Oil for Food Scam (2005)

In the aftermath of Gulf War, Oil-for-Food Programme was introduced by United Nations for allowing Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs. However, this programme became controversial due to allegations of corruption and fraud by politicos of various countries. The United Nations set up an independent inquiry committee {Paul Volcker Committee} to look into these allegations. Apart from other people, this committee named Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh as beneficiaries of illegal payments worth Rs. 61 crore. This turned out to be India’s first post-liberalization market related scam. Natwar Singh was dismissed from the Cabinet and his party membership was suspended; thus ending his career as an IFS officer and later a politician and union minister. Once Natwar Singh out, Manmohan Singh himself kept the foreign portfolio between November, 2005 and October 2006.

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India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation

The most remarkable feature of Manmohan Singh’s foreign policy was a successful India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement. In 2005, Manmohan Singh visited United States, and in that visit, the two countries made a joint statement to enter into cooperation in Civil Nuclear Energy. India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place all its civil nuclear facilities (14) under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard and in exchange, the United States agree to work towards full civil nuclear cooperation with India. India would also be given recognition as a de facto nuclear-weapons state; and nuclear-related supplies to and from India would be accepted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
This agreement and India’s acceptance to put its civil nuclear facilities under IAEA created a storm in the domestic politics, leading Left to withdraw support from Manmohan Singh Government. However, the government survived with the support of Samajwadi Party. And finally put the agreement in effect in 2008.
This agreement was significant because India had not signed NPT and CTBT and had conducted nuclear tests just 7 years ago. The Indian Government believed that this agreement would help India to join the international nuclear mainstream.

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Relations with Pakistan

During his entire tenure, Manmohan Sigh did not visit Pakistan for even a single time. In 2005, Pakistani President Parvez Musharraf had come to India but no substantial progress was made towards peace between the two countries. In the same year, India and Pakistan agreed to allow travel across LoC by bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The relations worsened due to 2008 attacks on Mumbai. He followed a softer approach towards Pakistan in comparison to his successor.

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Relations with China

In November 2006, when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India, a “ten pronged strategy” was proposed to improve the relations between the tow countries. A major development in that year was the reopening of Nathula Pass (In Sikkim) for trade after remaining closed for more than four decades. Manmohan Singh also visited China in 2008. During Manmohan Singh tenure, China became India’s largest trade partner with the bilateral trade heavily in favour of China.

Chumar Standoff

During second tenure of Manmohan Singh there was a three week stand-off between India and China troops near Line of Actual Control between Ladakh and Aksai Chin in 2013. This tension was defused when India agreed to demolish the live-in bunkers and China agreed to withdraw its troops.

Entry of China into SAARC

In 2005, China was given an Observer status in SAARC. While other countries were open to make China a regular member, India hesitated and blocked China’s entry.

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Bangladesh-India-Myanmar Trilateral Agreement

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (TH) project under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation Initiative was started in 2005. It was one of the vital project to improve cross border connectivity between India and Myanmar.

Relations with Afghanistan

During Manmohan Singh’s tenure, India emerged as largest regional donor to Afghanistan. India started many development projects in Afghanistan.

India-Africa Summit, 2008

The first summit between India and African countries opened in 2008 in New Delhi, with the intention of increasing trade and diplomatic relations. 14 African leaders participated in the two-day summit, including those of South Africa, Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Algeria, and Ethiopia.

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