What is the Chagos Islands dispute about?

Headline : What is the Chagos Islands dispute about?

Details :

The News:

  • Mauritius has called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier” after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands.
  • Chagos is a small archipelago (group of islands) in the Indian Ocean.

About: Chagos Islands

  • The Chagos Islands are a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • This chain of islands is the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a long submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean.


Background of the Dispute

  • Mauritius was a British colony Mauritius was a British colony from 1810 and gained its independence in 1968.
  • In 1965, Mauritius was forced to give up the Chagos Archipelago in exchange for independence.
  • Britain purchased it and created the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and since then, Chagos islands remained a British overseas territory.
  • In 1971, UK allowed the United States to build a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands and evicted the entire population from the islands.
  • Since independence of Mauritius, the sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between the UK and Mauritius.
  • In 2017, the UN General Assembly asked the ICJ to offer its opinion on the sovereignty claim of the Chagos Islands.
  • In February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its Advisory Opinion, ruled that the United Kingdom claim over the island as illegal and should end its control. It asked the ordered UK to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius and ruled that continued British occupation of the island is illegal.

ICJ decision however is non-binding:

  • The majority decision by the international court of justice in The Hague is non-binding and only advisory in nature.
  • However it is seen as significant as the unambiguous clarity of the judges pronouncement is a humiliating blow to Britain’s prestige on the world stage.

UNGA voted for UK to give up Chagos:

  • In May 2019, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Chagos Islands being returned – with 116 states backing the move and only six against.
  • The UN said that the decolonisation of Mauritius by Britain was not conducted “in a manner consistent with the right to self-determination” and that therefore the continued administration of the territory “constitutes a wrongful act”.


News Summary:                 

  • The UN had given the UK six months to give up control of the Chagos Islands – but that period has now passed.
  • The UK continues to insist that it does not recognise Mauritius’ claim to sovereignty, and insists it has every right to hold onto the islands – one of which, Diego Garcia, is home to a US military airbase.
  • As the six-month period came to a close at the end of November, the Mauritian Prime Minister said the UK was now an “illegal colonial occupier”.


Way ahead:

  • The deadline is not binding, so no sanctions or immediate punishment will follow – but that could change.
  • However, UN maps could start reflecting the legal fact that the UN sees this islands as belonging to Mauritius.
  • Also, Britain is going to find itself under pressure at institutions like the ICJ that it has traditionally seen as very important.
Section : International Relation

International Relation: Old new friends Editorial 24th Aug’19 IndianExpress : India and France and equation with P-5

Headline : Old new friends Editorial 24th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

For long, India did not reciprocate France’s efforts for greater relationship:

  • For nearly four decades, from 1980s, successive French presidents made repeated efforts to elevate the engagement with India to a higher level.
  • While France was eager for greater relationship with India, India was distracted and preoccupied with other major powers — US, Russia and China — and burdened by its inherited bias towards Britain.
  • As a result, Delhi could hardly appreciate the pivotal value of France, and more broadly that of Europe, in transforming India’s international position.

Telegram: https://t.me/ShubhraRanjanPSIR

This changed over the recent years:

  • The one-sided interest has begun to change as Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid greater strategic attention to France and Europe in the first term.
  • Many pending issues relating to Europe were sorted out during 2014-19.
  • However, it was the boosting of ties with France that stood out as an important feature of Modi’s foreign policy in the first term.
  • The PM’s summit with French President in August 2019, and participation in the G-7 outreach in Paris marks the strengthening of the bilateral strategic partnership that was unveiled in 1998.

Critical time for the two countries due to cracks in international order:

  • The closer ties between France and India driven by their leaders (Macron and Modi) is coming at a critical time for the two countries.
  • The relative harmony between the major powers seen since the Cold War is now coming to an end.
  • The growing tensions between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other are having international impact.
  • Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric are leading to increasing differences in the Western countries.

India facing complications in relationships with world powers:

  • With China:
    • The rapid rise of China — and the expanding gap in the national power in its favour — have altered the balance of power in India’s neighbourhood.
  • With Russia:
    • During the Cold War, India had turned to the Soviet Union to ensure a stable regional balance.
    • In the last few years, Russia has been drawing steadily closer to China, for its own strategic reasons unrelated to India. 
    • Russia’s broader and deeper economic and political relationship with China means India will find it harder to rely on Russia to balance China.
  • With the US in the Trump era:
    • After the turbulent 1990s (over nonproliferation and Kashmir), India and US settled into a period of stable and expanding partnership between 2001 and 2017 (under the presidencies of George Bush and Obama).
    • The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House in early 2017 has begun to produce complications for India on a range of issues — from bilateral trade to regional and global affairs.
    • While Trump is not trying to target India in particular, Delhi has been affected by sweeping changes in the foreign, economic and national security policies unleashed by Trump.
      • He has turned hostile to the WTO and walked away from many multilateral arrangements.
      • He has been harsh on long-standing US allies for being a burden on the American exchequer.
      • As he withdraws from some of the conflict zones, Trump insists that America’s allies and friends do more for their own security. His recent call on India to join the fight against Islamic State in Afghanistan is part of that belief system.

Other major nations also concerned by US, China and Russia:

  • Trump’s presidency has unnerved most of America’s partners in Europe and Asia.
  • For many nations, including India and France, coping with the muscular assertiveness of China, the resurgence of Russia and the retrenchment of America become the central challenge of their foreign and security policies.

India and France can help build new coalitions for an uncertain era:

  • In the current international context, India and France recognise the urgency of constructing coalitions that can provide a measure of stability in an increasingly unstable world.
  • France (which had sought strategic autonomy within the framework of its alliance with the US) and India (which has valued independent foreign policy) are natural partners in building the new coalitions for an uncertain era.
  • India and France see that strengthening bilateral cooperation and building coalitions with like-minded countries is critical for the protection of their long term interests. 

Five-fold agenda for India and France

  • The new imperatives driving India and France have manifested themselves in a five-fold agenda for the leaders of the two countries.
  • Enhancing bilateral cooperation in strategic sectors including AI:
    • France has always been an important partner in the development of advanced technologies.
    • This is set to advance further with the consolidation of civil nuclear cooperation and enhancing space cooperation.
    • The recent summit saw the placing of artificial intelligence and the unfolding digital revolution at the top of the bilateral agenda.
  • Buyer-seller relationship to Make in India in defence:
    • The two nations must show a new commitment to go beyond the buyer-seller relationship in the field of weapons procurement.
    • When India comes up with clear policies for making arms in India, the synergies between India’s large defence market and the French strengths in armament production would come into full play.
  • Increased political cooperation:
    • Political cooperation between India and France is relatively new, beginning with French support for India in limiting international sanctions on Delhi after its 1998 nuclear tests.
    • Today, France has emerged as India’s most reliable partner on issues relating to terrorism and Kashmir.
  • Regional partnership in the Indo-Pacific:
    • The relationship between India and France has gone beyond the bilateral to focus on the regional. 
    • India and France have have agreed to intensify maritime and naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean and more broadly the Indo-Pacific.
    • There is a sweeping and ambitious ocean agenda awaiting the two countries — from maritime governance to oceanographic research and from interoperability between their armed forces to capacity building in the littoral.
  • Global agenda-setting together:
    • It is the prospect of global agenda-setting that is beginning to make the India-France strategic partnership very exciting.
    • After their joint efforts to limit climate change and develop the Solar Alliance (ISA), India and France have turned to more ambitious ideas.
    • The road map on cybersecurity and digital technology issued during Modi-Macron summit in 2019 provides the framework for long-term cooperation on a set of issues, whose weight is growing by the day.

Way ahead – deeper engagement with Europe on global issues:

  • France also opens the pathway for deeper engagement with Europe on global issues.
  • Since independence, India has experimented with different institutions — including the NAM and BRICS — to shape global norms.
  • The new partnerships with France, Germany and other like-minded countries like Japan could turn out to be far more consequential for India’s influence on the global stage.


GS Paper II: International Relations

Everything about About Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

Headline : US ends Cold War nuke treaty with aim of countering China

Details :

In News:
  • The USA has withdrawn from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed in 1987.
About INF Treaty
  • The missile crisis of 1970s and 80s represented the high-point of cold war, with both USA (and its NATO allies) on one side and USSR on the other, building up their nuclear arsenal.
  • In this backdrop, the landmark  Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 aimed to arrest the global arms race of the time.
  • The INF treaty put an obligation on the parties (USA, NATO allies and Russia) to eliminate and permanently abjure all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
    • The INF treaty does not cover missiles launched from air or water.
  • As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed nearly 2,700 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of 1991.
Background to US withdrawal:
  • Russian missile development:
    • The United States has since 2014 been alleging that Russia was in violation of its INF Treaty obligations.
    • It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the US and its allies, particularly in Europe.
  • Chinese missile development:
    • The US officials said that China also was making similar noncompliant weapons, leaving the US alone in complying with the aging arms control pact.
    • Russia was also concerned about the treaty as it prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding.
News Summary:
  • With worries over Russian and Chinese missiles, the US suspended its own obligations under the INF Treaty in early 2019 and formally announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty.
  • Russia also announced that Russia will be officially suspending its treaty obligations as well.
  • With the expiry of 6 months since US announced its intention to withdraw, the US has now formally withdrawn from the INF Treaty.
Way ahead
US to develop intermediate range missiles:
  • After exiting the treaty, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned.
  • The US plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under the INF.
  • However, some experts say that the US is now years away from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the INF agreement.
New START treaty under threat:
  • Arms control advocates worry that America’s exit from the INF treaty will lead the two nations (US and Russia) to also scrap the larger New START treaty, which expires in early 2021.
  • Trump hasn’t committed to extending or replacing New START, which beginning in 2018 imposed limits on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.
Calls for inclusion of China in arms control agreements:
  • The US administration claims that with China’s growing arsenal of nuclear warheads, Beijing can no longer be excluded from nuclear arms control agreements.
  • Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland.
  • US President Trump has expressed a desire to negotiate a trilateral arms control deal signed by the US, Russia and China.
About: START Treaties
  • START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the US and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet, in short) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
  • The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and bombers.
  • It had a duration of 15 years. Reductions mandated by the treaty were to be completed no later than 7 years after its entry into force, and parties were then obligated to maintain those limits during the next 8 years.
  • START includes an intrusive verification regime consisting of a detailed data exchange, extensive notifications, 12 types of on-site inspection, and continuous monitoring activities designed to help verify that signatories are complying with their treaty obligations.
  • It was signed in 1991, and entered into force in 1994 (delay in enforcement was due to break up of the Soviet Union).
  • Significance:
    • Start-I played an indispensable role in ensuring the predictability and stability of the strategic balance and serving as a framework for even deeper reductions.
    • By the time of the treaty’s expiration, the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals were significantly below those stipulated in the treaty.
  • Issues:
    • START I proved to be excessively complicated, cumbersome and expensive to continue, which eventually led the United States and Russia to replace it with a new treaty in 2010.
  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was signed in 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011.
  • The treaty capped deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs at 1,550 while the deployed missiles and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions were limited to 700.
  • Both Russia and the United States announced that they met New START limitations by 2018, meeting the due date set by the treaty.
  • New START does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provide for continuous information on their locations and on-site inspections to confirm that they are not added to the deployed force.
  • Non-deployed missiles must be located at specified facilities away from deployment sites and labeled with “unique identifiers” to reduce concerns about hidden missile stocks.
  • New START’s verification regime includes relevant parts of START I as well as new provisions to cover items not previously monitored.
  • The treaty’s duration is ten years from entry into force (i.e till 2021) unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement and can be extended for an additional five years.
Section : International Relation

Border management is a complex task due to difficult terrain and long and porous borders with some countries. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for effective management of India-Bangladesh border. (15 marks)

Border management is a complex task due to difficult terrain and long and porous borders with some countries. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for effective management of India-Bangladesh border. (15 marks)


  • Introduce with the India-Bangladesh border
  • Enumerate various issues along the border
  • List steps taken by Government to address them – make sure to highlight the recent CIBMS and BOLD-QIT
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The India-Bangladesh border is India’s longest international border measuring 4,096.7 km passing through West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The entire border consists of varied geographical features like plains, hills, riverine stretches, and forests with hardly any natural obstacles.

Various issues associated with India-Bangladesh border:

  • Illegal migration of people from Bangladesh into India, especially in Assam, West Bengal and Tripura is a perennial problem. There are around two crore illegal migrants staying in India.
  • The porous nature of the border have also made it easy for Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) to cross over into Bangladesh, where they have set up safe houses and training camps.
  • Organized cross-border criminal activities including trafficking of arms, humans and narcotics, counterfeiting Indian currency etc. are also quite rampant.
  • Smuggling: The border also faces the unique problem of smuggling of cattle, readymade garments and food grains.

The Indian Government has taken following measures to address these issues:

  • Security Measures:
    • BSF: Border Security Force is responsible for effective domination and round the clock surveillance of International Border with Bangladesh.
    • CIBMS: The Ministry of Home Affairs is in the process of deploying a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) through integration of radars, sensors, cameras, communication networks and command and control solutions. As part of it, BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) has been operationalized at the reverine border at Dhubri, Assam between India and Bangladesh.
    • Others: Up-gradation of intelligence network, improved border infrastructure through fencing, floodlighting, patrol roads etc.
  • Diplomatic measures: A three-tier bilateral institutional mechanism was set up between India and Bangladesh in 1994 to resolve security and border management issues. In July, 2011, a Co-ordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) was signed between the two countries for proper management of International border.
  • Developmental measures: Various developmental works in the border areas have been undertaken by the MHA under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) as part of a comprehensive approach to the border management.

India is taking security, diplomatic and developmental measures to manage this difficult border. Further, effective border management requires the involvement and cooperation of the local people as well as sustainable cooperation mechanisms with Bangladesh.

Subjects : Security Issues

In Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan is fighting a hybrid war, and Indian response should also be in the hybrid domain”. Discuss.


Introduce with Hybrid conflict

Talk about how Pakistan indulges in regular and hybrid wars against India and India’s response

Discuss why India needs to engage in hybrid war and what it involves

Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :

Hybrid war is one fought through a combination of conventional, irregular (efforts to win legitimacy and influence over the populations), and asymmetric (for example, terrorism, insurgency, guerrilla warfare etc.) means. It can include the combination of special operations and conventional military forces, intelligence agents, political provocateurs, media representatives, economic intimidation, cyber-attacks, and proxies and surrogates, terrorist, and criminal elements.

Pakistan’s hybrid war against India:

For the last 70 years, India’s response to Pakistan’s efforts at direct war have been professional and effective (1947, 1965 etc).

As a result, Pakistan has indulged in a hybrid conflict with India which extends to multiple domains, including promotion of radical ideology, creation of alienation among people, intimidation, and importantly, maintaining financial conduits for the unimpeded flow of money into the conflict system. Their cause is being furthered by the separatists in India.

Need for India to engage in Hybrid war:

In this conflict, India’s approach has been defensive, reactive and tentative. Fighting the adversary in a hybrid conflict, like the one in Jammu & Kashmir, through the military route has been ineffective.

There is an increasing body of opinion in India that the response to Pakistan’s hybrid war in Kashmir should be through hybrid warfare.


There is a need of for the national strategy to incorporate all elements of national power i.e. intellectual, economic, intelligence, cyber capabilities, scientific, business, trade and diplomatic.

Hybrid warfare has a strong espionage element and India needs an aggressive intelligence posture with an expertise and specialists from diverse fields like technology, economy, finance, culture, arts and politics.

Indian security community needs to indulge in information warfare and adopt proactive ways of bringing information operations to the fore while dealing with hybrid conflict.

Agencies, led by NIA, have recently been successful in targeting the financial support to radicalism and terrorism in Kashmir.

India also needs to develop the ability to conduct covert strikes in Pakistan to take out high value terrorist targets.

Hybrid warfare is not a new strategy. Since times immemorial, such tactics have been the essential instrument of the statecraft. India also has the capabilities, but not the experience. To deal with an enemy like Pakistan, hybrid war is the need of the hour. To this end, fault-lines in Pakistan need to be identified and effectively utilised for our geo-political ends.

Everything about US shutdown

Onestop IAS:

What is a government shutdown?

A US government shutdown happens if lawmakers in Congress do not pass enough funding to run government operations and agencies. The federal government shuts down when spending bill lapse and Congress and the President are unable to break the deadlock.The government workforce is placed on an unpaid leave of absence, known as a furlough and told not to work.More than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed during the last US government shutdown which lasted more than two weeks in 2013.

Are they common?

The government has shutdown 18 times since 1976 and the last time it was in 2013.

Who works and who doesn’t?

In 2013, about 40% of federal workforce was furloughed.This excluded postal workers and military personnel on active duty.


No new patients in clinical research admitted and disease hotlines are shut down.There is no new hiring of federal law enforcement, including border patrol agents.National Park Service, National museum and monuments are shut down.Visa and Passport services are suspended.

Why don’t shutdown happen elsewhere?

In parliamentary systems, a government that can’t pay the bills doesn’t last long.In 2012, for example, the Dutch government couldn’t agree a budget.The prime minister resigned, elections were held, and a new government formed.

China Myanmar Economic Corridor

  • China and Myanmar have moved a step closer on negotiating the China-Myanmar economic corridor.
  • This initiative is being given a high priority on account of the stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) connectivity proposal.
  • The negotiations for the formation of the BCIM corridor have virtually been stalled after Beijing went ahead with its plans to establish the China-Pakistan economic corridor.

Y- shaped corridor

  • China-Myanmar economic corridor will be a Y- shaped corridor.
  • It will start from China’s Yunnan province and head towards Mandalay in Myanmar.
  • From Mandalay, it will extend towards Yangon New City in the East and Kyaukphyu special economic zone (in the Rakhine province) in the West.

Importance of the corridor

The corridor is important for both China and Myanmar in the following ways:

  1. It will enhance the connectivity between the two countries.
  2. It will connect Beijing with the Indian Ocean.
  3. It will accelerate the transfer of China’s industries to Myanmar (Due to the rising cost of labour, overcapacity and industrial development, China has begun to transfer some of its industries abroad).
  4. It will turn Myanmar into an important destination for China and other East Asian countries.
  5. It will create more jobs and bolster development.

Myanmar’s approach

  • Despite a flurry of diplomatic interaction between China and Myanmar in the aftermath of the Rohingya crisis, the Myanmar side is shedding a zero-sum approach and is also actively engaging with India.
  • Myanmar is seeking Indian investments in the central Myanmar region.
  • Myanmar has backed India’s Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First approach that promoted India’s relationship with the ASEAN countries including Myanmar.
  • Recently, India-Myanmar Bilateral Military Exercise (IMBAX-2017) was concluded at the Joint Training Node in Umroi, Meghalaya.