The Indian foreign minister SM Krishna’s four nation visit to Israel, Jordan, Palestine and the UAE from January 8 to 11, 2012 has been seen as a beginning of “new approach ” in India’s foreign policy towards West Asia in general and the Arab Gulf region in particular. India has unequivocally accepted the paradigm that the relations with both Palestine as well as Israel are equally significant to its core national interests. Israel is important to India from defence, security and technology point of view, while Palestine is significant for humanitarian, ideological and strategic reasons.
On October 4, 2011, New Delhi and Kabul have signed a historic Agreement on Strategic Partnership (ASP) which will further strengthen the relations between the two neighbors. India is the fifth highest donor in Afghanistan with $2billion of aid and also engaged in various development projects in Afghanistan and the recent visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai also marks the collaboration of expanding the training of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
The dawn of twenty-first century coincided with an unusual phenomena in the arena of international relations and that is the emergence of China and India as global powers. The steadily rising rate of economic growth in India has recently been around 8 percent per year and there is much speculation about whether and when India may catch up with and may even surpass China’s over 10 percent growth rate. India and China understand the concept of co-existence and the growth very well. This engagement has elements of both rivalry and cooperation.
The 21st century is witnessing rapid development in various parts of East and Southeast Asia. The developing states in the region are struggling to maintain balance between their social obligations and economic reforms. It is their belief that technology could act as a catalyst for successful implementation of their development strategies. During the last few years Vietnamese government has invested significant resources in the development of its science and technology base keeping in mind the long-term interests. Space technology is one such area identified by the Vietnamese government.
In 2012, India will host two significant events. First, in the month of December, the India-ASEAN Summit will be held at New Delhi to mark the 10th anniversary of their Summit-level dialogue; and second, India and Vietnam will be celebrating 40 years of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. Both events gain salience in the broader context of the beginning of the third decade of India’s Look East Policy which has witnessed phenomenal growth over the years in bilateral and multilateral relations with the ASEAN countries.
The latest Sukhoi T-50 prototype – PAK-FA – a twin-engine fifth-generation stealth jet fighter aborted a takeoff at the recently held MAKS Air Show outside Moscow on 21 August 2011 after four days of successful demo flights. While two prototypes of PAK-FA have cumulatively made 48 flights since 29 January 2010, it will be important to know the reasons of this mishap.
India, today, stands at a threshold in leveraging its economic and military growth in consonant with its national security goals. This situation has not only earned a national identity but also an international status where both economy and military strength are major determinants. It’s an irony that India’s growing international status has coincided with two major international developments: One is the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union and the second one is the end of the Cold War.
The Indian Navy announced plans to dispatch a flotilla of four warships to the Asia Pacific region in March-April this year. These vessels will make goodwill visits to ports in the region and also engage in joint exercises with a number of regional navies: Singaporean Navy for the exercise Simbex in South China Sea; Malabar with the US Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) off the Okinawa coast; and Indra with Russian Navy off Vladivostok.
Yet again, India’s defence budget has escaped larger national attention this year. The defence component of the national budget accounts for 14% of central government expenditure but gets less than 5% of media space, the bulk of which goes towards data released by the government with sporadic analyses by experts. Virtually no discussion on the issue takes place in Parliament either. A call for increased resources for national defence usually only goes out when defence spending by Pakistan and China makes headlines.
The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was officially released by the defence minister on January 13, 2011. This bulky document—all of 281 pages, revised eight times in the last nine years—comes into effect from January 1, 2011.