Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

As the spat between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues, let us take a look at the former Soviet territories and their conflict, which dates long back.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Clash
Armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted recently in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian separatists reported 31 military casualties on their side, while Azerbaijan reported 26 civilian casualties and claimed to have inflicted “heavy losses” on the other side.

Both countries have imposed martial law at particular places while mobilizing troops for further action. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has requested the international community to intervene as the region is on the verge of a “large-scale war”.

International Reaction
Turkey and Pakistan have declared open support of Azerbaijan in the conflict. However, Turkey denied Armenia’s claims that it had provided armed support to Azerbaijan. Russia, having a military base in Armenia and closer ties to it than Azerbaijan, has called for a ceasefire which has been supported by the US, Iran, France, and the UN.

Background And History Of The Conflict
Nagorno-Karabakh is the disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While it is located officially inside Azerbaijan’s territory, it has a majority population of Armenian ethnicity.

  • 1922: The Soviet Union was formed, and both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed to it.
  • 1989: Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
  • 1991: The Soviet Union was dissolved. In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia.
  • War erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had ~30,000 casualties reported.
  • In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent ‘Republic of Artsakh’, which is unrecognized by the UN members.
  • 1994: A ceasefire was declared with the aid of Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh was declared part of Azerbaijan but continues being administered by ethnic Armenians with backing from the Armenian Government.
  • Several clashes have occurred between the two, with the most recent major clash occurring in 2016 when ~110 casualties were reported.

Outside Support
Turkey backs Azerbaijan (a Muslim majority state) in the conflict. However, experts have claimed that Turkey’s support also comes due to the oil-richness of Azerbaijan, and that and that Turkey has allegedly advanced the animosity between the two neighbours in recent times. Turkey has no official relations with Armenia and had closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as it backed Azerbaijan in the war.

Russia has stronger ties with Armenia (a Christian majority state) as compared to Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia, while both the countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed between former states of the Soviet.

  • The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first secular democratic Muslim-majority state. In 1920, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year.
  • Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great was King of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome’s east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House.
  • According to the histories of Moses of Chorene, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendant of Hayk. Hayk the Great, is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is ‘The Need Of The Hour’

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is 'The Need Of The Hour'

In the latest address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by PM Modi of India. the major highlight coming out was his questioning the relevancy of the board as well as the inadequate position provided to India, the largest democracy in the world.

Crux of the Matter

PM Modi Addresses The 75th UNGA
On 26 September 2020, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, made an address to the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Recorded video messages of leaders were played in the virtually held meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Modi raised the issue of the functioning of the UN as well as India’s role in his recorded address.

Key Points Raised By PM Modi

  • Introspection” is required for the UN as the “world of 1945 was significantly different from today’s world”.
  • Questioned efficiency of the organization as the World has “successfully avoided a third world war, but [one] cannot deny that there have been several wars and many civil wars”.
  • Raised doubts over the role of the UN during the pandemic as he asked that “where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?”

Role Of India In The UN
A country that laid the foundations of the UN, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 8th time. It would serve its 2-year term from 2021. However, calls for India to be elected as a Permanent Member of the UNSC have increased in recent years.

UN Security Council has 5 permanent members – China, Russia, France, the UK, and the US. Controversies have continued since long as India was reportedly offered a permanent member seat by the US and the Soviet Union to replace China. However, PM Nehru rejected the reports, claiming that he didn’t want India to get embroiled in the Cold War between the two nations and didn’t want enmity with China.

In his address, Modi claimed that “the faith and respect that the United Nations enjoys in India are unparalleled”. However, he also added that “the people of India have been waiting for a long time for the completion of the reforms of the United Nations. For how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations?

Why Should India Be Added?
At the UNGA, Modi then highlighted facts about India in favour of adding it to the “decision-making structures”:

  • India, currently the largest democracy in the world containing 18% of the world’s population, has prevailed as the “leading global economy for centuries”.
  • India has a tradition of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (whole world is a family) which is also the ideal of the UN.
  • India has sent soldiers to over 50 UN peacekeeping missions. In the process, it has lost 163 peacekeepers since the UN’s inception – more than any country in the world.
  • ‘International Day of Non-Violence’ (2 October) and ‘International Day of Yoga’ (21 June) were initiated by India. It also played a key role in founding the ‘International Solar Alliance’ and the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’.
  • Modi claimed that “when India strengthens its development partnership, it is not with any malafide intent of making the partner country dependent or hapless”, taking an indirect hint at China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India supplied “essential medicines to more than 150 countries” even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Modi also provided assurance that as “the largest vaccine producing country of the world…India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis”.

To read about what leaders of other nations said at the 75th UN General Assembly meeting, read this story: 75th UN General Assembly Session Held

  • Ahimsa is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings. It is a key virtue in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The League of Nations was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War.
  • The Group of 77 (G77) at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the UN. Seventy-seven nations founded the organization, but by November 2013 the organization had since expanded to 133 member countries.

A Short History Of Tibet

A Short History Of Tibet

As China recently stepped up its plan to shift the rural population of Tibet into industrial labour, another thread of strain was added to the relations between the two which have been in an alternating relationship with differing ideologies. Let us have a look at the history of Tibet and its relations with China.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Push Into Labour By China
China has reportedly increased the number of Tibetan rural labourers forced in military training camps, where they are trained to become factory workers. Recently, China claimed that ~500,000 people from Tibet (15% of its population) were trained from Jan to July 2020 in such camps. 50,000 of the total were sent to jobs inside Tibet while thousands were sent into labour in China.

Critics have claimed that the motive of such training camps is to eliminate the cultural influence of Tibet while indoctrinating Tibetans with Chinese ideology. These camps are compared to the detention camps in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims are sent to forced labour.

History Of Tibet

  • 620s AD: Songtsen Gampo became the ruler of Central Tibet. He married Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty (China) and founded major Buddhist temples like Jokhang and Ramoche in Tibet.
  • 820s: Peace treaty between China and Tibet was signed after a period of conflict.
  • 1042: Indian scholar Atisha travelled to Tibet and revived Buddhist teachings by inspiring the locals.
  • 1240-44: Mongol prince Godan Khan invaded Tibet, who later converted to Buddhism in 1247. Peaceful relations between Mongols and Tibetans were established, with the latter retaining significant autonomy in the Mongolian empire.
  • 1598: The title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was first given to High Lama Sonam Gyatso by Mongol King Altan Khan.
  • 1720s: Mongols invaded Tibet. In return, the Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China defeated the Mongols but then appointed its officers to administer Tibet and annexed its Kham and Amdo regions.
  • 1904: British forces from India invaded Tibet and forced to sign an agreement to prevent any Russian interference in the region. However, Britain acknowledged suzerainty of China over Tibet.
  • 1913: Tibet reaffirmed its independence from both China and Britain.
  • 1949: People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established by Communist leader Mao Zedong, who claimed Tibet as part of China.
  • 1951: Tibet was forced to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” by China, which granted autonomy to the former but established Chinese military quarters in the capital Lhasa.
  • 1959: The Dalai Lama was forced to take exile in India along with 80,000 followers as a revolt against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, which was suppressed violently.
  • Refuge for Dalai Lama has been cited as one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China war.
  • 1963: Foreign visitors were banned in Tibet – opened back in 1971.
  • 1965: Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was established by China.
  • 1966: The Cultural Revolution of China impacted Tibet, as Buddhist monasteries and entities were damaged.

Several talks of reconciliation have failed between the 2 groups since.

  • Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The population is well-served by primary schools and basic medical facilities, although more advanced facilities are lacking. Tibetan Buddhism and monastic life have been dominant aspects of the local culture since the 7th century.  
  • The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. The Chinese government rejects the notion of the Uyghurs being an indigenous group. 
  • The Militia is the militia part of the armed forces of China, other two parts being the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is one of the largest militias in the world.

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

As the 75th UN General Assembly meet was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, let us take a look at what the leaders said in context of the worldwide situations as well as their interpersonal relations.

Crux of the Matter

Virtual Meet
The 75th anniversary of the United Nations was marked this year, which was formed when World War II ended in 1945. The UN General Assembly meeting was held online this year from 22 September, with pre-recorded messages from World Leaders being played.

Donald Trump (US President)
Trump continued blaming China for Covid-19 damage while describing the achievements of his tenure. Some of his statements are given here:

We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy, the China virus, which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries.

Even as [China] canceled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization, which is virtually controlled by China, falsely declared that there was no evidence of human to human transmission.

Our military has increased substantially in size. We spent $2.5 trillion over the last four years on our military. We have the most powerful military anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close.

Xi Jinping (Chinese President)
Jinping downplayed China’s expansionism, took covert jibe at the US and made grand promises.

We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.

We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

In particular, major countries should act like major countries. They should provide more global public goods, take up their due responsibilities and live up to people’s expectations

Vladimir Putin (Russian President)
Putin offered aid to the UN members while pushing for more open trading across the world.

Russia is ready to provide the UN with all the necessary qualified assistance; in particular, we are offering to provide our vaccine, free of charge, for the voluntary vaccination of the staff of the UN and its offices.

I would like to draw attention once again to Russia’s proposal to create so-called ”green corridors“ free from trade wars and sanctions.

In general, freeing the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions would be of great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment.

Emmanuel Macron (French President)
Macron discussed a multipolar world besides the US and China while highlighting unlawful actions being taken across the world.

The world as it is today cannot come down to simple rivalry between China and the United States, no matter the global weight of these two great powers.

I repeat once more to Russia the need for full light to be shed on the murder attempt on a political opposition figure using a nerve agent, Novichok.

We will not compromise on the activation of a mechanism that the United States is not in a position to activate on its own after leaving the agreement (reactivated sanctions on Iran by the US).

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkish President)
Erdogan raised the issue of Kashmir, again.

The Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace in South Asia, is still a burning issue. Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir further complicated the problem.

In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey in 2019 UN General Assembly

Narendra Modi
Modi called for structural reforms while declaring a need for “multilateralism”.

The declaration acknowledges the need for reform in the United Nation itself. You cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures.

Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence. For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities.

T S Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the UN, tweeted that “Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply”.

  • The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the United Nations. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the UN system, including its six principal organs.
  • The secretary-general of the United Nations is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations and head of the United Nations Secretariat. As of 2020, the secretary-general is former prime minister of Portugal António Guterres.
  • Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

25 Bills Passed In The 3rd Shortest Rajya Sabha Session

25 Bills Passed In The 3rd Shortest Rajya Sabha Session

One of the shortest sessions of the Rajya Sabha turned out to be one of the most efficient as 25 bills were passed in the recent monsoon session. However, already in controversy over the removal of Question Hour, the session generated more heat in its course due to the passing of some notable bills.

Crux of the Matter

Short And ‘Efficient’ Session
The 252nd session of Rajya Sabha was adjourned on 23 September 2020, with the monsoon session starting on 14 September but ending early from the expected date of 1 October. Only 10 sittings occurred instead of the scheduled 18, with the growing rate of Covid-19 being cited as the reason for such an abrupt ending.

It was the 2nd shortest Rajya Sabha monsoon session as the 110th session of July 1979 and the 187th session of October 1999 had 6 six sittings each (both monsoon). Overall, it was the 3rd shortest session as it ranks behind the 111th session which had only 1 sitting on August 20, 1979, and the other 2 mentioned above. 25 bills were passed and 6 bills were introduced in this session, which registered 100.47% productivity. However, controversy occurred during this session due to the removal of the Question Hour as well as the passing of the Farm Bills.

Following are some of the major bills passed by Rajya Sabha:

Labour Bills
3 bills were passed under the group, which were:

  • The Industrial Relations Code, 2020
  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH)
  • The Social Security Code, 2020

Following changes would be brought by the bills:

  • Firms with up to 300 workers would be allowed to dismiss staff without Government approval. Earlier, any firm with more than 100 workers had to seek permission from the Government to do so.
  • Employee Provident Fund Organisation benefits would be provided to firms with 20 or more workers as well as the self-employed people.
  • Unions would be required to provide 60 days’ notice prior to a strike.
  • Universal Social Security has been announced for both the “organised and unorganised” sectors, while a “Social Security Fund” would be set up for 40 crore workers from the unorganised sector.
  • Only 1 licence would be required under the OSH for hiring across different places instead of the earlier practice of requiring multiple licences.

Critics have claimed that the amendments are similar to the changes brought in Uttar Pradesh in May 2020, when the state suspended several labour laws including the Minimum Wages Act, the Maternity Benefit Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, etc for 3 years

Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • The Amendment brings co-operative banks under RBI supervision.
  • The aim of such a step is to prevent a crisis like the recent Punjab and Maharashtra (PMC) Co-operative Bank one.
  • 51% of members of the Board of Directors of co-operative banks are now required to have knowledge/experience in banking, law, economics, etc. RBI now has the authority to remove the directors and appoint adequate personnel. if the Board does not follow the mentioned requirements.
  • The Amendment would not be applicable to “primary agricultural credit societies and co-operative land mortgage banks”.

Jammu And Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020
The bill added ‘Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi’ languages to the list of the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, only Urdu and English were the official languages.

Other Bills Passed By Rajya Sabha

  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed after the 2 farm bills. It removed cereals, potatoes, onions etc from “essential commodities” list while also removing the restrictions on their storage. The farm bills allow farmers to sell to private buyers and industries besides the APMC ‘mandis’.
  • The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed, which converted agencies like DGCA, AAIB and BCAS into statutory bodies while granting them more authority.
  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) Bill, 2020 was approved. The Bill tightened measures regarding the use of foreign funds by NGOs as well as the penalties levied on their misuse.
  • The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who presides over its sessions. Venkaiah Naidu is the current Vice President of India.
  • A bicameral legislature has legislators in two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group, and from some legislatures that have three or more separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. As of 2015, about 40% of the world’s national legislatures are bicameral, and about 60% are unicameral.
  • Sansad Marg is a street located in New Delhi, India. The street gets its name from the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan).