International Current Affairs 2017

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Prime Minister to attend UN Vesak Day Celebrations in Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Modi will travel to Sri Lanka to attend the Buddhist festival ‘Vesak Day’ (Buddha Jayanti) that commemorates birth, enlighten and death of Buddha. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka since becoming the Prime Minister. ‘International Day of Vesak’ celebrations will be held in Colombo from May 12 to 14. As a part of the celebrations, International Buddhist Conference will be held in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries will participate. Vesak is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. This is the first time Sri Lanka will host the festival.

Background

The Buddhist link between India and Sri Lanka dates back to 2nd century BC. During the reign of Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism was made as the official religion of India. Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta is believed to have brought a branch of original Bodh tree to Anuradhapura. Theravada Buddhism is widely practiced in Sri Lanka.

During last year Vesak celebrations held in Lumbini, China taking advantage of strained relation between New Delhi and Kathmandu partnered with Nepal to celebrate Vesak. China has been aggressively pursuing a strategy of staking claim to the legacy of Buddhism to boost its cultural influence. India to counter China’s strategy has been actively engaging with South East Asian countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to showcase its heritage.

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ICJ Stays Kulbhusan Jadhav’s Hanging

India has received a stay order preventing Pakistan from executing the death sentence awarded to the former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav from the International Court of Justice at The Hague. India’s team of lawyers led by senior advocate Harish Salve accused Pakistan of gross violations of international laws. They also pointed out the violations of the Geneva convention that deals with Consular relations. Pakistan had denied consular access to India despite 15 attempts. It also refused to give  any details of Jadhav’s arrest and trial until the death sentence was passed.

India has rarely approached the ICJ especially when it comes to Pakistan. India is always hesitatant to “internationalise” its bilateral relations. But given the nature of Jadhav’s case in which Pakistan refused to follow any established principle India was forced to take the extreme measure of taking the case to the ICJ.

ICJ

International Court of Justice was established in 1945 via the UN Charter and its jurisdiction is worldwide. It is located in “The Hague” in Netherlands. It is a  part of the United Nations. The International Court of Justice acts as a world court.  The judgement passed by the ICJ have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned. The major functions of the International Court of Justice are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

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India & Japan to Strengthen Defence Cooperation

India and Japan has decided to strengthen their military cooperation and hopes to pursue a strategic partnership for  ensuring regional peace and stability. The visit of  Defence minister Arun Jaitley to Tokyo comes at the backdrop of rising tension in the region such as territorial rows over the South China Sea and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. The purpose of visit of Arun Jaitley to Tokyo was to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank. India and Japan have been increasing their defence cooperation amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.

India has welcomed the conduct of a planned trilateral naval exercise among the US, India and Japan in July as a means to strengthen cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. The Malabar trilateral exercise between  Japan, the U.S. and India are slated to be held in the Bay of Bengal from July 10. Japan would send its helicopter carrier Izumo which is its largest warship to take part in the exercise.

The Malabar series of exercise was initiated by the U.S. and India in 1992. Japan joined the exercise in 2007. However, only since 2014, Japan has started to take part in every year’s exercise. Recently, it was agreed that Japan will become a regular Malabar member.

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