Friday, July 12, 2024

A Bet On Russia As A Long-Term, Reliable Partner Is Not Good; Advises U.S. NSA To India


Amid concerns over India's ties with Russia, a top US official on Thursday cautioned New Delhi that a "bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good bet" and Moscow would side with Beijing over New Delhi in case of a conflict between the two Asian giants. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made the remarks while replying to a question on MSNBC about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Moscow where he held extensive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We've made clear to every country in the world including India that a bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good bet," said Sullivan, who was in India last month for a meeting with his counterpart Ajit Doval.

The top American official had also met Prime Minister Modi during his visit.

"Russia is becoming closer to China. In fact, it's becoming the junior partner to China. And in that way, they would side with China over India any day of the week. And ... Prime Minister Modi, of course, has profound concerns about the potential for Chinese aggression against India. Which we have seen over recent years," Sullivan said.

Sullivan, however, acknowledged that countries like India have a historic relationship with Russia and it's not going to change dramatically overnight.

"This is playing the long game. It (US) is making investments in democratic partners and allies around the world including countries like India and we think that that will pay off as we go forward," he added.

His remarks came a day after spokespersons of the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department reacted separately to questions on India's relationship with Russia and Modi's visit to Moscow.

Prime Minister Modi was in Russia for two days for the 22nd India-Russia annual summit that has been watched closely by the West amidst the raging Ukraine conflict.

During his talks with Putin on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi told the Russian President that a solution to the Ukraine conflict is not possible on the battlefield and peace efforts do not succeed amid bombs and bullets.

India has been stoutly defending its "special and privileged strategic partnership" with Russia and maintained the momentum in the ties notwithstanding the Ukraine conflict.

India has not yet condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and has consistently pitched for a resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


India Abstains From UN Resolution Demanding Russia To Immediately Halt Offensive In Ukraine


New York: India has abstained on a resolution in the UN General Assembly demanding Russia to immediately halt its offensive in Ukraine and urgently withdraw its military and other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The resolution was adopted on Thursday with 99 votes in favour, nine against and 60 abstentions, including India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.

The resolution titled ‘Safety and security of nuclear facilities of Ukraine, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’ demanded that Russia “immediately cease its aggression against Ukraine and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.”

This is a breaking story. More details to be added.

(With Inputs From Agencies)



Defence Manufacturer Bharat Electronics Secures Export Order Worth ₹230 Crores


State-owned aerospace and defence electronics company Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has obtained an export order worth Euro 25.75 million (estimated value of ₹230 crores) from Thales Reliance Defence Systems (TRDS) for the manufacture and supply of transmit-receive (TR) modules, the company informed stock exchanges on Friday.

The TR modules will be used in the radars of fighter aircraft.

Additionally, BEL has secured orders valued at ₹192 crores following the last disclosure on June 28, 2024, which comprises communication equipment, encryptors, spares and services for radars, fire control systems etc.

With these, BEL has now accumulated orders totalling ₹5,225 crores in the current financial year.

Shares of state-owned defence and aerospace company Bharat Electronics have been hitting all-time highs on and off, backed by a series of orders the firm received over the past months.

At the time of filing this report, the shares were 0.8 per cent lower at ₹332.8, against its all-time high of Rs 340.5 it touched recently. So far in 2024, it rose 80 per cent on a cumulative basis.

Over the past five years, it accumulated about 840 per cent returns for its shareholders.

The central government has set the target of achieving indigenous defence manufacturing worth ₹175,000 crore including defence exports of ₹35,000 crore by the year 2024-25.

The government has taken several policy initiatives in the past few years and brought in reforms to encourage indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment, thereby promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

The government is also investing heavily in defence and aerospace manufacturing, with several defence hubs being set up. Indian defence PSUs have accumulated tremendously high returns on equities in the past few years, benefiting for the fresh orders.

Notably, many global companies have either shared or showed intent, to share critical defence and aerospace knowledge with India.

India's defence exports have touched a record ₹21,083 crore (about USD 2.63 billion) in the financial year 2023-24, with a growth of 32.5 per cent over the last fiscal when the figure was ₹15,920 crore. The recent figures indicate that the defence exports have grown by 31 times in the last 10 years as compared to 2013-14.

The total value of defence production in India rose 17 per cent to ₹1,26,887 crore last fiscal year.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


Amid Growing Bonhomie, India Asks Russia To Advance S-400 Missile System Deliveries


Amid the growing close ties between India and Russia, New Delhi has asked Moscow to expedite and advance the deliveries of the S-400 air defence missile system deliveries.

The Russian side has told India that they would be able to deliver the fourth and the fifth squadrons of the highly capable system by March 2026 and October 2026 respectively due to delays caused by their ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

India and Russia signed a contract with Russia in 2019 for buying five squadrons of the highly capable air defence system with ability to hit targets at up to 400 plus kilometres.

"India has requested the Russian side during the recent talks to expedite the deliveries for meeting Indian Air Force requirements and try to advance the deliveries," defence officials told ANI.

The Russian side has assured to look into the request, they said.

Russia has already supplied three of these air defence systems which have already been operationalised and deployed along both the China and Pakistan front.

The two remaining squadrons were expected to be delivered by 2024 but the supplies got delayed due to their own issues and war there.

India has deployed these missiles in areas from where it can tackle any aerial intrusion by enemy fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and even ballistic missiles.

The Indian Air Force, which recently received the indigenous MR-SAM and Akash missile systems as well as the Israeli Spyder quick reactions surface-to-air missile systems, believes the S-400 will be the game changer for it.

The Indian Air Force has significantly improved its air defence capabilities in recent years.

The Indian Air Force has now started working on its own Project 'Kusha', which would allow it to have an indigenous system developed by DRDO to take down enemy platforms at long ranges.

Air defence systems have been deployed in a big way by the Chinese military across the Line of Actual Control while India has also deployed own systems to counter any enemy misadventure there.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Moscow earlier this week and held meetings with President Vladimir Putin after which both countries are now seen as very close and have also decided to enhance their military joint ventures in production and maintenance of various weapon systems.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


BIMSTEC Summit: Sri Lankan Minister Balasuriya Calls PM Modi 'Charming, Very Visionary Man'


New Delhi: State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Tharaka Balasuriya called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "charming" and a "very visionary man", and said that he agrees with PM Modi's assessment that if there's more connectivity between not just Sri Lanka and India, but also Myanmar and Thailand, there will be more opportunities.

Tharaka Balasuriya arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to attend the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Foreign Minister's Retreat.

He emphasised that the BIMSTEC Foreign Minister's Retreat was very well organized.

"Since it was a very informal setting, we were able to share our ideas candidly and openly," she told ANI.

Talking about his experience of meeting with PM Modi, Balasuriya said, "I think this is the first time I met the Prime Minister, and he's a completely charming man. And he's also a very visionary man. One thing that struck me was when he stated that what he feels is that whereas the European Union succeeded in, let's say, South Asia and Southeast Asia, where we lag behind is mainly because of connectivity. So in that regard, we need to concentrate on connectivity."

He added, "I do agree with the Prime Minister's assessment that if there's more connectivity between the – not just between Sri Lanka and India, but also between India and Myanmar and Thailand, there will be more opportunities for businesses to flow in this part of the world that connects countries around the Bay of Bengal to promote economic growth and trade."

Answering how Sri Lanka is approaching its participation in regard to energy, cooperation, trade, transportation, and others, he highlighted that they have put them under three verticals, namely, energy security, food security, and people's security.

"Whatever the other areas which we spoke of are being taken under these verticals. So, for example, let's say people-to-people connectivity. Now, India is coming forward with an e-visa application for medical tourism. So anybody in the BIMSTEC areas can apply for e-visa for medical tourism," he told ANI.

He mentioned that they also spoke about space and BIMSTEC satellites and nanosatellites, which India has worked with in Nepal in this regard.

When asked about whether Sri Lanka requires more attention in terms of growing tourism, trade, businesses, exports, and imports in the country, Balasuriya said, "Of course. So that's why we are looking at more connectivity with India. If you look at the one thing Prime Minister Modi commented today if we generate enough wind power alone in the northeast and the northwest of Sri Lanka, that alone will give us new revenue streams."

(With Inputs From Agencies)


EAM Jaishankar Wraps Up 'Productive' BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers Summit


New Delhi: As the two-day BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat drew to a close, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday lauded the summit as "productive" and described the meetings as "highly useful."

Foreign Ministers from member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping gathered in the national capital to bolster cooperation among Bay of Bengal countries.

BIMSTEC is a regional organisation comprising 7 member states - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Earlier today Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the visiting BIMSTEC member countries and discussed an array of issues, including regional cooperation.

Apart from ways to strengthen regional cooperation, the talks also featured improving connectivity, energy, trade, health, agriculture, science, security and people-to-people exchanges.

In the meeting, PM Modi conveyed full support to Thailand for a successful BIMSTEC Summit. The meeting was also attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, Pabitra Margherita, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

"Glad to meet BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers. Discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation, including connectivity, energy, trade, health, agriculture, science, security and people-to-people exchanges. Conveyed full support to Thailand for a successful Summit," said PM Modi in a post on X.

A day ago, addressing the BIMSTEC Foreign Minister's Retreat in the national capital, External Affairs Minster Jaishankar articulated India's strategic alignment with the BIMSTEC, highlighting its significance within the country's broader geopolitical frameworks like - Neighbourhood First, Act East Policy and SAGAR vision.

"For India, BIMSTEC represents the intersection of its 'Neighbourhood First' outlook, the 'Act East Policy' and the 'SAGAR' vision. Each of these endeavours is being purposed with a specific focus on the Bay of Bengal, where collaborative potential has long remained underrealised," Jaishankar said.

He added, "Our challenge is to change that for the better, and to do so rapidly. The retreat is meant to exchange ideas openly, candidly and fruitfully. We all benefited from the last such exercise in Bangkok."

Stressing the importance of the Summit, he said, "This one now has a particular importance as it serves to prepare strong outcomes for the Summit to be held later in the year. Our message should be clear - that we are all determined to infuse new energies, new resources and a new commitment into cooperation among the Bay of Bengal nations."

Highlighting the recent developments within BIMSTEC, Jaishankar noted, "The BIMSTEC Charter, for a start, has come into effect from 20 May this year. Global and regional developments also make it imperative that we find more solutions amongst ourselves."

The first edition of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat was held in Thailand's Bangkok on July 17, 2023. In an earlier press release, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated, "The Retreat will present an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of the BIMSTEC countries to discuss, in an informal setting, avenues to broaden and deepen cooperation across various sectors including in the fields of security, connectivity, trade and investment, people to people contacts etc, in the Bay of Bengal region and littoral."

BIMSTEC is a regional organisation that connects countries around the Bay of Bengal to promote economic growth, trade, and cooperation in areas like transportation, energy, and counter-terrorism.

It aims to strengthen relationships and foster economic development among its member states, which include- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

BIMSTEC stands as a beacon of regional collaboration, striving to achieve rapid economic development and social progress through joint initiatives among its member states. Founded on principles of equality and partnership, BIMSTEC aims to address common challenges and capitalise on shared opportunities across seven strategic sectors.

Each member nation leads specific sectors, reflecting their expertise and commitment to collective advancement:

Bangladesh spearheads trade, investment and development, including the blue economy, leveraging its strategic location and maritime resources.

Sri Lanka focuses on science, technology and innovation, including health and human resource development, fostering advancements in research and human capital.

Bhutan leads efforts in environment and climate change, including the mountain economy, emphasising sustainable practices in the face of ecological challenges.

India takes charge of security, including energy and disaster management, contributing expertise in disaster preparedness and strategic energy management.

Myanmar oversees agriculture and food security, including fisheries and livestock, supporting food sustainability and rural development.

Nepal drives people-to-people contact, including poverty alleviation, promoting cultural exchange and poverty reduction initiatives.

Thailand leads connectivity efforts, enhancing regional infrastructure and transport networks to facilitate seamless connectivity among member states.

BIMSTEC also emphasises cooperation with international and regional organizations, aligning its goals with global development agendas to maximize impact. With a commitment to mutual assistance, joint projects, and capacity building, BIMSTEC seeks to translate its collaborative efforts into tangible benefits that improve living standards and promote inclusive growth across the Bay of Bengal region.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed


PM Modi, BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers Discuss Ways To Strengthen Regional Cooperation


New Delhi: Foreign Ministers from the BIMSTEC member countries held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation, including connectivity, energy, trade, health, agriculture, science, security and people-to-people exchanges.

During the meeting, PM Modi conveyed full support to Thailand for a successful BIMSTEC Summit. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, Pabitra Margherita, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval also attended the meeting.

In a post on X, PM Modi stated, "Glad to meet BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers. Discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation, including connectivity, energy, trade, health, agriculture, science, security and people-to-people exchanges. Conveyed full support to Thailand for a successful Summit."

Foreign Ministers from the BIMSTEC member countries have gathered in the national capital for a two-day retreat meeting to bolster cooperation among Bay of Bengal countries. BIMSTEC is a regional organisation comprising 7 member states - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

On Thursday, S Jaishankar welcomed colleagues from across the world for the second Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Foreign Ministers' Retreat being held in Delhi from July 11-12.

EAM Jaishankar articulated India's strategic alignment with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), highlighting its significance within the country's broader geopolitical frameworks like - Neighbourhood First, Act East Policy and SAGAR vision.

While addressing the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat in New Delhi on Thursday, Jaishankar said, "For India, BIMSTEC represents the intersection of its 'Neighbourhood First' outlook, the 'Act East Policy' and the 'SAGAR' vision. Each of these endeavours is being purposed with a specific focus on the Bay of Bengal, where collaborative potential has long remained underrealised."

He added, "Our challenge is to change that for the better, and to do so rapidly. The retreat is meant to exchange ideas openly, candidly and fruitfully. We all benefited from the last such exercise in Bangkok."

Stressing the importance of the Summit, he said, "This one now has a particular importance as it serves to prepare strong outcomes for the Summit to be held later in the year. Our message should be clear - that we are all determined to infuse new energies, new resources and a new commitment into cooperation among the Bay of Bengal nations."

Highlighting the recent developments within BIMSTEC, Jaishankar noted, "The BIMSTEC Charter, for a start, has come into effect from 20 May this year. Global and regional developments also make it imperative that we find more solutions amongst ourselves."

Jaishankar expressed optimism about the outcomes, stating, "Our hope is that these would be expressed as shared and ambitious BIMSTEC Vision."

Highlighting the topics that were under consideration, EAM Jaishankar said, "Our discussions, in the first part, will revolve around connectivity, institutional building, cooperation in trade and business, collaboration in health and space, digital public infrastructure, capacity building and societal exchanges, as well as weighing on the merits of new mechanisms."

The first edition of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat was held in Thailand's Bangkok on July 17, 2023. In an earlier press release, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated, "The Retreat will present an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of the BIMSTEC countries to discuss, in an informal setting, avenues to broaden and deepen cooperation across various sectors including in the fields of security, connectivity, trade and investment, people to people contacts etc, in the Bay of Bengal region and littoral."

(With Inputs From Agencies)


As India-Sri Lanka Fishermen Dispute Remains 'Persistent Problem', Sri Lankan Minister Calls For Solution


New Delhi: The issue of Indian fishermen being arrested by Sri Lankan authorities has once again come to the forefront with Sri Lanka's State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya terming it as a "persistent problem" between the two countries.

The visiting Sri Lankan minister, however, did not discuss the issue with his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, but emphasised that it is important to find a solution for the sake of "poor fishermen".

"This is a persistent problem. But I also would think that especially the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the people of Tamil Nadu should realise that the people in the north and east have suffered the most during the war. After 30 years' war, for 30 years they suffered because of the war," Balasuriya told ANI, emphasising the longstanding nature of the issue.

Highlighting the scale of the problem, he noted, "If you see the numbers, it's not just like one or two fishermen coming to Sri Lanka, but it's thousands of boats from India coming and poaching the fish." He underscored the need for bilateral discussions to find a solution, pointing out that the poor fishermen from the north and east of Sri Lanka are the ones who suffer the most.

Balasuriya suggested that enhancing connectivity and developing tourism in the affected areas could provide alternative livelihoods for the fishermen. "At the moment when they don't have any other options they resort to fishing, but I think, through bilateral dialogue, we should be able to resolve this issue amicably," he stated.

Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin also wrote to EAM Jaishankar, urging him to secure the release of all fishermen apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Responding to Stalin, Jaishankar said the Indian High Commission in Colombo and the Consulate in Jaffna have been expeditiously and consistently taking up such cases for the early release of those detained. Jaishankar assured Stalin that efforts to address the interests of the Indian fishing community would continue.

In response to another question about the Katchatheevu Island issue, which has also been a point of contention between the two countries, Balasuriya told ANI that India has not recently raised the matter in bilateral discussions. "During the Indian elections, I think it was raised in the context of that as a historical mistake. But thereafter, it has not been raised with the government of Sri Lanka," he said.

Balasuriya provided a brief history of the discussions around Katchatheevu Island, noting that it has been raised in bilateral discussions three times. Initially, it was discussed when the island was used by the Royal Air Force for bombing during the British colonial period. Subsequent discussions addressed fishing rights and historical smuggling activities. However, he stressed, "The sovereignty of the island was not, I don't think even historically it has been discussed."

The island, located between Rameswaram (India) and Sri Lanka, was traditionally used by both Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen. In 1974, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the "Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement".

The 1974 Agreement regarding historic waters between Sri Lanka and India in the Palk Strait and the Palk Bay formally confirmed Sri Lanka's sovereignty over the island.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress for "callously" giving away the island to Sri Lanka during the tenure of the Indira Gandhi government.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


India's Space Station Design Ready, Gaganyaan & Chandrayaan-4 On Track: ISRO Chief


The Indian Space Research Organisation is going through one of its most exciting times with several ambitious projects being pursued by the agency. Even as Aditya-L1 completed its first halo orbit, ISRO has finished preliminary design works for module 1 of India’s space station.

ISRO chief Dr S Somanath said that the Bharatiya Antariksha Station module and protocol are ready. “The design of the Indian space station is ready, and it is on my table; the whole design and design protocol. It is beautiful to see that we are able to conceive for our first station that can be launched using our current rocket. But that’s not enough. We have to scale it up bigger, so a new rocket is needed, and a bigger space station module is needed. So we have divided the module into five units and the first two will be launched by current rocket LVM-3, and the next three will be launched by new rocket NGLV,” he said.

Even as ISRO prepares to submit the Bharatiya Antariksha Station’s design plan to the government, another team at the country’s space agency has finished preliminary work for an ambitious mission to land on the moon, collect a lunar surface sample, and bring it back to Earth. The lunar sample return mission, which will be a key objective of Chandrayaan 4, has seen the team complete the initial work and is all set to undertake the detailed engineering work. “Background work is much more technical and that is happening. We have configured a complex mission of two rockets to handle these modules. Go to the moon, collect the sample, and come back. Preliminary work is done and detailed engineering work has to happen now,” said the ISRO chief.

In December last year, ISRO conducted a hop experiment of the Vikram Lander on the lunar surface and the propulsion module of Chandrayaan-3 was moved from an orbit around the moon to an orbit around the Earth using the available fuel in the Chandrayaan-3 module. This was seen as a precursor to the sample return mission and derived additional information for it.

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore’s return to Earth has been delayed after their Boeing Starliner spacecraft experienced helium leaks from its service module and has been forced to remain docked at the International Space Station. Dr Somanath says there are key takeaways for the Indian space agency since it is designing a human space flight mission and it doesn’t have a space station of its own to fall back on in case of an emergency.

“It’s an important observation for us. In the first flight of a new spacecraft, getting into some difficulties is a very important lesson for anybody who is designing it. For me, as the Gaganyaan craft is getting designed, we look at it in many ways. How a situation can crop up…it could be this or other possibilities. We look at it in that manner. How to strengthen it in terms of the design, alternate ways how the crew can be saved in case we end up in a problem, these are topics of discussion today,” he said.

Dr Somanath reiterated that ISRO was focused on carrying out the Gaganyaan mission without any flaw and with tests which are more in number than any other launch. “Gaganyaan is a long and difficult journey. We are attacking each one every day. We are trying to do the managerial task and technical execution tasks.

There are challenges in terms of the number of tests. Compared to the regular launch vehicles, the number of tests is huge because the qualification requires that kind of demand. The entire process is scrutinised by committees other than ISRO. There are committees that will look at its reliability very critically before authorising anybody to fly. Human rating and high levels of reliability ratings are happening. We have to conduct missions without any flaws, and all of this going well. A little bit of stretching of time is happening but we are not concerned about it,” said Dr Somanath.

He said the mission would be so fool-proof that it would be safe enough to put even a head of state in space. “Every life is precious so it (Gaganyaan) should be made for that (safe enough for a head of state),” he said.

(With Reporting By News18)


Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Ousted After Failing Floor Test


Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was ousted from his position on Friday after failing to secure a vote of confidence during a floor test in the House of Representatives, Kathmandu Post reported.

Dahal, who had been in office for over one year and six months, required 138 votes to pass the trust motion but received only 63 votes in his favour. Out of the 275-member House of Representatives, 194 lawmakers voted against him, while one member abstained. A total of 258 lawmakers were present during the meeting.

Dahal called for the floor test in accordance with Article 100(2) of the constitution after the CPN-UML withdrew its support from the government. This decision came following a deal between the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress to form a new coalition, reducing Dahal's government to a minority.

While presenting the trust motion earlier in the morning, Dahal stated his commitment to upholding and defending the Constitution. "The Maoist Centre has made a big sacrifice in the course of making this constitution. Therefore, the Maoist does not make it weak and it also does not allow it to be enfeebled," Dahal said in his address to the House, as reported by Kathmandu Post.

Dahal emphasised the significance of the constitution, which was built on the foundations of a decade-long revolt and subsequent movements by oppressed classes, regions, genders, and communities. He stressed that the Constitution has been protected by the support of the people and will continue to be defended in the same manner. "This constitution, made on the foundation of a decade-long revolt and the subsequent movements of the oppressed classes, regions, genders and communities, has been protected with the support of the people from the streets, and it will be defended in the same manner in the coming days as well," he declared.

This floor test marked the fifth for Dahal since his appointment on December 25, 2022. His first floor test was on January 10, 2023, where he received 268 votes. He faced his second-floor test three months later after breaking ties with the CPN-UML and forming an alliance with the Nepali Congress, securing 172 votes. The third-floor test occurred when Congress withdrew its support following Dahal's renewed alliance with the CPN-UML and other parties on March 4, in which he received 157 votes. Dahal faced his fourth floor test after a split in the Janata Samajbadi Party, Nepal, in May, and secured 157 votes again.

With Dahal's failure to pass the vote of confidence, President Ramchandra Paudel will now call for the formation of a new government. Speaker Devraj Ghimire will inform President Paudel of the results. The UML is planning to claim the formation of a new government with the support of over two-thirds of the lawmakers.

According to the agreement between the Nepali Congress and UML, UML chair KP Sharma Oli will lead the new 'national consensus government' for a year and a half. For the remaining term of the current parliament, Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba will assume the role of prime minister, Kathmandu Post reported.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


Meet The Airfish, A Remarkable Fusion of Boat And Airplane—A Standout Innovation of 2024


The AirFish-8 (AF8) is a unique watercraft that resembles an aircraft but operates primarily on water, flying no more than 7 meters above the surface. It’s classified as a Water Aircraft due to its distinctive use of basic physics principles to maintain contact with the water’s surface. Significantly faster than most boats yet slower than traditional aircraft, it offers a blend of speed and efficiency.

How High Can The Airfish-8 Fly?

Capable of carrying payloads up to 1000kg and reaching speeds of up to 106 knots, the AF8 features dimensions of 17m x 15m and is designed to accommodate 8-10 passengers, including a crew of 2, in a standard civilian transport setup. The Air Fish, with its V8 engine producing 500 HP and fuelled by gasoline of Octane 95 or above, features a carbon fibre reinforced plastic/sandwich composite construction.

With a range of approximately 300 nautical miles, it turns in a ground effect mode within about 160 meters and in displacement mode within approximately 100 meters.

The AirFish-8 is meticulously crafted to comply with guidelines set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), emphasizing safety and operational standards. it can fly no more than 7 meters above the surface.

What Is The Cruising Speed of The Airfish-8?

The aircraft is designed with a unique Delta wing structure that promotes smooth airflow beneath its surface, ensuring balanced airflow to keep it grounded. Operating in close proximity to the ground or water, not exceeding its wingspan in altitude, triggers the wing-in-ground effect.

This reduces induced drag, enhancing the wing’s lift efficiency at specific speeds. The aircraft may have speed and airflow limits that can be controlled from the cockpit. Powered by a car engine using standard petrol fuel, readily available in the market, it operates with lower consumption and is cost-effective. It can cruise up to 106 knots speed and can consumes high octane fuel.

Singapore’s Wigetworks is at the forefront of advancing wing-in-ground effect technology with its AirFish-8 prototype crafts. The company aims to pioneer the mass production of these sea-skimming marine vehicles for both commercial and military use.

Pilots and passengers often perceive this effect during landings as a prolonged “float.” Moreover, the wing creates a cushion of high-pressure air beneath the craft, further reducing drag and enhancing fuel efficiency. This configuration allows the aircraft to generate significantly greater aerodynamic lift relative to its wing size and fuel usage, enabling it to carry heavier loads economically.



Germany To Phase Out China's Huawei And ZTE Components From Its 5G Network


Berlin: Germany will phase out components made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from its 5G wireless network over the next five years, CNN reported.

Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said, "In this way, we are protecting the central nervous systems of Germany as a business location -- and we are protecting the communication of citizens, companies, and the state."

She further said, "We must reduce security risks and, unlike in the past, avoid one-sided dependencies," CNN reported.

In the statement, the German government also stressed the importance of "secure and resilient telecommunications infrastructure," considering the "dangers of sabotage and espionage."

It further said, "In order to avoid critical vulnerabilities and dependencies, trustworthy manufacturers must therefore be relied upon."

Mobile network operators including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica have agreed to remove the components made by Huawei and ZTE from their 5G "core networks" which are connected to the internet and operate as control centers by the end of 2026.

In addition, these components must be purged from "access and transport networks" including the physical parts of the 5G network like transmission lines and towers by the end of 2029.

In a statement to CNN, Huawei said that "there is no specific evidence or scenario" that its technology has cybersecurity risks.

It further said, "We will continue to cooperate with customers and partners in a constructive and open manner, promote the improvement and progress of cybersecurity, and promote the construction of mobile networks and digitalization in Germany."

Meanwhile, Chinese Embassy in Germany has vowed to take "necessary measures" to safeguard the interests of Chinese companies.

In a statement, Chinese Embassy in Germany said that Berlin's move "seriously damages mutual trust between the two sides, and will also affect future cooperation between China and Europe in related fields."

The decision taken by Germany could further strain ties between two nations. Last week, Germany blocked the sale of a Volkswagen subsidiary to a Chinese state-owned company on national security grounds, a move criticised by China, CNN reported.

China is also involved in a trade spat with the European Union, which increased tariffs on Chinese electric cars in June.

On Thursday, China's Ministry for Foreign Affairs spokesperson said that "turning economic, trade and technological issues into politics will only disrupt normal technological exchanges."

Germany's decision comes after the US, UK, Australia and Japan effectively banned the company from building their 5G networks amid fears that Beijing could use Chinese tech companies to spy on their citizens.

Earlier in 2019, the US has also included Huawei in its trade restriction list, which made it harder for the compain to buy semiconductor chips from American suppliers.

Those restrictions were further strengthened earlier this year.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


India-Bhutan Hold Talks On Climate Change, Sustainability


New Delhi: A delegation from Bhutan, headed by Gem Tshering, from Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Government of Bhutan met Kirti Vardhan Singh, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Thursday in Delhi and discussed issues related to air quality, climate change, forests, natural resources, wildlife and renewable energy.

Singh thanked Tshering for joining the International Big Cat Alliance, a global initiative of India. He said that both countries share the same geography, and ecosystem, and the common values of democracy.

Singh also said that climate change is a common concern for both countries.

Singh said on X, "H E Gem Tshering, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Royal Government of Bhutan calls on at Paryavaran Bhawan, today. We discussed issues pertaining to mutual relations, environment, forest, wildlife management and climate change, in detail."

Tshering talked about successfully hosting the Sustainable Finance for Tiger Landscape Conference in April 2024 in Paro. He said that Bhutan is a carbon-negative country and obtains its major share of energy from hydropower.

Both- India and Bhutan agreed to work together to combat climate change, air quality, forest, wildlife management, and capacity building in the field of environment and climate change. India suggested to hold the Joint Working Group Meeting.

On Thursday, as the first day of BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat concluded, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that the deliberations between all seven nations' ministers covered the whole gamut of BIMSTEC collaboration that will contribute to solid outcomes and practical collaborations at the forthcoming summit in Thailand.

EAM Jaishankar thanked the ministers of Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for joining the meeting.

"A productive 2nd BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat. Thank FM @AmbPoohMaris, FM @DrHasanMahmud62, @FMBhutan DN Dhungyel, DPM and FM U Than Swe, MoS @TharakaBalasur1, FS @Sewa_lamsal and Secretary General @IndramaniPR for joining," he posted on X.

"Our conversation covered the whole gamut of BIMSTEC collaboration," Jaishankar stressed.

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Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan Now Largest Terror Group In Afghanistan: UN


Islamabad: The United Nations monitoring report have highlighted that the banned militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is now the largest terrorist group in Afghanistan, enjoying operational and logistical support from both the Afghan Taliban and factions of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, reported Dawn.

The 15th report of the ISIL (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team was submitted to the UN Security Council.

"The Taliban do not conceive of TTP as a terrorist group: the bonds are close, and the debt owed to TTP significant," the report stated.

The report further noted that it has an estimated strength of around 6000-6500 fighters, adding that the TTP is now the largest among the two dozen or so such groups that enjoy freedom to manoeuvre, under the oversight of the Taliban regime, as reported by Dawn.

This lends credence to Islamabad's stance that Kabul is unwilling to act against Pakistan-facing terrorist groups, something officials such as Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi have reiterated time and again.

The report further stressed that TTP "continues to operate at a significant scale in Afghanistan and to conduct terrorist operations into Pakistan from there, often utilising Afghans."

"TTP has intensified attacks against Pakistan, significantly increasing from 573 in 2021 to 715 in 2022 and 1,210 in 2023, with the trend continuing into 2024," the report, updated until May 28, stated, according to Dawn.

Moreover, this lines up with Islamabad's claims of the involvement of Afghan nationals in a number of recent terrorist attacks, including the Bisham bombing, claiming the lives of five Chinese engineers and their Pakistani driver.

Notably, the UN report mentioned this particular incident.

Further, it backs Pakistan's worry that NATO-calibre weapons, especially night vision capability, have been provided to TTP since the Taliban takeover, adding lethality to terrorist attacks against Pakistani border posts, Dawn reported.

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Alert Issued For Karachi Amid Warnings of Possible Terror Attack During Muharram


Islamabad: A threat alert has been issued for the anti-encroachment police in Pakistan's Karachi, warning of possible terrorists attack during Muharamul Haram, reported ARY News.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Karachi, Tariq Islam issued guidelines for the officials and said that the anti-encroachment police personnel have been warned against going alone on official duty during Muharramul Haram in the wake of recent attacks.

The notification further warned that government officials could be targeted in Karachi during Muharram. The officials were directed to use police vans for official assignments and avoid wearing uniforms and shoes while returning home after finishing duties.

Earlier on Monday, the federal government approved the deployment of armed forces across the country to ensure security during the month of Muharram, as reported by ARY News.

This comes following the request of the authorities in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad to deploy military to control the law and order situation.

The Pakistan government under Article 245 of the Constitution, authorised the "deployment of army troops/assets and civil armed forces troops/assets" to ensure peace, according to ARY News.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry clarified that the deployment of the army will be based on the ground situation and that the provinces will have the authority to determine the deployment locations.

Earlier, Pakistan's Punjab government requested country's interior ministry for a 'temporary suspension' on social media platforms from July 6-11 during Muharram processions, Dawn reported.

Heightened security measures are currently underway across various regions of the Islamic Republic, as reported by Pakistani media.

It has been reported that 502 locations in Punjab have been identified as 'sensitive areas', prompting the deployment of army and Rangers personnel.

Muharram holds profound significance for Shia Muslims. However, Pakistan has faced recurrent sectarian violence during this period between Sunni and Shia communities.

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