Akash air defence missile system

Philippines, Brazil, Egypt Showing Interest In Akash Air Defence Missile System

Amid Indian efforts to expand the export of indigenous military hardware, many countries, including Philippines, Brazil and Egypt have shown interest in procuring the Akash air defence missile system.

The missile system has already achieved success in selling the missiles to Armenia under an order worth over USD 600 million.

“The deliveries to Armenia are expected to begin in next few months from now. In the meanwhile, many countries including Brazil, Egypt and the Philippines have shown interest in the Akash missile system,” defence officials told ANI.

The Akash missile is a Defence Research and Development Organization-developed system and has been in service for over a decade now with multiple advanced versions of the missile under development by the Akash Team.

There are also countries in the Middle East that have shown interest in the capabilities of the Akash weapon system and its recent capability demonstration in trials.

India demonstrated the firepower of the indigenous Akash missile system, where four targets (unmanned aerial targets) were engaged simultaneously by a single Akash firing unit. The demonstration was conducted by the IAF during Astrashakti 2023 at Suryalanka Air Force Station on December 12.

The Akash Weapon System is indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by defence public sector units along with other industries.

Akash has been deployed by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army for the last decade. The current firing was done from the system, which was ordered in September 2019 as a repeat order from the IAF.

The Akash weapon system is also one of the indigenous defence systems that have bagged orders from international customers. It is also being constantly upgraded by the DRDO scientists involved in it and they may get more orders from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Recently, DRDO chief Samir V Kamat inaugurated a replica of the missile at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai to attract talented youth towards defence research and development. (ANI)

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Modi G20 Presidency To Brazil Prez Silva

Modi Hands Over Gavel Of G20 Presidency To Brazil Prez Silva

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday handed over the ceremonial gavel of the Group of 20 presidency to Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the G20 summit here.

“I congratulate Brazilian President and my friend Lula da Silva and hand over the gavel of Presidency,” PM Modi said minutes before the New Delhi G20 Summit concluded.  

Earlier Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva handed over saplings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of Session 3 of the G20 Summit.

While Indonesia held the G20 presidency last year, Brazil will hold the presidency after India.   

India took over the G20 presidency on December 1 last year at the G20 Summit at Bali in Indonesia and will continue to hold it till the end of November.   

The New Delhi Declaration was adopted by G20 leaders on Saturday, the first day of the Summit.  

The G20 leaders visited Rajghat on Sunday morning to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.  (ANI)

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BRICS Expansion Geopolitics And India

BRICS Expansion, Geopolitics And India

BRICS concluded its 15th Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa last week. India is a key partner in the original BRICS and has been participant in the key highlight of the summit, the announcement of expansion of the group from January 1, 2024. The newly inducted members are as disparate as the original group. They comprise the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Iran from West Asia, two Nile riparian countries of Egypt and Ethiopia from Africa and Argentina from South America.

If the inclusion of major oil producers from West Asia provides political heft and clout to the group, Egypt and Ethiopia represent African aspirations of representation in the global fora. Argentina, being an economic and financial struggler may be looking for revival through loans with less stringent conditions from BRICS’ New Development Bank.

The location of the BRICS countries and the new members is interesting, in terms of geopolitical reach. Egypt and Saudi Arabia also have been major beneficiaries of their strong linkages with the United States of America during Cold War and after. They facilitated US in West Asia and the Arab World. Now, it seems the tables have turned, perhaps, with the onset of a new Cold War. The second pole, however, this time comprises the formidable Russia-China alliance. Does BRICS expansion signal the return of the proverbial Chessboard vis-à-vis NATO? Or the BRICS is just an economic power bloc enhancing its energy prospects and geographical extent? What are the implications for India of the expanded membership? The article seeks to answer these questions.

BRICS’s fundamental aims since its conception have concentrated upon creating a new financial architecture in the international system. Gradually, however, it is acquiring a political character and has been concerned specifically with security issues in the international system. This is reflected in consecutive Summit Statements of recent years and political and security cooperation forms the most important pillar of collaboration in BRICS.

Owing to Russia-Ukraine war, this year’s summit acquires tremendous significance as none of the BRICS members have been openly critical of Russian actions. Russia intends to overcome the sanctions imposed by the United States and the West and thereby supports the expansion of BRICS. China benefits in its effort to shape a new international order wherein Beijing holds the leadership. With its economic strength and increasing military numbers, it is well placed to work on alternative financial and economic mechanisms which may be acceptable to many countries, visible in the interest in the membership of the BRICS.

ALSO READ: Does India Have A Meaningful Future in BRICS?

Regionally, inclusion of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran shows that the West Asian ‘Arc of Instability’ now has a range of actors and a different set of stakeholders. Saudi Arabia being the largest exporter of oil and China, the largest importer, the partnership will grow and will have implications for the international energy scenario. Traditionally, the US has been a trusted partner of the Saudis and such change may be considered a blow to US interests in West Asia.

Furthermore, Iran with it’s expanding nuclear programme and resulting sanctions have been at loggerheads with the US and the West. An important regional arena through which the US established its military and geopolitical credentials now seems to be sliding out of its grip. US withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago perhaps was the commencement of this process. The process may be hastened with BRICS membership for Saudi Arabia and Iran, whereas the major beneficiary is China with its ambitions of global geopolitical dominance. Moreover, China, is the leading trading partner of most countries in the region and beyond in Central Asia and South Asia.

For India, inclusion of six new members into the BRICS has several implications. Initially, during the Johannesburg summit, Brazil and India were skeptical of expansion and were keen on the modalities and criteria for inclusion of new members. The inclusion, however, reflects rising Chinese influence in the international system as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are primarily led by Beijing. The membership of both comprises of major regional actors in their respective regions and they cover Eurasian landmass in the case of SCO and BRICS has membership from all the continents except for North America.

China and India have major differences on a range of issues, the foremost being the contentious Line of Actual Control where they blame each other for massive deployment of troops in the Himalayas since 2020. Therefore, rising Chinese influence in any sphere is inherently not a favourable situation for India.

India, on the other hand, in the recent past has drifted towards the US, the other pole of the emerging Cold War. For New Delhi to feature in two major organizations led by China and at this critical juncture in the international scenario may be a balancing act, but it will have long term ramifications.

It may be argued that India with the current dispensation asserts its strategic and national interests but agreeing to a Chinese agenda may not create that impression. Also, the illusion that BRICS and SCO are representatives of the Global South and thereby India agrees to be a part of them, now comes under scrutiny. With the membership of Iran and Saudi Arabia, BRICS is now a geopolitical group aimed at the US and the West. India must find it hard to negotiate with the two antithetical arrays in global geopolitics.

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Putin Not To Attend BRICS Summit To Be Held In SA

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the BRICS nations summit to be held in South Africa, announced the office of the South African President.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed South Africa’s readiness to host the historic 15th Summit of BRICS nations- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in August.
It will be the first summit hosted in person since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent global restrictions. The Summit will be attended by the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

The BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will attend the first BRICS Summit to be hosted in person since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent global restrictions.

The Russian Federation will be represented by Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, as per the Presidency’s press statement.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said on Wednesday, “By mutual agreement, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will not attend the summit but the Russian Federation will be represented by foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.”

President Ramaphosa has in recent months and weeks held a number of consultations on the hosting of the Summit. The President’s most recent consultation in this regard took place last night, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, at the BRICS Political Party Dialogue in Gauteng.

In due course, a comprehensive statement on the substantive issues to be covered at the Summit and other related foreign policy matters will be issued.

President Ramaphosa is confident that the Summit will be a success and calls on the nation to extend the necessary hospitality to the many delegates who will arrive from various parts of the continent and the globe.

“President Ramaphosa has in recent months and weeks held a number of consultations on the hosting of the summit. The president’s most recent consultation in this regard took place last night, Tuesday, July 18, at the BRICS political party dialogue in Gauteng.

“The summit will be attended by the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. In due course, a comprehensive statement on the substantive issues to be covered at the summit and other related foreign policy matters will be issued.

“President Ramaphosa is confident the summit will be a success and calls on the nation to extend hospitality to the many delegates who will arrive from various parts of the continent and the globe,” as per the South African Presidency.

Earlier, the South African government granted diplomatic immunity to all international participants, including Russian President Vladamir Putin and other Russian officials, at BRICS-related events to be held in the country, as per local media.

“Immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal baggage, and, in respect of words spoken or written and all acts done by them in their capacity as representatives, immunity from legal process of every kind,” the document reads.

A warrant for Putin’s arrest was issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in March, and since South Africa is a member of the formation, it is obliged to arrest Putin when he is in the country.

Despite this, South Africa, as the current chair of the BRICS alliance, has officially invited Putin to the summit in August. (ANI)

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Random Sampling For Covid-19 Of Intl Passengers Started

A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States, China, Brazil and South Korea has prompted the Union Health Ministry to review the pandemic situation in India and as per the precautionary measure the government has restarted random sampling of international passengers at airports across the country for Covid from today.
Sources told ANI, “Random sampling of international passengers for Covid19 has started at airports in the country from today.”

“There are currently 10 different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest variant being BF.7. At present various variants of Omicron are spreading in the country and Delta variant can still be seen in the country,” said the sources.

Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also conducted a high-level meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in India and the preparedness of the public health system for surveillance, containment and management of COVID-19 in view of the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in some countries along with Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare.

Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, senior officials and public health experts were present.

“The Union Health Minister was briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario. Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries across the world such as China, Japan, South Korea, France and the United States, Union Health Minister noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially in view of the upcoming festive season,” reads the statement issued by the Health Ministry after the meeting.

Mandaviya also said that Covid-19 is not yet over and directed officials to be alert and strengthen surveillance amid a surge in coronavirus cases globally.

He urged people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated against COVID.

“The surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples will track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country. This would facilitate the undertaking of appropriate public health measures. States/UTs have been requested to send samples of all COVID-19 positive cases to INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) on a daily basis, for sequencing, to track new variants, if any,” he said.

“In a presentation, the Union Health Minister was briefed that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 158 in the week ending December 19, 2022. However, a consistent rise in global daily average cases has been reported since the last six weeks, with 5.9 lakh daily average cases reported in the week ending December 19, 2022. A new and highly transmissible BF.7 strain of the Omicron variant has been found to be behind a wider surge of COVID infections in China,” the ministry said in a statement.

Present in the meeting, Dr VK Paul, Member, Niti Aayog said, “Only 27-28 per cent of people have taken precaution dose. We appeal to others, especially senior citizens, to take the precautionary dose. Precaution dose is mandated and guided to everyone.”

“Use a mask if you are in a crowded space, indoors or outdoors. This is all the more important for people with comorbidities or those of higher age,” Dr Paul added.

In the meeting, other Senior Officials present were Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor, Dr RS Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, AYUSH, Dr Rajiv Bahl, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Dr Atul Goel, DGHS, Sh. Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, MoHFW and Dr N K Arora, Chairman of the COVID Working Group, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). (ANI)