India-Russia sign agreement on manufacturing AK-203 rifles
The Defence Minister is at Russia’s capital Moscow attending SCO meet. He arrived on September 2, 2020 and is on a three-day visit.
The Defence Minister on the side lines of the SCO meet held talks with his Russian counter part Shoigu. During the meet, the leaders signed the AK-203 rifles deal. According to the deal, the rifles are to be produced in India under the Make in India initiative with Russia support.
The rifles are the latest and the most advanced version of AK-47 rifles. The AK203 are to replace the INSAS. INSAS are Indian Small Arms System (5.56x45mm) assault rifle. Indian Army has a requirement of around 770,000 AK-203 rifles. Of these 100,000 are to be imported and the rest are to be manufactured in India.
The rifles are to be manufactured at the Korwa Ordnance Factory, Uttar Pradesh. It was inaugurated by PM Modi in 2019. The cost of a rifle is 1,100 USD. This includes the technology transfer cost as well.
INSAS has developed issues such as magazine cracking and jamming at higher altitudes in the Himalayas.
The leaders discussed the following
Inter-Government Commission for Technical and Military Cooperation
It was set up in 2000. The commission meets alternatively in India and Russia to review and discuss the status of ongoing projects. The commission oversees indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30 MKI aircraft and supply of MiG-29K aircraft and supply of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Smerch.
The main aim of the commission was to establish a strong joint research, design development and production of state of art military platforms. The production of Brahmos cruise missiles is the best example of the trend.
It is a biennial air show that is held at Yelahanka Air Force Station. The exhibition is organized by Ministry of Defence. The first edition of the show was held in 1996. During the show, several Indian aerospace and aviation industry manufacturers and service providers meet their potential buyers.
The previous Aero India event was held in 2019 under the theme Runaway to a billion opportunities. During the edition, for the first time, defence and civil aviation segments were combined.
G-20 Foreign Ministers meet
Saudi Arabi recently hosted the G-20 foreign ministers’ meet focusing on cross border movement amidst the pandemic. During the meet, India proposed development of G-20 Principles on Coordinated Cross border movement of people.
The proposed principles are based on three elements. They are as follows
About the meet:
India was represented by External Affairs Minster S Jaishankar at the meet. During the meet, the minister highlighted the steps taken by India in the awake of the pandemic. He also briefed about the steps under Vande Bharat Mission and creation of “travel bubbles”.
During the meet, the leaders acknowledged the importance of opening the borders and promote the measures to allow the economies to thrive amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
The G-20 countries agreed to inject 5 trillion USD during their virtual meet held in March 2020. Later an additional 21 billion USD was pledged to fight the pandemic. They also agreed to contribute to World Health Organization led COVID-19 solidarity response fund.
The G-20 grouping has been highly active during the pandemic and India has been a part of every such initiative. Their commitments are as follows
Digital Ministers Meet:
In July 2020, the Digital Economy Ministers meet was held under the theme Realizing opportunities of the 21st century for all.
Finance Ministers Meet:
During the G-20 Finance Minsters meet that was held in July 2020, India shared its G-20 Action Plan. India also discussed on two deliverables at the meet. One was to enhance access to opportunities for youth and women and the other was on international taxation agenda related to digital sector.
Apart from these, the G-20 also held Trade and Investment ministers meet and Agricultural Ministers meet. The G-20 countries agreed to work together to solve nutrition and food security.
WHO recommends use of Steroids in critical COVID-19 patients
The World Health Organization recently recommended the use of steroid drugs to treat COVID-19. The WHO trials say that the Corticosteroid drugs reduce the risk of death in critical COVID-19 patients by 20%.
An analysis of seven international trials found that the Corticosteroid drugs reduced the risk of death in critical COVID-19 patients. The trials also found that low dose hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone and dexamethasone improved the survival rates of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
About the trials:
The trials were conducted in China, Brazil, UK, France, US and Spain. The steroids were chosen as they are inexpensive and are effective in anti-microbial actions. It was found during the trials that corticosteroids showed 87 fewer deaths per 1000 patients.
Steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs. They work by decreasing the inflammation. Inflammation is a process by which White Blood Cells of the body protect against infection caused by foreign substance such as virus and bacteria. However, in certain cases, inflammation might work against the body organs causing damages. This is when steroids are used. They reduce the activity of immune system.
Steroids generally help to save the organs. In the case of COVID-19, the lungs are extensively damaged in the final stages. According to WHO, steroids when used as treatment in this stage might help save patients from organ failure.
WHO Essential Medicines:
Corticosteroids are listed in WHO list of Essential medicines. They are readily available at low cost. These medicines are those that satisfy priority health care needs. The Essential Medicines are to be available in adequate amounts in appropriate dosage forms and strengths.
Every country shall create its own list of essential medicines based on its disease burden, affordability concerns and priority health concerns. India has its own National List of Essential Medicines. It was recently updated in 2018. Currently there are 851 medicines. This includes cardiac stents, condoms, intra uterine devices and drug eluting stents as well.
Germany launches Indo-Pacific Strategy
The current European Union President and the largest economy of Europe, Germany launched Indo-Pacific strategy. It was launched with India.
The strategy has several indirect references to Chinese behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region. Germany has also suggested to play a key role in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation and Indian Ocean Rim Association. It will work on maritime safety and disaster risk management.
Germany has also exhibited its willingness to cooperate with India and Japan in United Nations Security Reforms.
Why is Germany launching the strategy?
Millions of jobs in Germany depend on these trade and investment relations. Therefore, it is important for Germany to focus on the security of these maritime routes.
Why is it important for India to gain international support on Indo-Pacific?
According to Annual Defence Report of the United States, China has the biggest Naval Force in the world. It has more than 350 ships and submarines. Also, China is looking for opportunities to expand its foot prints in the Indian Ocean Region.
India is already expecting the Chinese to make similar moves in the Indo-Pacific as that of the recent Ladakh stand off. Such circumstances have already created irritants with the maritime neighbours of China in the South china Sea which is condemned by world leaders.
Therefore, it is important for India to get international support to counter Chinese moves in the Indian Ocean Region.