Sunday, February 25, 2024

IAF Issues Request For Information To Procure 3 ISTAR Aircraft

The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure 3 Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Systems along with associated ground segment from registered Indian vendors.

The main purpose of the ISTAR is to provide accurate actionable intelligence acquired through Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Electro Optical / Infra Red (EO/IR) sensors and disseminate through SATCOM, Wideband Line of Sight (LoS) and Operational Data links (ODL) links. The mission cycle starts with the insertion of prioritized intelligence request to the mission planning workstation and ends with an intelligence report from the mission commander who responds to the request in real time after onboard analysis.

Quantity is for 3 ISTAR Systems along with all payload & associated ground segment. The ISTAR systems consisting of the aircrafts, payloads onboard and the associated ground segment.

India To Add 18 More N-Power Reactors With Total Capacity of 13,800 MWe By 2032: NPCIL

New Delhi: India will add 18 more nuclear power reactors with a cumulative capacity to generate 13,800 MWe of electricity, taking the total share of atomic power in the energy mix to 22,480 MWe by 2031-32.

This was announced by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated two home-built 700 MW nuclear power reactors at Kakrapar in Gujarat last week.

Presently, the NPCIL operates 24 reactors with a total capacity of 8,180 MWe.

The prime minister dedicated units 3 & 4 of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS 3 & 4) to the nation on February 22.

KAPS-4 was connected to the western power grid on February 20, two days ahead of PM Modi’s visit to Kakrapar.

KAPS 3 & 4 (2 X 700 MW) are the largest indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) with advanced safety features comparable to the best in the world, the NPCIL said.

“These reactors have been designed, constructed, commissioned, and operated by NPCIL, with the supply of equipment and execution of contracts by Indian industries/ companies, reflecting the true spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” the NPCIL said.

The prime minister said the role of nuclear power in electricity generation is going to increase in the 21st century and it was a matter of pride that India is Atmanirbhar in this advanced technology.

Modi also visited the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station and took a tour of the Control Room on the occasion.

Four nuclear power plants of 1,000 MWe each are being built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu with Russian assistance. Four 700 MWe home-built PHWRs are coming up at Rawatbhata (RAPS 7 & 8) in Rajasthan and Gorakhpur (GHAVP 1 & 2) in Haryana.

Ten 700 MWe PHWRs have been sanctioned to be built at GHAVP 3 & 4 at Gorakhpur in Haryana, Kaiga Generating Station 5 & 6 near Karwar in Karnataka, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh (CMPAPP 1 & 2) and four power units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (MBRAPP 1, 2, 3 & 4). PTI SKU KVK KVK

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Pakistan Air Force Court-Martials 13, Including One Who Ordered Failed 'Swift Retort': Reports

Pakistan's failed retaliation attempt post-Balakot Airstrike ended with it losing an F16 against the IAF’s vintage but upgraded MiG-21

Islamabad: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have court-martialled 13 of its officers following reports of corruption within the institution. The allegations surfaced after Pakistani journalist Wajahat S Khan exposed the rampant corruption in Pakistan’s Air wing reported Republic World.

Among the officers implicated in the scandal are high-ranking officials, including Air Marshal Ahsan Rafiq and Air Marshal Tariq Zia, media reports said. The investigation also resulted in the ousting of an officer partly responsible for initiating the failed ‘Operation Swift Retort’ against India after the Balakot airstrike, Retired Air Marshal Javed Saeed.

Failed 'Swift Retort' And Following Developments

Operation Swift Retort saw a failed attempt by Pakistan to retaliate the Balakot Airstrike. The event subsequently led to an aerial confrontation with the Indian Air Force. Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian jets, while Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthamanam downed a Pakistani F-16 with his Mirage-2000 Bison, as confirmed by Indian authorities via substantiated data including Radar Imagery of the said confrontation.

The tension following the failure also made Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan seek dialogue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to avoid escalation. Recent reports suggested that India had deployed nine missiles towards Pakistan during this period which made it coerced to leave Wg Cdr Abhinandan immediately.

Rampant Corruption In Pakistan Air Force Surges

The court-martial proceedings revealed deeper issues within the PAF, with allegations of corruption implicating top officials, including Chief Zaheer Babar Sidhu. Some Pakistan defence experts claim that the officers facing charges are being unfairly targeted and subjected to mistreatment. However, this is the same PAF that turned a supposed air base from its tax paying ‘Awam’s’ money into a shopping Mall.

Furthermore, suspicions have arisen regarding the motives behind the arrests, with suggestions that the Air Force Chief is eliminating potential rivals to prolong his tenure. Allegations of irregularities in weapon procurement by PAF have only been noted by experts, reports said.

Armenia Keen On Strategic Partnership With India: Minister

Armenia is keen to keep closer ties with India, and also to work on raising bilateral ties to the level of a strategic partnership.

“I think our relations are mature enough to be defined as a strategic partnership. I hope that our ministers of foreign affairs will have discussions on this issue," Armenia’s labour minister Narek Mkrtchyan said in an exclusive interview with Mint.

Mrkrtchyan also said that his country is keen to deepen defence ties with India. “We have cooperation in the defence and we are looking for what to make our cooperation much deeper," he said in response to a question about planned defence deals between the two countries.

This comes after India has stepped up arms sales and strategic support to Armenia amid its clashes with Azerbaijan. Located in the South Caucasus, Armenia clashed with neighbour Azerbaijan for control over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. A short but intense conflict in 2020 saw Azerbaijan inflict severe military setbacks on Armenia.

Since then, the country’s defence ties with India have strengthened. Armenia purchased the Swathi weapon-locating radar system from India in 2020. Following this, a bilateral agreement was reached for New Delhi to provide Armenia ammunition and multi-barrel rocket launchers for Pinaka, as well as anti-tank munitions.

In November 2022, Kalyani Strategic Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharat Forge, won a $155 million contract to supply artillery guns to Armenia, according to numerous media reports citing defence ministry sources.

This has brought closer strategic cooperation between the two countries. Armenia’s national security chief met with NSA Ajit Doval in August 2023, which came after a meeting between defence ministers Suren Papikyan and Rajanth Singh in October 2022.

Armenia is also keen to see Indian firms bid for tenders to construct infrastructure in the country, particularly for marquee projects like the country’s North-South Road, which runs along the length of the country. It connects Armenia’s southern border with Iran to the country’s northern border with Georgia.

According to persons aware of the matter, the road needs upgrades to manage the flow of heavy trucks, which could provide an opportunity for Indian infrastructure firms.

“There are still unbuilt parts of the road like some tunnels and some bridges that need to be constructed. When an international tender will be announced, the government of Armenia will be happy to seek proposals from India as well," Mkrtchyan said about the project.

“We are announcing international tenders and we are happy to receive proposals from international companies for construction. For example, we are constructing 300 to 500 schools and kindergartens and this is also an opportunity for Indian companies to come and participate in tenders," Mkrtchyan said.

“We are now implementing a mega project of an academic city in Armenia, which means that universities will be located there. We will be announcing an international tender and we'll be happy to see Indian companies invest and do business in Armenia," he added.

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DRDO hands over 23 Licensing Agreements For Transfer of Technology To Industries During Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024

Domains include electronics, laser technology, combat vehicles, naval systems & aeronautics

To enhance cooperation and synergy with the industry, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) organised a DRDO-Industry Meet on February25, 2024 during the Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 at Pune. The meet was intended to apprise and update industries, especially the MSMEs & start-ups about various industry-friendly initiatives and policies of DRDO as well as address the concerns of the industry.

During the meet, DRDO handed over 23 Licensing Agreements for Transfer of Technology (LATOT) to 22 industries in presence of Secretary Department of Defence (R&D) and Chairman DRDO Dr Samir V Kamat and other dignitaries. The technologies transferred cover the domains of electronics, laser technology, armaments, life sciences, materials science, combat vehicles, naval systems and aeronautics.

These include Manufacturing of Carbon/Carbon Aircraft brakes for LCA Tejas, 100 m Infantry Foot Bridge Floating, 40 mm High Explosive Anti-Personnel (HEAP) Grenade for UBGL, Full Trailer of 70t Tank Transporter for MBT Arjun Mk - 1A, Expendable Mobile Shelter Solar Heated Shelter, NMR-Supercapacitor, Weaponization of Hand-Held Thermal Imager with LRF (WHHTI) and High Pressure Water Mist Fire Suppression System (HP WMFSS). The products based on these DRDO technologies will further boost the defence manufacturing sector and self-reliance in defence.

The DRDO handed over SAMAR (System for Advance Manufacturing Assessment and Rating) assessment certificates to nine Industry Partners. SAMAR is a benchmark to measure the competency of defence manufacturing enterprises. A brief and overview on SAMAR was also provided during the function.

Addressing Industry partners, Dr Kamat iterated DRDO’s commitment to provide all technology support towards the development of Indian defence industries for realisation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat as envisioned by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He elaborated that the recent success of DRDO products have not only made the country more self-reliant in defence technology but also provided immense opportunities to the industries in defence manufacturing sector. He further stressed that the industries are invaluable partners and it is an apt time for an Indian industry to take advantage of the latest initiatives and policies of the Government and make the country a hub of defence manufacturing.

An Open house session during the meet was also organised which provided an opportunity to industries to express their challenges, expectations and the kind of support needed so that framework may be refined to further ease of doing business and facilitate industry.

The Industry was also briefed about the latest policies and procedures through which DRDO is supporting industries. Some of the policies discussed include Transfer of Technologies, Test & Evaluation support, Technological and scientific support, R&D funding to industry under TDF and Free use of DRDO patents by industry and SAMAR scheme.


IAF's Sarang Helicopter Display Team Participates In Singapore Air Show

Singapore: The Sarang Helicopter Display Team of the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in the Singapore Air Show.

IAF's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), manufactured the Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv), operated by the Sarang helicopter display team, enthralled the audience at the Singapore Air Show on February 24.

In a post on X, IAF's Sarang Helicopter Display Team said, "Reflecting on our journey, every milestone reached, and every triumph celebrated, the Sarang team has completed 20 glorious years as the ambassadors of the Indian Air Force. Happy raising day to our incredible display team!"

The Singapore Air Show was livestreamed on its website. The Sarang Helicopter Display Team also operated on Tuesday.

As the Sarang Helicopter Display Team participated in the Singapore Air Show, the commentator on February 20 said, "Jai Hind, Good afternoon, Namaste, Singapore. How are you? Enjoying the Air Show? Fantastic. Just let the excitement soar as we prepare to captivate and light up the skies of Singapore."

She further said, "Singapore is not just a part of Indian history but also in the heart of the Sarang journey. Get your cameras ready, our team is all set to paint the sky in Sarang colours." She also introduced the commanding officers of the four helicopters that were displayed at the Singapore Air Show.

In a post on X, IAF's Sarang Helicopter Display Team stated, "Glimpses of the Sarang team painting the Singapore skies on the inaugural day of the Singapore Air Show 2024 Catch us live on 24th and 25th February at Changi Exhibition Centre!"

The Sarang team performed a four helicopter display for the audience at the Singapore Airshow this year. The display is designed to highlight the ALH Dhruv's agility and manoeuvrability, as well as the high degree of skill of the IAF pilots flying these machines.

In an earlier press release, the Ministry of Defence said, "The indigenously manufactured ALH and its advanced variants are operated by all the military services of India. The successful induction and operational utilisation of this platform is one of the glowing success stories of self-reliance (Aatmanirbharta) in the defence sector."

On February 18, the Sarang helicopter display team of the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted its first practice display in Singapore, ahead of their final display during the Singapore Airshow scheduled to commence on Tuesday.

The Sarang team arrived in Singapore on February 12, 2024. The team operated from the Changi airbase of the Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The biennial Singapore Airshow was conducted from February 20 to 24.

The airshow featured a variety of display teams from all across the globe, including India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Australia. The show also featured leading aircraft and system manufacturers and operators showcasing their products.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), manufactured the Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv), which the Sarang team operates, featured in the show for the very first time. According to the Ministry of Defence press release, the first international display for the Sarang team also happened to be at Singapore for the Asian Aerospace Air Show at Changi Exhibition Centre in 2004.

India-Japan Joint Military Exercise 'Dharma Guardian' Begins In Rajasthan

Jaipur: The fifth edition of joint military Exercise 'Dharma Guardian' between the Indian Army and the Japan Ground Self Defence Force began at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan on Sunday.

The military exercise, aimed at fostering military cooperation and enhancing combined capabilities to execute joint operations in a semi-urban environment, is scheduled to be conducted from February 25 to March 9.

In a post on X, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of MoD (Army), stated, " DharmaGuardian_2024 The Joint Military Exercise #DharmaGuardian between #India & #Japan commenced today, with the opening ceremony at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan. The exercise aims to enhance interoperability in joint tactical-level operations in Semi-Urban Environment, under the United Nations mandate."

Exercise 'Dharma Guardian' is an annual exercise and conducted alternatively in India and Japan. The contingent on both sides consists of 40 personnel each. The Japanese contingent is being represented by troops from the 34th Infantry Regiment, while the battalion from the Rajputana Rifles will represent the Indian Army contingent.

In a press release, the Ministry of Defence stated, "The aim of the exercise is to foster military cooperation and enhance combined capabilities to execute joint operations in a semi-urban environment under Chapter VII of United Nations Charter. The exercise would focus on a high degree of physical fitness, joint planning, joint tactical drills, and the basics of special arms skills."

Tactical drills, including the creation of an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) grid, setting up of mobile vehicle checkpoints, will also be practiced during the military exercise.

In a press release, the Ministry of Defence stated, "Tactical drills to be practiced during the Exercise will include establishing of Temporary Operating Base, creating an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Grid, setting up Mobile Vehicle Check Post, executing Cordon and Search Operations in a hostile village, Heliborne operations and House Intervention Drills."

"A Weapon and Equipment Display will also be organised showcasing 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' initiative and the growing defence industrial capability of the country," it added.

Lieutenant General Togashi Yuichi, Commanding General, Eastern Army, Japan Ground Self Defence Force, will visit India on the sidelines of 'Exercise Dharma Guardian', according to Ministry of Defence press release. The general officer will visit Mahajan Field Firing Ranges on March 3 and witness combat shooting demonstrations, Special Heliborne Operation (SHBO) and House Intervention Drills.

The Ministry of Defence press release reads, "Exercise 'Dharma Guardian' will enable the two sides to share their best practices in Tactics, Techniques and Procedures of conducting tactical operations. The Exercise will also facilitate developing inter-operability, bonhomie and camaraderie between troops of both the sides. This will enhance the level of defence cooperation, further fostering bilateral relations between the two friendly nations."

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Mahindra Defence Showcase Advanced Wheeled Armoured Platform

Pune: Defence Research and Development Organisation and Mahindra Defence have together developed the advanced version of the Wheeled Armoured Platform and showcased it at the Defence Expo being held in Pune from February 24 to 26.

"This vehicle was designed and developed by DRDO. This vehicle platform is a second-generation platform. It has multi-role capabilities. That means we can use the vehicle platform for a variety of roles. Right now, it is in CBRN mode. Similarly, we can use the same vehicle for the ICv role. That is an inventory combat vehicle, then an armoured person carrier, an APC role we can utilise, and many more. So regarding this vehicle, we have completed the development tiles for it.

We have carried out trials and it has performed excellently well for the land mobility trials as well as water mobility trials that we have completed. A key feature of this vehicle platform is that it is very compact compared to its earlier generation. It is lighter, and it is well protected, I mean ballistic protection. We have increased. You can see the frontal shape and side stroke we have provided," said Nilesh Patel, a DRDO scientist.

"This vehicle we can very well compare with all the vehicles worldwide available, particularly for the Striker. If we compare, this vehicle has a better power-to-weight ratio. That is, this vehicle has a 36 hp button. Ballistic and blast protection are modular in this vehicle, and the vehicle is ambitious, which may not be ambitious. So this is one of the key features. An ambitious vehicle with eight kilometres per hour of water speed," added the DRDO scientist.

DRDO showcased the different types of rockets used by the Pinaaka multi-barrel rocket launcher system at the Expo. This includes the guided, extended range, and Pinaka-Mark 1 rockets.

Earlier, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary visited the 'Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo' in Pune and said that the time has come to move on to newer technologies and better quality radars and the Air Force will sign a new deal with L&T in a couple of days for the same.

"This requirement to maintain air defence coverage over the entire country has always existed. It is one of the major roles of the Air Force. We have had vintage equipment, now the high-power radar and the long-range radars have served us very well for many years. Now, the time has come to move on to newer technologies and better-quality of radars. So this new deal, which we are going to sign with L&T in a couple of days today, will open the way for a completely new technology in ground-based hyper radars," he said.

The Air Chief Marshal was briefed on AI initiatives by the 12 Base Repair Depot for training Agniveers and giving context to the speech.

"They will fill the voids that have existed in some places in our air defence network, and overall, they'll strengthen the air defence capabilities of the country," he added.

Further, speaking on the closed-in weapon system, VR Chaudhary said that this system provides a wider link in the air defence network.

"The threats that we face today are from a very wide spectrum. Starting from small drones to hypersonic weapons. Having an air defence capability against this is always a challenge. Closed-in weapon system provides a wider link in the air defence network. We are signing a contract for 61 flights of this closed-in weapon system," he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force's Made in India Samar-II and Akash surface-to-air weapon systems are being showcased at the Defence Expo being held in Pune from February 24 to 26.

The Samar-II system had been developed using the R-27 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles, which can now intercept targets at longer ranges than its previous version, the Samar-1 air defence missile system.

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Baloch Rights Organisations Thanks UK MP McDonnell For Support Against 'Pakistani Oppression'

Baluchistan: The Baloch American Congress (BAC), an international body that advocates for Baloch rights on the international stage thanked British MP John McDonnell for his support towards the 'freedom struggle' of Baloch activists against Pakistan.

McDonnell is from the Labour Party and is an MP from Hayes and Harlington.

Taking to X, the BAC stated, "We are grateful to @johnmcdonnellMP for his unwavering support in the fight against oppression in Baluchistan. His voice in the UK Parliament is a ray of hope for the Baloch people. Thank you for standing with us!"

Prominent Baloch rights activist Mahrang Baloch also expressed her gratitude to the UK parliamentarian for supporting their fight against Pakistan's atrocities.

"Thank you, @johnmcdonnellMP, for organizing the Zoom Rally on Human Rights Violations in Balochistan. I hope that political and human rights activists globally, including John McDonnell, will consistently amplify their voices against the severe human rights violations in Balochistan. #StopBalochGenocide," she posted on X.
Previously, in a virtual session hosted by John McDonnell discussions were held on atrocities faced by the people of Baluchistan. The one-hour-long discourse garnered participation from over 500 individuals worldwide, including prominent Baloch rights activists like Mahrang Baloch, Sabiha Baloch, and Jamal Baloch.

During the online session, McDonnell emphasised the continuity of his commitment, saying, "From my perspective as a British MP, it is a continuous campaign where we work together."

Addressing the pressing issue of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Pakistani administration, McDonnell outlined a three-pronged approach.

He asserted, "First, we need to do everything we can to expose the human rights abuses that are taking place and to use every available platform for it. As a member of the British Parliament, I will consistently utilize that platform to bring attention to human rights abuses."

McDonnell also highlighted the imperative need to ensure the protection of campaigners, addressing the alarming trend of activists being abducted and threatened by Pakistan.

Furthermore, he emphasised the global community's role in mobilizing international opinion to exert pressure on Pakistani authorities, advocating for basic civil liberties and human rights in Baluchistan.

Expressing support for the cause, McDonnell underscored the leverage the UK government holds through aid and trade agreements with Pakistan.

"Pakistan receives substantial aid, not only from the UK but also from other countries. It's crucial to use that aid to ensure Pakistan respects basic human rights and civil liberties in Balochistan," he said.

McDonnell acknowledged concerns about the resistance of the Pakistani government to international intervention, emphasizing a moral responsibility to collaborate with campaigners.

"Working with all the campaigners, we can establish conditions in trade deals that align with our objectives," McDonnell added.

Commending the resilience of protestors standing against Pakistani atrocities, McDonnell concluded that such acts contribute to securing civil liberties and basic human rights for the people of Baluchistan.

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Garden Reach Shipbuilders Commences Construction of Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessel

The Plate Cutting Ceremony of the Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessel (NGOPV) - Yards 3039 & 3040, at GRSE RBD Unit on 24 Feb 24.

The Next-Generation Offshore Patrol Vessel (NGOPV) are a series of eleven offshore patrol vessel planned to be built by Goa Shipyard (GSL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) for the Indian Navy. The deal was signed on 30 March 2023 with the delivery of the ships is scheduled to commence from September 2026.

The primary role of the vessels to maintain Indian Navy's combat capability and meet various operational requirements such as Anti piracy, Counter-Infiltration, Anti poaching, Anti trafficking, Non combatant evacuation operations, Search and Rescue (SAR), Protection of Offshore Assets and Mine warfare.

Thailand Deputy PM Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara To Begin His Four-Day India Visit Today

New Delhi: Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara will begin his four-day official visit to India today. He will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday.

During his visit, Thailand's Deputy PM, who also serves as Thailand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, will participate in the 10th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting at Hyderabad House in Delhi on Tuesday, according to a media advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara is scheduled to meet Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday. On February 28, he will depart from India after concluding his four-day official visit.

Notably, the 9th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting was held in Bangkok on August 17, 2022, according to MEA. From August 16-18, 2022, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Bangkok to co-chair the 9th Meeting of the India-Thailand Joint Commission (JCM) with Thailand's then-Deputy PM Don Pramudwinai.

Notably, diplomatic relations between India and Thailand were established in 1947. The bilateral ties between India and Thailand are rooted in history, age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people-to-people contacts, according to MEA. In 2022, India and Thailand celebrated the 75th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations.

On February 8, the Thailand delegation, led by Senator Pikulkeaw Krairiksh, called on Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at Parliament House. During the meeting, Birla presented the delegation with mementos and a copy of the Constitution of India.

The Thailand parliamentary delegation visited the Indian Parliament and stressed that Thailand would like to invest in some projects, hoping that India might be interested. Krairiksh also appreciated the hospitality received in India.

Speaking to ANI, Pikulkeaw Krairiksh said, "We appreciate hospitality here." She further hoped that both countries could continue with their connectivity between the Indian and Thai parliaments.

"I hope that we can continue with our connectivity here between the Thai and Indian parliaments. We like to invest also; we have projects of the trilateral road in the north and Ranong port that we have been talking about for so long, so I think that India might be interested," she said.

On February 6, Thailand's delegation also met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in the national capital. He appreciated the 'warm sentiments' towards the India-Thailand relationship and affirmed his commitment to strengthening bonds of culture, connectivity, and trade.

"Glad to meet Thai Senate delegation led by Senator Pikulkeaw Krairiksh in New Delhi today. Appreciate their warm sentiments towards India-Thailand relationship and aspiration to grow it further. As civilizational partners, committed to strengthen bonds of culture, connectivity, trade and beyond," Jaishankar said in a post on X.

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Lord Buddha's Holy Relics Make Sacred Journey To Thailand From India

New Delhi: In a historic event that resonates deeply with Buddhist communities worldwide, the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) announced the commencement of a sacred journey.

The revered relics of the Lord Buddha and those of his disciples, Arhant Sariputta and Arhant Mahamogallana, are on a sacred journey from India to Thailand, where an exposition of the relics has been organised.

In a post on X, the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) stated, "A momentous occasion unfolds as the Holy Buddha relics, along with the relics of his first two disciples, Arhant Sariputta and Arhant Mahamogallana, embark on a sacred journey. The holy relics departed from New Delhi bound for Bangkok, where they will be displayed for the public to pray."

The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), a global organisation dedicated to promoting Buddhist values and fostering interfaith dialogue, facilitated this momentous occasion.

With a mission to nurture the rich heritage of Buddhism and propagate its teachings, the IBC serves as a unifying force for Buddhist communities across the globe.

These relics, revered as sacred artefacts embodying the spiritual essence of the Buddha and his enlightened disciples, evoke reverence and devotion among devotees.

The journey represents a symbolic bridge between India, the birthplace of Buddhism, and Thailand, a country deeply steeped in Buddhist traditions and heritage.

Indian Ambassador to Thailand Nagesh Singh said, "This is a landmark event for the Indo-Thai relations... Thailand is referred to as a civilizational neighbour, given the connection we have of Buddhism, Hinduism, and language, which is derived from Pali and Sanskrit, Lord Buddha. More than 90% of the population in Thailand is Buddhist. These relics, especially of Lord Buddha, are the living embodiment of the Lord. It's a very big event, and it also coincides with the 72nd birth year of the king, Rama 10th."

In Bangkok, the relics will be enshrined and prominently displayed for public veneration, offering devotees a rare opportunity to pay homage and seek blessings.

The exposition of these relics serves as a spiritual beacon, drawing pilgrims and seekers from far and wide to partake in this sacred experience.

The convergence of the Holy Buddha Relic and the relics of Arhant Sariputta and Arhant Mahamogallana epitomizes the timeless bond between the teacher and his foremost disciples.

Beyond religious symbolism, the exposition of these sacred relics embodies the universal values of compassion, wisdom, and inner peace, resonating with seekers of truth across the globe.

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Australian Minister Visits India, Aims To Address Shortage of Medical Professionals Back Home

Chennai: Australian Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson is in India aiming to address the shortage of healthcare workers in Western Australia.

The Minister, leading a health skilling and business delegation, has actively engaged with various stakeholders during her visit to Chennai, Hyderabad, Nasnik, and Trivandrum from February 22 to March 2, 2024.

Expressing enthusiasm about the trip, Minister Sanderson highlighted the fruitful interactions with health facilities in Chennai, including MGM Hospital, Calvary Hospital, the Apollo Group, and the Madras Medical College. She emphasised ongoing collaboration with the Tamil Nadu government and the commitment of the West Australian government to strengthen the relationship.

"It has been a fantastic trip, seeing a range of health facilities in Chennai with MGM Hospital, Calvary Hospital, the Apollo Group, the Madras Medical College and meetings with the Minister for Health. I'll be meeting with the CM to reiterate the West Australian government's commitment to ongoing collaboration and relationship with the Tamil Nadu government," she told ANI.

Minister Sanderson stressed the need for nursing, allied health, and medical professionals in Western Australia, with forecasts indicating a requirement for an additional 5,000 FTE doctors and nurses by 2033.

"There are many similarities and we're certainly working with private organizations and the government around how we can support nursing and medical staff to come and train in Western Australia and share their skills and knowledge... We need nursing, allied health and medical professionals, and there are many specialities available to work in," she added.

The mission aims to showcase Western Australia as an attractive destination for health workers and students to live, work, and study.

The Minister's engagements in India included crucial meetings with Tamil Nadu's Minister for Health and Family Welfare, M Subramanian, and Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Health, and Family Welfare Department IAS Gagandeep Singh Bedi. Additionally, an Invest and Trade Business Luncheon, held in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), facilitated productive discussions and cooperation within the healthcare sector.

Acknowledging Tamil Nadu's prominence in the Indian healthcare landscape, Minister Sanderson addressed prestigious institutions, nursing colleges, and renowned hospitals. These interactions aimed to foster dialogue, share best practices, and explore partnerships in healthcare education and delivery.

Tamil Nadu, with its distinction of housing the third-highest number of medical colleges in India, stands as a beacon of advanced healthcare facilities in the country. These engagements aimed to foster dialogue, share best practices, and explore avenues for partnership in healthcare education and delivery.

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Tibetan Youths Protest Outside Chinese Embassy In Vienna Over Human Rights Violations

Vienna: Three youngsters from the Tibetan community in Austria staged a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Vienna on Saturday over the human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet. They urged the international community to unite and openly support the Tibetan Government-in-exile in their ongoing struggle to protect the human rights of Tibetans in Tibet.

Adopting a novel protest, the young Tibetans used a projector and played videos of the forceful displacement of Tibetans by the Chinese in Tibet on the walls of the Chinese Embassy in Vienna. They also projected words highlighting the human rights violations of China and the cultural genocide carried out by China to erase the Tibetan identity.

The young Tibetans, associated with VTAG, Europe, also raised slogans against the large-scale environmental degradation happening in Tibet in the guise of huge projects that are unsustainable for the region.

During the protest, the young Tibetans also raised slogans in German to create awareness among the people in Austria that what is happening to Tibetans in Tibet is a deliberate extinction of a community, an identity.

According to young Tibetans, these projects including huge defence establishments, and large dams would displace a large number of Tibetans from their native homeland.

One of the main objectives behind such projects is to forcefully relocate Tibetans and erase their identity. The protesters stressed that the systematic disregard for the fundamental rights of Tibetans by the Chinese government reflects a blatant violation of international human rights law.

Protesters said that China, obligated to respect and adhere to mechanisms safeguarding people's rights, has been persecuting human rights defenders, forcibly resettling Tibetans, engaging in forced labour, fostering workplace discrimination, curtailing religious freedom and language rights, assimilating Tibetan children in boarding schools, and perpetrating cultural genocide.

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Slain Activist Hidayat Lohar's Daughters Lead Massive Protests In Pakistan's Sindh

Sindh: The killing of prominent Sindhi activist Hidayat Lohar has ignited massive protests in the Naseerabad area of Sindh province in Pakistan.

These ongoing protests and rallies are being led by Hidayat Lohar's two daughters; Sorath Lohar and Sasui Lohar.

In a post on the social media platform X, the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh (VMPS) stated, "Sorath Lohar leads the protest against the brutal murder of 'Martyr #HidayatLohar by Pakistani State. #StatekilledHidyatLohar."

In the adjoining video, Sorath Lohar can be seen protesting and chanting slogans of "We want justice".

Earlier, VMPS had posted, "Naseerabad; Rally in Naseerabad under the guidance of Sorath Lohar and Sasui, leader of Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, against the state murder of Shaheed Hidayat Lohar, a large number of people participated. On the other hand, on behalf of PT ALF and Jai Sindh, protests continued throughout Sindh on the 6th day today. #StateKilledHidayatLohar".

The protest has gained recognition and support from other prominent activists and social leaders who, just like the Lohar sisters continue raising similar voices of dissent against the atrocities inflicted by Pakistan upon the people.

Previously, prominent Baloch rights activist Mahrang Baloch had expressed her solidarity for the protest of Sasui and Sorath.

Taking to X, Baloch stated "We stand in solidarity with the sit-in protest led by Sasui and Sorath against the extrajudicial killing of the prominent human rights activist, Hidayat Lohar. I appeal to the UN Working Group to promptly investigate Lohar's murder and ensure justice for Sasui and Sorath. I encourage people from all walks of life to join the sit-in and support Sasui and Sorath in their quest for justice. #JusticeForHidayatLohar"

Another prominent human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the killing of Hidayat Lohar.

In a statement issued, the organisation emphasised the urgent need for an independent and impartial investigation by Pakistani authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a post on X, Amnesty International remarked, "PAKISTAN: @amnesty calls on the authorities to conduct an independent, impartial and prompt investigation into the killing of Sindhi political activist and teacher Hidayatullah Lohar, and ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable without recourse to the death penalty."

The tragic killing of Hidayat Lohar underscores the grave risks faced by human rights workers in Pakistan.

Lohar, who forcibly disappeared in 2017 and recovered two years later in May 2019, was recently shot and killed by armed men.

The father of Sorath Lohar, leader of Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, and Sasui Lohar, fell victim to this heinous crime. His family members have been staging protests demanding justice for his murder.

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