The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Foreign Ministers meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting has become a convention since 1997. Despite the SAARC Summit meetings being cancelled or postponed, the SAARC foreign Ministers have met regularly to discuss the regional affairs. Lately, since 2018, the India Pakistan conflict has also spilled over to the SAARC foreign ministers meet in New York.
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan is over, after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul. Except for the ongoing resistance from National Resistance Front (NRF) in Panjshir valley and sporadic violence from Islamic State’s Khorasan branch, Afghanistan has witnessed relative calm since then. However, the law and order situation continues to remain grim.
Seven people including six Assam police personnel were killed by the Mizoram police firing on July 26, 2021, during an armed standoff at the Assam-Mizoram borders. The situation remained tense but came under control after the Union Government deployed two companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along with the disputed areas on the Assam-Mizoram border.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), along with the commercial institutions in the country, has been actively testing its digital fiat currency, the Chinese electronic yuan (e-CNY), with almost 21 million people (personal wallets) having taken part in the tests as of June 2021.[i] Further, China has been accelerating its efforts to make the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics “technology savvy” by the wide adoption of e-CNY.
At least 12 people, including nine Chinese citizens, were killed after a bus carrying construction workers plunged into a ravine following an explosion on July 14, 2021, when the workers were heading to the Dasu hydropower project located in the Upper Kohistan region situated between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). No one has claimed responsibility for the incident, though the nail of suspicion is on Pakistani Taliban formation infamous as Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP).
In the last 13 years, one of the significant achievements of the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has been to maintain strict control over the growing Islamic radicalism in the country.
A very passionate debate is ongoing in India on the relevance and effectiveness of Allopathy and Ayurveda, two different (modern and traditional) branches of medicine. In respect of Covid-19 handling, there was an attempt to debunk the relevance of allopathic treatment. In response to this, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), an NGO, has taken a very aggressive stance and stood against demeaning allopathy.
After over a month-long debate and discussion, the Sri Lankan cabinet, on April 27, 2021, imposed a ban on wearing Burqas (full-face veils in public used by Muslim women) and closing down madrasas (Islamic Seminaries) across the country. The government defended the decision by stating that these restrictions would improve national security and prevent radicalisation in society. As expected, few Islamic countries and groupings termed the decision as anti-Islamic.
There is an upsurge in Maoist related incidents in Chhattisgarh, a central Indian province. The violence on April 3, 2021, has raised a big question mark on the government's anti-Maoist strategy. Between 2018 and 2020, Chhattisgarh accounted for 45% of all Maoist related incidents in India and causing 70% of security personnel deaths (Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report 2019-2020)
China successfully landed its rover on Mars on May 14, 2021. After landing, it took 17 minutes to unfold the solar panels attached to this system and send a signal back to Earth. It may be noted that the current distance to Mars from the Earth is 320 million km, and it takes about 17/18 minutes for radio messages to reach Earth. Presently, this rover is situated inside a lander and would take few more days to get out of the lander's belly and start moving on the Martian surface. It is expected to operate for three months.