Current Affairs 13 April 2019 Digest 1: India, Netherlands agree to strengthen ties; US lawmakers introduce new legislation to strengthen US-India partnership
Though official relations between the two nations were established in 1947, Indo-Dutch contacts go back to more than 400 years.
Story 1- India, Netherlands agree to strengthen ties
India and the Netherlands on April 11, 2019 discussed ways to strengthen bilateral, political and economic ties, including boosting cooperation at the United Nations and other international forum.
This was discussed during the foreign office consultations held in New Delhi, in which the Indian side was led by A Gitesh Sarma, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs and the Dutch delegation by Johanna (Yoka) Brandt, Secretary General, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• India and the Netherlands share a multi-faceted relationship. The two nations used the dialogue exchange as an opportunity to review the entire extent of bilateral relations, including political, economic, commercial, scientific and cultural cooperation.
• They exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues, including cooperation at the United Nations and other international forum.
• India welcomed the participation of the Netherlands as the partner country for the 25th edition of the CII-DST Tech Summit scheduled to be held in New Delhi in October 2019.
• The two nations also underlined the importance of sustaining exchanges at all levels, including the high level.
• Though official relations between the two nations were established in 1947, Indo-Dutch contacts go back to more than 400 years.
• The main plank of the bilateral ties has been the strong economic and commercial relations. The two countries also share common ideals of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law.
• Since the early 1980s, the Dutch Government has identified India as an important economic partner. The bilateral relations underwent further intensification after India’s economic liberalisation in the early 1990s.
• In 2006, former Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende's Government declared India, along with China and Russia, as priority countries in Dutch foreign policy. The successful visit of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to India in June 2015 further set the stage to take the ties between the two nations to the next level.
• In 2017, PM Modi visited Netherlands, during the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between India and the nation.
• In terms of trade and investment, India has strong economic interests in the Netherlands, which, in the financial year 2016-17, was the fifth largest investor of FDI into India and the 28th largest trading partner globally.
• The Netherlands is home to a number of multinational and other companies, many of which have their production sites and business operations in India.
• Coming to the diaspora, the Netherlands has the second largest population of people of Indian origin in Europe, next only to the UK.
Story 2- US lawmakers introduce new legislation to strengthen US-India strategic partnership
Several US lawmakers have reintroduced an important legislation in the House of Representatives that seeks to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship. If enacted, the new bill would ensure that the US State Department treats India as a NATO ally for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act.
The law would send a powerful signal that defence sales to India should be prioritised according to US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which had worked on this important legislation.
• The bill H R 2123 was introduced this week by Congressman Joe Wilson, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
• The lawmaker supported his proposal by saying that India is the world's largest democracy, a pillar of stability in the region and has shown strong commitments to export control policies.
• This adjustment to US law will further allow the US-India partnership to flourish in line with the US’s security commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.
• The original co-sponsors of the legislation include Congressman Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian-American in Congress and the House India Caucus Co-Chairs, Congressmen George Holding, Brad Sherman and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Ted Yoho.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2017 included special language recognising the unique US-India defence relationship that designated India as a "Major Defence Partner" of the United States.
The language seeks unique consideration for trade and technology sharing with India and increased attention and support to advance this relationship in the areas of defence trade and technology sharing.
The legislation bolsters national security and helps ensure full alignment between the Department of Defence and the Department of State.
To fulfil the spirit and intent of the NDAA 2017, the US-India Enhanced Cooperation Act would amend the Arms Export Control Act to put India on par with NATO allies and Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
As per US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Chairman John Chambers, the legislation would be a major breakthrough for the US-India defense relationship.