Modi strengthens India-USA defense relationship

One relationship which has undergone the most striking evolution under Modi’s leadership is India-USA relationship. What lies beneath this significant relationship is an understanding that has taken years to evolve?

Giving a great fillip to this important relationship, the two countries agreed in principle to conclude a defense agreement that would allow the two countries to use each other’s bases for refueling, replenishment, and repair. The two countries signed a defense agreement, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement” (LEMOA), It will facilitate the logistical support, supplies, and services between the American and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis.

With this India-USA relationship has been strengthened and it holds great importance in the emerging world order as the geopolitics focus shifts to Asia-Pacific. It would not be an exaggeration to say that India-USA relationship is going to be a very significant determinant of this emerging 21st-century world order.

It needs to be mentioned that the two countries have agreed in “principle” and the specifics are not yet in the public domain. The details will be put in public domain for discussions. It is also important to note that this would be different from other defense agreement that the USA has signed with other countries. The agreement is to be signed “in the coming months,” India’s defense minister, Manohar Parrikar, after talks with his American counterpart, Ash Carter. “Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in the coming months,”

He further added, “The draft of LEMOA will be ready in a month, if not weeks.”

This also underlines the strengthening defense ties across many areas: from strategic and regional cooperation, enhanced collaboration on defense technology and innovation.

It is now very clearly understood that India and USA have at least some common interests and this convergence of interests is accentuated by China’s rise which is anything but peaceful considering how aggressive China has become.

As expected this has attracted attention from Pakistan and China. Pakistan certainly appears to be very uneasy with the increasing co-operation between India and USA.

This agreement needs to be credited to both Modi and Obama as many summit level meetings have paved way for purposeful discussions. It is understood that Obama, on his recent India visit had discussed at length with Modi as to what should be the path for next ten years of defense cooperation.

This defense pact will have very large canvas. It is indeed a significant development between the two countries as it envisions  the joint development and manufacture of defense equipment and technology including jet engines, aircraft carrier design, and construction.

As goes the saying, never put all eggs in one basket India over the past few years, has sought to diversify its supplier base. India is world’s largest arms importer and still purchases 75% of its arms and ammunitions from Russia. But in the last three years, American defense giants such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing have made significant inroads into the Indian defense market and owing to this fact now the USA is now its second-largest arms supplier.

This dramatic progress in the relationship between the two countries since 2005, both in terms of the volume of defense trade and the frequency of joint military exercises.

India now conducts more military exercises with the USA as compared to any other country.

It is expected that this would serve Modi’s “Made In India well” . The deal provides opportunities for Indian defense industry to co-produce and co-develop with their Indian counterparts. This is attractive for India for many compelling reasons. Modi’s  focus on manufacturing in India particularly arms in the country fits very well into the country’s interests as our indigenous defense industry must be developed and for that, we do need technology that has until recently been denied to us. It is also important to mention here that India’s membership of MTCR is also a significant step that was also a result of increasing India-USA ties under the leadership of Modi and Obama.

India’s recent achievements in space sector are a glaring evidence of Indian technological capabilities. India’s educated, English-speaking youth with a technical bent of mind attracts many technology giants to India.

This agreement serves interests of both countries. Certain segments of Indian politics have cautioned that India should not antagonize China which has been very concerned about these developments. The UPA government was also cautious about the sensitivities of both Russia and China and that it why it has taken years to happen. Modi has indicated willingness to forge a closer strategic relationship with Washington.

As said earlier this agreement has a very wide canvas and huge strategic implications shall be seen against the backdrop of evolving great power politics of the 21st century as the focus has been quickly shifting to Asia- Pacific.

Contributor: Sachin Diwaker

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PM Modi Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan: Women Empowerment Via Ensuring Women Health

For enabling women empowerment, a good health of this integrated part of the population is as essential as any other empowerment schemes.

A good health is the best weapon to conquer all the odds of life. To ensure this, Government of India has launched a scheme named “Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan” (PMSMA) on June 9th, 2016 which will address maternity complexities in pregnant women.

The objective of this scheme is basically providing a better healthcare facilities to women, especially underprivileged women. This scheme focuses on eradicating complexities and mortal rate during pregnancy.

This project is also one of the pioneering projects by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister had been equally concerned about real women empowerment instead of keeping it viable in speeches only.

This schemes will address all the health issues in the maternity state of women emphasizing on the rural area.

This scheme works on the ground level where every pregnant woman will get a benefit of free health check up’s and required treatment on 9th of every month.

Due to unavailability of proper health care and treatment, generally, pregnant women leads to complexities like high blood pressure, low hemoglobin, high sugar and various hormonal changes. Sometimes these lead to a lethal outcome.

PM takes an initiative for women empowerment via ensuring women health so as to minimize these consequences.

What is Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)?

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)

Providing free health check up’s and required treatments to pregnant women, every Government hospitals, medical centers and private clinics will cater the free services to them on 9th of every month. This will make a safe maternity and will lower the mortal rate of mothers and newborn baby.

Who are eligible for the scheme?

  • The scheme is for the pregnant women only.
  • The scheme will be applicable to three to nine months pregnant women.
  • The scheme will mainly focus on the women from semi-urban and rural areas.

Objectives of Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA):

  • Providing better health to pregnant women.
  • Minimizing the mortality rate.
  • Awareness about health risks and issues to “would be” mothers and to treat them before the damages.
  • Healthy delivery and keep checks on newborn’s better health.
  • Giving knowledge to women about care and upbringing of the child.

Key Features of PMSMA:-

  • Ninth of every month has been marked for this scheme.
  • PMSMA would carry out all the health check up’s and test, like blood sugar, hemoglobin, blood pressure, blood tests etc. free of costs at all the government hospitals,medical centers, and private clinics.
  • Marking would be done on the basis of patient’s health problem.
  • Different colored stickers will be used for the differentiation on the health card of pregnant women.
  • Red Sticker represents serious patients
  • Blue colored stickers represent high blood pressure patients.
  • Yellow color for other diseases.

Surakshit Janani, Swatch Shishu is a tagline for Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan. The successful implementation of the scheme will benefit poor pregnant women from semi-urban and rural areas.

This can be proved as one feather of women empowerment.

Contributor: Sudha Ram Joshi

 

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India gets membership of Missile Technology Control Regime

India has got the membership of MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) on June 27th. While India’s impeccable record of non-proliferation helped India but Modi active diplomacy to reach out member countries and specifically getting Italy’s nod must be hailed. Italy had objected to India’s membership. India also signed on to the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, the final step before its acceptance in the MTCR on 2nd Jun 16. HCOC supplements MTCR’s objectives. Following this Netherlands, the current chair of MTCR announced India’s membership of the group.


It is also to be credited to Modi’s diplomacy that the USA, which has a policy those members that are not recognized nuclear-weapon states — including India — must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km. In the past, it did make exceptions on ranges of missiles for South Korea and Ukraine.  Though Modi, a statesman that he is has also appreciated former PM Manmohan Singh’s efforts to get the India-USA nuclear deal done, that it turn opened many doors for India, including MTCR.

The group which was established  by established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: USA ,France, Canada Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Great Britain intends to slow down and restricts exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload to least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction .

MTCR along with NSG (Nuclear Supplier’s Group), Australia Group and WASSENAAR arrangement is a very important international body and its membership paves way for India to buy high-end missile technology may also have an impact on its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the Missile Control Technology Regime, the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement are among world’s most important technology control regimes. The Australia group as established to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons and also to control the sale and export of chemicals and their precursors that can be used in chemical weapons.

The Wassenaar Arrangement seeks to regulate the export of conventional arms and dual-use technologies, to deny regimes deemed inimical to global stability sensitive technologies that can be procured in the name of civilian use but can then be used to build nasty weapons.

None of the member countries of this 34 member group (MTCR) objected to India’s membership within the specified deadline and that paved way for India’s membership. It is certainly an acknowledgement of perfect non-proliferation record and would also have an impact on NSG membership. “Aligning ourselves into international practice on nonproliferation has been a long-standing goal of our diplomacy,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.

China is not a member of the MTCR and that has certainly helped too. India would now be able to buy drones and get high-end missile technology.

It would also facilitate India to export its supersonic BRAHMOS missile to countries like Vietnam which have shown interest in purchasing the dreaded missile. United States has also welcomed India’s membership of MTCR.

Benefits for India

  1. India will be able to sell BrahMos, a development that would make India a significant arms exporter for the first time. As of now, it cannot be said whether it would make the export of BrahMos easier or Harder.
  1. BrahMos missile’s range can now be extended to 600-800 KM . The BrahMos’ range is reported to be just below the threshold for the MTCR. But export of BrahMos would be more related to India-China relations and China-Russia relations as well as Russia is a co-developer and it would not want to upset China.
  1. Israel’s Arrow anti-ballistic missile system can be procured by India – defend itself against Pakistani as well as Chinese ballistic missiles.
  2. Indian Air Force and Navy are already in talks to buy the American Predator drones, particularly, the latest stealth Avenger drone. India will make a renewed pitch for purchasing armed drones from the USA, which in past had refused to sell India such technology citing international regulations.
  1. ISRO will have reliable access to restricted technologies for developing its cryogenic engines in order to enhance space exploration.
  2. It will also enable India to get more sophisticated space technologies. In the past USA has pressurized Russia from giving us Cryogenic Technology as MTCR didn’t allow it.

More importantly, India may use MTCR membership as a bargaining chip to prevent China from blocking our NSG membership. India has said that it would not block China’s entry into MTCR. China had applied for MTCR membership in 2004.

Modi has been doing his best to strengthen and safeguard India’s strategic interests. MTCR membership is certainly an encouragement of  India’s foreign office’s efforts.

Contributor: Sachin Diwaker

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Modi’s balochistan Move: A call of moral duty towards Balochistan.

Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence day speech is indeed a very bold but well-planned move.  Those who know Modi, say that when Modi takes a move he knows what his fifth move would be. National Security Advisor had already said in a speech that Pakistan should not be allowed to do one more Mumbai and if it does it may lose Balochistan. The costs of hurting India should increase for Pakistan.

Modi said , “People of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK have thanked me a lot in past few days, I am grateful to them. This is the example of our humanitarian approach, but there are some countries who glorify terrorists. To the youth, who have taken up guns, I urge them to return to their parents and shun violence,” he added.

As expected it didn’t go well with certain people in the opposition. Some self-proclaimed experts of foreign policy said that India may lose its moral high ground and violate the principles of Panchsheel.

In the world of international relations, the countries frame their policies on the basis of realism and not on the basis of idealism. India’s immediate neighborhood is becoming increasing complicated. With China’s funding of CPEC, a major part of which passes through Balochistan and China’s increasing assertiveness and a clear intent to become a bigger global player, India has to act in its interests without losing time.

The USA and even Russia sells arms and ammunition to Pakistan, despite knowing it that it would be used against India. Pakistan was very eager to get more F16 from the USA at a subsidized price to be used in the fight against terrorism, the USA knows it well that it is to fill a deficit against India’s firepower. As it still needs Pakistan on account of its presence in the region, it may eventually do so, as it is not a threat to them.   USA acts in its national interests so do many other countries.

Modi has rightly pointed out to the world, the plight of Baloch people who are fighting against Pakistani occupation. Nowhere in his speech Modi said that India would intervene in Balochistan and POK and Gilgit-Baltistan , rather he simply wanted to bring before the world, what Pakistan is doing in Balochistan.  Killing its own people who are an ethic minority and changing the demographics of a state. It doesn’t have any moral ground. The time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Baluchistan and PoK,” Modi said this at an all-party meet on Jammu and Kashmir.

The speech given from the ramparts of Red Fort in presence of plethora of foreign diplomats and was heard all over the world. It brings Balochistan issue on an international platform, giving it the needed attention. It would also give us an added leverage against Pakistan. It was a long overdue and needed stroke that would strengthen and not weaken India’s stand as argued by some opposition leaders.

There is another reason why India should show solidarity with people of Balochistan, as it did with the people of East Pakistan. India has always stood with the oppressed people. India, as an emerging power has a call of moral duty towards Balochistan.


But Balochistan is a much more complicated issue.  Baloch people are divided across Iran-Pakistan border and Iran would be concerned with the recent developments. Also with China’s presence in this impoverished state, things become even more complicated. This is where the real challenge lies. And this is where we need a PM who knows his moves, what should the fifth and sixth step.

Modi and Ajeet Doval are certainly not unaware of it and would have discussed at length the pros and cons of it. So with this recent development, Modi has certainly changed the rules of the game in a big way. With the kind of response that is pouring in from Pakistan, it appears that it has hit the right target.

Contributor: Sachin Diwaker

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Narendra Modi announces strategies for next three Olympics

India’s dismal performance in the Olympics has raised many eyebrows, it has also put forward many questions on the kind of training and sporting facilities athletes would require in order to perform better in what is seen as the biggest sporting event on the Earth. India’s medal tally has fallen short compared to Beijing Olympics which was held in 2008 where India won one Gold and two Bronze. In comparison to the London Olympics, where India won 6 medals, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze, performance in Rio Olympics could only portray a sorrow figure.

India managed to win only two medals, Silver in Badminton by P.V Sindhu and Bronze by Sakshi Malik. Barring few athletes like Dipa Karmakar in Gymnastics who became only Indian to reach the final stage of Gymnastics arena and missed Bronze by 0.15 points, Abhinav Bindra who was well short of his best performance and ranked 4th in the 10 metre air rifle shooting and Srikanth Kadambhi in Badminton who showed the might and hunger to perform well, nothing great came from the contingent of 118 athletes which was the biggest turnout of India in the Olympics history. India finished 67th in the medal standings.

Narendra Modi congratulated P.V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, and Dipa Karmakar and also hailed the women power in Olympics. In order to make India more competitive and escape the humiliation Narendra Modi has come up with a plan to create a task force who will be directly responsible for the performance, selections, and training of the athletes. It is also the first time anything sort of such is going to be implemented under the guidance of Prime Minister himself. Modi announced that BJP government would set up a task force to create a strategy to help sportspersons prepare for the next three Olympics to be held in 2020, 2024 and 2028 respectively. Modi made the announcement at a Cabinet meeting on Friday and said the task force would be set up in the next few days. Next two Olympics is going to be held in Tokyo and Qatar. The venue for the third Olympics will be decided through a bid which will take place in 2019.

Earlier, Gopichand, a well-known Badminton player and coach of P.V Sindhu thanked Prime Minister for his motivation and constant tweets in the middle of the Olympics. With Indian athletes failing to win a medal after 1 week at the Olympics, Modi took to the micro-blogging website Twitter to motivate the Indian Contingent.
Narendra Modi has time and again laid emphasis on the sporting events and encouraged youths to look for careers beyond the one created and driven by the market.

Skills India and Startup India is helping youth fulfil their dreams by providing them ample opportunity as well as resources in the form of rebates, tax-less and infrastructural support. Whether India will perform better or not in the coming Olympics could only be seen to be believed but the far-sightedness of Modi should be praised and if implemented well, India would be no novice in the sporting arena. India can take an inspiration from China which mostly acquired the place in the bottom list but due to special programs designed only to create an Olympians and bring glory to the country have been able to find a place in the top 3 in the past 5 Olympics.

Contributor: Shivaji Singh

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