Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-spatial Cooperation
BECA is the last of the 3 enabling agreements which will facilitate easier interoperability between the Indian and American defence forces.
Areas of health and COVID-19 cooperation
Building strategic petroleum reserves in the U.S.
The Ministers also called on Pakistan to take “immediate, sustained and irreversible action” against cross-border terror groups on its soil, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and 2016 Uri and Pathankot strikes.
In every interaction, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to the challenge from Beijing, of the need to build a counter coalition to the “Chinese Communist Party”, and to further U.S. Indo-Pacific policy in this regard.
Mr. Pompeo raised the need to counter and provide alternatives to what he called China’s “bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea”.
Bilateral relationship is “poll-proof”
The conspicuous silence from External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in response to Mr. Pompeo’s comments on China is also a sobering reminder that while India appreciates support from the U.S., it retains its strategic autonomy in dealing with threats and troubles with its biggest neighbour.
Now any Indian can buy land in J&K
Restrictions on land transfers hampered investments
Some restrictions remain on the transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, but this too can be cleared by the district collector.
Advance peace and progress in J&K
The Centre is expected to announce new land laws for the UT of Ladakh before October 30, and it has promised to “safeguard interests of the people” regarding “all issues related to language, demography, ethnicity, land and jobs”.
The situation is precarious also because of the heavy hand of the state on political and civil society activities in J&K.
The Centre’s policy towards J&K must be buttressed by a robust political process that enables people’s participation and ensures stability with growth and development.
J&K realty | IndExp
There are 23 petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s August 5, 2019 decision, revoking the special status of J&K and bifurcating the state into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
It would have been proper for the government to wait for the court to pronounce a verdict on these petitions, last heard in March, instead of creating a fait accompli on the ground.
In a place where people have come to view the government’s every action as an assault on their ethnic, political and religious identity, land rights take on huge significance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured that there is no plan to change the demography of J&K and that the Centre would take all steps to protect employment and land rights of the people.
Countering deepfakes, the most serious AI threat
Disinformation and hoaxes have evolved from mere annoyance to high stake warfare for creating social discord, increasing polarisation, and in some cases, influencing an election outcome.
Deepfakes are a new tool to spread computational propaganda and disinformation at scale and with speed.
Deepfakes are the digital media (video, audio, and images) manipulated using Artificial Intelligence.
Deepfakes, hyper-realistic digital falsification, can inflict damage to individuals, institutions, businesses and democracy.
Pornographic deepfakes can threaten, intimidate, and inflict psychological harm and reduce women to sexual objects.
Imagine a deepfake of a community leader denigrating a religious site of another community.
Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes.
To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.
The challenges of walking the Indo-Pacific talk
Indo-Pacific and the Quad
The international community has once again decided to court New Delhi to play a decisive role in shaping the region’s strategic future.
While during the mid-2000s the world expected India to be an economic powerhouse, a decade later, those expectations remain modest, at best.
The expectation this time is more strategic and military, to lead the charge against China from within the region.
The Quad members are also major States in the Indo-Pacific region, and both the Quad and the Indo-Pacific constructs are focused on China.
If you take China out of the equation, they would have little rationale for existence.
And if you take India out of the picture, their ability to sustain as geopolitical constructs would drastically diminish.
At the same time, the Indo-Pacific and the Quad are also quite different from each other.
The first is a politico-economic vision and the last is a military-strategic vision — the last does not form the military or strategic nucleus of the first.
The Quad’s ability to succeed would entirely depend on China — the more aggressive China gets, the more resolute the Quad countries would be in strengthening it.
It is too early to say whether the Indo-Pacific as an economic construct will be able to pose an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
India’s economic engagement of the Indo-Pacific.
New Delhi’s recent decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the region’s flagship free trade arrangement, could potentially complicate the country’s future engagements in the region.
India does not have FTAs with Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Bangladesh and the Maldives.
It has FTAs with South Korea, the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, Japan and Sri Lanka.
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