News Updates

20 May - 02 June, 2019
  • India lifts restrictions on its airspace. “Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 February 2019 have been removed,” the IAF posted on Twitter. The IAF communicated its decision in a letter to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). (The Hindu, 01 June, 2019)
  • Trump ends $5.6B trade preference for India. As he hardens his stand on trade, US President Donald Trump is ending India's $5.6 billion trade concessions under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) programme because “India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets. Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India's designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019." (Khaleej Times, 01 June, 2019)
  • Modi sworn in for second term as Indian prime minister. Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term as India’s prime minister after an overwhelming election victory for his Hindu nationalist party in a country of 1.3 billion people seeking swift economic change. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath to Modi and his Cabinet ministers. Missing from the new Cabinet were former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who stepped aside for health reasons. (The Washington Post, 30 May, 2019)
  • Maldives may be Modi’s 1st port of call in second stint. PM Narendra Modi is likely to kick off his second tenure with a visit to the Maldives in early June. Maldives was the only country in the neighbourhood Modi did not visit in five years of his first tenure except for attending President Ibrahim Solih’s inauguration. (The Times of India, 27 May, 2019)
  • Muslim Man Beaten, Forced to Chant 'Jai Shri Ram' for Wearing Skull Cap in Gurugram. A Muslim man on his way back from offering namaz in Gurugram was reportedly beaten by a group of men on Saturday (May 25) night. The 25-year-old Mohammad Barkat was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and his skull cap was forcibly removed. A day before Barkat was attacked, when a group of men stopped him and said skull caps are not allowed in the area. (The Wire, 27 May, 2019)
  • 43% newly-elected Lok Sabha MPs have criminal record: ADR. The BJP has 116 MPs or 39% of its winning candidates with criminal cases, followed by 29 MPs (57%) from the Congress, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) said. Nearly half of the newly-elected Lok Sabha members have criminal charges against them, a 26% increase as compared to 2014, according to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). (The Hindu, 26 May, 2019)
  • Modi strikes conciliatory tone after landslide win. Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a conciliatory tone after India’s divisive election, assuring citizens of Asia’s second-most populous nation that his government would serve the interests of all Indians, regardless of their faith or political sympathies. Modi said that the BJP government must work to win the trust of minorities, and broaden its guiding principles to “together with all, development for all, trust of all”. (Financial Times, 26 May, 2019)
  • Mehbooba welcomes Pak PM's call to Modi, says dialogue only way forward. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's call to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, tweeted a, "Welcome step. For what it's worth, dialogue is the only way forward to resolve longstanding issues between India & Pak." (India Today, 26 May, 2019)
  • India relaxes procedure to speed up arms sales to friendly foreign nations. India has finalised a new system to speed up sale of military equipment to friendly countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar and others through defence lines of credit (LoC), which is akin to the much-touted foreign military sales (FMS) programme of the US. (The Times of India, 25 May, 2019)
  • ‘Narendra Modi cannot remove Articles 35A, 370 from J&K,’ says Farooq Abdullah. National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah said Prime Minister Modi cannot remove Article 35A and Article 370 that grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He said instead of dividing the country, the prime minister should make efforts to unite the people. (, 25 May, 2019)
14 May - 19 May, 2019
  • India concludes marathon seven-phase election, results on May 23. India has concluded its seven-phase national elections, the country's Election Commission has announced. The vote count is scheduled four days later on May 23. Polling concluded in 542 parliamentary constituencies across states and union territories. Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in parliament, which has 543 seats up for grabs. To stay in power, the BJP may need to ally itself with some regional parties. (Al-Jazeera, 19 May, 2019)
  • India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on course to win the general election, exit polls suggest. Four exit polls saw big wins for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), predicting that it would win anywhere between 280 and 315 seats, far more than the Congress party. However, a Nielsen-ABP news channel poll suggested that the BJP alliance would win 267 seats, falling short of a majority. This prediction comes despite its projection that the party would lose heavily in the bellwether state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to parliament, more than any other. In 2014 the BJP won 71 of the state's seats, but the Nielsen-ABP poll suggests this time it will lose as many as 51 of those seats to powerful regional parties. (BBC News, 19 May 2019)
  • Congress fails to make a mark in direct contest with BJP in 7 states. In seven states, where the Congress and the BJP were locked in face-to-face battle, the saffron party is likely to win 103 seats, registering a loss of 11 seats, the exit polls said. The Congress, on the other hand, is expected to up its tally by 13 seats to 25 in these seven states. (The Times of India, 19 May 2019)
  • 61 per cent voter turnout in last phase of Lok Sabha polls: EC. Nearly 61 per cent voters turned out to cast their vote in the seventh and the final phase of the Lok Sabha election held in 59 constituencies across eight states and Union Territories. The fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking to retain the Varanasi seat in Uttar Pradesh, will be decided in this phase. (The Times of India, 19 May 2019)
  • India, Singapore conduct SIMBEX-19 naval exercise in the South China Sea. The 26th Edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) -19 has commenced in the South China Sea. The naval drill will be conducted until May 22. "The four-day naval exercise will include various maritime combat drills such as advanced aerial tracking, coordinated targeting tactical exercises and weapon firing on aerial and surface targets," according to an official statement. (Business Standard, 19 May, 2019)
  • Agencies take shape for special operations, space, cyber war. The three tri-service agencies to handle the critical modern warfare domains of special operations, cyberspace and space are taking shape, with two-star officers being appointed to head them. These three agencies, which will become fully operational by October-November, under three-star officers will handle the rapidly expanding challenges in space, cyberspace and clandestine warfare in a synergised manner. (The Times of India, 15 May 2019)
  • India, Pakistan could be discussing de-escalation along LoC: Report. Quoting official sources, 'The Express Tribune' newspaper reported that the channels of communication that were suspended following the Pulwama terrorist attack in February may have been restored. Pakistan and India might be discussing the options of de-escalating tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary, the paper said. (The Economic Times, 15 May 2019)
  • Iran foreign minister visits India amid falling oil revenue. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met Sushma Swaraj, days after India decided to follow US restrictions on buying Iranian oil. Zarif held discussions on issues of mutual interest, including the evolving situation in Afghanistan. India bought 23.6 million tons of Iranian oil in March 2019. Under US pressure, India said it would buy crude oil from other major oil producing countries to protect its interests. (The Washington Post, 14 May, 2019)
  • India delays levying retaliatory tariff on U.S. goods. India delayed the implementation of higher tariffs on some goods imported from the US to June 16, according to a government statement. The new duties were to come into force from May 16. (The Hindu, 14 May, 2019)