1. Prime Minister extols value of Pacific island nations at third FIPIC summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his opening remarks at the FIPIC summit at Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea on Monday.
Small island nations of the Pacific Ocean are in fact “large ocean states”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, highlighting the importance of the 14 members of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).
In the opening session of the FIPIC-3 summit in Port Moresby, Mr. Modi spoke in favour of free and open Indo-Pacific region and focused on India’s commitment to assist the development goals of the member-countries.
New Delhi would continue to help the Pacific island states in “every possible” way, he said. “Climate change, natural calamities, poverty and famine already existed but now new challenges are emerging as supply chains of food, fuel fertilizer and pharma are facing hurdles. Those we thought were reliable, we came to know they were not standing with us. In this time of difficulty, the old saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed has been proved. From vaccines to medicines, wheat and sugar, India has supplied the countries that needed the items,” he said.
The previous two meetings of the India-Pacific Islands Cooperation were held in November 2014 in Fiji, and August 2015 in Jaipur.
Mr. Modi arrived in Port Moresby on Sunday after completing his engagements at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, where India was a guest country.
Welcoming the guest, Prime Minister James Marape said the members of the FIPIC had suffered because of the high tariff on energy and food.
Plea to India
“We are victims of global power play and we want you to be an advocate for us and sit in those meetings,” he said, urging India to serve as the voice of the Global South in the G-7 and the G-20.
He said the small size of the island nations of the Pacific Ocean region should not overshadow the fact that the islands had large space in the ocean. Mr. Modi assured the FIPIC members of India’s support in the field of sustainable development, science and technology and space application.
In a special ceremony, Governor General Sir Bob Dadae conferred the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL), the highest civilian award of Papua New Guinea, on PM Modi.
Mr. Modi’s visit to Papua New Guinea highlights the growing strategic significance of the Pacific Island nations, which have also received attention from China, with the country having signed a security agreement last year with the Solomon Islands.
FIPIC consists of Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. His visit coincided with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as the two sides plan to seal a defence partnership agreement.
PM Modi reached Sydney on Monday evening to start the last leg of the three-nation tour that will see him hold the official bilateral dialogue with Prime Minister Albanese. In an interview given to The Australian, Mr. Modi said he wants to take India-Australia relation to the “next level” with closer defence and security ties to safeguard the Indo-Pacific region. The two Prime Ministers will address a public meeting at Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday night, where at least 20,000 expat Indians in Australia are expected to be in attendence.
2. Solidarity for peace
The G-7 must build a global consensus on the world’s challenges
By holding the meeting of the “G-7”, or the so-called group of the world’s most industrialised nations, in Hiroshima, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who belongs to the city, wanted to send out a message of global solidarity for peace. In addition to the symbolism of bringing leaders of all G-7 members with the EU leadership to the peace memorial for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, the grouping issued a special “Hiroshima Vision Statement on Nuclear Disarmament”. The summit’s importance was underlined by the fact that the U.S. President, Joseph Biden, only the second sitting American President to visit the city, made a particular point of attending the summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise arrival also enhanced the message by turning the spotlight on the horrors of Russia’s invasion; Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that the crisis was one of “humanity” was significant. The G-7 members issued a separate statement on Ukraine, hitting Russia with more sanctions, but failed to highlight a path towards dialogue and ending the war. Despite the invitation of countries such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam with a less black-and-white view of the world, and Mr. Kishida making pertinent references to the views of the Global South, the summit’s statements reflected a much more polarised view of the world — that of G-7 members alone.
If the G-7 grouping wishes to broaden its prism, it must recognise that it is grossly unrepresentative of the world today. While members together represent more than half the world’s net wealth, the G-7 accounts for less than a third of the global GDP, and just over a tenth of the world’s population. Apart from Japan, the G-7 membership comprises an essentially Euro-American worldview, and is not discussing expanding that view soon. It has actually contracted, after it expelled Russia over its annexation of areas of Georgia in 2008 and then Crimea in 2014. It is also hard to justify an economic grouping that does not include some of the world’s largest economies (China and India) or the fastest growing GDPs, or biggest global energy providers. While some efforts were made in Hiroshima to recognise the G-7’s role in, for example, promoting transparent financing and debt sustainability for the developing world, or in compensating for the developed world’s contribution to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, the summit failed to propose concrete measures to help defray these responsibilities. As the spotlight shifts to the G-20 summit later this year in Delhi, it is hoped the grouping will work towards a more inclusive outlook and help in building a more comprehensive global consensus on some of the bigger challenges the world faces today.
3. INS Sindhuratna sails for 97 days to India after major refit in Russia
Crew aboard INS Sindhuratna in Mumbai after sailing for almost 10,000 miles with two port calls in between.
The Navy’s Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuratna which underwent a major upgrade in Russia reached Mumbai after sailing for 97 days and almost 10,000 miles with two port calls — Le Havre, France and Cadiz, Spain — in between.
The submarine underwent a Medium Refit Life Certification (MRLC) process in Russia which extended its life. However, it faced transportation issues against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.
The initial plan was to move it by a transport dock ship directly from Russia which did not materialise, following which the Navy tried to sea transport the submarine to Norway and then via a transport dock to India, which also did not materialise.
Following this, the Navy decided to sail it directly on its own.
“INS Sindhuratna, a Sindhughosh class submarine, returned to Mumbai after undergoing a major refit at the naval dockyard in Russia. The submarine undertook a gruelling 97-day return passage through the Norwegian Sea, English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea, and arrived in Mumbai on May 16,” the Western Naval Command said on Twitter.
“The submarine with its modernised weapon and sensor suite will enhance the force level in the Western Seaboard, opening a new & exciting chapter in submarine operations in Indian Ocean Region,” it added.
The crew was received by Vice-Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command.
With delays in induction of submarines, the ageing SSKs – 209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilos) are being put through the MRLC process which will extend their life by 10 to 15 years.
4. Education Ministry holds meet on PARAKH aimed at unifying 60 school Boards
PARAKH aims to establish a unified framework for seamless transitions for students moving between Boards.
The Education Ministry organised a workshop in New Delhi on Monday with the aim of unifying a network of 60 school examination Boards of various States and Union Territories under one umbrella.
The workshop will study school assessments, examination practices and equivalence of Boards across the country.
The main component of this plan is PARAKH, the National Assessment Centre, which has been set up as an organisation under the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
The mandate of PARAKH is to work on bringing the school Boards across States and Union Territories on a common platform.
“As a first step, a workshop on PARAKH will act as a common platform for interaction of all stakeholders concerned in order to develop a holistic approach that ensures a fair assessment system which promotes equity in performance and equivalence in assessment of students,” an official from the Ministry said.
Sanjay Kumar, Secretary (School Education), emphasising the need for equivalence of Boards said that the aim was to establish a unified framework that enables seamless transitions for students moving between different Boards or regions.
The Education Ministry official added that the discussion revolved around the need to reassess the prevailing rote examination culture in the education system.
5. ‘Demand will pick up, spur capex as inflation recedes’
But, Finance Ministry also flags ‘downside risks to growth and upside risks to inflation’ in monthly economic review; cites uncertainties from the external sector and weather
The first month of 2023-24 has seen strong, albeit seasonally moderated economic activity, and demand is expected to strengthen in the wake of receding inflation, fuelling a virtuous investment cycle whose signs are already visible despite higher interest rates, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.
“There are downside risks to growth and upside risks to inflation, partly channelled through the external sector and partly originating from weather uncertainties. Yet a strong point going India’s way is the strength of its domestic demand,” it said in its economic review of April.
“Consumption has shown steady and broad-based growth, while investment in capacity creation and real estate is finding traction… As inflation further recedes, demand will become stronger and lay the foundation of a virtuous capex upcycle,” it emphasised, while conceding it is too early to forecast the entire year’s outcomes.
The Ministry said in the review that crops were unlikely to suffer despite uncertainties about the monsoon as reservoir levels were healthy.