The Maoist insurgency in India (also known as Naxalite), which was started at Naxalbari in the Darjiling district of West Bengal in 1967, has now spread to 159 districts in fourteen states. They have virtually spread over 20 per cent of the total districts in India. Till the end of year 2004, Naxalite violence had claimed 518 lives in 1,140 incidents against 348 deaths in 1,138 incidents in the corresponding period last year. The Naxalite problem is in certain respects more serious than the Kashmir problem.
After the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress National Meeting 2007, China started focusing on South Asia, specifically India. Both have been favorably disposed towards multilateralism, with India joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an observer, while China joining SAARC summit in April 2008, also as an observer. Besides, people to people diplomacy expanded with mutual tourist visits.
Cross border threats, which involve influx of counterfeit currencies, illegal arms, smuggling of narcotics, illegal wildlife trade and its derivatives and cross border terrorism, are gaining momentum along the 726 kilometer long porous India-Nepal border. It is a grave concern for India considering the present political instability in Nepal.
The area, in which Franco-Indian ties have made the most progress however, remains that of defence cooperation, moving from the short term tactical relations of the Cold War, to the more long term and genuinely strategic. France has now become one of India’s most trusted Western defence partners, and Franco-Indian defence cooperation has been described by French officials as ‘discreet but wide-ranging and efficient’, both countries regularly trading information on terrorism, security in Asia and the Middle-East, and maritime piracy, amongst a host of other issues.
On the 14th of July, a contingent comprised of more than 400 Indian troops, drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Force marched down from the Arc de Triomphe monument during the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. The event took place in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It, undoubtedly, heralds a new chapter in Franco-Indian ties and the participation of Indian troops in the parade is indicative of a more profound trend which has been steadily growing over the past decade or so.
During the present world turmoil, the Australian government has announced an aggressive defence policy. The White Paper on defence titled ‘Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030’ envisages a considerable increase in its defence expenditure and a significant military acquisition programme for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF).
On 27 May 2009 Indian Air Force inducted one of the biggest state-of-art platforms in its fleet capable of giving advance warning of an aerial threat. The platform is also capable of gathering electronics and signals intelligence. This is India’s first Airborne Warning and Control Systems commonly known as AWACS. Two more such aerial platforms are on queue to be inducted by 2012.
For less than one million Bhutanese populations, the year 2008 ushered a new era of governance. The year witnessed the melting down a century old monarchy to a democratic constitutional monarchy. A parliamentary democratic government was formed in the nation based on the universal adult franchise. The Himalayan landlocked country drafted a constitution with provisions of 35 articles and 4 schedules, with prior objective to eradicate Bhutan’s backwardness and accelerate the development.
Among the several congratulatory letters received by Prime Minster Manmohan Singh on his reelection, the message from the French President Nicolas Sarkozy merits attention. While inviting Prime Minster Manmohan Singh to be the Chief Guest at the forthcoming ceremonies marking the National Day of France on July 14, Sarkozy has praised the Indian democratic system and alluded ‘ to the values of liberty, people's sovereignty and respect of diversity in secularism'.