Maritime India Summit (MIS) 2021 expects 27 MoUs valued at ₹12,000 crores

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is likely to sign 27 memorandums of understanding amounting to Rs 12,000 crore at the second Maritime India Summit (MIS) 2021. At the margins of this summit, India will celebrate 'Chabahar Day' on March 4, 2021 and Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan will participate. In 2018, Iran and India had signed an agreement worth USD 85 million to develop the Chabahar Port in south-eastern Iran. The port is located in the Gulf of Oman, and provides an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan. The Chabahar port is a key connectivity project to boost trade ties among India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.

Health posts, temples, India’s grants for earthquake damaged buildings in Nepal

Leveraging its deeply rooted culture, religious, political, and economic ties with Nepal, India has kicked off several initiatives that will accelerate development projects as well as restore cultural centres such as temples. India and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) wherein India will reconstruct 147 health sector projects being reconstructed by the India National Reconstruction Authority at a cost of USD 50 million. India has also committed a total grant of US$ 250 million for reconstruction projects in the education, health, cultural heritage and housing sectors in Nepal.

Boosting Saudi ties while balancing Iran

Despite many positive developments in the closing part of US Trump era where Gulf countries have taken a more accepting position on Israel, the region continues to be a minefield for India. The India-Saudi Arabian relationship has grown leaps and bounds since 2010 with numerous senior level visits from both sides. Historically, Saudi Arabia always supported Pakistan for religious affinity more than strategic reasoning. In the 1971 war, it donated scores of aircraft to Pakistan, donated billions of dollars for that country to buy weapons, and transferred US made missiles.

India’s cautious response to Myanmar coup

Mindful that any open criticism of the military for its role in the coup in Myanmar may drive it towards China and also jeopardise its hard built relationship with Naypyidaw. India granted USD 1.85 billion as development assistance and is currently involved in the USD400 million Kaladan port and highway project in the west of the country. It is also investing USD 250 million to connect its landlocked northeastern states with Thailand via Myanmar. New Delhi and Naypyidaw have cooperated many times in the last couple of years to flush out China supported terrorists hiding in densely forested areas along the border.

China targetted Indian power sector through malware

In a recent report by a Massachusetts-based company, Recorded Future, studied the use of the Internet by state actors,details a campaign conducted by a China-linked threat activity group RedEcho targeting the Indian power sector through malware. Ten distinct power sector organisations, including four Regional Load Dispatch Centres responsible for balancing electricty supply and demand were targetted in a concerted campaign. Seen in the background of border clashes killing twenty Indian soldiers and scores of soldiers from China, this attempt is seen by some analysts as China’s way of embarassing India and showing it that China can easily target Indian assets with impunity.

Multipronged foray in energy to meet 2030 sustainability goals

Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister of Russia Pavel Sorokin has said that India and Russia have “agreed to set up a new group on interaction in the energy sector, which can settle arising issues on cooperation deepening at the working level.” On March 3, 2021, the Indian cabinet ratified the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the France to generate renewable energy 450 gigawatts(GW) by 2030. Top US Government special presidential representative John Kerry revealed that he has “put together a small consortium of several countries” and “private sector capital” “that are prepared to help India with some of the finance and transition” in its ambition to “produce 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.”

New regulations in place for Social media platforms, OTT, and digital media

The Government of India (GoI) issued stringent guidelines for social media platforms and Code of Ethics for over-the-top (OTT) platforms and digital media. The more recent controversy is around Twitter which has refused to shutdown accounts that the GoI says are spreading fake news, misinformation, encouraging anarchy, and even terrorism. Violation of laws will result imprisonment of not less than five years. In response to the judge’s observations and the anger among the majority community, Amazon Prime Video issued a rare appology.

Pakistan-Turkey alliance wages information war to break India

Analysing Disinfo Lab report titled 'The Unending War: From Proxy War to Info-War,” Greek City Times columnist Paul Antonopoulos has stated that Pakistan and Turkey are now in an alliance to break up India using disinformation and misinformation as their tools. This is being done in four ways: "Targeting idea of India - non-violence and Mahatma Gandhi - replacing it with an alternate image of 'fascist India'; targeting India's territorial integrity - working towards K-2 design; targeting India's interests abroad by working against Indian origin American politicians; and whitewashing Pakistan's sins - clean chit to Pakistan (ISI) in Kabul Gurudwara Bombings and questioning Pulwama attack."

India’s Act East Policy focuses on water connectivity

India is working with its neights Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh to create water based connectivity for intra-region transport. India has also started developing the ‘Eastern Grid' inland waterway - a system of multi-modally interconnected waterways and coastal routes to kickstart regional integration in the South Asian Region (SAR) and to facilitate regional trade between South and East Asia. India and Japan recently signed an agreement for Specified Skilled Workers to cover “fourteen trades.” According to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) masterplan, India is planning transport connectivity through 264 projects.

Expanded economic presence in Russia’s Far East

The Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla announced after his meeting with his Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that India is planning to bolster its econmic prescence in Russia’s Far East. As Russian relationship with the West worsened, it is seen by many analysts in India as moving closer to China. During the 2019 visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India annoucned a USD 1 billion loan to aid the region’s development. This development gels well with Russian plans as well. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already decleared that economic development in the Far East is a "national priority of the entire 21st century."

India joins Hypersonic Missle and Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet clubs

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that it “successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSDTV) using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system.” Meanwhile DRDO also successfully demonstrated Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology based missile saying that the booster motor and nozzle-less motor worked flawlessly achieving required Mach speeds. The SFDR will help in the creation of long range air-to-air missiles. Very few countries in the world have these technologies.

Air Force mulling offers from US, Russia, and France to counter China

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that it “successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSDTV) using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system.” Meanwhile DRDO also successfully demonstrated Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology based missile saying that the booster motor and nozzle-less motor worked flawlessly achieving required Mach speeds. The SFDR will help in the creation of long range air-to-air missiles. Very few countries in the world have these technologies.

US is helping India develop its own defence industrial base

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that it “successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSDTV) using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system.” Meanwhile DRDO also successfully demonstrated Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology based missile saying that the booster motor and nozzle-less motor worked flawlessly achieving required Mach speeds. The SFDR will help in the creation of long range air-to-air missiles. Very few countries in the world have these technologies.

NY Govt deliberately hid COVID deaths to avoid Fed probe

A new telephone conversation released from a New York state Democratic leaders’ meeting, it seems that the state government known for its liberal values deliberately hid COVID infection rates to avoid a Federal investigation into that state’s handling fo the virus. Some newspapers have criticized the new York Times for its one-sided narrative looking to ridicule India for its COVID handling capability while the state they are in deliberately hid infection and mortality data to look good. In percentage to population terms, New York has one of the worst infection and mortality numbers in the US, while India as a country has one of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the world.