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10 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Introduction : The article discuss various issues and implications of relating to India’s membership issues in MTCR and NSG.

What is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?

  • Established in April 1987, it is a voluntary association of 34 countries and four “unilateral adherents” that follow its rules: Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Macedonia.
  • The group aims to slow the spread of missiles and other unmanned delivery technology that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.
  • The regime urges members, which include most of the world’s major missile manufacturers, to restrict exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

What does India need to do to get in?

  • Prospective members must win consensus approval from existing members.
  • United States policy had been that members that are not recognised nuclear-weapon states — including India — must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km.
  • The US, however, made an exception in 1998 for Ukraine, permitting it to retain Scud missiles and, in October 2012, South Korea was allowed to keep ballistic missiles with an 800-km range and 500-kg payload that could target all of North Korea.
  • For India, the US seems to have waived these terms, allowing it retain its missile arsenal.

How does the MTCR work?

  • Members must have national policies governing export of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, space launch vehicles, drones, remotely piloted vehicles, sounding rockets, and their components.
  • There are two categories of exports: Category I, which are basically exports of complete products and major sub-systems and are meant to be extremely rare — with guidelines instructing members that “there will be strong presumption to deny transfers”; and
  • Category II, which includes materials, technologies and components whose transfers can be made more easily, since they generally have civilian applications, even though these too are done with caution.

Does joining the MTCR make getting missile technology easier?

  • There are no special concessions for MTCR members.
  • But India hopes its MTCR membership will be one more reason for the US to consider exporting Category 1 UAVs, Reaper and Global Hawk, which have been key to counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Are there any sanctions for breaking MTCR rules?

  • Rulebreakers can’t be punished. However, US law mandates sanctions for companies and governments that export MTCR-controlled items. The sanctioned entity can’t sign contracts, buy arms and receive aid for two years or more.

Does the MTCR actually stop the spread of missile technology?

  • Yes and no. North Korea, Iran and Pakistan acquired ballistic missile technology from China. But then, China began to feel the pinch of US technology sanctions — and announced, in November 2000, that it would stop exporting ballistic missile technology.
  • Four years later, it applied for MTCR membership — but has been denied entry because of suspicion that some companies in the country are secretly supplying technology to North Korea.
  • Many others dropped missile programmes because of MTCR pressure: Argentina abandoned its Condor II ballistic missile programme to join the regime.
  • It is possible China may now seek some kind of bargain, whereby it is given entry to the MTCR in return for letting India get into the NSG, where it wields a veto.

NSG: In the great wall of China, a few chinks

  • Why does India want to be in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?
  • Following India’s 1974 nuclear tests, the US pushed for setting up a club of nuclear equipment and fissile material suppliers.
  • The 48-nation group frames and implements agreed rules for exporting nuclear equipment, with a view to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons; members are admitted only by consensus.
  • India has been trying, since 2008, to join the group, which would give it a place at the high table where the rules of nuclear commerce are decided — and, eventually, the ability to sell equipment.

Why doesn’t Pakistan want India in?

  • The Pakistani argument is that giving India easy access to fissile material and technology for its civilian nuclear programme means it would have that much more material for its military nuclear programme.
  • Thus, Pakistan says, the move to give India NSG membership is fuelling a nuclear arms race.
  • And what is China’s problem?
  • Chinese diplomats say Beijing wants NSG entry to be norm-based — in other words, whatever rules govern Indian entry should apply to others too.
  • Norm-based entry would, presumably, help Pakistan gain entry, something many in the NSG are certain to resist because of the country’s record as a proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Question : The entry into global groups like MTCR and NSG reflects India’s growing stature in the world politics. Comment. Discuss about the importance of these groups in the South Asian geopolitics.

Suggested Approach:

  1. These groups and their importance.
  2. India’s diplomatic efforts to enter into these groups.
  3. Impact of India’s entry into these groups on South Asian geopolitics.

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10 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Sagar mala initiative: port-led development

  • The Sagar mala project envisages a model of port-led development
  • It seeks to develop a string of ports around India's coast
  • The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.

Background and necessity for the Project

  • Ports are gateways to import and export activity.
  • With the current focus of Government on ‘Make in India’ initiative, the export traffic is bound to increase. Hence, world-class ports are needed.
  • Indian ports have been facing multiple problems as discussed in the section below and need an overhaul to become drivers of growth

Problems of ports/shipping

  • The Capacity of ports is overstretched; they can’t meet increasing demands of merchandize trade
  • Low investment in capacity addition in the past
  • Inadequate infrastructure for basic services at ports and outdated equipment
  • Large turnaround times at Indian ports make them uncompetitive
  • Low labour productivity and level of training at the ports
  • Lack sufficient draft at the ports for large tankers. Hence, cargo from large tankers have to be transferred to small tankers for reaching the ports. This increases transport costs substantially
  • Weak hinter land connectivity including inefficient evacuation systems increase transportation costs
  • Unfriendly taxation regime and rigid laws deter exporters

About Sagar mala

  • The project is aimed at transforming existing ports into world class ports as well as developing new world class ports
  • It envisages developing ports and effective hinter land evacuation systems (via road, rail, coastal waterways) which would lead to ports being the drivers of economic activity in the regions
  • It would also integrate the ports with Industrial and Freight corridor projects, reducing the logistics costs and making exports more competitive.

Components of project

The Sagar mala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:

  • Port Modernisation: The existing ports to be transformed into world class ports as well development of new world-class ports
  • Efficient Evacuation Systems: Development of efficient rail, road and inland water transport networks to and from hinter land to be undertaken.
    • Policies for promotion of coastal/inland shipping to be developed.
    • Promotion of usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
  • Coastal Economic Development: Development of Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) for encouraging economic activities in coastal regions.
    • synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing schemes and programmes such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.

Organisational framework

  • The project envisages an organisational framework for Centre and States to work together under the principles of "cooperative federalism".
  • National Sagar mala Apex Committee-
    • To be chaired by Minister in charge of Shipping. The Cabinet Ministers from stakeholder Ministries and Chief Ministers/ministers in charge of shipping of maritime states
    • for overall policy guidance and high-level coordination
    • to review key aspects of planning and project implementation
    • committee will prepare the National Perspective Plan for the project.
  • Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee-
    • shall be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary with Secretaries of the Ministries of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Tourism, Defence, Home Affairs, Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Departments of Revenue, Expenditure, Industrial Policy and Promotion, Chairman, Railway Board and CEO, NITI Aayog as members.
    • will provide coordination between various ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan
  • Sagar mala Development Company-
    • will be set up under the Companies Act, 1956 to assist the State level/zone level Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), as well as SPVs to be set up by the ports, with equity support for implementation of projects to be undertaken by them

Benefits of port development

  • Ports will be drivers of a developed coastal economy via Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs). It will a model of sustainable economic development for the population living in coastal areas.
  • Exports can be made more competitive by effective hinter land connectivity with ports there by reducing costs
  • India can earn substantial foreign exchange via port services across its long coastline if can have a network of world-class ports
  • The project targets to provide one crore employment. Port-led development has potential for direct employment generation for 40 lakh persons and for 60 lakh persons indirectly.
  • Also, the Sagar mala Project is clearly well aligned with other key-government projects such as Smart Cities, Namami Gange and Make in India


  • Vision on Coastal Shipping has been released. Coastal shipping pacts with Bangladesh are also a step in the right direction.
  • The National maritime development programmes for deepening drafts of major ports is under progress
  • Recently, the government has decided to halve the previously estimated 10-year time frame to complete the Sagar mala port development project; now it will be completed in 5 years