This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered all of the current affairs linked to the Defense exercises of September, October 2021, and April 2022 months.
List of Contents
- Defense exercises
- Miscellaneous International topics
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The 20th edition of the Bilateral Naval Exercise between Indian and French Navies – ‘VARUNA’ has been conducted in the Arabian Sea.
About Exercise Varuna
Type: Bilateral Naval Exercise
Countries Involved: India and France.
Started in: 1993.
The exercise was named ‘VARUNA’ in 2001.
Aim: To develop interoperability between the two navies. Further, it aims to foster mutual cooperation by learning from each other’s best practices to conduct joint operations.
Other exercises between India and France
Exercise Garuda: It is a bilateral exercise between the Indian and French Air Force. The first edition of the exercise was held in 2003.
Exercise SHAKTI: It is a biennial military exercise conducted between India and France. It was first conducted in the year 2011.
Exercise La Pérouse: It is a multilateral maritime exercise led by the French Navy. The Indian Navy participated in this exercise for the first time in 2021.
The Indian Navy(IN) would be participating in the Second Phase of the 25th edition of the Multilateral Maritime Exercise Malabar to be conducted in the Bay of Bengal.
About Exercise Malabar
Exercise Malabar is a multilateral war-gaming naval exercise that was started in 1992.
The exercise began as a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and the United States.
From 2002 onward, the exercise has been conducted every year. Japan and Australia first participated in 2007. Since 2014, India, the US and Japan have participated in the exercise. In 2020 Australia too joined the Malabar Exercise.
Aim of the exercise
The exercise is aimed to support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remains committed to the rules-based international order.
Other Exercises between India and Participating Countries of Malabar exercise
Exercises between India and Japan
Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN- It is an annual joint military exercise between Indian and Japan from 2018.
SHINYUU Maitri– It is a joint exercise between the Indian Air Force and the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF).
Exercise JIMEX– The exercise is an annual Naval Exercise between Indian and Japanese naval forces.
Exercises between India and Australia
Exercise AUSINDEX: It is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Australian Navies.
Exercise Pitch Black: It is a biennial multilateral air combat exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force(RAAF) since 1981.
Exercises between India and the US
Yudh Abhyas- It is a joint military exercise between India and the US.
Tiger Triumph- It is a tri-service military exercise between India and the US.
Vajra Prahar: It is a Special Forces joint military training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US since 2010.
Exercise Cambrian Patrol
A team from Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) which represented the Indian Army at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise at Brecon, Wales, UK has been awarded a Gold medal.
About Exercise Cambrian Patrol
Exercise Cambrian Patrol is organised by the UK Army. It is considered as the ultimate test of human endurance, team spirit and is sometimes referred to as the Olympics of Military Patrolling among militaries in the world.
During the exercise, teams are assessed with respect to their performance under harsh terrain and cold weather conditions. They were also exposed to complex real-world situations in order to assess their reactions in combating the settings.
Participant from India
The Indian Army team participated in the exercise and competed against a total of 96 teams, which included 17 international teams representing Special Forces and prestigious Regiments from around the world.
Indian Army’s performance
The Indian Army team received a Gold Medal for their excellent navigation skills, overall physical endurance and delivery of patrol orders.
Exercise Konkan Shakti
India and UK have started the Exercise Konkan Shakti 2021 from October 21, 2021.
About Exercise Konkan Shakti
Exercise Konkan Shakti is the first-ever tri-services joint exercise between India and the UK.
Aim: To derive mutual benefits from each other’s experiences and also showcase the continuing cooperation between the two countries.
Components of Exercise Konkan Shakti
The maritime component of the exercise will be conducted off India’s west coast in two phases: the Harbour phase and the sea phase.
The land phase of the exercise will be held at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand.
The Indian Air Force had already participated in an operational engagement with the UK Carrier Strike as part of the exercise.
Other exercises between India and UK
Exercise Konkan: It is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of the UK.
Exercise Indradhanush: It is a joint bilateral air exercise between India and the UK started in 2006.
Exercise Ajeya Warrior: It is a joint military exercise between India and the UK. It was held for the first time in 2013.
India-Algeria Maritime Exercise
The Indian Navy has carried out a maiden maritime exercise with the Algerian Navy.
About India-Algeria Maritime Exercise
- Indian Naval Ship(INS) Tabar took part in a maritime partnership exercise with an Algerian Navy ship.
- As part of the exercise, diverse activities including coordinated manoeuvring, communication procedures were undertaken between the Indian and Algerian warships.
- Hence, the exercise enabled the two navies to understand the concept of operations followed by each other, enhanced interoperability and opened the possibility of increasing interaction and collaboration between the countries in the future.
About India-Algeria Relations
- Algeria is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It is the largest country by total area in Africa.
- The diplomatic relations between India and Algeria were established in 1962, the year Algeria gained independence from French colonial rule.
- India and Algeria are both parts of the Non-Aligned Movement. As a member of the African Union, Algeria supports India’s candidacy for a permanent seat in a reformed Security Council.
- India had provided Algeria with US$1 million as humanitarian aid for the victims of the earthquake which struck Algeria in 2003.
- Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) launched the Satellite Alsat 2A of Algeria into orbit in 2010.
Indian Army contingent has participated in a multi-nation military exercise named ‘ZAPAD 2021‘ at Nizhny in Russia.
About Exercise ZAPAD
Exercise ZAPAD 2021 is one of the theatre level exercises of the Russian Armed Forces. The exercise focuses primarily on operations against terrorists with the aim to enhance military and strategic ties amongst the participating nations.
More than a dozen countries from the Eurasian and South Asian Regions will participate in the exercise. From India, the NAGA Battalion group is participating in the exercise.
About Naga Regiment
Naga Regiment is one of the fiercest infantry regiments of the Indian Army. It is amongst the youngest regiments of the Indian Army – the first battalion raised in Ranikhet 1970. The regiment recruits mainly from Nagaland, in northeast India.
The fifth edition of the Exercise “KAZIND-21” has been conducted at Training Node Aisha Bibi, Kazakhstan.
It is an annual bilateral military exercise between India and Kazakhstan. This is the fifth edition of the exercise. The exercise will focus on Counter Insurgency/ Counter-Terrorism operations in the mountainous terrains as well as rural and urban settings under the UN mandate.
This exercise will provide impetus to the ever-growing military and diplomatic ties between the two nations.
About India-Kazakhstan Relations
Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia. India was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan. Diplomatic relations were established in February 1992.
India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) was established in 1993. It is the apex bilateral institutional mechanism for developing trade, economic, scientific, technological, industrial and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
The two countries in 2009 signed a Strategic Partnership treaty. In 2015, the two countries signed a Defence and Military Technical cooperation agreement.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched “Al-Farabi-1”, a 1.7 kg Technology Demonstrator Nano Satellite built by Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty along with 103 other satellites in 2017.
The 28th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) was conducted.
About Exercise SIMBEX
SIMBEX (Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises) is a joint maritime bilateral exercise between Indian and Singapore navies. The first edition of the exercise was conducted in 1994.
Objective: To enhance interoperability amongst the navies and underscore the shared responsibility of the countries to work together to keep sea lines of communications open.
Significance: SIMBEX is the Indian Navy’s longest uninterrupted bilateral maritime exercise with any foreign navy.
Other Exercise between India and Singapore
About Exercise SITMEX: It is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Royal Thailand Navy(RTN) and Indian Navy(IN). It was conducted for the first time in 2019.
India-Singapore Defence Cooperation
India-Singapore Defence relations cover a very wide spectrum of collaboration from conventional military-to-military exchanges to HADR and cyber security.
Both navies have a representation in each other’s Maritime Information Fusion Centres and have also, recently signed an agreement on mutual submarine rescue support and coordination.
The Navies from Australia and India have participated in the bilateral maritime exercise named Exercise AUSINDEX 2021.
About Exercise AUSINDEX
AUSINDEX is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Australian Navies. It was started in the year 2015. This is the fourth edition of the exercise.
Aim: To provide an opportunity for both Navies to further bolster interoperability, gain from best practices and develop a common understanding of procedures for Maritime Security Operations.
From India, Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt are participating in the exercise.
About Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt
Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt are the latest indigenously designed and built Guided Missile Stealth Frigate and Anti-Submarine Corvette respectively.
They form part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command.
Exercise Surya Kiran
The 15th Edition of Indo – Nepal Joint Military Training, Exercise Surya Kiran between Indian Army and Nepali Army is starting at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.
About Exercise Surya Kiran
Exercise Surya Kiran is a joint annual military exercise between India and Nepal.
The exercise is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. The last edition of the Exercise was conducted in Nepal in 2019.
During this exercise, both countries’ armies would be sharing their experiences gained during the conduct of various counter-insurgency operations over a prolonged period in their respective countries.
Also, there would be a series of Expert Academic Discussions on various subjects such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, High Altitude Warfare, Jungle Warfare among others.
Significance of the Exercise
The joint exercise will help in improving bilateral relations and also will be a major step towards further strengthening the traditional friendship between the two nations.
Exercise Samudra Shakti
Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt have participated in Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’ in Indonesia.
About Exercise Samudra Shakti
Exercise Samudra Shakti is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Indonesia.
Aim: To strengthen the bilateral relationship, enhance mutual understanding and interoperability in maritime operations between the two navies.
Participation: From India’s side, Indian Naval ships Shivalik and Kadmatt are participating in the exercise.
Other Exercises between India and Indonesia
Exercise Garuda Shakti: It is an annual military exercise between the Indian and Indonesian Army. It is conducted on a reciprocal basis and its first edition was conducted in the year 2012 in India.
IND-INDO CORPAT: It is a bi-annual coordinated naval patrol exercise conducted along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the Indian and Indonesian Navy.
Exercise Peaceful Mission
The 6th Edition of SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission:2021 hosted by Russia has started in the Orenburg Region of South-West Russia.
About Exercise Peaceful Mission
It is a Multilateral Exercise that is conducted biennially as part of military diplomacy between Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states.
Aim: To foster close relations between SCO member states and to enhance the abilities of the military leaders to command multinational military contingents.
Focus: The scope of the exercise includes professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills & procedures, the establishment of joint command & control structures and elimination of terrorist threats.
The exercise is based on joint counter-terrorism operations at operational and tactical levels in an urban environment in which Armies and Air Forces of all SCO member states are participating.
As part of the exercise, troops will train, share and rehearse tactical drills which will culminate in a final validation exercise where-in troops from all Armies and Air Forces will jointly undertake operations in a controlled and simulated environment.
Miscellaneous International topics
China-Myanmar New Passage
The first shipments on a newly-launched railway line from the Myanmar border to the key commercial hub of Chengdu in western China were delivered recently. A “test cargo” through what is being called the China-Myanmar New Passage arrived at the Chengdu rail port in Sichuan province.
About China-Myanmar New Passage
The transport corridor involves a sea-road-rail link.
- Goods from Singapore reached Yangon Port, arriving by ship through the Andaman Sea of the northeastern Indian Ocean, and were then transported by road to Lincang on the Chinese side of the Myanmar-China border in Yunnan province.
- The new railway line that runs from the border town of Lincang to Chengdu, a key trade hub in western China, completes the corridor.
China has completed a Lhasa-Nagqu section of the Beijing-Lhasa expressway.
About Beijing–Lhasa Expressway
Beijing–Lhasa Expressway is part of the Chinese national expressway network.
It is planned to connect China’s capital Beijing to the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Lhasa.
It also connects China’s Central Theatre Command with the Western Theatre Command, which is responsible for the border with India.
The expressway will pass through seven major cities of China including Beijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Lhasa with an approximate length of 3,710 km.
Note: In June 2021, China had launched a high-speed bullet train connecting Lhasa with Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan town located close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Strategic implications of the Beijing–Lhasa Expressway for India
The Beijing–Lhasa Expressway has enormous strategic implications for India.
Once the expressway gets completed, it would allow the Chinese army to comfortably cover the distance of 3,725 km from Beijing to Lhasa in four days or less during emergencies.
The expressway would also ensure a very smooth flow of convoy traffic without any bottlenecks or any additional burden on manpower.
India-China Bilateral Trade
According to the data from China’s General Administration of Customs(GAC), India’s trade with China is set to cross the $100 billion mark for the first time in 2021.
About the current India-China Bilateral Trade
Currently, India and China bilateral trade has increased by 49% to $90.37 billion during the first nine months of 2021.
Among them, India’s imports from China have jumped by 51.7% to $68.4 billion while India’s exports have increased by 42.5% to $21.9 billion.
This bilateral trade is substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels, with bilateral trade up 29.7% compared to the same period in 2019.
Moreover, China’s growth in trade with India was also among the fastest compared to other China’s major trading partners such as ASEAN, EU and the US.
India’s export and import
India’s biggest exports to China are iron ore, cotton, and other raw material-based commodities.
India’s biggest imports from China include mechanical and electrical machinery and medicinal supplies. The imports of medical supplies have almost doubled in the past two years.
Falkland Island Dispute
The Government of Argentina has launched a campaign in India demanding negotiation with the United Kingdom to settle the territorial dispute over the Islas Malvinas that are known as the Falkland Islands in the UK.
About Falkland Island
The Falkland Islands is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf and is considered a British overseas territory.
The Islands have internal self-governance, and the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs.
It’s capital and also the largest settlement is Stanley on East Falkland.
History of Falkland Island Dispute
The Falkland Islands were largely uninhabited before France became the first country to establish a permanent settlement there.
In 1820, an American privateer named David Jewett claimed control of the islands on behalf of Argentina. His claim resulted in a conflict between Argentina and the UK.
Both sides engaged in minor clashes over the next two decades. Finally, the British government took control of the Islands in the 1830s and created settlements there.
Importance of Falkland Island for the UK
The Falkland Islands were important to Britain, and they were used as a military base in the South Atlantic Ocean, both during the First and Second World Wars.
Status Falkland Island after World War II
In 1965, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2065, a non-binding resolution that recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina over these islands that urged both countries to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands with the claim that the Falkland Islands were stolen from it unjustly in 1833. This led to the Falklands War between UK and Argentina. The war ended with the United Kingdom’s victory.
In 1989, the diplomatic relations between the UK and Argentina were restored, but no change in either country’s position regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands was made explicit.
In 1994, Argentina adopted a new constitution that declared the Falkland Islands as part of one of its provinces by law.
Currently, Falkland Island continues to operate as a self-governing British Overseas Territory.
Kuril Islands Dispute
Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook for 2022 described the Kuril Islands (which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia as the South Kurils) as being under Russia’s “illegal occupation”.
This is the first time in about two decades that Japan has used this phrase to describe the dispute over the Kuril Islands.
About Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands are a chain of islands stretching from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia’s the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The islands separate the Okhotsk Sea from the North Pacific Ocean.
The islands are part of the Ring of Fire belt of geologic instability circling the Pacific.
About the kuril island dispute
The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is over the sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands.
The South Kuril Islands comprise Etorofu island, Kunashiri island, Shikotan island and Habomai island.
These islands are claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia as the successor state of the Soviet Union.
History of Kuril Islands Dispute
Treaty of Shimoda (1855): In 1855, Japan and Russia concluded the Treaty of Shimoda, which gave control of the four southernmost islands to Japan and the remainder of the chain to Russia.
Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875): In this treaty, Russia ceded possession of the Kurils to Japan in exchange for uncontested control of Sakhalin Island. However, these islands were again seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
Yalta Agreement (1945): In 1945, as part of the Yalta agreements the islands were ceded to the Soviet Union, and the Japanese population was repatriated and replaced by the Soviets.
San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951): It was signed between the Allies and Japan in 1951. It states that Japan must give up all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands but it also does not recognize the Soviet Union’s sovereignty over them.
Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration (1956): The dispute over the islands has prevented the conclusion of a peace treaty to end World War II. In 1956, diplomatic ties were restored between Japan and Russia by Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
During that time, Russia offered to give away the two islands closest to Japan. But the offer was rejected by Japan as the two islands constituted only 7% of the land in question.
About the attempts made to resolve the Kuril Islands Dispute
Since 1991, there have been many attempts to resolve the dispute and sign a peace treaty. The most recent attempt was under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when joint economic development of the disputed islands was explored.
In fact, both countries had agreed to have bilateral negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
Russia was even willing to give back two islands, the Shikotan Island and the Habomai islets. But the offer was rejected by Japan as the two islands constituted only 7% of the land in question.
About the current situation of the Kuril Islands Dispute
Despite a series of agreements, the dispute continues, and Japan still claims historical rights to the Kuril Islands. Further, Japan has tried repeatedly to persuade the Soviet Union and, from 1991, Russia to return those islands to Japanese sovereignty.
“State Sponsors of Terrorism” Tag
Ukraine’s President has asked the US President to designate Russia as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”.
About the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” tag
“State Sponsors of Terrorism” is a designation given by the United States Secretary of State (the minister primarily in charge of foreign relations) to countries that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
The US can place four categories of sanctions on countries that are on this list: 1) restrictions on US foreign assistance, 2) ban on defence exports and sales, 3) certain controls over exports of dual-use items and 4) miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
Sanctions can also be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.
Countries are currently on the terrorist designation list
As of now, there are four countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. They are Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba.
Procedure to take out a country from the list
Countries can be put and taken off the list from time to time. A country can be de-listed if it is deemed by the US to have reformed its behaviour and returned to complying with the requirements of international law and conduct or if it has undergone a change of leadership.
Nepal PM’s visit to India
The Prime Minister of Nepal visited India and held a summit meeting with the Indian Prime Minister.
About the key highlights from the Nepal PM visit to India
Launch of Cross-border railway line: India and Nepal launched the 35-km cross-border railway line linking Jaynagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Nepal. This is the first broad-gauge passenger rail link between the two sides and it will be extended to Bardibas in Nepal.
Solu Corridor: India handed over the Solu Corridor, a 90-km, 132 kV power transmission line built under an Indian line of credit. The line will help bring electricity to several remote districts in northeastern Nepal by connecting them to the country’s national grid.
Launch of RuPay card in Nepal: India launched RuPay card in Nepal. With this, domestic variant of the RuPay card will now work at 1,400 point-of-sale machines in Nepal, and the move is expected to facilitate bilateral tourist flows.
Note: Nepal is the fourth country, after Bhutan, Singapore and the UAE, where RuPay has been launched.
Nepal as member of International Solar Alliance: Nepal signed a framework agreement to join the India-led International Solar Alliance (becoming the 105th member country).
Pancheshwar Multipurpose Dam Project: The two sides agreed to expedite work on the delayed Pancheshwar multipurpose dam project (on Mahakali river) that is considered to be a gamechanger for the development of the region.
Border Dispute: Nepalese Prime Minister urged his Indian counterpart to take steps to resolve a boundary dispute. The Indian side made it clear both countries need to address the boundary issue through dialogue and to avoid the politicization of such issues.