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Raring to leave? – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/raring-to-leave/article17835574.ece

  • Brexit could complicate the delicate balance between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar
  • Know about Gibraltar

      • In June last year the first result to be declared in Britain’s EU referendum was from Gibraltar, the tiny British overseas territory on Spain’s southern coast, with an estimated population of around 30,000. The result was a resounding victory for the remain-in-Europe campaign: nearly 84% of voters turned out, and 96% of them voted in.
      • the territory is very interlinked with that of the European Union, and Spain in particular; its status as an offshore banking centre, thanks to its low-tax environment, is boosted by its membership of the EU.

  • A British outpost in Europe(History of Gibraltar)

      • Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, ceded to Britain in 1713, one of 14 such locations dotted across the globe, though the only one to be part of the EU single market (it is not part of the customs union).
      • The population has been resolutely committed to remaining in Britain, when offered the choice in past decades
      • In 1967, a referendum on whether to pass under Spanish sovereignty or retain their link with Britain resulted in over 99% voting in favour of the latter option. A second referendum held in 2002, which proposed joint sovereignty with Spain, was also rejected by 98.97% of the voters.

  • EU, U.K. and Gibraltar

      • The White Paper outlining the British government’s position on Brexit, published in February, made brief mention of Gibraltar, noting that it had particular interests and was not part of a customs union.
      • However, it was not referred to in the formal letter Prime Minister Theresa May sent last week triggering Brexit talks.
      • Over the past week, Gibraltar has suddenly surfaced as a major issue of contention following the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines’ inclusion of a reference to Gibraltar.

  • A foretaste of the future

    • The developments highlight a number of things: from the early days after the referendum, the British government has stood accused of not being prepared to face the very complex issues that Brexit would bring to the surface — from the status of Northern Ireland and Scotland to the plight of individual industries. Gibraltar would seem to be yet another such example.
    • Getting a right deal on Gibraltar is important for Spain as much as it is for Britain: providing a source of employment to a deprived part of Spain. It will also be keen to reach a deal that tackles Gibraltar’s low-tax status, which it says is detrimentally impacted, and has long been one of the issues of contention.
    • Britain, for its part, will be acutely aware of the role that Gibraltar’s combined membership of the EU and its tax status has on its economic success (it could lose out to other low-tax EU economies such as Luxembourg) and how it would struggle to peg its future on the “great trading nation” that Britain says it strives to be as it exits Europe.

A new Delhi chapter for Sheikh Hasina – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-new-delhi-chapter-for-sheikh-hasina/article17835562.ece

  • Expectations are high in Bangladesh that her India visit will yield substantial results

    • the degree of cooperation which has generally characterised Dhaka-Delhi ties has gone up by a good number of notches, with the two countries seeing eye to eye on a number of issues affecting them as well as the South Asian region.

  • both India and Bangladesh have adopted a common stance on tackling terrorism through not only cracking down on the purveyors of terror but also keeping at arm’s length, and in fact condemning, nations regarded as sponsors of terrorism in the region
  • A recent trajectory

      • In recent times, cooperation between Dhaka and Delhi has been enhanced in other areas, particularly with respect to Bangladesh’s measures toward setting up a power plant in the Sundarbans.
      • Bangladesh has witnessed a rather impressive degree of Indian investment in other areas where its economic development is concerned
      • In terms of diplomacy in the South Asian region, both countries have had identical views on how organisations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should be going forward in promoting cooperation among its member nations.
      • It may be recalled that India and Bangladesh, for different reasons, pulled out of the SAARC summit scheduled to be held in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad last year.
      • Sheikh Hasina’s great need at this point of time is to convince her people that with her in charge, Bangladesh’s foreign policy and its operation are on track, and that through such a process, Bangladesh stands the best chance of being part of a time of regional stability in the region

  • The electoral timescale

      • There is little question that in the last few years, the Hasina government has provided stability in such areas as the economy, even though there has been disquiet in other areas, notably in security, as the government has been coming down hard on terrorists.

  • A fresh injection of energy into relations with India can only benefit Bangladesh

      • A critical aspect of the trip will certainly be a defence deal that will likely be initialled by the two Prime Ministers. This is an area that is clearly sensitive for the Bangladesh leader since questions are already being raised in Dhaka about the terms of, or even the need for, such a deal. It may be recalled that the 25-year treaty of friendship and cooperation reached by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972, within months of Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state, continued to be the subject of criticism in anti-Awami League circles till the deal reached its natural end.
    • The Indian government’s worry about the increasing levels of cooperation between Bangladesh and China, particularly in the spheres of the economy and defence.
    • Dhaka’s recent procurement of two submarines from Beijing, coupled with Sheikh Hasina’s statement that no country would now dare to attack Bangladesh, can only have raised eyebrows in the corridors of power in Delhi.
    • The Bangladesh Prime Minister has therefore a particular need now to convince the Indian leadership that Dhaka’s links with Beijing are in no way an effort to turn away from its traditional links with Delhi, but are aimed at ensuring for itself a basis of balanced, cooperative relations with the major players in the region.

  • The Teesta factor

    • And then, of course, there is the matter of the sharing of the Teesta waters, a subject that has continued to be the focus of discussions in Dhaka ever since the possibility of a deal was scuttled in 2011

AIDS-free by 2030, India included – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/aids-free-by-2030-india-included/article17835568.ece

    • The road map must include higher budgetary allocation to public health care and increasing AIDS awareness
    • In July 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1308, calling for “urgent and exceptional actions” to mitigate the threats posed by HIV/AIDS.
    • As the first disease to be the subject of a UNSC resolution, the exceptional status of HIV/AIDS has brought about unprecedented levels of international funding allocated primarily in developing countries where responses to the disease have historically been scarce or non-existent.

  • Sword of funding cuts

      • While the exceptional approach to HIV/AIDS was warranted in the earlier stages of responses at the national level, it has become increasingly ineffective over time.
      • This is visible through duplicated/parallel health systems and unsustainable funding. The over dependence on international assistance, coupled with the overwhelming policy preference towards HIV/AIDS, has resulted in the marginalisation of other pressing health threats such as malnutrition, and maternal and child health care.

  • Most importantly, there has been a stagnating and even declining trend of HIV/AIDS international financial assistance in recent years.

    • most European donor governments have reduced their financial commitments since 2012.

  • Moreover, in light of the continuous economic boom in India and China, international funding agencies now argue that these countries should be donors instead of recipients of international HIV/AIDS-specific grants and loans.

    • In response to the changing global health agenda, most of these countries are prioritising the integration of HIV/AIDS programmes into existing health-related systems. This shift implies that international funding organisations now exert a tremendous influence on the priority of health issues in the developing world.
    • In this, India is by no means unique. An integration of HIV/AIDS interventions and primary health-care systems has taken place in India from 2010 onwards. For instance, six components of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)-III merged with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2010. The integration of HIV/AIDS responses under the umbrella health system is ongoing in the NACP-IV; where all the service delivery units except the targeted interventions (TIs) have been set up within the health-care system.
    • At the 2016 high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly, India pledged to follow targets towards ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat in the next five years, and ending the epidemic by 2030.
    • India is now playing a larger role in funding its HIV/AIDS programmes — two-thirds of the budget for the NACP-IV is provided by the Government of India and comes from the domestic budget.

  • Indian HIV/AIDS programmes have progressively become less dependent on foreign assistance considering that over 85% of the budgets in the first and second phases of the NACPs and 75% in the third phase were supported by international and bilateral funding mechanisms

    • However, despite rapid economic development over the past two decades, public expenditure on health care in India as a proportion of GDP is among the world’s lowest. India’s health-care expenditure is also comparatively less than other BRICS countries.
    • Awareness versus stigma

  • A UN report showed that “India has the third largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world and accounts for about 4 out of 10 people living with HIV/AIDS in the region”.

    • If the goal of ending HIV/AIDS in India by 2030 is to become reality, there not only has to be an increase in budgetary allocation to public health care but also a more concentrated effort to increase AIDS awareness. Evidence suggests that many people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Asia lack the awareness that they test positive.

  • If we can end HIV/AIDS, we can end other pressing developmental problems, where the costs of the disease and its care present a serious economic burden.