Australia recently announced the formation of a new Defence Space Command Agency to counter the growing influence of Russia and China in space.
It will assist Australia in developing and advocating for space-related priorities within the government, industry, allies, and even international partners.
The agency will train people to be space specialists, assist in strategic space planning, and be able to participate in any developments regarding the refinement of space policy.
With the agency in place, Australia will set scientific and space priorities while also working to create an efficient space architecture.
All of the agency’s operations – including design, construction, and maintenance – will be subject to the Defence Ministry of Australia’s standards and limitations.
The concept of space weaponization emerged in the early 1980s as part of the United States’ “Strategic Defense Initiative,” also known as the “Star Wars” programme.
The plan was to launch a large number of satellites into orbit that would detect enemy missile launches and then shoot them down.
Weaponization refers to the deployment of destructive space-based devices in orbit.
The use of space in support of ground, sea, and air-based military operations is referred to as militarization of outer space.
The global commons are under threat: The Global Commons for Outer Space is currently under threat. The increasing militarization of outer space has sparked a race to weaponize it.
Anti-SAT missiles, for example, can destroy satellites in space.
Threat to the Global Communication System: Anti-satellite missiles can destroy communication satellites, bringing the communication system to a halt.
Satellite uplink and downlink jamming would also have a negative impact on communication.
Future Security Concerns: The number of nations interested in space has grown, resulting in power rivalries and a failure to reach a consensus on space security in order to prevent militarization and weaponization.
Our only home is the Earth: The ensuing arms race for the weaponization of outer space would create a climate of uncertainty, suspicion, miscalculations, competition, and aggressive deployment among nations, potentially leading to war.
Space wars have the potential to be so devastating that they will destroy our only home in the known universe, Earth.
In March 2019, India successfully conducted an anti-satellite test. In terms of fielding a practical anti-satellite capability, the test put India in the company of China, Russia, and the United States.
India also established two new space bureaucracies in 2019, the Defense Space Research Organization (DSRO) and the Defense Space Agency (DSA) (DSA).
DSRO is a research organisation dedicated to facilitating the development of civilian space technology for military applications, whereas DSA functions similarly to a combatant command in the United States, integrating space assets from the army, navy, and air force and developing strategy.
In July 2019, India held its first integrated space warfare exercise, bringing together personnel from all services. The exercise centred on the use of communications and reconnaissance satellites to integrate intelligence and fires across a variety of Indian military assets, demonstrating a firm understanding of the importance of access to space.
Some in India’s defence establishment have advocated for more aggressive reforms, such as the establishment of a military space service akin to the US Space Force.
This would make it easier to defend India’s expanding satellite network while also laying the groundwork for coercive action against adversarial networks.
The treaty forbids countries from launching “any objects carrying nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction” into orbit around the Earth.
It also forbids the deployment of such weapons on celestial bodies such as the moon or in outer space. The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes by all treaty parties.
India has signed the Outer Space Treaty.
These treaties, as well as other issues of space jurisdiction, are overseen by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). None of these, however, precludes various countries from conducting anti-satellite missions.
Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMS): The international community has been debating the need to implement Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMS) in outer space activities (TCBMS).
The European Union (EU) has also prepared a draught code of conduct in this regard (CoC). However, major powers have yet to reach an agreement on the concept of establishing a Code of Conduct.
PPWT: Another important idea proposed jointly by Russia and China is the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT), which is opposed by the United States and the European Union.
It is critical that the concept of space as a global common is restored for the sake of humanity’s overall well-being.
A centralised governance system that ensures a responsible and safe ecosystem for space exploration as well as unrestricted access to a peaceful space for future generations is urgently needed.
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was recently completed.
The India-UAE CEPA was signed on February 18, 2022, as part of the India-UAE Virtual Summit. The Agreement is set to go into effect on May 1, 2022.
CEPA establishes an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve bilateral trade.
Trade-in Goods: India will benefit from the UAE’s preferential market access, particularly in labor-intensive sectors.
Textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, plastics, furniture, agricultural and wood products, engineering products, medical devices, and automobiles are examples.
Trade in Services: India and the UAE have both offered each other market access to a wide range of service sectors.
‘Business services,’ ‘communication services,’ ‘construction and related engineering services,’ ‘distribution services,’ ‘educational services,’ ‘environmental services,’ ‘financial services,’ ‘health-related and social services,’ ‘tourism and travel-related services,”recreational cultural and sporting services,’ and ‘transport services’ are examples.
Pharmaceutical Trade: Both parties have also agreed to a separate Pharmaceutical Annex to facilitate access to Indian pharmaceutical products, particularly automatic registration and marketing authorization in 90 days for products meeting specified criteria.
About: India and the UAE have excellent bilateral relations that are deeply rooted and historical, and are sustained and nurtured by close cultural and civilizational affinities, frequent high-level political interactions, and vibrant people-to-people ties.
The India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership was launched during the Prime Minister of India’s visit to the UAE in 2015.
Trade Situation: India and the UAE have been each other’s most important trading partners.
Trade: From USD 180 million per year in the 1970s to USD 60 billion in FY 2019-20, bilateral trade between India and the UAE has steadily increased, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner.
Exports: The UAE is India’s second-largest export destination.
Investments: With an estimated investment of USD 18 billion, the UAE is also India’s eighth largest investor.
Furthermore, India and the UAE recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which the UAE committed USD 75 billion to infrastructure development in India.
Economic Importance of the UAE: The UAE is an important source of energy for India and a key partner in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, as well as the upstream and downstream petroleum sectors.
Significance: The India-UAE CEPA will strengthen the two countries’ already deep, close, and strategic relations by creating new job opportunities, raising living standards, and improving the general welfare of the two peoples.
Why in the news?
During his two-day visit to the Maldives, India’s External Affairs Minister inaugurated the National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE).
NCPLE is one of India’s largest funded projects in the Maldives, located in Addu City.
What are the Visit’s Highlights?
NCPLE (National College of Policing and Law Enforcement): One of the goals of this training academy is to address the issues of violent extremism and radicalization.
It will strengthen bilateral cooperation in addressing these issues.
Domestically, the training academy would help strengthen law enforcement capabilities and combat drug trafficking, which is a major concern in the Maldives.
MoU for Training: The Maldives Police Service and India’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation in training and capacity building.
The number of training slots for the Maldives at the police academy has been increased to eight by India.
Infrastructure Support: India’s Exim Bank is contributing more than USD40 million to the construction of police infrastructure in the Maldives, including 61 police stations, divisional headquarters, detention centres, and barracks.
Other Initiatives: A contract worth USD80 million has been signed for the Addu reclamation and shore protection project.
Addu has a drug detoxification and rehabilitation centre built with Indian assistance. India is implementing 20 high-impact community development projects in areas such as healthcare, education, fisheries, tourism, sports, and culture.
What is the Current State of Relations Between India and the Maldives?
Importance in Geostrategic Terms:
The Maldives is a toll gate in the Indian Ocean.
The two important Sea Lanes of Communication are located in the southern and northern parts of this island chain (SLOCs).
These SLOCs are critical for maritime trade flow between West Asia’s Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Hormuz and Southeast Asia’s Strait of Malacca.
Nearly half of India’s external trade and 80% of its energy imports pass through these SLOCs in the Arabian Sea.
Part of the following Important Groupings: Furthermore, the Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEREC) (SASEC).
Collaboration between India and the Maldives:
Cooperation in Security: Throughout the decades, India has provided emergency assistance to the Maldives whenever it has been requested.
When armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1988, India responded with paratroopers and Navy vessels, restoring the legitimate leadership as part of Operation Cactus.
The joint military exercise ‘Ekuverin’ is being conducted by India and the Maldives.
The Colombo Security Conclave, a maritime security grouping of India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Mauritius, aims to strengthen cooperation on maritime and security issues among these Indian Ocean countries.
During the fifth meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave’s national security advisers, Mauritius was admitted as a new member of the conclave.
Disaster Management: Other times when India rushed aid were the 2004 tsunami and the drinking water crisis in Male a decade later.
Among India’s neighbouring countries, the Maldives has been one of the biggest recipients of Covid-19 assistance and vaccines.
The Maldives was the first country to benefit from India’s Vaccine Maitri programme.
When global supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic, India continued to provide critical commodities to the Maldives through Mission SAGAR.
Individuals to Individuals Contact: Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India, and patients fly here for superspeciality healthcare, thanks to India’s liberal visa-free regime.
Economic Cooperation: Tourism is the Maldivian economy’s mainstay. For some Indians, the country is now a major tourist destination, while for others, it is a job destination.
Afcons, an Indian company, signed a contract in August 2021 for the Greater Male Connectivity Project, the Maldives’ largest-ever infrastructure project (GMCP).
This raises the prospect of Pakistan-based terror groups using remote Maldivian islands as a base for terror attacks against India and Indian interests.
China’s Strategic Footprint in India’s Neighborhood: China’s strategic footprint in India’s neighbourhood has grown. The Maldives has emerged as an important “pearl” in China’s South Asian “String of Pearls” construction.
Given the volatile dynamics of Sino-Indian relations, China’s strategic presence in the Maldives is a source of concern.
In addition, the Maldives have begun to use the China card to bargain with India.
The Way Forward
Although India remains an important partner of the Maldives, it must not become complacent in its position and must remain vigilant to developments in the Maldives.
To ensure regional security in South Asia and along its maritime borders, India must play a key role within the Indo-Pacific security space.
The Indo-Pacific security space was created in response to the increased presence of extra-regional powers (particularly China) in India’s maritime sphere of influence.
The ‘India Out’ campaign currently has a small number of supporters, but the Indian government cannot take this for granted.
If the issues raised by supporters of the ‘India Out’ campaign are not handled carefully, and India fails to effectively convince Maldivians of its intentions behind the projects on the island nation, the campaign may change the domestic political situation in the Maldives, causing ripples in India’s currently favourable relationship with the country.
The Ketti stream, which runs through the Ketti valley, is becoming clogged with plastic waste and glass bottles that are being thrown into it.
The 7,000-foot-deep Ketti Valley stretches from the plains of Coimbatore to the Mysore Plateau and is one of the world’s largest valleys.
The Ketti Valley, also known as the Switzerland of the Nilgiris, is the largest valley in the Nilgiris.
A breathtaking view of 14 neighbouring villages, mostly inhabited by the Toda and Badagas, can be seen from this valley.
Ketti village serves as the valley’s entry point.
The Ketti stream runs through the Ketti valley and into the Kattery Dam.
It flows from Kattery dam through the Kattery falls and eventually drains into the Bhavani River downstream.
Aside from the abundant agricultural runoff that enters the stream, plastic and glass bottles are also thrown into it from the villages and human settlements that line its path.
The Kattery Dam is feeling the effects of the accumulation of plastic waste in the stream.
Artemis- I Programme
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has delivered its Artemis I moon mission to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for testing.
NASA’s Artemis mission is named after the Greek Goddess of the Moon and Apollo’s twin sister.
Artemis I is a space mission that is unmanned. It is NASA’s first deep space exploration system.
NASA’s Artemis programme aims to land humans on the moon by 2024, as well as to land the first woman and person of colour on the moon.
NASA will build an Artemis Base Camp on the moon’s surface and a gateway in lunar orbit to aid robot and astronaut exploration.
The gateway is a critical component of NASA’s long-term lunar operations, serving as a multi-purpose outpost in lunar orbit.
The spacecraft will be launched using the Space Launch System (SLS), the world’s most powerful rocket. During the mission, it will travel 2,80,000 miles from Earth and will stay there for 4 to 6 weeks.
[The SLS rocket was designed for space missions beyond low-Earth orbit, and it can transport crew or cargo to the moon and beyond.]
The SLS will launch the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), which will provide Orion with the thrust required to leave Earth’s orbit and travel to the moon.
[ICPS is a propulsion system based on liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen.]
It will fly around 100 kilometres above the moon’s surface and use its gravitational pull to propel Orion into an opposite deep orbit around 70,000 kilometres from the moon, where it will stay for about 6 days.
The Orion spacecraft will spend more time in space without docking with a space station than any other ship for astronauts has ever done.
The exercise’s goal is to collect data and allow mission controllers to assess the spacecraft’s performance.
Through the deep-space network, the spacecraft will communicate with the control centre on Earth.
To re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, Orion will fly close to the moon’s surface, within less than 100 kilometres, and use both the service module and the moon’s gravity to accelerate back towards the Earth.
The mission will conclude when the spacecraft can safely return to Earth.
Significance – Eventually, the Artemis program’s findings will be used to send the first astronauts to Mars.
NASA intends to use lunar orbit to gain the experience needed to expand human space exploration further into the solar system.