In April 2018, after a long hiatus, the Neemrana Dialogue was resumed. It is the longest running Track-II initiative between India and Pakistan and the first engagement between the two sides under this initiative was held nearly three decades ago in 1991-92. At the military level, the first ever high-level contact group from Pakistan headed by Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz visited India, and the Indian military attaché in Islamabad and his team was invited to attend the Pakistan Day military parade.
The incident of poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence official, and his daughter on March 4, 2018, in Salisbury, (United Kingdom) allegedly by the Russians have caught the attention of the world. Two months after the notorious incident, on May 18 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that ‘Sergei Skripal would be dead if military grade toxin was used’. With this remark, Putin pushed the investigations of the alleged use of nerve agent ‘Novichoks’ against Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal into complete disarray.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) grew out of the Shanghai Five, a grouping consisting of China and its post-Soviet neighbours (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) formed in 1996 in order to reduce tensions along the nearly 7,264 km long border.
At last, human conscience has taken precedence over commercial interests. This was lately seen in a bold move by the multinational giant Google. Goggle has decided to shelve Project Maven, a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) program for development of drones, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help analyze huge amounts of captured surveillance footage.
Among the many problems confronting the oceans and seas such as climate change, global warming and sea level rise, a major issue of concern is the rapidly decreasing levels of oxygen present in the waters. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has cautioned that oxygen levels in the oceans, from the surface to the greatest depths, are worsening. This is due to indiscriminate discharge of pollutants, sewage, and industrial waste into the seas.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully placed a communication satellite GSAT-6A in a geosynchronous transfer orbit on March 29 (2018). It was carried on board the GSLV F-08 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. This is a communication satellite and will complement the GSAT-6, which is already in orbit. This marks the 12th flight of GSLV-F08 and sixth flight with indigenous cryogenic upper stage.
ISRO’s every launch is mostly unique in terms of capabilities, technologies and usages and hence this launch too needs to be put in perspective given its exclusivity.
Due to unprecedented rise and global reach of China today, India and Russia are faced with some pertinent challenges. Some of the key issues are: How best to deal with China? Will the Cold War policy of containment work in case of China as mainstream communist ideology has failed for the most part in the post-globalised and post-Cold War phase? Or, simply a bland policy of engagement with China will work as China has adopted a more muscular approach in its conduct of foreign policy?
In a surprise move, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj undertook a two-day official visit to Kathmandu, Nepal from February 1, 2018. The visit took place at a time when Nepal is preparing to hold the National Assembly (NA) elections (slated on February 7) under the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led caretaker government. A new government is set to be formed by the left alliance under K P Sharma Oli’s leadership.
"Palestine was ‘twice-promised’ to Jews - first by the Bible and another by the Balfour Declaration".
Great leap forward for Indian defence necessitates resolute action from the apex. A decade proves to be a short time for reforms in military affairs while a week is a long time in politics. However, surprise elements in Indian politics (the latest reshuffle in cabinet) notwithstanding, India appears to challenge conventional notions about military reforms, at least in initiating realms, if not in implementation and results thereafter. Results may vary but intents transcend regimes.