India Current Affairs - 2019
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President Pranab Mukherjee is on a four-day state visit to Vietnam where he met his counterpart Truong Tan Sang. The two leaders signed 7 pacts and reaffirmed their stances on the freedom of navigation in the disputed waters of South China Sea. Mr. Mukherjee asked all the concerned parties to exercise restrain and not impede the movement across the said region. The stance can be a source of concern for China who has been claiming territorial sovereignty over the high seas.
Both the nations have decided to take the relation to a new high and decided to focus on political, defence and security cooperation, economic cooperation, science and technology, culture and people-to-people links, technical cooperation and multilateral and regional cooperation. As part of the joint statement, the two sides also agreed to cooperate for peace, stability, growth and prosperity in the region. In case of South China Sea dispute they stated that all parties should abide by international commitments and principles set by international law including the UNCLOS-1982. The two sides urged for collective commitment of the concerned parties to abide by and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to work to agree for the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea based on mutual agreement.
There were 7 pacts signed including the one between ONGC and Vietnam Oil, extending a dollar credit line between Vietnam and EXIM Bank of India, agreement on co-operation and mutual assistance in customs matters, MoU on animal health, MoU on setting up of Pangasius breeding and farming in India, MoU on operating and jointly promoting direct air services between Vietnam Airlines and domestic Indian air carrier Jet Airways and MoU on cooperation in youth affairs and skill development.
President Mukherjee was given a guard of honor upon his arrival at the Presidential palace and also planted a sapling of the Holy Bodhi Tree along with his Vietnamese counterpart.
The valley has been hit by the worst floods in 109 years. There is massive damage to life and property as the rescue operations continue to bring people to safer areas. The rescue operation involving 86 aircrafts and about 30,000 troops is finding it difficult to cope up with damage. J&K is the 19th most populous state in India which has dwarfed the rescue effort. The flood waters have made life impossible as many people are still stranded in their homes waiting for relief and aid to reach them. People are running out of food, drinking water and even life-saving drugs. Many injured and critically ill-patients have not been able to reach hospitals in safer zones in time. Indian army and aid workers are also delivering the basic food, water and basic drugs to people who chose to remain in the upper floors of their houses. However, the flood waters are still there which the authorities are finding it difficult to pump out. The public anger is growing at the helpless authorities which are running out of pumps to flush out the water. Intermittent rains have further added to difficulty in rescue mission. Many pumps installed to drain out water have submerged and some new ones have been ordered from New Delhi.
Many animals have died and the bodies and their bodies are still under water or lying on the road sides. They pose the gravest threat of epidemic which have now gripped the minds of people. The swollen Jhelum river has engulfed most of Kashmir and also parts of Pakistan. Indian official death toll has been kept at 200 whereas the Pakistan government has placed it at 264. The figures are expected to rise astronomically once the flood waters recede.
To add to the woes, all communication lines have been cut and keeping contact with rescue teams has become impossible. It will take months for life to return to normal in the valley for which the locals are also prepared looking at the damage. However, the recent threat of epidemics have engulfed the residents and is a major cause of concern.