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Spice of the Month

IR, Defence & Security

India-Pakistan• India has protested against a recent order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that brought the region of Gilgit-Baltistan within its ambit. A press note from the EAM said that the region was, and would remain, an integral part of India.
• The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan has declared the ancient Hindu religious site of Panj Tirath in Peshawar as national heritage.
India-China• After the recent induction of light-weight battle tank in Tibet, the Chinese military has equipped its troops stationed at the Himalayan plateau with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to improve their combat capability.
Indian Ocean Geopolitics• Indian Navy recently inaugurated an Information Fusion Centre- Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) where friendly countries in the region will have liaison officers for information sharing. All Quad countries + France have expressed interest in posting a liaison officer.
• China is building the first of four “most advanced” naval warships for Pakistan as part of a major bilateral arms deal to ensure among other things “balance of power” in the strategic Indian Ocean.
Diaspora• Mysore-born Gita Gopinath has joined International Monetary Fund as its chief economist, becoming the first woman to occupy the top IMF post.
Anti-lynching Law• Six months have passed since the Supreme Court issued directions to protect India’s ‘pluralist social fabric’ from mob violence. Manipur became the first to pass a law against lynching.
Railways Security• Railways is planning to seal stations just like airports, and passengers would be advised to arrive 15-20 minutes before scheduled departure to complete security checks. The security plan — with high-end technology — has already been put in motion at Allahabad, for the Kumbh Mela which begins this month, and at the Hubballi railway station in Karnataka with 202 more stations ready for implementation.
Coastal Security• Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, India conducted its largest coastal defence drill, Exercise Sea Vigil, to test its preparedness along the entire 7500 km-long-coastline and EEZ of the country.
• It aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since 26/11 and simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all 13 coastal States and UTs.
Cyber Security• Personal data and documents from hundreds of German politicians and public figures have been published online. It is latest in a number of hi-tech assaults on Germany’s political institutions and key individuals.
Globalization• Globalisation has not benefited all. It can undermine confidence in international institutions and cooperation. Eventually, it could weaken respect for international law, human rights and even our security architecture. - Norway PM
Immigration• British immigration plans aim to create a level playing field for EU and non-EU workers, basing immigration opportunities on skills levels rather than which part of the world workers have come from.
New Arms Race• While waging war in Afghanistan, the US military dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon, more commonly known as the “Mother of All Bombs,” on the Islamic State.
• To counter the US weapon, China has also developed a massive bomb but is smaller and lighter than its American counterpart.
• Likewise, Russia developed the “Father of All Bombs” which is both bigger and thermobaric, meaning it uses gas to create a huge fireball rather than a shockwave.
Quantum Arms Race• US and China are engaged in a quantum arms race. Researchers are working on quantum radar, which could uncloak stealth warplanes, and super-accurate quantum navigation systems for submarines.
Agricultural Warfare• In a new programme called ‘Insect Allies’, launched by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for developing military technologies in the U.S., researchers have been asked to evolve insects that introduce genetically modified viruses into crops.