China's advancements in its nuclear capability, including that the accelerated pace of their nuclear expansion, may enable China to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, the US Department of Defense (DOD) said.
"The accelerating pace of the PLA's (People's Liberation Army) nuclear expansion may enable the PRC (People's Republic of China) to have up to about 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027," the official said. "And the report states that the PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030 — exceeding the pace and the size that we projected in the 2020 China Military Power report," the Department said in a report.
The report also reveals that China may have already established a nuclear triad, which includes the ability to launch such missiles from the air, ground and sea.
"The PRC has possibly already established a nascent 'nuclear triad' with the development of a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile and improvement of its ground- and sea-based nuclear capabilities," the report reads.
New to the report this year is a section on the Chinese military's chemical and biological research efforts. It says China has engaged in biological activities with potential dual-use applications and that this raises concerns regarding its compliance with the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The report concludes that China continues to be clear in its ambitions to be competitive with world-class military powers, a DOD official said.
"The PLA's evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen its ability to fight and win wars, to use their own phrase, against what the PRC refers to as a 'strong enemy' — again, another phrase that appears in their publications. And a ‘strong enemy', of course, is very likely a euphemism for the US," he said.
According to the report, a big part of China's effort to match the strength of a "strong enemy" involves major modernization and reform efforts within China's army. Those efforts include an ongoing effort to achieve "mechanisation", which the report describes as the Chinese army's efforts to modernize its weapons and equipment to be networked into a "systems of systems" and to also utilise more advanced technologies suitable for "informatised" and "intelligentised" warfare.
Also of significance are China's efforts to project military power outside it's own borders.
"The PRC is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA to project and sustain military power at greater distances," the DOD official said.
"We're talking about not just within the immediate environments, environments in the Indo-Pacific, but throughout the Indo-Pacific region and indeed, around the world."
The official said China's army has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiency across all warfare domains, so that, as a joint force, it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations that are envisioned in army publications, as well as in space, counterspace, electronic warfare and cyber operations.
Even before the bursting of crackers, the air quality of Delhi-NCR region has worsened further as AQI of eight areas here has crossed the 400-mark and settled at 'severe' category by Thursday afternoon, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed.
AQI of five areas in Delhi, two in Ghaziabad was recorded over 400 by CPCB in its data collected at 1 p.m, showing Wazirpur (433), Alipur (406), Bawana (402), Jahangiri (439) Nehru Nagar (413) in Delhi, Loni (450) and Sanjay Nagar (404) in Ghaziabad and Sector 62 (420) in Noida among those under the last category of the index.
The meteorological agencies have predicted an AQI of 500 plus for Thursday and Friday when Delhiites burst crackers on Diwali day.
According to health experts, an AQI of such an extent may cause respiratory problems even in healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung or heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.
With stubble burning share in Delhi's air pollution set to increase over the next three days, SAFAR has projected an AQI of 500 plus on November 5 even if Delhiites burst 50 percent fewer crackers compared to the last year.
SAFAR, or the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research under the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) – an agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences – said as per sensitivity simulation, stubble share on November 4 is predicted to increase to 20 percent and will touch a peak of 35-40 percent on November 5 and 6, if fire counts are considered same as today (3,500-4,000). This is largely due to transport-level winds reaching Delhi from North-Westerly, where stubble burning hotspots are expected, SAFAR said.
World leaders were in the UK for day three of the UN Climate Change Conference or COP26 on Tuesday where a wide range of announcements focused on signalling a clear shift from ambition to immediate action.
Countries made unprecedented commitments to protect forests, reduce methane emissions and accelerate green technology.
Amid powerful pleas heard in Glasgow on Monday, world leaders, young people and campaigners all stressed the urgency of taking tangible action to keep the prospect of holding back global temperature rises to 1.5 degree Celsius and building resilience to climate impacts.
A total of 114 leaders took a landmark step forward at a convening of world leaders on forests by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by $12bn in public and $7.2bn in private funding.
Countries from Canada to Russia to Brazil -- which also increased its Nationally determined contributions (NDC) on Monday -- China, Colombia, Indonesia and Congo all endorsed the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forest and Land Use.
Together, they support 85 per cent of the world's forests, an area of more than 13 million square miles which absorbs around one-third of global CO2 released from burning fossil fuels each year.
This announcement was bolstered with a commitment by CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with more than $8.7 trillion of global assets, including Aviva, Schroders and Axa, committing to eliminating investment in activities linked to deforestation.
Tuesday is also the first time a COP in recent history has hosted a major event on methane, with 105 countries, including 15 major emitters, including Brazil, Nigeria and Canada, signing up to the global methane pledge.
This historic commitment, led by the US and EU alongside the UK COP26 presidency, equates up to 40 per cent of global methane emissions and 60 per cent of global GDP.
More than 35 world leaders have also backed and signed up to the new Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda that will see countries and businesses work together to dramatically scale and speed up the development and deployment of clean technologies and drive down costs this decade.
Signatories include the US, India, EU, developing economies and some of those most vulnerable to climate change -- collectively representing more than 50 per cent of the world's economy and every region.
The aim is to make clean technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice for all globally in the most polluting sectors by 2030, particularly supporting the developing world to access the innovation and tools needed for a just transition to net-zero.
Work will focus on five key sectors -- power, road transport, hydrogen, steel and agriculture -- which together represent more than half of total global emissions and further demonstrate how countries are moving from commitments to tangible action.
Leaders signed up to the Glasgow Breakthroughs also committed to discussing global progress every year in each sector starting in 2022 -- supported by annual reports led by the International Energy Agency in collaboration with International Renewable Energy Agency and UN High-Level Champions -- and annual discussions of ministers across government convened around the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial.
This 'Global Checkpoint Process' will seek to sustain and continually strengthen international cooperation across the agenda throughout this decade.
Leaders from South Africa, the UK, the US, France, Germany and the European Union have announced a ground-breaking partnership to support South Africa with an accelerated just energy transition.
As a first step, the international partnership has announced that $8.5billion can be made available over the next three-five years to support South Africa -- the world's most carbon-intensive electricity producer -- to achieve the most ambitious target within South Africa's upgraded and ambitious NDC.
A package of support, bringing together private sector finance and public sector expertise to scale-up African climate adaptation projects, providing life-saving support in the face of climate shocks to protect the most vulnerable.
Leaders raised the importance of adaptation to the impacts of climate change as a matter of survival. New countries came forward with adaptation communications, bringing the number of people covered by them and national adaptation plans to 2.3 billion.
COP26 President Alok Sharma said: "Forests are one of our best defences against catastrophic climate change, and essential to keeping 1.5C alive. This historic commitment will help end the devastating effects of deforestation and support the developing countries and indigenous communities who are the guardians of so much of the world's forests."
"The Glasgow Breakthroughs will help move us towards a global tipping point, where the clean, green technologies we need to reach net-zero and keep 1.5C alive are more affordable, accessible and attractive for all than the polluting practices we are leaving behind."
On October 22, 1947 Pakistan attacked the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was the beginning of a conflict that would leave thousands dead and maimed and scar the lives of millions. It was also the start of a feud between India and Pakistan that continues to this day.
Attempts, thenceforth, made by India to try to resolve the issue of Kashmir peacefully through the corridors of international diplomacy have each time ended in a stalemate at the floor of the United Nations forcing India to start attempts to seek a resolution, all over again.
Meanwhile, religious terrorist outfits, working in unison with Pakistani military establishment and its spy agency the ISI, have kept the riot alive, which Pakistan presents to the world community as evidence of an ongoing imaginary mass separatist movement in Kashmir.
Today, as battle hardened LeT and other jihadi terrorists returning from Afghanistan have once again managed to infiltrate our territory and an all-out Indian military operation in Poonch is under way, which, by the way, has already cost the lives of 10 of our jawans and 15 infiltrators, the occasion begs to seek a new approach towards solving the seventy odd year old conflict that seems to be going round in circles.
At the time of Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 guidelines for the future of the 560 plus Princely States were stated in the 1935 Government of India Act according to which, The Indian (princely) state's...accession to a Federation (Pakistan or India) ... cannot take place otherwise than by the voluntary act of the Ruler of each State.
The government of Pakistan entered into a bilateral agreement (Stand-Still Agreement. August 15, 1947) with the State of Jammu Kashmir according to which Pakistan was obliged to accept the independent status of the State. However, on October 22 of the same year Pakistan army, along with tribal mercenaries that it had hired from northwestern parts of the newly established country, launched an attack on the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Due to its surprise nature, the attack caught Maharaja Hari Singh unprepared. Soon Pakistani troops were calling at the gates of Srinagar. It was then that the Maharaja made a wise decision and acceded to India. The Instrument of Accession was thus signed on October 26, 1947. Next morning Indian jawans began to land at the Srinagar airport. Soon the Pakistani intruders were forced to retreat and pushed across the River Poonch.
Had the Nehru government not made the mistake of seeking a ceasefire from the United Nation Security Council (UNSC), we, the people of Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan would have been free citizens of Bharat as well.
According to the UNSC resolution of August 13, 1948, the first step in the direction of restoring peace in the region demanded a total withdrawal of Pakistani troops and all (nonresident) tribal invaders. Did Pakistan comply? No, not to this day. Instead of following the conditions for restoration of peace laid down by the UNSC, Pakistan conducted Operation Grand Slam and Operation Gibraltar (1965), and the Kargil war (1999).
In 1990, Pakistan conducted one of the most outrageous terrorist campaigns in the Valley that we now know as the genocide of the aborigines of Kashmir; the Kashmiri Pandits. They were target killed, raped and persecuted which led to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley of Jammu Kashmir. Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits remain internally displaced to this day.
India cannot sprint into becoming a global player unless the pebble of Kashmir issue is removed from under her sole. Time has come, or so it seems, that a totally new treatment to a chronic ailment is found for the following reasons.
Firstly, the UNSC has not been able to make Pakistan follow its resolution thus undermining the authority of the institution to enforce its decisions. Secondly, numerous efforts made by various Indian governments to negotiate a settlement for Kashmir issue by peaceful means has always ended up in emboldening Pakistan, which has taken our restraint in wake of terrorist attacks on our motherland (such as the current one), as our weakness. And, finally, the change of seat of power in Kabul has diminished our chances of a collaborated pincer act of smothering of Pakistan by Afghanistan and India.
So, under the prevailing actuality what choices are we left with. What we should realise is that old choices we had so far available to us have become obsolete.
I am of the opinion that the time to hit Pakistan hard has come. And to hit Pakistan hard on all fronts simultaneously would be key to our success. Therefore, as Pakistan struggles to come to grips with its economic downfall and at a time when the State is at war with itself, as Bajwa-Imran wrestle over the appointment of the new director general of the spy agency ISI, we must strengthen the forces that are struggling to liberate themselves from the clutches of Pakistani military establishment, i.e., the Baloch and the Sindhi nationalists.
We must also seriously consider to end the ceasefire and begin to pound on strategic targets inside Pakistan. And openly claim PoJK and PoGB to be a part of the Republic of India by allowing dissidents from the occupied territories into Rajya Sabha/Lok Sabha and in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
Internationally, we must find means to appoint able foreign representatives who can actively confront the ISI narrative on Kashmir and inform the world community of the atrocities committed by Pakistan's deep state that began on and since October 22, 1947.
Only by taking bold and controlled steps and by confronting evil by looking it in the eyes can we win the battle of Kashmir; a battle that has been laid off for far too long.
The foreign policy leaders of India, the US, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) held a virtual ministerial meeting for what could have the makings of a grouping in the Middle East similar to the Quad, but with a more limited security agenda.
"Discussed working together more closely on economic growth and global issues. Agreed on expeditious follow-up," India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting on Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Ministers Yair Lapid of Israel and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of the UAE.
Jaishankar, who is currently on a visit to Israel, was seated next to Lapid during the virtual meeting.
The four top diplomats discussed "future opportunities for collaboration in the region and globally", as well as maritime security, said a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
They also discussed "expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade", the statement added.
Earlier at his daily briefing in Washington, Price said: "Obviously this is a collection of four countries -- the US, the UAE, Israel and India -- with whom we share many interests."
India has close relations with all three countries.
In a kaleidoscopic strategic environment where China stretches its sphere of action from the Indo-Pacific on the East to the West and beyond, India is situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean with its sea borders opening to the two areas can bridge them in association with the US.
After the US pulled out its troops from Afghanistan, China, which borders that country, is exerting its influence there with an eye on projecting its power beyond.
But unlike in the Indo-Pacific, where the Quad sees Beijing as the overarching threat, India is likely to be a restraining force on a possible Middle Eastern "Quad" making it less likely to get too deep into local rivalries, but focusing instead on cooperation in critical areas energy, health, economics and climate change.
US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Scott Morrison of Australia and the then-prime minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, held a summit in Washington last month at which they committed themselves "to bolster security and prosperity, in the Indo-Pacific and beyonda, giving an opening for moves further afield".
The Quad bills itself as a group of democracies "committed to building democratic resilience in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, but that does apply to the Middle East-oriented group, which includes the UAE, an amalgam of non-democratic monarchies".
Price's statement on the Middle East meeting avoided mentioning democracy, showing the limits to Washington's vociferous declarations about it.
The US statement on the meeting makes no mention of security issues beyond a passing mention of "maritime security" and it is also regional tensions.
The Quad summit's statement, though, said that "regional security has become ever-more complex, testing all of our countries individually and together", a reference to China without naming it and added: "We recommit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond."
The Quad has been steadfast in avoiding being labelled a security alliance, instead focusing its outward-looking action agenda on matters like jointly providing Covid-19 vaccines around the Indo-Pacific and cooperating on climate change.
The Middle East meeting statement also emphasised climate change and Covid-19. And a common thread in both was "people to people ties in technology and science".
The members of the Quad participate in joint military exercises and India hosted the second phase of the Malabar Exercise of the four navies last week.
The US and India extended their joint naval exercises to the other side of the Indian Ocean in 2019 with anti-submarine drills near Diego Garcia.
The four countries in the Middle East, have not held joint military exercises, but India participates in separate exercises with Israel and the UAE.
It is participating in the Israeli Blue Flag Exercise of air forces that began on Sunday alongside the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Greece.
India and the UAE conducted a naval exercise off the coast of Abu Dhabi in August.
In a cooperative set-up of the four nations focused on the Middle East, the UAE has the capital and Israel and the US the technology edge and India the manufacturing and execution capability.
The geopolitical situation in the Middle East is, however, a web of complexities and some interdependencies.
The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, a leading regional powerhouse, which is not involved in the Middle East initiative and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
But inevitably, any cooperation of the four countries would seem to include Saudi Arabia as the unseen guest.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have a measure of hostility towards Qatar, having even gone through a phase of cutting off diplomatic ties with Doha and even imposing an embargo on it over allegations that it was supporting terrorists.
Israel, too, has had similar complaints about Qatar.
The conflict in Yemen sees the UAE and Saudi Arabia ranged on one side supporting the government there, while Qatar and Iran are backing the Houthi rebels in the ongoing civil war.
And there is the Turkey factor: Ankara is trying to emerge as a rival centre of political Islam reclaiming the pre-World War I role as the Caliphate.
Then there are the conflicts in the region like in Syria, which is supported by Russia and Iran, but opposed by the US and Saudi Arabia, and Libya.
India has stayed aloof of the conflicts trying to maintain some neutrality keeping bridges to Iran, Qatar and Iran.
Armed Forces and scientists have emerged as the most trustworthy citizens in India, while politicians and advertising executives are the least, as workaround sacrifice and service before self is revered by the Indians.
According to the Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Index 2021, Urban Indians trust the Armed forces (64 percent) and scientists (64 64 percent) the most followed by teachers (61 percent) and doctors (58 percent).
Interestingly, two years ago as well the survey brought the Armed Forces on the top with the only change now is that Corona period has uplifted the sentiments for scientists for their relentless work to find vaccines for the deadly virus.
When we look at the most trustworthy list of global citizens, doctors (64 percent) emerged at the top on the Global Trustworthiness Index 2021, followed by scientists (61 percent) and teachers (55 percent), the survey said.
"The armed forces are trusted and revered by Indians as their whole aura and work are around sacrifice and service before self; defined by discipline and dedication in their contribution to the nation as they protect our frontiers. Likewise, scientists too have been corona warriors, working overtime to find appropriate vaccines to offset the resilient coronavirus; their contribution is being silently hailed by Indians, putting scientists at par with armed forces. Teachers and doctors, who too stepped up during the pandemic are placed 3rd and 4th in the trustworthiness index," says Amit Adarkar, CEO, Ipsos India.
Ipsos has unveiled findings of its Global Trustworthiness Index 2021, a 28-country survey among 19,570 respondents, globally.
With regard to the most untrustworthy professions, India's list on the Untrustworthiness Index 2021 mirrors the global list on Untrustworthiness Index 2021.
All the stories they weave are not so make-believe for the average person -- politicians, government ministers, and advertising executives are least trusted.
The findings are based on an Ipsos online survey conducted between April 23 and May 7, 2021.
The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world, via the Ipsos Online Panel system in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the US.
The headline index results for this year are based on the full 28-country sample while trend results looking back to previous waves of the survey focused only on the 22 markets which have featured in all three waves of the survey.
The results comprise an international sample of 19,570 adults aged 16-74 in most countries and aged 18-74 in Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, and the US.
When speculation was rife about an imminent takeover of the ailing Air India by a Tata Sons SPV, a wit had commented: "For the Tatas, Tata doesn't mean goodbye."
Truly, the carrier that Jehangir (J.R.D.) Tata launched as Tata Airlines on October 15, 1932, which rose to become one of the leading airlines of the world named Air India International, was nationalised in 1953, and then got reduced to an ailing behemoth by successive governments after 1977, is finally back home, a year shy of its 90th anniversary.
Young Jehangir was bitten by the flying bug in his childhood, thanks to Louis Bleriot, the French aviator who was the first to fly across the English Channel in 1909. The pioneering pilot knew Jehangir's father, R.D. Tata, well, and their children too became good friends. And whenever Jehangir would spend his summer holidays at a beach resort in northern France where his father's friend had a home, he would see Bleriot's chief pilot occasionally land a plane on the beach. He even took a joy ride on one of these flights.
These experiences fired Jehangir's imagination, but he had to wait till he was 24, when a flying club opened in Bombay and could give him an aviator's licence -- he was the first Indian to get one in India -- on February 10, 1929. In the following year, the Aga Khan announced a cash prize of 500 pounds sterling for an Indian who would fly solo between England and India.
Jehangir completed the flight between Karachi and London, but not before another pilot, Aspy Engineer, flew into Karachi from London. Engineer won the prize, was recruited to the Royal Indian Air Force, and went on to become independent India's second Chief of Air Staff, succeeding Air Chief Marshal Subroto Mukherjee.
The prize may have eluded Jehangir, but he made history on October 15, 1932, when, flying from Karachi at a 'dazzling' 100 miles an hour, he landed in Bombay via Ahmedabad in a wood-and-fabric, second-hand two-seater de Havilland Puss Moth loaded with air mail. The Karachi-Bombay route was important because the Imperial Airways flight from London terminated in Karachi. There was clearly a business opportunity here, for the mail from the imperial metropolis had to reach the Jewel in the Crown.
The final destination of the flight was Madras via Bellary. It was completed by Neville Vintcent, a former Royal Air Force pilot who had convinced the then Chairman of Tata Sons, Sir Dorabji Tata, who was quite reluctant at first, to invest the Rs 200,000 that Jehangir required to set up the airline. Vintcent became the first chief pilot and manager of Tata Airlines, which had two other licensed pilots -- Jehangir Tata and Homi Bharucha.
Recalling those days, J.R.D. Tata said: "We had no aids whatsoever on the ground or in the air, no radio, no navigational or landing guides of any kind. In fact, we did not even have an aerodrome in Bombay. We used a mud flat at Juhu, which was then a fishing village-cum-beach resort near the city. The sea was below what we called our airfield, and during the monsoon the runway was below the sea! So, we had to pack up each year, lock, stock and barrel -- two planes, three pilots and three mechanics -- and transfer ourselves to Poona, where we were allowed to use a maidan as an aerodrome, appropriately under the shadow of the Yerwada Jail!" The jail, incidentally, was where the British Raj had imprisoned Mahatma Gandhi in 1932-33.
Despite working in such primitive conditions, within a year, Jehangir was able to establish Tata Airlines as the quality benchmark of the country's fledgling aviation sector. The annual report of the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) for 1933-34 stated: "As an example of how an airmail service should be run, we commend the efficiency of Tata Services -- even during the most difficult monsoon months when rainstorms increased the perils of the Western Ghat portion of the route, no mail from Madras or Bombay missed the connection at Karachi, nor was the mail delivered late on a single occasion at Madras."
Jehangir launched Air India International in 1948, at a time when flying was considered a luxury meant only for the rich. To raise capital for his aviation company, as the scholar N. Benjamin points out, he wrote letters to the rulers of Bikaner, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jamnagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Travancore, and others, and also sent them share application forms.
Their response was positive and soon, civil aviation took wing in the country under the stewardship of J.R.D. Tata. Even Jawaharlal Nehru, who was not a great fan of private enterprise, wrote to Tata: "I have had plenty of information from various sources, both official and non-official, about the running of your air service to Europe. All accounts agree in speaking well of it and praising it for its general efficiency. Congratulations!"
It is this legacy, nurtured in challenging circumstances, that has come back to where it rightfully belongs. Tata Sons will now have to carry the dual burden of carrying forward the legacy and measuring up to the expectations of the nation.
There are two primary geographic imaginations of the Western periphery of the Indo-Pacific region. The area as imagined by Australia (and until recently, by America), ends at the Western coast of India. As per this visualisation, this region is defined as the one stretching from Bollywood (located in Mumbai) to Hollywood (located in Los Angeles on the Western Coast of America).
The second definition championed by India and Japan includes the Eastern African seaboard as an inalienable part of the Indo-Pacific construct. In fact, in 2016, Japan launched its Indo-Pacific strategy, known as "Free and Open Indo-Pacific", in Nairobi in Kenya. In 2018, when India outlined its vision for the region, Eastern and Southern African littoral was included as part of the Indo-Pacific.
For India, Kenya being a littoral state and a maritime neighbour located on the Eastern African seaboard, it is important to understand its approach towards the Indo-Pacific. Three recent developments help us to comprehend Kenya's view of the Indo-Pacific: the remarks by Kenya's Chief Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ababu Namwamba, at the Bled Strategic Forum; remarks Kenya's President at the United Nations Security Council debate on maritime security and India-Kenya joint statement.
At the Bled Strategic Forum, held in September 2021, Kenya's Chief Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ababu Namwamba explained his country's approach towards the Indo-Pacific region. He divided the region into three sub-regions: Eastern, Central, and Western. He argued that Kenya is located in the Western Indo-Pacific and has three key concerns: Militarization, especially of the Red Sea, Piracy and Transnational Crimes, and finally, Oceanic Pollution. Each of these concerns presents challenges as well as opportunities for littoral states.
Kenya is positioning itself as a gateway between Africa and the Indo-Pacific. Kenya's geographic location, political stability and economic dynamism enables it to play the role of the gateway. Namwamba observed that Kenya is interested in engaging with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a platform that would be useful in bringing prosperity.
As the Indo-Pacific is primarily a maritime region, maritime security has emerged as a key focal point for debates about the Indo-Pacific region. In August, at the behest of India, UN Security Council discussed the issue of maritime security. It was the first time that such a holistic debate took place on maritime security. Kenya is a non-permanent member of the UNSC and President Uhuru Kenyatta delivered remarks at the debate.
Kenya links Africa and the Indian Ocean, and therefore, Kenyatta noted that Kenya's "wealth and security rely on the building of sound trade and security linkages between these two regions." However, Kenya is worried about the threat posed by terrorism in its neighbourhood of East Africa and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, for Kenya, "piracy and other sea-based crimes, including attacks on vessels and illicit trafficking of persons, firearms and narcotics, remain a concern."
He observed that "competition for influence in the Red Sea region, particularly by extra-regional Powers, has intensified over the years." Kenyatta said that threats to maritime security arise from "land-based situations." Moreover, he "encouraged more thinking and innovation in developing and launching fair-trade regimes in areas such as the Indian Ocean rim." Kenyatta underscored the need "to build robust coast guard capacities" and stressed "the threat of climate change to the existence of some small island States."
For Kenya, the immediate maritime periphery and the extended region from the Red Sea to the Mozambique Channel matters in its Indo-Pacific security calculations. The concerns it has expressed, such as extra-regional military presence and maritime piracy, are primarily important in the context of this broader region. Therefore, it is clear that Kenyatta's concerns about maritime security and the views expressed by Chief Administrative Secretary on the Indo-Pacific cover more or less similar points. Their emphasis on economic prosperity and trade is noteworthy as well.
The third relevant development was the India-Kenya joint statement issued after the visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in June. The statement alluded to the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific. The joint statement noted that, India and Kenya are "maritime neighbours" and that both countries "recognized the importance of ensuring through shared endeavours greater security, safety and prosperity of the Indian Ocean Region." Furthermore, they also "held extensive exchanges on global and regional issues including the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region and the Horn of Africa."
East African littoral is attaining greater strategic importance as a theatre in its own right as well as a vital sub-region in the Indo-Pacific. Regional security and geopolitics are undergoing changes due to the strategic rivalries between the extra-regional players. Therefore, an important littoral state like Kenya is voicing its concerns, articulating its priorities and by doing so, hopes to influence the debates about the region and to place itself in an advantageous position.
Kenya understands the necessity of building the coast guard and security capabilities for tackling threats like terrorism and maritime piracy. It is also interested in drawing economic benefits by engaging with key Indo-Pacific powers through RCEP or otherwise. It has managed to build resilient ties with China on the one hand and America, Britain and Japan on the other. The balancing between major powers is a normal strategy for smaller yet strategically important states. Kenya is no exception to this.
For India, Kenya is a key partner in East Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean region. With Kenya demonstrating greater interest, India could perhaps engage Kenya in an Indo-Pacific framework.
The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran will "synchronize their watches" on a number of topical issues, including Afghanistan and Tehran's nuclear deal, when they hold talks in Moscow on .
The outcome of the meeting between Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Amir Abdollahian will be followed keenly by Washington as the Russian-Iranian relations continue to actively develop and the "intensity of the political dialogue" continues after the victory of Ebrahim Raisi in the presidential elections in Iran.
Both Putin and Raisi have already spoken over phone twice on August 18 and September 14, to reaffirm their commitment to strengthen "mutually beneficial" Russian-Iranian relations in various fields.
"The positions of Russia and Iran on many international issues are close or coincide. The ministers will pay special attention to the situation around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program. The only way out of this situation is the earliest possible resumption of the negotiation process to restore the full-fledged functioning of the nuclear deal," said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
It added that the state of affairs in Afghanistan will be "substantively discussed" in the context of the fundamental importance of an effective response to emerging challenges, including the relief of terrorist and drug threats, as well as international assistance to the post-conflict reconstruction of the country.
"On the Syrian settlement, the principled position of Moscow and Tehran is to support unconditional respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the SAR , the legal right of the Syrians to independently determine the future of their country. Effective interaction within the Astana format will continue," the statement mentioned.
During the dialogue, both ministers will also have other topics of regional agenda to discuss, including the situation in the Caspian Sea, in the Transcaucasus, in the Persian Gulf zone, Yemen , Lebanon and the Middle East settlement.
Russia said that it supports the decision to start the procedure for admitting Iran to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), made during the recent summit in Dushanbe. Moscow reiterated that it has always advocated the full-fledged participation of Iran, which will help to increase the international authority of the organisation.
Intensive bilateral contacts have been maintained at various levels between both countries, including through foreign affairs, parliaments, and other state structures and organisations.
On October 1, another round of Russian-Iranian interagency consultations on international information security (IIB) had taken place in Moscow.
Reza Najafi, the acting Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Law and International Affairs, who is also the Director-General of the General Directorate of the Iranian Foreign Ministry for Peace and International Security, held discussions with Andrei Kroteskikh, the Russian president's special envoy for international cooperation in information security.
Both top officials exchanged views on the strategic approaches of Russia and Iran in the area of cyber issues based on the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of information security signed earlier this year.
Moscow and Tehran also continue to expand cooperation in the field of countering the spread of Covid-19.
While the deliveries of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to Iran continues, the Iranian authorities have also approved the use of the Sputnik Light single-component vaccine in the country, which will accelerate the vaccination of the population and form population immunity.
"We intend to further expand mutually beneficial ties with Iran and continue cooperation in the interests of regional stability and international security. We count on the strengthening of positive trends in all spheres of Russian-Iranian cooperation," says the Russian MFA.
After making his presence felt in Mamata Banerjee's territory, political strategist Prashant Kishor seems to be out to poach leaders from the Congress outside West Bengal. In fact, he has successfully poached two prominent leaders of the grand old party.
Both Sushmita Dev from Assam and Luizinho Faleiro from Goa, who joined the Trinamool Congress in recent times, were considered close to the Gandhi family. It was Faleiro who publicly said that he was approached by none other than Kishor and his team to join the Banerjee-led Trinmool Congress.
After winning the elections in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress is also trying to make an impact in the national arena now.
"We have to see who has got the power to face the current dispensation which is ruling in Delhi and Goa. Definitely, I will support Mamata because she has fought, she has succeeded... She symbolises women's empowerment which can bring this country back on the track of development and progress," Faleiro said, describing the Congress as a "divided house".
Now, the Congress, which was trying to protect the party from poaching by the BJP, needs to keep its guard active against the Trinamool as well.
Even former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has been approached by the Trinamool and he had also held a meeting with the party leaders. Sangma, however, has been approached by the Congress not to leave the party. He is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi soon.
Not only this, Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool's national General Secretary, has said that Congress should leave armchair politics while his party is capable of fighting the BJP. Responding to this, Congress secretary in charge of communications, Pranav Jha, questioned if the change in heart is due to the ED's summons.
The Congress has been taking inputs on Prashant Kishor joining the party from the members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
Even as several Congress leaders are divided over Kishor's role in ticket distribution, none is averse to the idea of the political strategist joining the party. They believe that he should be made in-charge of the election management department without the candidate selection authority.
Congress leaders do agree that his inputs should be considered in the party, but suggested that state leaders as well as the former and incumbent Chief Ministers should have a say in the ticket distribution process.
Congress has been consulting the CWC members to revamp the party structure after losing two consecutive general elections.
Sources said the CWC members have been asked to give their feedback on the process. Sonia Gandhi's loyalists and two of the party's senior-most leaders -- Ambika Soni and A.K. Antony -- are involved in the process.
Congress General Secretary (Organisation), K.C. Venugopal, has also been roped in for the purpose.
Kishor has been meeting the Congress leaders informally in the poll-bound states as his induction into the party is still under consideration by Sonia Gandhi.
At the same time, he has also met a couple of leaders and gave his personal state-specific inputs to them.
The cancer survivor rate in children is over 80 per cent in developed countries; however, in lower-middle income countries, it’s only about 20 per cent
This was during the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. A five-year-old boy was referred to us from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. His was a blood cancer case. He came at night with pallor, bleeding from the nostrils and had difficulty in breathing. We ruled out COVID-19, transfused blood, started antibiotics and did a bone marrow test that revealed a type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
ALL, as we call this cancer, is one of the “better” cancers a child can have if one were to have a choice in these matters. It has a cure rate of more than 80-90 per cent. We informed his father and got on with our job. The boy had a bad fungal infection in his nose and lungs, akin to the “black fungus” which was doing the rounds those days. We started treatment for both; cancer and fungus, and thankfully got both under control in the next few weeks.
In cancer, it always takes a village to treat one child. We need doctors and nurses to deliver treatment, social workers to make the families understand the process and get documents ready for financial aid, a dietician to suggest the required diet, psychologists, and volunteers to give moral support to parents during this ordeal, voluntary blood donors, and so on.
Cancer is one of the most feared diagnoses in the paediatric age group. At present, in developed countries, more than 80 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer get cured of the illness and will become long-term survivors. However, as per WHO, in lower-middle-income countries, only about 20 per cent are expected to survive.
The hurdles for us are many. There are no screening tests for cancers in children. The symptoms of cancer like fever, bony pain, etc., mimic many other common illnesses in children. It takes an astute doctor to put things together and suspect cancer, failing which they die soon because childhood cancers are aggressive and grow fast.
Even when suspected, the fear and stigma of the disease paralyse and prevent some from seeking medical care. Many lives are lost in the hands of quacks who promise a cure without the “side-effects” of chemotherapy.
And finally, even from those who reach a hospital, many discontinue treatment while running around for “second opinion” or magical remedies. We recently analysed our data of 154 new childhood cancer cases diagnosed over 18 months, where 23 discontinued treatment and subsequently died. 11 cited poverty as the reason even though the children were getting treated for free through various schemes.
In centres such as ours, both governmental and non-governmental machinery starts rolling the minute a child steps into the hospital so that the family gets the best possible treatment without having to wait for arranging finances. Ayushman Bharat, Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, Asadhya Rog Scheme, Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi, are some of the Government schemes that cater to children with cancer. Our country has the means and methods to support high-end radiotherapy, surgery and bone marrow transplant in these children, if needed. Despite all this, the sad fact is that there are many who still are not able to avail any of these.
September is “celebrated” as childhood cancer awareness month worldwide. WHO has set a goal of 60 per cent survival in childhood cancer by 2030 for low-and-middle income economies.
What is the way ahead for us? If a condition such as childhood cancer comes under the purview of a national policy with the involvement of government machinery right from tracking children with suggestive symptoms, getting them to a treatment centre, hand-holding them through the treatment, similar to what we did with COVID-19, then there is no looking back.
This process will have collateral benefits too. The network of care-providers gets strengthened, quality of diagnostics, hospital infection-prevention policy, nursing practices and documentation get refined. And of course, the joy of meeting a childhood cancer survivor who has gone on to make a life ahead makes every struggle worth it. Our own tussles and egos pale in comparison with what they have gone through and achieved.
The boy and his dad went home for a short break in between treatment and never returned. Maybe there were pressing concerns for his dadback home. The boy died after a month. The economical divide that exists in our country could not be more obvious. For some, life is something you get by chance. For them, there is no choice.
(The writer is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of PediatricHematology Oncology, Post-Graduate Institute of Child Health, Noida. The views expressed are personal.)
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)