The application was filed in an ongoing case by Rodrigues. On 7 October, the court had asked the Centre to hold the release of GM mustard for 10 days…………………….
India took over the BRICS presidency from February 16, this year and Prime Minister Narendrabhai Damodardass Modi has rightly planned an outreach meeting with the BIMSTEC leaders from five South Asian countries and two South-East Asian neighbours. Prime Minister Modi had planned integration of South Asian countries by inviting the leaders of SAARC nations at his oath-taking ceremony in 2014. He announced priority to the South Asia in his Neighbourhood First policy. However, later the initiative did not fructify much with Pakistan posing as a roadblock.
Signs of cracking in South Asian integration were evident in the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu where three slated agreements, namely on motor vehicle cooperation, railway connectivity and cooperation in electricity trade could not be signed at the venue. However, the agreement on electricity cooperation was signed with the intervention of the host, then Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at the Retreat of Leaders at Dhulikhel. Subsequently, under sub-regional cooperation mandated by SAARC Charter, an agreement on motor vehicle cooperation was signed amongst Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).
The 19th SAARC Summit slated in Islamabad had to be deferred owing to reported ceasefire violation along India-Pakistan border, terrorist attacks on Indian air base at Pathankot and army base at Uri. New Delhi had to avenge these attacks by conducting surgical strikes on terrorist's bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan pulled out of the SAARC Summit followed by Sri Lanka. Afghanistan and Bangladesh have also alleged Pakistan time and again for export of terror.
Integration of South Asia has, thus, become a dream for some sceptics. They believe that SAARC's march towards a common customs union and an economic union would continue to remain a distant possibility for times to come. The SAARC Free Trade Area (SAFTA) already in operation has not met with much success as the official intra-regional trade remains around $22 billion a year, though trade through unofficial channels continue unabated. If the figure of unofficial trade is added up to the official, the total may be around $60 billion. This shows the potentiality of the region.
South Asia is the third largest economy in terms of GDP on the basis of purchasing power parity after the US and China. It hosts 21 per cent of the world's population on three per cent of the global land mass. Though the trade relations between both have improved in the recent years with Pakistan commerce ministry moving from positive to negative list for imports to facilitate entry of more Indian goods, still much needs to be desired. Over a decade back India had accorded the most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in matters of trade, but the latter has yet to reciprocate. Islamabad was thinking of giving non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) to Indian goods and at the same time is yet to allow Indian goods to pass through its territory to reach Afghanistan.
The big question is, for how long will the South Asia integration be held to hostage? Is there a way out? Yes. India which is a major country in the region shares borders with all countries with the exception of Afghanistan, which shares its borders with Pakistan. Hence, New Delhi should play a more proactive role in deeper integration of South Asia and work out the plans with all the countries that share the same borders. Regarding, integration with Afghanistan, India should explore the possibility of using Chabahar port in Iran to reach goods and services to Afghanistan by rail and land route. Rightly this possibility is being explored. Regarding, Maldives, India and Sri Lanka a sub-regional cooperation can be worked out under SAARC Charter similar to that of BBIN.
However, BIMSTEC that consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and two ASEAN countries like Myanmar and Thailand can supplement SAARC's regional integration and act as an effective bridge between South Asia and South-East Asia. …………………