The rising threat from unpredictable and excessive rainfall, exacerbated by climate change, has warranted a conceptual debate for robust policy formulation. The urgency has never been felt more than now as we witness devastating incidents like dam breach in Laos, the State Deluge in Kerala (India) and frequent marooning of cities, including ‘smart cities’ in India, during monsoon. It has now become a common scenario across megacities and towns when torrential rains play havoc with daily lives of people leading to deaths and destruction of properties.
It appears India is in a perpetual search for the acquisition of fighter aircraft – an important arsenal for the Indian Air Force (IAF), which is woefully short of its sanctioned strength (39.5 squadrons). Although calculations available in public domain vary – ranging from sanctioned 39.5 to ambitious 42 / 46 squadrons for the IAF to maintain its combat edge – slightly over 30 current squadrons with fast depleting MiG fleet put the IAF in a difficult spot, despite braggart assertions from highest-level military commanders about India’s growing military aerospace prowess.
The maritime domain is witnessing phenomenal changes led by artificial intelligence, which have affected several facets of maritime activity including the humans that build and use these machines. One of the most notable developments is the arrival of autonomous vessels in the shipping industry, which would be crewless or semi-crewed, would navigate using onboard and offshore sensors through remote control, and discharge/load cargo using intelligent and smart machines.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Nepal once again during August 30-31, 2018. This is his fourth visit to Nepal ever since he assumed office in May 2014. During this late August visit, PM Modi will be primarily attending the BIMSTEC summit and holding a bilateral meeting with Nepal’s premier Khadga Prasad Oli on the sidelines. It is believed that he may sign a couple of bilateral agreements with his counterpart during this meeting.
For years, Japan is known as technologically most advanced country in the world. However, even this country has not been free from cultural and religious fundamentalism and fanaticism.
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.