International Relations

Schengen Area: A Milestone in European Integration

Kosovo has gained visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen zone, a key step towards greater integration with the European Union (EU) and the world community.

What is the Schengen Area?

  • Definition: A zone of 27 European countries where internal boundaries have been removed to allow for free movement of people.
  • Membership: 23 of the 27 EU member nations, as well as all EFTA members (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).
  • Key features:
    1. There are no internal border checks, unless in exceptional threat situations.
    2. Harmonised controls at external borders based on predefined criteria.

About the Eurozone

  • A geographic and economic zone made up of European Union countries that have embraced the euro as their national currency.
  • As of January 2023, the EU consists of 20 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • Key features:
    1. Coordination of economic policymaking to meet EU economic objectives.
    2. The euro replaces national currencies.

Joining the Eurozone requires meeting particular requirements: 

Including four macroeconomic indicators:

  1. Pricing Stability: Maintain long-term pricing performance with average inflation no more than 1.5 percent higher than that of the three best-performing member states.
  2. Public Finances: Keep the budget deficit under 3% of GDP and the public debt under 60% of GDP.
  3. Convergence durability is measured by long-term interest rates that cannot be more than 2 percent higher than those in the three most price-stable member states.
  4. Exchange Rate Stability: Show stability by participating in the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) II for at least two years without experiencing significant tensions or devaluation versus the euro.
Environment & Biodiversity Governance

Kerala aims to alter the Wildlife Protection Act

  • The Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion urging modifications to the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act to address the state’s rising human-animal conflict.

What is the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972?

  • The WPA protects the country’s wild animals, birds, and plant species to ensure environmental and ecological security.
  • It protects a number of animal, bird, and plant species while also establishing a network of ecologically significant protected areas throughout the country.
  • It establishes a variety of protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

The WPA has six schedules for the preservation of wildlife species, which can be summarised as follows:

Schedule ISpecies need rigorous protectionHarshest penalties for violation of the law are for species under this Schedule.
Schedule IIAnimals under this list are accorded high protection.Cannot be hunted except under threat to human life.
Schedule III & IVSpecies that are not endangered.Includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the first two schedules.
Schedule VContains animals which can be hunted.
Schedule VIPlants that are forbidden from cultivation.

Kerala’s Demand for Amendment

  • Section 11 Amendment: Kerala recommends changing Section 11(1)(A) to allow Chief Conservators of Forests (CCF) rather than Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWLW) to permit hunting of Schedule I mammals. This aims to speed local decision-making in dealing with human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Declaration of Wild Boars as Vermin: Kerala requests the Centre to designate wild boars as pests under Section 62, allowing for controlled culling to reduce dangers to life and livelihood.

Rising incidents

  • Human-animal conflict in Kerala: Especially with elephants and wild boars, have caused significant damage to lives and crops.
  • According to government data, 8,873 wild animal attacks occurred in 2022-23, with elephants accounting for 4,193 and wild boars for 1,524. These disasters caused 98 deaths and severe agricultural loss.
  • Wild boars, in particular, are known for devouring farmlands, causing 20,957 incidences of agricultural loss between 2017 and 2023.

Challenges and Implications.

  • Urgent Action Required: Kerala’s request for changes emphasises the critical need for appropriate steps to address the human–animal conflict.
  • Local Empowerment: Empowering local forest authorities can result in faster responses to animal hazards, protecting both human safety and wildlife conservation.
  • Balancing Conservation and Livelihoods: Finding a balance between conservation and livelihood issues is critical for long-term cohabitation between humans and wildlife.


  • Kerala’s proactive approach to pressing for revisions to the Wildlife Protection Act demonstrates its commitment to addressing the issues posed by the human-animal conflict.
  • These suggested improvements seek to preserve both citizens and biodiversity, demonstrating a comprehensive approach to environmental and socioeconomic well-being.

The Supreme Court strikes down the electoral bond scheme

The Supreme Court issued a remarkable unanimous decision, declaring the electoral bonds scheme “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary.”

A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, unanimously rejected the proposal, alleging an infringement on voters’ right to knowledge and excessive restrictions.

Key Reasons for Ending the Electoral Bonds Scheme

[A] Violation of Right to Information (RTI)

  • Petitioners stated that the plan violates the Right to Information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, emphasising voters’ right to know about political party funding.
  • Despite the government’s claim that individuals have no “right to know” about political contributions, the court affirmed voters’ access to such information, emphasising the fundamental link between money and politics.
  • The court emphasised the “deep association” between money and politics and the importance of transparency in preventing quid pro quo arrangements.

[B] Disproportionate Restrictions:

  • The scheme’s anonymity for donors, intended to combat dark money, was deemed excessive given its goal.
  • Advocates pointed out potential gaps that allow for cash donations, diminishing its effectiveness in countering dark money.
  • The court emphasised the existence of less restrictive alternatives to meet the scheme’s goals, such as Section 29C of the Representation of People Act of 1951.

[C] Privacy vs. Public Interest:

  • While the administration argued for donor anonymity to safeguard privacy, campaigners emphasised the necessity of public oversight in political fundraising.
  • The court stressed that donor privacy only applies to real kinds of public funding, rejecting the scheme’s provision for perfect anonymity.

[D] Unlimited Corporate Contributions:

  • Advocates emphasised the negative effects of unlimited corporate funding on free and fair elections.
  • The court reinstated the corporate contribution limit, emphasising the need to prevent disproportionate corporate influence in politics.
  • It expressed concern that limitless contributions could encourage quid pro quo agreements, particularly among loss-making enterprises.

Impact on Key Legal Amendments

  • The court threw down modifications to the Representation of the People Act of 1951 that exempted political parties from publishing donations in excess of Rs. 20,000, strengthening the balance between voters’ right to transparency and donor privacy. (Section 29c)
  • Amendments to the Companies Act of 2013 that allowed for limitless corporate contributions were overturned, restoring the limitation on corporate political donations and protecting election integrity. Section 182.
  • The Income-tax Act of 1961 repealed exemptions for political parties to keep records of donations received through electoral bonds, protecting voters’ right to transparency. (Section 13a)

Application of Proportionality Test

[A] Definition:

  • The proportionality test evaluates the balance of conflicting fundamental rights or interests and the steps used by the state to attain its goals.
  • It involves four criteria: legality, necessity, rigorous proportionality, and interest balance.

[B] Government’s Arguments:

  • The administration defended the plan, citing legitimate goals like combating dirty money and preserving donor confidentiality.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that the right to information does not include material not in the state’s possession.

[C] Court’s Analysis:

  • Using the proportionality test, the court examined the balance of competing basic rights, emphasising the importance of the “least restrictive” approaches.
  • It emphasised the significance of less intrusive options, such as the electoral trusts plan, in meeting the system’s goals.

Why is this a Landmark Case?

  • Burden of Proof: The court ruled that the state must show that its restrictions are the “least restrictive” and that there are no other “equally effective” methods to achieve its goals.
  • Balancing Competing Rights: Unlike past approaches that prioritised the public interest over individual rights, the court focuses on balancing competing fundamental rights.
  • Structured Proportionality Test: The ruling employs a structured proportionality test, which requires the state to establish that its measures restricting basic rights are commensurate to their goals.
  • Application of Legal Precedents: While the right to privacy verdict established the law, future cases such as Aadhaar (2018) and Demonetization (2023) used the structural proportionality test. The electoral bonds decision marks a substantial divergence in this regard.

RuPay and UPI rolled out in Mauritius and Sri Lanka

  • The RBI has announced the implementation of RuPay card and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) connectivity between India and Mauritius, as well as UPI connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.
  • This programme seeks to strengthen financial integration and facilitate digital payments between inhabitants of the three countries.

Discussion: Rupee Integration with Neighbours

  • Indian visitors to Mauritius can now use UPI to pay merchants there, while Mauritian visitors can use the Instant Payment System (IPS) app to make purchases in India.
  • RuPay Adoption: The MauCAS card scheme in Mauritius will use RuPay technology, enabling banks to issue RuPay cards locally. These cards are accepted at ATMs and Point of Sale (POS) terminals in Mauritius and India.
  • First Adoption: Mauritius becomes the first country outside Asia to integrate RuPay technology, allowing Indian RuPay cards to be accepted at ATMs and PoS terminals throughout the country.
  • QR Code Payments in Sri Lanka: Indian visitors can use their UPI apps to make QR code-based payments at merchant locations in the island.

About RuPay and UPI

[A] RuPay Debit Cards

Launch Year2012
Conceived byNational Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
Key FeaturesThe first global card payment network in India.Wide acceptance at ATMs, POS devices, and e-commerce websites.
Security MeasuresHighly secure network against phishingSupports electronic payments in all Indian banks and financial organisations.
International AcceptanceNPCI maintains relationships with Discover Financial and JCB for international acceptance.
IssuersMore than 1100 banks including public sector, private, regional banks, and cooperatives
Core Promoter BanksSBI, PNB, Canara Bank, BOB, Union Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank, HSBC

[B] Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

LaunchApril 11, 2016
Developed byNational Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
Key FeaturesEnables simple, easy, and quick transactions using Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
Payment MethodsDirect bank payments using UPI ID or QR code scanningRequesting money from a UPI ID
WorkingTransfers using UPI ID, mobile number, QR code, or Virtual Payment Address.Provides a consistent transaction PIN across apps, boosting cross-operability.Push and pull transactions are supported, as are over-the-counter payments and recurring payments like utility bills and subscriptions.

Countries where UPI works

BhutanLaunched on July 13, 2021.NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL) has formed a partnership with Bhutan’s Royal Monetary Authority (RMA).The first country to implement UPI.
OmanLaunched on October 4, 2022.Accepts Indian RuPay cards at all OmanNet ATMs, POS, and e-commerce sites.Allows for reciprocal acceptance of Oman cards/MPCSS in the NPCI networks in India.
MauritiusConnectivity enables Indian travellers to Mauritius to utilise UPI for local payments, and vice versa for Mauritian tourists visiting India via the Instant Payment System (IPS) app.Allows banks in Mauritius to issue RuPay cards using the MauCAS card network.
Sri LankaWith digital payments connection, Indian visitors can use their UPI apps to make QR code-based payments at merchant locations in Sri Lanka.
NepalMobile banking allows Nepali customers to make bank transactions to India using a universal payment interface (UPI) ID.
FranceThis year’s UPI service was introduced at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) has formed a partnership with Lyra, a French e-commerce and proximity payment security leader.
Southeast AsiaNIPL and Liquid Group have reached an agreement to enable QR-based UPI payments in ten countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Why such a move?

  • Tourism Promotion: Making digital payments available through RuPay and UPI encourages Indian tourists to visit Mauritius and Sri Lanka by giving convenient payment choices.
  • Financial Integration: The implementation of RuPay and UPI strengthens economic linkages between India, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka by allowing for cross-border transactions and financial services.
  • Diversification (away from the Maldives): By providing modern payment infrastructure and possibilities equivalent to those found in major tourist destinations such as Mauritius and Sri Lanka, they can attract more visitors and diversify their tourism industries.
Governance Science & Tech

SWATI (Science for Women—A Technology and Innovation) Portal

  • The Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India has recently created the “Science for Women-A Technology & Innovation (SWATI)” portal.


  • SWATI Portal is an online platform that strives to highlight the achievements of Indian women and girls in STEMM fields.
  • SWATI operates as a single online site for Indian women and girls in STEMM sectors.
  • Database: It hosts a database that can help policymakers solve gender gaps in STEMM.
  • SWATI provides an interactive database, a pioneering endeavour in India, which is produced, hosted, and maintained by the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) in New Delhi.
  • Faculty: Faculty members from Indian universities, autonomous organisations, and important ministries, including the Ministry of Science & Technology, CSIR, DBT, DST, MHRD, UGC, GATI, and KIRAN.


  • Scaling Efforts: The portal aims to significantly increase efforts to involve every Indian woman in science (WiS), encompassing all career stages and subjects in both academia and industry.
  • SWATI intends to establish an active search engine and searchable database to facilitate trustworthy and statistically significant long-term research on equality, diversity, and inclusion concerns in India.
Science & Tech

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) confirms a black hole shadow

  • Scientists have released fresh details on a massive black hole 53 million light-years distant, which was first observed by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in 2017.
  • This momentous achievement offered the first visual confirmation of the existence of black holes, so proving a crucial prediction of Einstein’s general relativity theory.

Key Findings of EHT

  • The new data, obtained with improved telescope coverage and resolution, supported the prior discovery of the black hole’s’shadow’.
  • The results revealed the presence of an asymmetric ring structure, which is consistent with substantial gravitational lensing effects.
  • Observations revealed a steady ring building process throughout time, with slight fluctuations indicating differences in the magnetic field structure.

About Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

AboutA big telescope array made up of a global network of radio telescopes.Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) is used.Resolution: 25 micro-arc-seconds.
CollaborationInternational collaboration including more than 300 participants and 60 institutions from 20 countries and areas
Launch YearInitiated in 2009
First Image PublishedApril 10, 2019 (First image of a black hole, M87*)
ObjectiveObserving objects the size of a supermassive black hole’s event horizon.
Key TargetsBlack holes including M87* and Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*)
Recent DevelopmentsFirst image of black hole (March 2021), first image of Sgr A* (May 12, 2022)
Reconstructive AlgorithmsIncludes the CLEAN algorithm and the regularised maximum likelihood (RML) algorithm
Scientific ImplicationsVerification of general relativity, measurement of black hole mass and diameter, research into accretion processes
Science & Tech Security Issues

Safeguarding Children Online: Addressing Technical Risks and Solutions

  • Recent Congressional hearings, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public apology, have shone light on the disturbing surge in online child exploitation, raising global worries about children’s safety on social media platforms.
  • Parents and campaigners around the world are putting pressure on tech firms to boost accountability and provide safer online environments for children, stressing issues that go beyond privacy concerns and include larger security dangers.

Risks for Children’s Online Safety

  • UNICEF Report findings: A UNICEF report titled ‘The Metaverse, Extended Reality, and Children’ highlights substantial concerns connected with virtual settings, such as exposure to explicit content, cyberbullying, and data privacy violations, which might have serious consequences for children’s well-being.
  • Emerging dangers: Virtual environments and games, while not entirely immersive, provide risks such as exposure to inappropriate content and exploitation, raising concerns about the ethical implications of children’s digital activities.

Children’s Issues Online

  • Children may encounter inappropriate content such as violence, pornography, or hate speech.
  • Online Predators and Grooming: Children are at danger of encountering online predators who use social media and gaming platforms to develop relationships and groom them for exploitation.
  • Cyberbullying: Children can be victims of cyberbullying, which involves using digital technology to harass, threaten, or humiliate others.
  • Privacy Concerns: Because of a lack of understanding of privacy settings, children may unwittingly share personal information online.
  • Excessive screen time and continuous use of digital devices can lead to addictive behaviours in children, affecting their mental and physical health, academic performance, and social connections.

Challenges Posed by Generative AI

  • Generative AI presents both opportunities for creativity and learning, as well as hazards such as the spread of misinformation and bad content that may negatively impact children’s cognitive development.
  • Vulnerability to disinformation: Children with developing cognitive abilities are especially vulnerable to disinformation spread by AI-generated content, raising worries about the impact on their views and behaviours.

Measures in India: The DPDP Bill, 2023

  • The DPDP Bill defines minors as people under the age of 18. This concept recognises that children are especially vulnerable and deserve enhanced protection for their personal information.
  • Data Processing Obligations: The bill imposes three particular conditions on data processing businesses that handle children’s data:
    • Getting verifiable parental consent: As previously stated, businesses must obtain proper authorization from a parent or guardian before processing a child’s data.
    • Not harming children: Data processing activities should not endanger or exploit minors in any way.
    • Not tracking or aiming ads at children: Entities are not permitted to track children’s online activity for targeted advertising purposes.
    • Exemptions: The measure authorises the government to exclude certain companies from parental consent requirements, as well as tracking and targeting adverts for particular objectives. However, any exemptions must be in the best interests of the kid.

Future Prospects

  • To ensure the well-being and privacy of children, tech businesses should prioritize’safety by design,’ including principles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child into their platforms.
  • legislative Intervention: Governments must regularly examine and update legislative frameworks to handle developing difficulties in child safety online, such as countering harmful content and behaviour.
  • Community Engagement: Maintaining current policies and practices that safeguard children offline should be extended to the digital arena, encouraging stakeholders to work together to create a safer online environment for children.

ASHA and Anganwadi Workers/Helpers under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme

  • Following the Centre’s decision to expand health coverage under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), Anganwadi workers, and helpers, the Health Ministry has begun the enrolling process.
  • The Health Ministry has received Aadhaar data for 23 lakh Anganwadi workers and assistance, as well as nearly three lakh ASHA workers from various states.

About Ayushman Bharat Scheme

Launch2018, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW)
AimAchieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by providing preventive, curative, palliative, and rehabilitative care.
FundingCentrally Sponsored Scheme (expenditure shared between Central and State governments)
CoverageTargets over 10 crore families (about 50 crore beneficiaries) based on SECC.
Implementing AgencyNational Health Authority (NHA)
ComponentsHealth and Wellness Centres (HWC) provide primary care services.The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) provides health coverage of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year.
Coverage DetailsCovers secondary and tertiary hospitalisation.Includes both pre- and post-hospitalization charges.There are no restrictions on family size, age, or gender.
Portability of BenefitsBenefits are transferable across the country, allowing for cashless treatment at any accredited public or private hospital in India.
Digital OvertureAyushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM): Launched in 2021, the ABDM will equip all Indian people with Unique Digital Health IDs (UHIDs), allowing them to access their health records electronically.

ASHA Programme: 

  • As of December 31, 2023, the country had around 13 lakh Anganwadi staff, 10 lakh Anganwadi helpers, and 9.83 lakh ASHAs.
  • Programme Scale: India’s ASHA programme is the world’s largest community volunteer programme, running across 35 states and union territories.
  • Role of ASHAs: The ASHA programme is an important part of community healthcare because it improves access to care and helps prevent and manage COVID-19.
  • Contribution Recognised: ASHAs have been recognised for their significant contribution to enhancing community access to care and are an essential component of many community platforms under the National Health Mission.

The Ayushman Bharat Scheme 

  • It currently covers 55 crore individuals and 12 crore households, with certain states/UTs extending the recipient list at their own cost.
  • The government has distributed around 28.45 million Ayushman cards and authorised over 6.11 crore hospital admissions, totaling ₹78,188 crore.
  • Hospital Empanelment: The AB-PMJAY has empanelled 26,901 hospitals, including 11,813 private hospitals, to provide healthcare services to scheme beneficiaries.
  • Gender Equity: The system ensures gender equity in healthcare access, with women accounting for roughly 49% of Ayushman cards issued and 48% of total authorised hospital admissions.
International Relations

ASEAN’s Approach To AI Governance

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has announced its AI governance and ethical principles at the 4th ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore.
  • Objective: These guidelines provide a voluntary and business-friendly strategy for controlling AI technologies while promoting economic progress.

About Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

EstablishedAugust 8, 1967
MembersBrunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
ObjectiveTo promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability among member countries.
Key Areas of CooperationEconomic IntegrationPolitical and Security CooperationSocial and Cultural Cooperation
SignificancePromotes economic growth, stability, and peace in the Southeast Asian region. It is also a forum for diplomatic dialogue and conflict resolution.
ASEAN SecretariatJakarta, Indonesia (The ASEAN Secretariat is the organization responsible for coordinating ASEAN activities.)

ASEAN’s AI regulations

  • Flexibility and Specificity: ASEAN regulations are less restrictive than those in the EU, reflecting the region’s diversified digital ecosystem and infrastructure.
  • ASEAN prefers to control AI through voluntary guidelines and rules of conduct rather than implementing harsh laws.
International Relations

India suspended the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar

  • The Union Home Minister has announced the end of the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Myanmar border.

About the Free Movement Regime

  • The FMR, which began in the 1970s, permitted anyone who lived within 16 km of the India-Myanmar border to enter the other nation without a visa.
  • India and Myanmar have a 1,643-kilometer border that spans through Arunachal Pradesh (520 kilometres), Nagaland (215 kilometres), Manipur (398 kilometres), and Mizoram (510 kilometres).
  • This system recognised the close familial and ethnic links that existed between communities on both sides of the unfenced border.
  • The FMR was last changed in 2016 to coincide with India’s Act East policy. However, it has been banned in Manipur since 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historical Context of India-Myanmar Relations

India’s relationship with Myanmar has changed over time, influenced by historical events and geopolitical shifts:

  • Prior to 1937, there were strong cultural and religious ties, as evidenced by centuries of Buddhist interaction.
  • 1937 Burma’s secession from British India resulted in divergent political trajectories.
  • Following the 1962 coup, ties were strained due to Myanmar’s military administration and alliance with China.
  • 1990s Shift: As part of its Look East Policy, India reengaged with Myanmar, emphasising economic and strategic partnership.
  • 2015 Democracy: Improved bilateral relations as Myanmar transitioned to democracy.
  • 2021 Coup: Renewed tensions in relations as a result of Myanmar’s military takeover and subsequent instability.

Why is Myanmar important to India?

[A] Geopolitical Perspective

  • Border sharing: India and Myanmar share a major land border of over 1600 kilometres as well as a marine boundary in the Bay of Bengal, highlighting the importance of Myanmar’s stability to India.
  • Myanmar’s geographical location is critical to India’s “Act East” policy and the development of the Northeast area, serving as a major link between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • Multilateral support: Myanmar’s unique position as the sole ASEAN country bordering India makes it critical for regional cooperation. It is a member of BIMSTEC, a SAARC observer, and a participant in the Mekong Ganga Cooperation, which facilitates India’s multilateral engagement.
  • Security Implications: Myanmar’s land serves as a base for rebel groups such as NSCN-K, demanding counter-insurgency cooperation. Furthermore, combating the drug trade emanating from the Golden Triangle region is a common security priority.
  • Chinese Influence: India views Myanmar as a key partner to counteract China’s growing influence in the area, emphasising the importance of increased bilateral interaction.

[B] Socioeconomic Perspective

  • Cultural Affinities: Aside from geographical proximity, India and Myanmar share ethnic, religious, and linguistic similarities, which encourage cultural relations.
  • Indian Diaspora: Myanmar has a substantial population of Indian descent, estimated at over 2.5 million, which strengthens people-to-people links between the two countries.
  • Infrastructure investment: Projects like the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the Sittwe Port, IMT Highway seek to increase connectivity, trade, and investment.
  • Bilateral Trade: India is Myanmar’s fifth-largest commercial partner, with bilateral trade totaling USD 1.03 billion in 2021-22.
  • Energy Cooperation: Myanmar is significant for India’s energy security. Myanmar is Southeast Asia’s largest receiver of Indian investment in the oil and gas sector, with an energy portfolio worth more than USD 1.2 billion.

Reasons for the policy shift:

  • Drug Trafficking and Insurgency: Myanmar’s opium production fuels drug trafficking and provides support to insurgent organisations in northeastern India.
  • Refugee Influx Post-Coup: Following Myanmar’s military coup in February 2021, around 40,000 refugees entered Mizoram and approximately 4,000 entered Manipur, raising security worries.
  • Manipur’s Chief Minister urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to cancel the FMR and finish border barrier, citing a link between ethnic violence in the state and unfettered movement over the border.
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