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UPA-II progress report after 1 year rule
New Delhi, May 19 (IANS):
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Published on 20 May. 2010 12:07 AM IST
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There were some derailments but at the end of the first year of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s second term, India’s foreign policy was back on track, except for Afghanistan where it appeared to be floundering on how to protect its strategic interests.
If the first term was defined by the signing of the trailblazing India-US civilian nuclear deal, the second term saw Manmohan Singh trying to retain the momentum in New Delhi’s ties with Washington, especially after the change of guard at the White House, and turning his energies to transforming relations with Pakistan.
Here’s a brief outline of India’s external diplomacy during the past year.
* Relations with US: Despite the widely predicted cooling off of the US’ relations with India under the new administration in Washington, US President Barack Obama defied sceptics by inviting the Indian prime minister as the first state guest of his presidency in November last year.
Manmohan Singh’s visit saw the India-US relationship move into the next phase with the launch of a strategic dialogue and setting up of a landmark knowledge initiative. Differences on Afghanistan-Pakistan issues persisted, but the US stressed India was an indispensable ally in the 21st century.
* Transforming ties with Bangladesh: In a difficult neighbourhood bristling with dysfunctional states, the long-stagnating India-Bangladesh ties got a bounce during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in Jan 2010. India announced $1 billion line of credit, the single largest bilateral aid to any country and signed three pacts related to security and counter-terror cooperation that will enable New Delhi to get access to anti-India insurgents in the Bangladesh territory.
* Reforms in United Nations: Another minor success, albeit not much noticed, was the endorsement of IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and for a permanent seat in 2011-12.
* From Sharm-el-Sheikh to Thimphu: Manmohan Singh faced a lot of flak when he returned home after signing the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint declaration with Pakistan, which delinked the composite dialogue from Pakistan’s action against terror and included a reference to Balochistan, triggering cries of sell-out in Indian parliament.
* China-India ties rocky but back on track: Relations with China also went through a rocky patch in the last year. Reports of increasing Chinese incursions, Beijing’s opposition to a multilateral loan for India on grounds that a part of it was meant for Arunachal Pradesh and it’s opposition to the visit of the Indian prime minister and president to Arunachal were some of the issues that stressed India-China ties.
* Taliban deal: In Afghanistan, despite the government’s determination to continue its $1.3-billion reconstruction projects, there is a widely held view that India appeared to be losing the game in Afghanistan after the Jan 20 London conference backed a proposal for reintegrating the “good” Taliban into the Afghan political mainstream, an idea floated by Pakistan.
* Strong voice on climate change: India managed to forge a powerful coalition with China, Brazil and South Africa at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December to protect the interests of emerging economies on carbon emissions.
But at home the UPA government faced criticism for allowing international oversight of its climate change policies rather than its stated stand earlier that it would merely inform the concerned UN agency about its mitigation programmes.
UPA would win if polls held now: survey

Majority of people feel the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would win if an election was to be held tomorrow, an NDTV opinion poll said.
The poll which surveyed 34,277 people said despite the problems in the UPA, the government has emerged stronger on account of the opposition being divided.
The poll showed the UPA gaining 25 seats in a Lok Sabha election, coming back with a strength of 288. With 70 percent of India’s voting population living in rural belts, various controversies surrounding the UPA government seemed to have little effect on the poll results. Statewise figures show the UPA’s gain came primarily from a clean sweep on the entire 39 seats in Tamil Naidu and overhauling the BJP in Karnataka with 18 seats, adding 12 to its present number.
Despite the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Congress manages to hold on in Andhra Pradesh, losing only a negligible three seats bringing its number to 30.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress emerges the single largest party with 25 of the 80 seats. The BSP and the Samajwadi Party, which both have at times supported the UPA government, land up losing a few seats each.
In West Bengal however, the UPA’s survival depends on its alliance with present partner Trinamool Congress. In the event that the alliance with Mamata Banerjee falls through, the UPA stands to lose around 23 seats.
For Bihar, the polls suggests, an alliance between the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress may lead to the UPA sweeping the state as well. The poll says the Congress with the RJD may get as many as 33 seats in the state.

 
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