Frontline fourth-generation modern fighter Rafale, manufactured by the French major Dassault Aviation, was chosen as the winner in the global tender for 126 MMRCA for the Indian Air Force before the Modi government took over in 2014. The deal was shelved and subsequently replaced by the announcement of a new contract for the direct purchase of 36 Rafale at a cost of about INR 60,000 crore, the process for which has already been underway since 2015 and the contract signed in September 2016.
With the evolution of space technology, various space-faring nations and some private agencies have readied their plans to colonize the outer space. Currently, a few are working towards sending people to the Moon and Mars in order to understand the nuances behind colonizing the planets in the near future. All these grandiose proposals will actually depend upon how swiftly and successfully people will develop the heavy satellite launch vehicles in order to deliver heavier payloads in the range of different orbits and even into the deep space.
Defence deals or any commercial deals of aircraft acquisitions are mostly under the shroud of mystery globally. Hence, the so-called scandal surrounding the purchase of the Dassault Rafale should be taken with a pinch of salt. At the same time, it also needs to be kept in mind, that if such scandals have some iota of truth, then they have a capacity to become a death nail for the rulers.
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?