Morning News 10th Dec 2017

1 . Centre  to  take  up  Brahmaputra  contamination issue  with  China

Sporadic reports on China’s water diversion plans on the Yarlung Tsangpo, the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river, are invariably met with sustained overreactions in India. Photo: AFP

  • The Centre will soon take up the Brahmaputra water contamination issue with China.
  • Government of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam had approached the Centre in this regard.

ABOUT  THE  ISSUE

  • The water of the Brahmaputra river in Assam and Siang river in Arunacha Pradesh has turned contaminated and muddy.
  • The governments of both the states are suspecting that dam building activities in China could be a reason of the pollution.
  • Experts say it is contaminated with bacteria and iron and is unfit for human consumption.
  • The Yarlung Tsangpo river, which flows from Tibetan plateau, enters India and continues to flow through Arunachal Pradesh as Siang river and then Brahmaputra river in Assam.

HOW  CAN  INDIA  DEAL  BRAHMAPUTRA  ISSUE  WITH  CHINA ?

  • Despite China having 50% spatial share of this 3,000km-long water system, low precipitation and desert conditions mean that Tibet generates only 25% of its total basin discharge, while India, with 34% of the basin, contributes to 39% of the total discharge.
  • So, it is not China’s water diversions, but intentional flooding or contamination that should be a major concern for India.
  • There is a need to refrain from populist high-octane China bashing, which has been counterproductive so far.
  • India must build its own capabilities to redress and withstand such disasters. It is only from such a position of sanity and strength that India can get China to regularize existing mechanisms and expand them beyond just data exchange on water flows, levels, rainfall, etc.
  • These need to expand to cover quality of water and mutual inspections by joint or third-country observers.

 

2 . India  highlighted  the  difficulties  faced  by services  suppliers  from  developing  economies 

  • Ahead of the December 10-13 meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) highest decision-making body, India has highlighted the difficulties faced by services suppliers from developing economies in complying with rich countries’ complex domestic regulations.
  • India also rejected attempts by some WTO Members such as European Union and Canada to include ‘gender equality’ in the services trade negotiations agenda.
  • According to a November 27 WTO report, “the state of play in the services negotiations covers four areas: services trade facilitation, services related to e-commerce, market access and domestic regulation.”
  • The WTO’s Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Incidentally, India is pushing for a Trade Facilitation in Services Agreement, which also aims to ensure easing rules regarding movement of professionals and skilled workers across borders for temporary work/projects.
  • On gender-related issues (or women’s economic empowerment) including the proposed disciplines on gender equality, India’s stand is that while we strongly support gender equality in all areas, we cannot agree with proponents that gender is a trade-related issue which can be meaningfully addressed through Domestic Regulation (DR) disciplines.

 

3 . Sri  Lanka  formally  handed  over  the  strategic southern  port  of  Hambantota  to  China 

Sri Lanka Formally Hands Over Hambantota Port To China

  • Sri Lanka has formally handed over the strategic southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99- year lease.
  • Two Chinese firms — Hambantota International Port Group and Hambantota International Port Services managed by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority — will own the port and the investment zone around it.
  • The Sri Lankan government had signed a USD 1.1 billion deal in July to sell a 70 per cent stake in the Hambantota port to China.
  • The port, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe.
  • In order to allay India’s security concerns over the Chinese navy’s presence in Sri Lanka , Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had earlier ruled out the possibility of the strategic port being used as a “military base” by any foreign country.