered in India.
- The G20 Summit also saw the first ever Japan-America-India (JAI) trilateral meeting.
- India announced that it would host the G20 Summit in 2022, the 75th year of India’s Independence.
Consular, Passport And Visa Services
- As on December 2018, over 7.96 crore citizens held valid passports. India today is placed third behind China and the United States in terms of global passport issuance.
- The Ministry, in association with the Department of Posts, has taken an innovative initiative to open Passport Seva Kendras at the Head Post Offices (HPO)/ Post Offices in the country to be known as ‘Post Office Passport Seva Kendra’ (POPSK).
- The mPassport Seva Mobile App with additional facilities to apply, pay and schedule appointments for passport services was launched in 2018.
Overseas Indian Affairs
- As part of government’s commitment to strengthen engagement with diaspora, among the major initiatives hosted during 2018-2019 were Videsh Sampark outreach programme, Know India Programme, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Conferences, Scholarship programme for diaspora children, and Awareness Campaign on Safe and Legal Migration.
- The Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebrations at Varanasi in 2019 further strengthened the bonds between the Diaspora and their homeland.
- Ancient History And Art & Culture Questions – UPSC Prelims
- Plateau of Chhotanagpur (छोटा नागपुर का पठार)
- Ministry of Law and Justice (India)
- Foreign Relations of India
- Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare