Sunday, July 3, 2022

Defence Minister Inaugurates Warhead, RF Seeker Facility In Telangana

Hyderabad: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Bhanur Unit of Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) in Telangana on Thursday and dedicated to the Nation a number of new manufacturing facilities set up by the Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU).

These include a Warhead facility at the Bhanur Unit and a Radio Frequency (RF) Seeker facility at Kanchanbagh Unit.

Addressing the researchers, engineers, technicians and other personnel of BDL, the Raksha Mantri termed the inauguration of the manufacturing facilities as a testament to the commitment of the DPSU towards strengthening the defence sector and realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

He also lauded BDL for adopting a positive approach towards self-reliance by manufacturing products indigenously in collaboration with foreign companies, in line with ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision. He congratulated the company for preparing an indigenisation plan for the next five years and successfully achieving the target of the first two years.

The RF Seeker Facility, which was virtually inaugurated by the Raksha Mantri, is an integrated Centre for production & testing of RF seekers. Seeker is a critical and technology intensive subsystem which will be used in all future missiles for target tracking. This facility has been established by BDL with an investment of Rs 50 crore. Shri Rajnath Singh congratulated BDL for joining the elite club of select few companies across the globe to have the capability to produce the seekers. He hoped that the facility will play a big role in achieving ‘Atmanirbharta’ in the field of missile production.

Rajnath Singh exuded confidence that the Warhead facility will diversify the scope of manufacturing futuristic warheads and help in making India self-reliant in this field. With the inauguration of this facility, BDL has taken one more step towards self-reliance as the facility will be used for both its current as well as futuristic missiles.

Sharing his thoughts on the constantly-evolving nature of technology and its growing importance in warfare in changing times, the Raksha Mantri stressed on the need to remain up-to-date on the technological front with indigenous capabilities. He exhorted all defence equipment stakeholders – Armed Forces, scientists, academicians and industry – to develop products/systems while adapting to the ever-evolving situation. He emphasised on strengthening technology forecasting and investing in cutting edge manufacturing & testing capabilities, adding that the inauguration of RF Seeker Facility and Warhead Facility is a right step in that direction.

The Raksha Mantri underlined the importance of developing a long-term partnership between defence manufacturing organisations & academic institutions, moving from ‘Know-how’ to ‘Know-why’. He said, this long-term collaboration will help academia to work on core technological problems and assist R&D institutions to move from ‘theoretical analysis’ to ‘conversion into actual products’. It will be a win-win situation and give a boost to the defence eco-system of the country, he added.

Shri Rajnath Singh commended BDL for working on R&D of third generation anti-tank guided missile, Amogha. He added that the DPSU has been an important part of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme started under Missile Man of India & former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in the 1980s. “The programme reduced our dependence on foreign countries in the field of missile development and sowed the seeds of self-reliance. Dr Kalam once said ‘In this world, fear has no place. Only strength respects strength’. BDL is working with dedication and hard work towards making Dr Kalam’s dreams come true,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri appreciated the vital role being played by BDL in catering to the needs of the Armed Forces, terming its achievements as a proof that the military will continue to induct indigenous systems regularly. He added that various items of BDL find place in the recently-issued three positive indigenisation lists, which will enhance the company’s capabilities besides ensuring faster delivery.

Voicing the Government’s unwavering commitment to overcome obstacles and bring transformative reforms in the defence sector, Shri Rajnath Singh asserted that “making the Armed Forces agile, fit, modern and a world class defence service is our top priority”. He described the AGNIPATH scheme as a revolutionary reform which is in the interest of the country, Armed Forces and the youth. “We studied the defence systems of many countries and finalised our plan by aligning these findings with our ground realities. Indian Air Force has received a large number of applications under the AGNIPATH scheme. Similar response is expected in the other Services as well. Our youth should come forward and take advantage of this golden opportunity to serve the country,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri also spoke of some other reforms such as creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff, establishment of Department of Military Affairs, increasing private sector participation in defence production and launch of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative. He urged all stakeholders to enhance their preparedness, invest more in R&D and expand by exploring the international market. He extended all support of Ministry of Defence to BDL in this endeavour.

On the occasion, a Central Storage facility at Visakhapatnam Unit of BDL was also virtually inaugurated by Shri Rajnath Singh. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with modern storage system consisting of vertical Carousel System, Mechanical Compactor and Motorised Compactor which can cater the entire storage needs of the Unit. The facility has been constructed with an investment of Rs 4.90 crore.

The Raksha Mantri also virtually inaugurated infrastructure facilities (Multipurpose Community Hall, Gymnasium, Science Laboratories at Govt Junior College, nine additional class rooms at Zilla Parishad School, two additional class rooms at elementary school) constructed by BDL in Military Madhavaram village, West Godavari District as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Madhavaram village, which is located near Tedepaligudem, is popularly known as ‘Military Madhavaram’, as it has a large number of persons joining the Armed Forces. BDL, being a DPSU, has adopted this village as part of its CSR and constructed the infrastructure at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore.

A statue of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was also unveiled by Shri Rajnath Singh at the BDL premises. CMD, BDL Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd) and senior civil & military officials of Ministry of Defence were among those present on the occasion.

Navy Set To Boost Sea Power With INS Vikrant

Designed by the navy’s directorate of naval design (DND), IAC Vikrant has been built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The construction started in 2009 and over 75% of the ship’s components were made indigenously

Indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, the largest warship ever built in the country, is set to be commissioned into the Indian Navy next month, officials familiar with developments said on Friday. The carrier will provide a significant boost for the country’s naval presence and its reach.

“Vikrant will be commissioned into the navy in August, in the 75th year of India’s independence. The final date is being worked on. The aircraft carrier will strengthen the navy’s capabilities in the backdrop of changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, where China seeks to increase its presence,” said one of officials cited above.

Designed by the navy’s directorate of naval design (DND), Vikrant has been built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The construction started in 2009 and over 75% of the ship’s components were made indigenously.

The warship, with a displacement of 37,500 tonnes, will operate MiG-29K fighter jets, a new deck-based fighter the navy is planning to buy (it has already tested Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M), Kamov-31 helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters and the indigenous advanced light helicopters.

It has been named after aircraft carrier INS Vikrant operated by the Indian Navy from 1961 to 1997.

Measuring in 262 metres in length, Vikrant has a beam of 62 metres and a height of 59 metres. It has 14 decks, including five in the superstructure, 2,300 compartments and can accommodate a crew of 1,700. The ship will have a top speed of around 28 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots, with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles.

It will be the fourth aircraft carrier to be operated by the Indian Navy — Vikrant (British origin) from 1961 to 1997, INS Viraat (British origin) from 1987 to 2016 and INS Vikramaditya (Russian origin) 2013 onwards.

India currently operates only one aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, bought second-hand from Russia for $2.33 billion. But the navy has been arguing it needs three such floating airfields given its vast area of interest.

Vikrant will put India in a select league — only the US, the UK, Russia, France and China have the capability to build aircraft carriers.

The commissioning comes even as China launched its third aircraft carrier, Fujian in June .

Beijing has been pushing for greater maritime influence in the far seas and its warships often attempt to leave their mark in Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. A warship’s launch marks a significant milestone in its construction and refers to the vessel entering the water for the first time.

China currently operates two aircraft carriers — CV-16 Liaoning and CV-17 Shandong.

Indian Origin Raja Kumar Starts As FATF President Today

Paris: Raja Kumar, President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) started his work as the chief of the world's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing agency on Friday.

Indian origin Raja Kumar will focus on enhancing the effectiveness of global anti-money laundering & counter-terrorist financing measures, improving asset recovery and other initiatives, as per the agency.

"Raja Kumar starts as FATF President today. He will focus on enhancing the effectiveness of global anti-money laundering & counter-terrorist financing measures, improving asset recovery and other initiatives," FATF tweeted on Friday.

FATF is a global watchdog tasked with combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.

Raja Kumar has rich leadership and operational experience, having held a wide range of senior leadership roles in the Ministry of Home Affairs in Singapore and the Singapore Police Force for over 35 years.

He currently serves as the Senior Advisor (International) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, advising on international policy development, partnerships and engagement.

Prior to this, he was Deputy Secretary (International) at the Ministry from January 2015 to July 2021 and was concurrently the Chief Executive of the Home Team Academy between 2014 to 2018.

As Deputy Secretary (International), Raja Kumar forged stronger collaborative relationships with key counterparts in the safety and security arena, including with strategic partners such as INTERPOL and the UN.

PM Modi's Message At G7 Summit: Address Ukraine Conflict Through Dialogue, Peace

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a clear message for the world's richest nations comprising G7 to address the Ukraine conflict in a peaceful manner through dialogue and peace and pitched India as a solution provider for the global food, health and energy crisis.

While he met global leaders in what was a display of excellent chemistry he shares with the G7 nations, PM Modi's meetings with leaders of Argentina, South Africa and Indonesia in particular was an attempt to strengthen South-South Cooperation amid the geo-political tensions.

PM Modi's two-day visits to Europe in quick succession had an underlying message that a multipolar order is in the making.

PM Modi has just wrapped up his two-nation tour on June 28, after an extremely successful visit to Germany as well as the United Arab Emirates.

It was an action-packed schedule in Germany where the Prime Minister attended the largest community programme post-COVID-19 pandemic.

He met several world leaders including US president Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron, Canada's Justin Trudeau, among others. He also had long meetings with President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, and President of Indonesia Joko Widodo.

"PM @narendramodi and President @jokowi had a productive meeting. Their talks will add strength to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Indonesia. Both leaders also discussed ways to boost connectivity and business linkages," PMO had tweeted.

He also met the President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

After the G7 summit Modi had tweeted that he had a "productive visit" to the European nation.

"I thank the people of Germany, @Bundeskanzler Scholz and the German Government for their hospitality during the entire visit. I am confident India-Germany friendship will scale newer heights in the times to come," he had tweeted.

"Leaving Germany after a productive visit in which I attended the @G7 Summit, interacted with several world leaders and participated in a memorable community programme in Munich. We were able to discuss many issues aimed at furthering global well-being and prosperity," PM Modi said further.

"We were able to discuss many topics aimed at promoting global well-being and prosperity," he added.

PM Modi, who arrived in Germany, had addressed a gathering of thousands of people from the Indian diaspora at an event in Munich.

In his address, PM Modi underscored the country's achievements in a short span of time and said India is impatient to fulfil its dreams.

"India is now ready, ready, impatient. India is impatient, for progress, for development. India is impatient for its dreams, for the fulfilment of its dreams," the Prime Minister said.

On his return from Germany, the Prime Minister made a brief stop at Abu Dhabi to pay respects to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the passing away of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month.

In a special gesture, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan came to the airport here to receive Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

"I am touched by the special gesture of my brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, of coming to welcome me at Abu Dhabi airport. My gratitude to him," the Prime Minister said in a tweet.

India Rejects Us Commission Report On Religious Freedom, Says Comments Reflect Lack of Understanding of Country's Plurality

New Delhi: India on Saturday dismissed the 2022 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report on religious freedom in India as "biased and inaccurate" and said that the comments reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework, plurality and democratic ethos.

The Ministry of External Affairs said that the USCIRF continues to "misrepresent" facts time and again in its statements and reports in pursuance of its motivated agenda.

In response to media queries over comments on India by USCIRF, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We have seen the biased and inaccurate comments on India by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). These comments reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework, its plurality and its democratic ethos."

Bagchi said that this "agenda" just further raises questions about the credibility of the organization.

"Regrettably, USCIRF continues to misrepresent facts time and again in its statements and reports in pursuance of its motivated agenda. Such actions only serve to strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organization," he added.

The USCIRF, in its report released in April 2022, had recommended designating India as a "country of particular concern," or CPC claiming religious intolerance in the country.

Earlier, in response to media queries on the observations on India in the USCIRF annual report, then MEA official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, "We reject the observations on India in the USCIRF Annual Report. Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels. It has not been able to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavour. We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly."

Why Is India Enhancing Its Engagement With Indonesia And Vietnam?

The overall effort was aimed at boosting cooperation in regional maritime security. The coordinated patrols between India and Indonesia have been taking place since 2002 and have resulted in building "understanding and interoperability between both the Navies and has facilitated measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery, and piracy, etc."

In India's conception of the Indo-Pacific region, the principle of ASEAN centrality lies at the core. In the last few years, India's defence ties with the 10 members of the ASEAN, at the regional as well as the bilateral level, are deepening. India's deepening security ties with Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines is especially notable.

On June 13-24, India and Indonesia staged coordinated naval patrolling. The patrol included a visit of Indonesian naval units to the Andaman Nicobar Command based at Port Blair. It was followed by a sea phase in the Andaman Sea and finally, Indian naval units paid a visit to the port of Sabang in Indonesia.

The overall effort was aimed at boosting cooperation in regional maritime security. The coordinated patrols between India and Indonesia have been taking place since 2002 and have resulted in building "understanding and interoperability between both the Navies and has facilitated measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery, and piracy, etc."

The visit to Sabang by Indian naval officials is important as since 2018, India has been granted access to the strategically important port. India is developing the port-related infrastructure at Sabang and there has been discussion about developing an economic zone around the port.

The deep-water port is well-suited to host all kinds of naval vessels including submarines. The ability to access Sabang which is located at the northern tip of the Sumatra Island near the mouth of the Strait of Malacca will expand India's ability to monitor the key global maritime choke point.

For India, Malacca is critical not only for its own international trade with Southeast and East Asia but also for keeping a close watch over the Chinese shipping including the energy supplies and naval vessels passing through the narrow waterway.

China is excessively dependent on the Strait of Malacca for its trade and energy. It seeks to alleviate the "Malacca Dilemma" and expand naval presence west of the Malacca in the Indian Ocean. The enhanced engagement, especially in the development of ports, with countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Djibouti play key a role in fulfilling this objective. Therefore, as China moves westwards, India has no option but to seek access and build strategic ties eastwards.

The sale of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines is an important marker of India's expanding defence role in Southeast Asia. Building on this, two recent developments underscore the growing importance of Southeast Asia in India's defence strategy as well as its Indo-Pacific outreach. This month, India's defence minister Rajnath Singh paid a visit to Vietnam. Following this, Indian and Indonesian Navies carried out joint patrols in the maritime region encompassing the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

The three-day visit of Rajnath Singh, which began on June 8, to Vietnam further bolstered military ties between both countries. India handed over 12 high-speed guard boats to Vietnam which were built as part of a US $ 100-million line of credit (LoC).

During the visit, both sides signed a 'Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030' and India extended a further $ 500 million defence LoC. Both these measures are intended to strengthen military cooperation between the two key Indo-Pacific partners. Moreover, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), aimed at making it easier to provide mutually beneficial logistic support, was signed. It is the first such agreement signed by Vietnam with any other country. The MoU will further augment the ability of the Indian navy to extend its reach into the South China Sea and the Western Pacific.

India and Vietnam share a broad convergence of interests and have common concerns. Both are concerned about China's expansionist policies and aggressive foreign policy behaviour. India and China are locked in a territorial standoff in Ladakh whereas Vietnam (along with four other ASEAN partners) is worried about the Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea. Therefore, the shared challenge of China is a key binding factor for the relationship. In this context, the defence relationship has emerged as a key pillar of India-Vietnam's strategic partnership. The enhanced military partnership will not only boost the capabilities of Vietnam but will also contribute to the security and stability of the region.

The deepening military cooperation with countries like Indonesia and Vietnam is necessitated in this context. In the rapidly evolving geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region, these middle-power strategic relationships are contributing to the regional stability and maintenance of the balance of power and consequently, their importance cannot be overstated.

Bilawal’s Speech Stirs Speculations About India, Pak Returning To Table

Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took political observers by surprise when he advocated an engagement with India during a speech made in Islamabad, writes Riyaz Wani

When Pakistan’s young foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari advocated engagement with India during a recent speech at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, it took many people across South Asia by surprise, more so in Kashmir Valley. It was the first time since the withdrawal of J&K autonomy in August 2019 that a top Pakistani leader had batted for a relationship with New Delhi despite the implacable differences between the two nations.

Bilawal questioned the merit of past policies pursued by Pakistan with regard to India, asking if these had helped Pakistan achieve its objectives, “be it Kashmir, be it the rising Islamophobia,”

He stressed that despite a “long history of war and conflict” with India, disengagement is not productive. Bilawal acknowledged that Pakistan had been isolated globally due to its past policies adding that if his country had achieved economic engagement with India in the past, it would have been in a better position to influence Delhi’s policy and prevent both countries from taking extreme positions.

Does this signal that Pakistan is ready to engage India? Quite possible since Bilawal is Pakistan’s foreign minister, so his statements to this effect assume greater significance. Is any back-channel dialogue taking place between the two countries? Again, it can be anyone’s guess.

The last time this engagement was supposed to be taking place was towards the end of 2020, leading to the two countries re-affirming the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control. But they were unable to build on it to resume dialogue. The two countries have not held a meaningful dialogue since the 2008 Mumbai attack. And between 2003 and 2007, the two countries had held sustained negotiations over Kashmir that had nearly culminated in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

But as is apparent there are some reservations as for as conducting an open dialogue is concerned. The reasons for it are both historical and recent. The relations between the two neighbours have plunged to their lowest low since New Delhi withdrew Article 370 that granted Jammu and Kashmir a semi-autonomous status under India’s constitution and forbade people from the rest of India to buy property in the Valley.

It is thus no surprise that the two countries have failed to translate the goodwill generated by the LoC truce into a dialogue. There have been no further measures, nor does it look likely there will be any in the near future. New Delhi seems in no hurry to do this. If anything, this only goes on to show that India feels little pressure to relent. Nor does it want to make even any minor concessions to push engagement with Islamabad. The unmistakable signal to Pakistan is to temper its expectation about the extent to which India can accommodate it on Kashmir. As always, India wants terrorism to be the central issue and wants Islamabad to stop supporting militancy in Kashmir. Pakistan doesn’t accept it backs terrorism.

This has created a fraught situation. As things stand, both the countries are putting the onus on each other to take the first step toward resuming engagement. Islamabad has made any re-engagement conditional to New Delhi reversing the August 5 move or at least providing a roadmap for doing so. New Delhi continues to insist on an end to cross-border terrorism before talks begin. But neither country is in a position to meet the condition. It would be interesting to see how the two countries negotiate their respective hard positions before reaching out to each other, something that looks highly unlikely.

Does Bilawal’s conciliatory tone underline that something may be in works between the two neighbours? It can very well be. Or it cannot be so also considering there is no change in the overall approach of the leadership of the two countries towards each other.

China Opposes Proposed G20 Meeting In Kashmir, Defends Its Road Construction Through PoK

Foreign Minister's meeting of G20 at Nagoya, Japan in 2019

Beijing: China on Thursday voiced its opposition to India’s reported plans to hold the next year’s meeting of G-20 leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, echoing close ally Pakistan’s objection, and underlined that relevant sides should avoid “politicising” the issue.

“We have noted relevant information,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here on Thursday while replying to a question from the official media.

“China’s position on Kashmir is consistent and clear cut. It is a legacy issue between India and Pakistan. It should be properly resolved in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and bilateral agreements,” Zhao said.

He said the “relevant parties should avoid complicating the situation with the unilateral move. We need to address the disputes through dialogue and consultation and jointly uphold peace and stability.”

Stating that G-20 is a premier forum for international economic cooperation, Zhao said “we call on relevant sides to focus on economic recovery and avoid politicising the relevant issue so as to make a positive contribution to improving the global economic governance”.

Asked whether China, a member of G-20, would attend the meeting, he said, “whether we attend the meeting, we will look into that.”

To another question that China is building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the disputed region in Pakistan controlled Kashmir (PoK) and India’s objections over it, Zhao said the two matters are completely different in nature. China has undertaken projects to help Pakistan to grow its economy and improve livelihoods.”

“Some of those projects are in the Kashmir part that is under the control of Pakistan. Relevant Chinese companies who run the projects do so with the aim of helping the local people to develop the economy and improve their livelihoods,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean our position on Kashmir has changed,” he said.

On June 25, Pakistan said it rejected India’s attempt to hold a meeting of G20 countries in Kashmir, hoping that members of the grouping will be fully cognisant of the imperatives of law and justice and would oppose the proposal outright.

Jammu and Kashmir will be hosting the 2023 meetings of G-20, an influential grouping that brings together the world’s major economies, with the union territory administration last Thursday setting up a five-member high-level committee for overall coordination.

This will be the first major international summit expected to be held in Jammu and Kashmir after its special status guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution was withdrawn and the erstwhile state was divided into two union territories in August 2019.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said in a statement that Islamabad had taken note of news items appearing in the Indian media indicating that India might be contemplating to hold some G20-related meeting in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Pakistan completely rejects any such attempt by India,” Ahmad said.

He said it was a well-known fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised disputed territory between Pakistan and India, and has remained on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council for over seven decades.

He hoped that in case of any such controversial proposal from India, the G20 members will be fully cognisant of the imperatives of law and justice and would reject it outright.

Pakistan Calls For Easing Sanctions On Afghanistan: Pak Media

Minister of the State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar called for an easing of Western sanctions against Afghanistan under the Taliban government, saying the basic functioning of the Afghan economy must not be endangered.

The Taliban takeover last year prompted foreign governments, led by the United States, to cut development and security aid, and the strict enforcement of sanctions has debilitated the country’s banking sector. In an interview with Germany’s Welt newspaper published on Thursday, Khar said isolating Afghanistan economically was pushing the country into economic collapse. “If the country remains locked out of international banking and its foreign assets remain frozen, then that is what will happen. We must not promote famine,” she added.

The minister said the Western troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which Germany was also involved, had serious repercussions because it was not preceded by a negotiated solution, calling on Germany to play an active political role in easing sanctions.

“In the current situation, it is not a good idea to continue to starve Afghanistan and risk an economic implosion in the country,” she said, adding that economic support was necessary to help the Afghan people.

“How is it that we spent $3 trillion on the war, but today don’t even have $10 billion on Afghan survival? I don’t understand this behaviour,” she added.

The Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August last year after the United States pulled out its troops, almost 20 years after the group was ousted by US-led forces following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Days after the takeover, the US administration froze about $9.5 billion of the Afghan government’s reserves in US banks to compensate the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Banks have also placed severe restrictions on withdrawals by private customers, and many in the country have resorted to selling household possessions to buy food for their families.

Afghanistan has been in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis and the United Nations says more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people face hunger. The country’s economy, already battered by decades of war, went into freefall after the Taliban’s return. Western countries have tied the unfreezing of assets to the Taliban respecting human rights – especially with regard to women being allowed to work and girls to attend school.

Army And Navy Recruitment Process Under Agnipath Starts

New Delhi: Indian Army and Navy on Friday opened online registration for hiring of soldiers and sailors under the new four year tenure Agnipath scheme.

The Indian Army plans to recruit 40,000 soldiers under the Agnipath scheme in the current financial year in two batches. Some 25,000 Agniveers will join in the first batch in December for training and in second batch around 15,000 will join in February 2023.

Indian Army will start recruitment rallies, for those who have registered themselves online, in the second week of August. The combined entry exams for the first batch will be held on October 16 and November 13. The first batch is expected to report to units after completion of training by July, 2023.

While the Indian Navy has started the online registration process on Friday, the application window will be open from July 15-30. The exams and physical tests will be held in mid-October. Navy plans to hire 3,000 Agniveers in the current financial year.

Indian Air Force (IAF) has already started recruitment process under the Agnipath scheme by opening the registration window on 24 June. Till now some three lakh candidates have registered themselves.

The online registration for air force is open till July 5. The online exam for air force will be held between July 24-31. Provisional select list is expected to be out by December 1.

Missile Technology Conclave Calls For Indigenisation of Weapon Systems

38 of 40 vessels, under construction, are with Indian Shipyards, says ENC chief

A missile technology conclave-cum-symposium themed ‘Atmanirbharta in Missile Repairs and Indigenisation Technologies (AMRIT-2022)’, was organised by the Indian Navy, in collaboration with AP Electronics and IT Agency (APEITA), here on Friday.

Minister for Industries and IT Gudivada Amarnath participated as the chief guest while Vice- Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), was the guest of honour.

Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan delivered a special address through the virtual mode.

In his inaugural address, Vice-Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta said that Indian Navy’s modernisation plan, of new generation ships, submarines and aircraft, focusses on indigenisation. He added that 38 of 40 vessels, under construction, were with Indian Shipyards.

He added that a large number of the Navy’s weapons and sensors were presently of foreign origin and there was an urgent need to develop completely indigenised weapon systems for greater self-reliance and also to support these systems throughout their lifecycle. He urged all the stakeholders and participants in the symposium to collectively steer the nation towards Atmanirbharta in missile technology.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Amarnath complimented the Eastern Naval Command and APEITA for the initiative that seeks to bring together the Indian Navy with all the stakeholders, policymakers, academicians and corporate heads in promoting indigenisation through the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of the Union government. The Defence sector has been identified as one of the key sectors focussing on establishing state-of the art infrastructure and for providing regulatory environment conducive for investors, fostering innovation, promoting skill development and for creating employment opportunities by the State government.

The Academia partners from Andhra University and National Research & Development Corporation (NRDC) actively engaged in the discussions and have assured widening their research in the niche domain of missile technology. Exhibition stalls were also set-up, wherein the participating agencies and firms showcased their technical expertise and capabilities in the field of Missile Repairs and Indigenisation.

The symposium had very good response from a large number of participating agencies from Indian Navy, DRDO, PSUs, DPSUs, Indian Private Defence industry, MSMEs/ Start-ups, representatives from State government and national agencies involved in indigenisation such as Technology Development Fund (TDF) of DRDO, Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and Innovation for Defence Excellence (IDEX).

Dhruva Space Tests Satellite Orbital Deployer Onboard PSLV

The successful test of DSOD-1U has cleared the way for launch of Dhruva Space's satellite missions Thybolt-1 and Thybolt-2 onboard PSLV's C54 mission

Homegrown space sector start-up Dhruva Space has tested and space-qualified its satellite orbital deployer, setting the stage for its plans to launch indigenously built satellites soon. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C53 mission that placed in orbit

three foreign satellites, also proved to be a testbed for Dhruva Space's Satellite Orbital Deployer (DSOD-1U), that holds the satellites on the launch vehicle and releases them in orbit.

The successful test of DSOD-1U has cleared the way for launch of Dhruva Space's satellite missions Thybolt-1 and Thybolt-2 onboard PSLV's C54 mission.

"This would be a key milestone for us before we start building satellites for our clients," Sanjay Nekkanti, CEO, Dhruva Space Private Limited told PTI.

Nekkanti said the deployer testing and review support from Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), commercial launch opportunity through NewSpace India limited (NSIL) and authorisation support from Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) in our efforts to build indigenous capability in the domain of small satellite technology has been invaluable to the success of this space-qualification.

"With this momentous success in mind, going forward, we intend to be part of every ISRO PSLV commercial mission and lead Prime Minister Narendra Modi's drive for a private industry-led space revolution in the country," Nekkanti said.

Dhruva Space offers satellites coupled with Earth stations and launch services as an integrated solution or individually as technology solutions to power space-based applications on Earth and beyond.

In India, Dhruva Space is working closely with entities in the defence sector, while its arm in Austria scouts for clients abroad.

First Round of Talks For India-EU Trade And Investment Agreements Concludes, Second Round In September

New Delhi: The first round of negotiations for India-EU Trade and Investment Agreements has concluded in New Delhi and the second round of talks is scheduled to take place in Brussels in September this year, a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry read on Saturday.

The agreement which was concluded on Friday also included Geographical Indicators (GI). 

India's FTA negotiations were led by Chief Negotiator Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce and EU was represented by its Chief Negotiator, Christophe Kiener.

"The week-long negotiations were held in a hybrid fashion - with some of the teams meeting in Delhi and the majority of officials joining virtually hybrid fashion. During this Round 52 technical Sessions covering 18 policy areas of FTA and 7 Sessions on Investment Protection and GIs were held," the statement read further.

The second round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in September 2022 at Brussels.

According to the ministry, the negotiations were launched by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and the European Commission Executive Vice-president and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis at Brussels last month.

India's bilateral trade with EU amounted to USD 116.36 billion in 2021-22. Despite the global disruptions, bilateral trade achieved impressive annual growth of 43.5 per cent in 2021-22.

Ar present, the EU is India's second-largest trading partner after the US and the second-largest destination for Indian exports. The trade agreement with the EU would help India in further expanding and diversifying its exports of goods and services, including securing the value chains. Both sides are aiming for the trade negotiations to be broad-based, balanced, and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity, it added.

Extrajudicial Killings In Baluchistan On The Rise: Report

Baluchistan: Besides a rise in cases of enforced disappearances and abductions in Baluchistan, there has been a reported increase in the number of extrajudicial killings in Baluchistan, stated the monthly newsletter of the Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC) today.

Twenty-one persons have been unlawfully abducted by the security forces from various districts of Baluchistan, the report mentioned, adding that an alarming number of confirmed and unconfirmed mutilated bodies were recovered from Baluchistan and Lahore. These are believed to be the missing persons

The report mentioned that while 21 persons were abducted by the security forces or proxy death squad from various districts of Baluchistan, an alarming number of confirmed and unconfirmed mutilated bodies were recovered from Baluchistan and Lahore. These are believed to be the missing persons. Details are as follows:

The names of the missing students abducted by the security forces on June 4, 2022, from Quetta have been revealed as Shahzad, Atiq, and Ahmad who belong to Baluchistan's Kalat, Kharan and Khuzdar districts, respectively.

In a recent incident, Security forces picked up Kalimullah Noor, a postgraduate student in the sociology department of Karachi University, from the Joharabad area of Karachi and subsequently picked up two Baloch students at Karachi University as well whose names were Doda Ilahi and Ghamshad Ghani.

They were kept incommunicado for a week, tortured and released on June 13 after widespread protests.

Security forces also picked up Hafiz, son of Bashir Ahmad, from his home in Absar, Kech district. His whereabouts are still unknown, the report said.

Moreover, a local death squad picked up two brothers, Irshad and Sharafat, from their home in Issai village of Panjgur. According to the media report, they are still missing.

Several relatives of the Baloch missing persons are examining the reports of unidentified dead bodies found in various areas of Lahore, however, Pakistani media underlined that 55 bodies appear to be from outside Punjab which raises the fear that these bodies might be of the Baloch missing persons.

Enforced disappearances of political activists, students and other intellectuals are now common in Baluchistan as Pakistani security forces have launched a campaign to silence the dissidents.

They are used as a tool by Pakistani authorities to terrorize people who question the all-powerful army establishment of the country or seek individual or social rights. Cases of enforced disappearances have been majorly recorded in the Baluchistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces of the country.

Pakistan Inflicts On Baloch Nation And Spreads Drugs In Baluchistan: Baloch National Movement

Awaran: The members of the Baloch National Movement's (BNM) Awaran and the associated zones organized a program on June 26 to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and International Day in support of victims of torture.

Talking to the program, BNM Welfare Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Baloch said that independent nations celebrate this day against narcotics to send a message to the world that the use of drugs is an epidemic and efforts are needed to curb this evil.

In this regard, he refers to the Scholars' sayings that if you want to destroy a nation, do two things against it. The first is to make drugs as common as possible in this nation so that every child of the nation would be addicted. As a consequence, he will forget the real goal of life and would overlook his duty toward the nation. He would also fail to recall his responsibilities towards the next generation, he added.

Another scholar says that if one wants to destroy a nation, then its generation should be deprived of education so that the future generation will be illiterate and crushed.

He further said that the Baloch nation had been fighting against the atrocities of Pakistan for the last 74 years. The occupiers had tested their power on the Baloch nation in different parts of Baluchistan. "Our mothers, sisters and daughters are being imprisoned in the torture cells and the Pakistani army is torturing them," which shows the real face of atrocities.

Hanif Baloch, a member of the BNM Central Committee, said in his address that the Baloch nation had been facing the atrocities of the Pakistani army since the day when Pakistan occupied the land of the Baloch nation and "atrocities of Pakistan are increasing with every passing day."

He added, "On the other hand, the drug is a gift from occupying Pakistan. Wherever new drugs are invented in the world, it is in, in short periods of time, spread across Baluchistan. Most of the drug dealers are Pakistani army officers, those who have a plan to destroy the Baloch nation."

Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Sarbaz Wafa, Assistant Editor, Radio Zrumbesh Balochi, said that there are two types of states, a nation-state and an occupying state. When someone opposes the state in the nation-state, the state only questions his activities whereas, in a colonial state, the state inflicts collective punishment on the entire family, oppresses every single person and even kills them.

In the same way, Pakistan killed entire families in the Awaran area.

The program was presided over by BNM Welfare Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Baloch and the special guest was Hanif Baloch, a member of the Central Committee, while Sarbaz Wafa acted as the stage secretary of the program. A two-minute silence was observed in memory of the martyrs at the beginning of the program.

BNM Welfare Secretary Muhammad Iqbal, Central Committee Member Hanif Baloch and senior BNM members Jamil Dost and Hatem Baloch addressed the program.