QUAD and Malabar Exercise
India will soon take a decision on whether to include Australia in the Malabar exercises with Japan and the US. If taken, it could bring all QUAD countries together as part of the annual war games.
- QUAD – United States, India, Japan, and Australia (or “Quad”) form the four members of the Quad.
- The four countries collectively launched ad hoc operations to provide relief following the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
- In Manila in 2007, the PMs of India, Japan, and Australia met with the then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, marking the first Quadrilateral summit.
- Later in 2007, the four countries along with Singapore held a large multilateral naval exercise, the Exercise Malabar, in the Bay of Bengal. China, which saw the exercises as part of a containment strategy, registered diplomatic protests with all four capitals.
- Late in 2012, in an influential article outlining his vision for ‘Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond‘, PM Shinzo Abe argued that peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the Pacific are inseparable from peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean, and called for the four powers to work together.
- In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).
MALABAR EXERCISE –
Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners. Originally begun in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015. Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
- The primary aim of the exercise was to increase interoperability amongst the navies of India, Japan and the US as well as develop a common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
- The exercise is a demonstration of the joint commitment of all three nations to address common maritime challenges across the spectrum of operations and will go a long way in enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region for the benefit of the global maritime community.
- The Indo-Pacific region holds immense geo-political and geo-strategic significance for navies around the world.
- The challenges of piracy, maritime terrorism, organised crime like drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related material, all have forced navies to conduct joint patrols and provide escort duties for shipping assets.
- In conjunction with these non-conventional challenges, the challenge to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, unrelenting firing of missiles by North Korea and apprehension of non-accessibility of crucial choke points have elicited varying responses from the stake holders.
- Such exercises have also resulted in better training, improved readiness, and evolution of standard operating procedures (SOPs) as well as facilitated joint operations and increased the trust quotient among participating sides.
- The employment of hi-tech equipment in these exercises not only helps show-case superior technology, whose efficacy is keenly watched, but also leads to subsequent procurement deals thereby further boosting inter-operability and integration. The Poseidon Eight India (P8I) long range maritime patrol aircraft procured by India from the US is a pertinent example in this regard.
- Naval exercises between India and the US (Malabar) has been an ongoing affair since 1992. After a brief interlude due to India’s 1998 nuclear tests and the imposition of sanctions, the exercise became an annual feature since 2002.
- Initially pitched at a basic level of naval drills between the US and India, Malabar 2005 involved the participation of the aircraft carriers of both navies for the first time.
- In Malabar 2006, a complete US expeditionary strike group and Coast Guard ships of both navies participated in anti-piracy drills, pollution control, search and rescue, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques, all of which were in consonance with the prevailing and perceived maritime threats.
Controversies and subsequent increasing of pace–
- In June 2007, days before the first-ever official-level security consultation between the US, India, Japan and Australia, China issued demarches to each of the participants seeking to know the purpose behind their meeting.
- The Chinese reaction revealed the degree of suspicion with which it had started viewing such naval exercises. From 2009 onwards, all Malabar exercises have increased in complexity to include surface and anti-submarine warfare, coordinated gunnery exercises, air defence, employment of aircraft and submarines, VBSS drills and other high-end manoeuvres for exigencies likely to be encountered at sea.
- The sea-phase of the exercises has been conducted almost alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans since 2009, and Japan has been participating in these exercises whenever they were conducted in the waters of the Pacific Ocean in its vicinity.
Recent changes –
- In 2015, India took the bold move of including Japan as a permanent member of the Malabar exercises. The change proclaimed India’s readiness to stand its ground on security matters and was welcomed both by the US and Japan.
- In January 2017, Australia requested that its naval assets be allowed to attend Malabar exercises as an ‘observer’. Though Australia was denied an observer status in Malabar-2017, participation of the country in future Malabar exercises has not been foreclosed.
Way forward –
- It is time that a holistic view of the evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region is taken to arrive at a pragmatic decision of expanding the Malabar exercise to include Australia and perhaps other like-minded countries. The operationalisation of the Gwadar port, deployment of troops in the Chinese base at Djibouti, among other developments, indicate the enhanced Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
- Considering that Australia also shares similar security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region as India in the present context, its inclusion thereby upgrading the present trilateral format to a ‘quad of nations’ would be a pragmatic decision that India will need to take very soon.
Based on the platform provided by the Malabar exercises, a perceptible beginning to a peaceful Indo-Pacific region can be made if India seizes this opportunity to take the lead in forming an overarching security quad of India, Australia, Japan and the US, thereby demonstrating a cooperative approach, greater coherence and a shared resolve to address maritime security issues in the Indo-Pacific.
Country of origin
Amid the clamour to ban China-made goods, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs has sent out a reminder to all e-commerce portals to ensure that the “country of origin” of the products being sold by them should be mentioned as part of the mandatory declarations.
Under what law these rules are being invoked?
- The Ministry in its reminder invoked the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
- These rules make it mandatory for all manufacturers to declare the package name and address of the manufacturer, common and generic name of commodity, net quantity, month and year of manufacturing, MRP and consumer care details.
- In addition to these, in 2017, new provisions were added for e-commerce websites, making it compulsory for them to display these information along with “declaration of country of origin or manufacture or assembly” and a clear mention of expiry date.
- There are punitive provisions in the law. For the first offence, a penalty up to ₹25000 can be charged, for the second offence, the fine may extend to ₹50,000.
- Any subsequent offences can attract a jail term of one year.
- Though the law has been in place for the last three years, the Ministry has no details on how many times it has been invoked to penalise any of these portals.
Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to the national security law imposed by China in the country.
What is Extradition?
- Extradition is the legal process by which a person is transferred from one country to another without the person’s consent.
- Here, a governmental authority formally and legally turns over an alleged criminal to another government for the person to face prosecution for a crime.
- It is a judicial process, unlike deportation.
Extradition in India –
- In India, the extradition of a fugitive criminal is governed under the Indian Extradition Act, 1962.
- This is for both extraditing of persons to India and from India to foreign countries.
- The basis of the extradition could be a treaty between India and another country.
- India has extradition treaties with 39 countries currently.
National Fish Farmers Day 2020
National Fish Farmers Day is celebrated on 10th July every year in remembrance of scientists Dr. K. H. Alikunhi and Dr. H.L. Chaudhury.
Why is it celebrated?
These scientists successfully demonstrated the technology of induced breeding (Hypophysation) in Indian Major Carps on 10th July, 1957 at the erstwhile ‘Pond Culture Division’ of CIFRI at Cuttack, Odisha (presently Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, CIFA, Bhubaneswar). The event aims to draw attention to changing the way the country manages fisheries resources to ensure sustainable stocks and healthy ecosystems.
Fish cryobanks –
- On the occasion of ‘National Fish Farmers Day’, the NFDB in collaboration with the NBFGR will take up the work to establish “Fish Cryobanks” in different parts of the country, which will facilitate all time availability of ‘fish sperms’ of desired species to fish farmers.
- This would be the first time in the world when “Fish Cryobank” will be established, which can bring a revolutionary change in the fisheries sector in the country for enhancing fish production and productivity and thereby increasing prosperity among the fish farmers.
Aids to Navigation Bill 2020
Ministry of Shipping has issued the draft of ‘Aids to Navigation Bill, 2020’ for suggestions from stakeholders and general public.
- The draft bill is proposed to replace the almost nine decades old Lighthouse Act, 1927, to incorporate the global best practices, technological developments and India’s International obligations in the field of Aids to Marine Navigation.
- This initiative is part of the proactive approach adopted by the Ministry of Shipping by repealing archaic colonial laws and replacing it with modern and contemporary needs of the maritime industry.
- The bill aims to regulate state-of-the-art technologies of marine navigation which was earlier used to tangle in statutory provisions of Lighthouse Act, 1927.
Provisions of the new bill –
- The draft bill provides for empowering Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) with additional power and functions such as Vessel Traffic Service, Wreck flagging, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under International Conventions, where India is a signatory. It also provides for identification and development of heritage lighthouses.
- The draft bill comprises a new schedule of offences, along with commensurate penalties for obstructing and damaging the aids to navigation, and non-compliance with directives issued by the Central Government and other bodies under the draft bill.
- With the advent of modern technologically improved aids to maritime navigation, the role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation has changed drastically. Therefore the new law encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.
In an endeavour to improve the information flow and bridge the demand-supply gap in the skilled workforce market, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched ‘Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)’ portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities.
- Apart from recruiting a skilled workforce that spurs business competitiveness and economic growth, the Artificial Intelligence-based platform has been envisioned to strengthen their career pathways by handholding them through their journeys to attain industry-relevant skills and explore emerging job opportunities especially in the post COVID era.
- Besides identifying major skills gap in the sectors and providing review of global best practices, ASEEM will provide employers a platform to assess the availability of skilled workforce and formulate their hiring plans.
- Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM) refers to all the data, trends and analytics which describe the workforce market and map demand of skilled workforce to supply. It will provide real-time granular information by identifying relevant skilling requirements and employment prospects.