China’s Belt And Road Initiative And Why Australia Withdrew

China's Belt And Road Initiative And Why Australia Withdrew

Australia recently pulled back from the Belt and Road Initiative of China. BRI has also drawn criticism from Australia’s ally India amidst territorial issues. Why is it happening so? And what’s the initiative all about? Let’s find out.

Crux of the Matter

Australia Cancels BRI
In 2018, Victoria (state in Australia) had signed MoU on Belt and Road Initiative with China. On 21 April 2021, the Australian Govt cancelled their deal citing “national interest” as reason behind it.


  • Strained relations between both the countries since 2020.
  • Australia had called for investigation into Coronavirus origin and criticized China for Uighur and Hong Kong issue.
  • China retaliated with heavy export tariffs and also shared fake image of Australian soldier killing a child in Afghanistan.

Belt And Road Initiative

  • 2013: Xi Jinping became the President and announced an updated ‘Silk Road’ project in Eurasia in the same year.
  • Currently an umbrella term for projects like roads, railways, ports, energy pipelines, etc. to be constructed by China in the nations.
  • Current members: 139 nations as per CFR
  • This includes countries in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Europe, etc.


  • Lack of clarity, as in which projects come under its domain.
  • BRI accused of ‘debt trap’ although several experts blame mismanagement of borrowing nations.
  • One such example is of Hambantota port of Sri Lanka.Though project began before BRI, it was mainly developed under it.
  • 2017: As Sri Lanka failed to repay loan, it leased the port to China for 99 years.
  • Also opposed by India as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs through PoK.
  • Tanzania had cancelled along similar lines of ‘exploitative’ nature of the deals.

Chinese financiers set tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad people

John Magufuli, former President, Tanzania

Interestingly, amidst Covid impact, it re-signed in 2021.

Read more: China’s Strategic Control Over South Asian Rivers

  •  China and Australia were the final two bidders for the 2000 Olympics. Australia subsequently won and Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics.
  • Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son is married to a Chinese woman. There are now large numbers of Australian-born Chinese and Chinese-born migrants/Australian Citizens in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. 
  • In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the Australian government granted protection for about 20,000 Chinese students in Australia. Since then, Australia has become one of the biggest markets for Chinese students for tertiary education.

Separation Of Ukraine From Soviet Union And It’s Conflict With Russia

Separation Of Ukraine From Soviet Union And It's Conflict With Russia

Ukraine and Russia have recently been in news over the increasing tensions between them. Ukraine had been a part of the Soviet Union before becoming independent. In regards to this, let us know more about the country and its conflict with Russia.

Crux of the Matter

Formation Of The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union the United Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) emerged after the 1921 civil war in Russia. It was the largest country in the world. It comprised of 15 soviet republics including Russia.The state was under Communist rule and Vladimir Lenin had emerged as the leader of the Soviet State.

Breakdown Of The Soviet Union

  • Several social, economic and political problems paved way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • The Policy of Glasnost introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev allowed for the first time participation of other parties for election.
  • Using this new freedom, several republics started independence movement.
  • In 1991, a coup was staged but it failed. Gorbachev had been put under house arrest.
  • By then, several republics became independent and Soviet Union was officially dissolved in December, 1991.

    15 separate countries emerged after the Soviet Union dissolved- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Major Events In Ukraine After Independence

  • 1991: Ukraine became independent.
  • 1994: It joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace agreement.
  • 2004: Orange Revolution took place and mass protests happened after pro-Russian candidate won the presidential elections. Re-elections happened where Viktor Yushchenko won.
  • 2006: Russia shut off gas supply to Ukraine causing economic slowdown.
  • 2008: Talks between Ukraine and European Union (EU) began.
  • 2010: Pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych became the President.
  • 2013- Ukraine withdrew from talk with EU leading to protests in the country.

Conflict Between Ukraine And Russia

  • The relationship between Ukraine and Russia became strained in 2014 after Russia took control of Crimea, and seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • EU and US imposed sanctions on Russia. NATO and the Western governments have accused Russia of sending regular troops into Ukraine.
  • Tensions escalated in April, 2021 after a Ukranian soldier was killed in a fight between Ukranian and pro-Russian separatists.
  • It is being expected that Russia will soon have more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.
  • It is estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed so far.

  • In 1863, use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. This severely curtailed literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia.
  • Following Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power. Stalin suppressed all political opposition to his rule inside the Communist Party and inaugurated a command economy. 
  • The USSR took an early lead in the Space Race with the first ever satellite and the first human spaceflight. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed when the Soviet Union deployed troops in Afghanistan in 1979.

Fidel Castro And Why His Brother Raul Is In News

Amidst major political shuffle in Cuba as well as declassification of a file by US, Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro has been in news. In that light, it’s perfect time to look at who Fidel Castro was, and how his regime drew strong reaction from both critics and supporters.

Amidst major political shuffle in Cuba as well as declassification of a file by US, Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro has been in news. In that light, it’s perfect time to look at who Fidel Castro was, and how his regime drew strong reaction from both critics and supporters.

Crux of the Matter

Raul Steps Down
On 16 April, Raul Castro announced to step down as the head of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba. On the same day, US declassified documents regarding Raul.

Revelations Of The Declassified Document

  • In 1960, Jose R Martinez, recruited by CIA of the US, was Raul’s pilot once.
  • Martinez was given $10,000 to arrange an ‘accident’ to assassinate Raul.
  • However, Martinez couldn’t find opportunity before it was called off.

Raul is the brother of Fidel Castro.

Then Who Was Fidel Castro?
Fidel was a Cuban revolutionary famous for establishing Communist regime in Cuba

  • 1953: Attacked an army base of the US-backed General Fulgencio Batista, who had seized power in a coup. The attack failed and he was sentenced to 15 years jail.
  • 1955: Went into exile in Mexico after being released early. He met Che Guevara there and formed guerilla group.
  • 1956: Landed back in Cuba and started guerilla war against Batista.
  • 1959: Batista was overthrown – Castro became the PM and later President.

Major Decisions

  • Nationalized businesses and industries.
  • Brought universal healthcare and large-scale literacy schemes.
  • Such measures are credited by experts to have uplifted the poor.
  • He also banned critical press and jailed political opponents.
  • Persecuted homosexual people and publicly accepted blame in 2010.
  • The Cuban economy suffered from such strict rule and thousands of citizens fled to the US.

Anti-US Stance

  • Castro is renowned for his conflicts with the US.
  • Even the 1961 ‘Bay of Pigs’ failed, where Cuban-exiles had attempted to overthrow Castro with US support under Kennedy.
  • 1962: The conflict reached one climax as the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of hitting the US. They later withdrew after US promised to withdraw from Turkey and to not invade Cuba again.
  • US and Cuba didn’t have diplomatic relations between 1961 and 2014.

Castro survived 638 assassination plans as per Guinness World Records, mostly from the US. He retired in 2008 (49 years in power) before passing away in 2016 at age of 90.

An Unusual Friendship

  • One of his most unusual friendships came with Argentina football legend Diego Maradona.
  • Maradona famously considered Castro his “second father”.

He opened Cuba’s doors to me when clinics in Argentina were slamming them shut.

Maradona on Castro

  • Manuel Marrero Cruz is the current Prime Minister of Cuba since 2019. The position of Prime Minister was abolished 43 years, from 1976 to 2019.
  • Cuba has no private hospitals or clinics. All health services are government-run.
  • With a population of over 11 million, Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti.

Understanding Uniform Civil Code Of India

Uniform Civil Code (UCC) recently came into limelight after Chief Justice of India S A Bobde talked about it. In response to this, let us know more about UCC and the current status of it in the country.

Uniform Civil Code (UCC) recently came into limelight after Chief Justice of India S A Bobde talked about it. In response to this, let us know more about UCC and the current status of it in the country.

Crux of the Matter

What Is UCC?
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) comes under Article 44 of the Constitution of India. According to UCC, there should only be one law in India, for matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption and this should be applicable to all religious communities.

Article 44

  • Part IV of Article 44 states: “The state shall endeavour to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”.
  • Article 44 corresponds with the Directive Principles of State Policy
  • While drafting the Constitution, B R Ambedkar wanted to implement UCC but due to lack of awareness amongst people and objection from religious groups, it was made volutary and included this is Article 44.

    Article 37 of the Constitution says that although there should be Uniform Civil Code in the country, its implementation is not mandatory.

Uniform Civil Code In Goa

  • However, Goa is the only Indian state that has a Uniform Civil Code but it is known as the common family law.
  • The code was introduced in the 19th century by the Portuguese as the Portuguese Civil Code.
  • Hence, in Goa, irrespective of the religion, everyone is bound by a common law related to marriage, succession, divorce.

Current Status Of UCC

  • The demand for UCC became a part of BJP’s election manifesto in 1998.
  • Bill to implement it across India was proposed in 2019 and 2020 but was not introduced in the parliament.
  • In March 2021, The Supreme Court asked for a reply from the central government on the need for gender and religion neutral inheritance and succession laws which comes under Unifrom Civil Code.

CJI Bobde’s Comment On Goa’s Uniform Civil Code
Outgoing Chief Justice of India (CJI), S A Bobde applauding the Uniform Civil Code of Goa said:

“Goa has what Constitution framers envisaged for India- a Uniform Civil Code. And I have had the great privilege of administering justice under that Code. It applies in marriage and succession, governing all Goans irrespective of religious affiliations.”

  • For maintaining law and order and communal harmony, British didn’t interfere with religious customs in the country. So Uniform Civil Code was never implemented. But Goa was a part of Portuguese India, so it has UCC.
  • The Islamic religious laws taken from the Quran and Hadith is called Sharia Law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954, was implemented for anyone who wanted to have their marriage outside the realm of any specific religious personal law. The first such Act was the Act III of 1872, introduced by British jurist Henry Sumner Maine.

Major Coups In Recent History

As the Prince of Jordan was put under house arrest amidst alleged coup attempts and as the world is witnessing a coup at Myanmar, let's look back to some of the major coups occurring in recent history around the world.

As the Prince of Jordan was put under house arrest amidst alleged coup attempts and as the world is witnessing a coup at Myanmar, let’s look back to some of the major coups occurring in recent history around the world.

Crux of the Matter

Firstly, What Is A Coup?
Coup is another word for ‘Coup d’état’. As per Britannica, it is defined as the “sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group”.

In coups, military support is considered essential for the ‘group’. Coups are often done by militaries themselves.

Myanmar – February 2021

  • State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders were arrested by military.
  • Military labelled then recent elections ‘fraud’ and took over the nation – 700+ people killed in protests so far.
  • Myanmar had gotten democracy recently, after being under military rule till 2011.

Mali – August 2020

  • President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was arrested by military, who later fled the nation.
  • Coup took place after months of protests demanding Keïta’s resignation over corruption.
  • Notably, Mali also had a coup in 2012, when military took over after ‘Tuareg’ rebels’ secessionist insurgency

Zimbabwe – November 2017

  • President Robert Mugabe was detained before his resignation was announced.
  • Military took over and ex-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was made the President.
  • Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. He was the oldest leader (93) in the world till his resignation.

Thailand – May 2014

  • Military General Prayuth Chan-ocha took over after months of anti-Government protests alleging corruption.
  • As per BBC, it was Thailand’s 12th coup since 1932.
  • In 2016, Thailand adopted a new military-drafted Constitution after referendum, which grants more power to military in the Government.

Nepal – February 2005

  • King Gyanendra dissolved the Government in a ‘self-coup’.
  • The move came amidst Maoist threat – Nepal was in a civil war for 10 years.
  • Parliament reinstated in 2006 after democracy protests – Nepal became a Republic in 2008.

Pakistan – October 1999

  • General Pervez Musharraf took power after removing PM Nawaz Sharif.
  • Sharif later went into exile in Saudi Arabia.
  • Pakistan has witnessed several coups by military, which retains importance in Government functioning.

Chile – September 1973

  • Chilean military, with US support, took over the nation.
  • Socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown who then committed suicide.
  • General Augusto Pinochet became the dictator – his rule is remembered as a regime of ‘terror’.
  • The term coup is derived from the French word ‘coup d’état’. It means a “stroke of state” or “blow of state.”
  • The 1999 military takeover in Pakistan led to the then PM Nawaz Sharif being overthrown by General Musharraf.
  • In German, Coup d’état is called Putsch.