Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 17 December 2022

India launches ‘Group of Friends’

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India has launched a ‘Group of Friends’ to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announcing that New Delhi will soon have a database that will record all crimes against the Blue Helmets.


  1. IndiaBangladeshEgyptFranceMorocco and Nepal are co-chairs of the ‘Group of Friends to Promote Accountability for Crimes Against Peacekeepers’ launched on 15 December 2022 during India’s current presidency of the UN Security Council.
  2. The Group of Friends represents the "political will" of member states, particularly of the troop and police contributing countries, to champion the implementation of the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2589, which was adopted in August last year under India’s Presidency of the Council.
  3. Resolution 2589 had called upon member states, hosting or having hosted United Nations peacekeeping operations, to take all appropriate measures to bring to justice perpetrators of the killing of, and all acts of violence against United Nations personnel, including, but not limited to, their detention and abduction.
  4. The resolution had also called on member states to take all necessary measures to investigate such acts and arrest and prosecute perpetrators of such acts in line with their national law, consistent with applicable international obligations, including under international humanitarian law.
  5. The UNSC resolution was co-sponsored by more than 80 member states and unanimously adopted by the Council.
  6. It is, therefore, very befitting that this ‘Group of Friends’ being launched under India’s ongoing Presidency of the UNSC, will seek to promote accountability in practical terms both within and outside the UNSC.
  7. India has facilitated the launch of a database that will record all crimes against UN peacekeepers.


  1. India, among the largest troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping, has lost 177 of its peacekeepers in the line of duty, the largest by far from any troop-contributing country.
  2. Peacekeeping is one of the key tools available with the Security Council to maintain international peace and security, to practically stabilise conflict zones and move towards peace building.


India test fires Agni-V

GS Paper - 3 (Defence)

India successfully test fired a nuclear-capable Agni-V ballistic missile having a range of over 5,000 km, marking a significant boost to the country’s strategic deterrence. The test-firing of the missile from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast came amid India’s lingering border row with ChinaExisting variant Agni IV is capable of hitting targets at a range of 4,000 km while Agni-III has a range of 3,000-km, and Agni II can fly up to 2,000-km.

What is the Agni-5 missile?

  1. The nuclear-capable missile, which uses a three-stage solid-fuelled engine, has been developed by India’s Defence Research and Development organisation (DRDO).
  2. The development of Agni missiles started in early 1980 under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme spearheaded by scientist and former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, who was also a central figure in India’s missile and space programmes.

What was the latest test for?

  1. Agni-5 has been successfully tested multiple times since 2012. Defence Ministry sources said the latest test was carried out primarily to validate various new technologies on board the missile.
  2. The flight performance of the missile was tracked and monitored by radarsrange stations and tracking systems all through the mission including by the assets deployed in the sea.
  3. At the time of the previous test in October 2021, the Ministry of Defence in its statement had highlighted the posture of ‘credible minimum deterrence’ and ‘No First Use’ which are pivotal points of India’s nuclear doctrinefirst published in 2003.
  4. This basically means India would never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict situation but only as retaliation, and the arsenal maintained is to only deter the possibility of an attack on India.

Who undertook the test?

  1. The SFC, which carried out the test, is a key tri-services formation that manages and administers all the strategic assets and falls under the purview of the Nuclear Command Authority of India.
  2. The Nuclear Command Authority is the sole body which can authorize the use of nuclear weapons.
  3. It comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister.
  4. The Executive Council, chaired by the National Security Advisor, provides inputs for decision-making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes the directives given to it by the Political Council.


Vijay Diwas and birth of Bangladesh

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Vijay Diwas or Victory Day is commemorated on 16 December, marking the end of the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the liberation of Bangladesh. India declared victory on this day 51 years ago after Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender.

Vijay Diwas: What led to the 1971 Indo-Pak War?

  1. After the partition of India following the end of British rule in 1947, two independent countries were formed – India and Pakistan.
  2. The latter consisted of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan). The two Pakistans had their share of problems since the beginning because of a number of reasons – the most glaring one being the geographical disconnect between them.
  3. East Pakistan was often overlooked in terms of administration as the top posts were held by those in the West.
  4. There was also an issue of cultural conflict. For instance, when Urdu, used in West Pakistan, was made the official language of the country, it was seen as an imposition on the culture of the people in the East.
  5. In the mid-1960s, leaders such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is also known as the founder of Bangladesh (and the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina), actively began protesting against these policies and helped form the Awami League.
  6. Soon, their demand became one for freedom and greater autonomy. The League ended up winning a stunning 160 of the 162 seats in East Pakistan in the 1970 elections – and won no seats in the West.

India’s role in the 1971 War

  1. India had declared support for the League previously. Without direct intervention, this was visible: on 15 May, it launched Operation Jackpot, an operation to recruit, train, arm, equip, supply and advise Mukti Bahini fighters engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan military.
  2. The war, which was short and intense, was fought on both the Eastern and Western fronts over 13 days.
  3. The notable battles which were fought in the area of responsibility of the Southern Army included the famous battles of Longewala and Parbat Ali where Pakistan’s armoured forces were destroyed by resolute Indian troops.
  4. On 6 December, India formally recognised Bangladesh as an independent nation. Two days later, the Indian Navy launched an attack on Karachi.
  5. From 12 to 16 December, Indian forces pushed through to Dhaka and entered the city, ending the war with a total victory.
  6. Pakistan Eastern Command Commander Lt Gen AAK Niazi signed the instrument of surrender and capitulates to Indian Eastern Commander Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora.


India, Nepal begin joint military exercise

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India and Nepal on 16 December 2022 began the 16th edition of the joint military training exercise to share theoretical and practical experiences in jungle warfare related to counter-terrorism military skills as well as disaster management. A team from the Indian Army arrived in Nepal to participate in the "Surya Kiran" military training exercises taking place at Saljhandi in the Rupandehi district of Lumbini Zone near the Nepal-India border.

More about the exercise

  1. The joint military exercise includes relief work and medical treatment as part of the disaster management and counter-terrorism practices.
  2. Nepali Army official Bima Kumar Wagley is leading a 334-member Nepali team and Indian Army's Colonel Himanshu Bahuguna is leading another 334-member team during the joint military exercise that will last till 29 December 2022.
  3. The 'Surya Kiran' exercise is conducted annually in Nepal and India. The 15th edition of the joint exercise was held in Pithoragarh, India.
  4. During the joint exercise, the soldiers will put into practice theoretical knowledge of jungle warfare relating to counter-mutiny and counter-terrorism military skill and disaster management.
  5. The army personnel of the two countries will also share each other's theoretical, practical, as well as special experiences.
  6. Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
  7. The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.


India, Kazakhstan start joint military drill

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The armies of India and Kazakhstan began a fortnight-long joint exercise in Meghalaya. The sixth edition of ‘Kazind-22’, a joint training exercise aimed at enhancing the level of defence cooperation and fostering bilateral relations between the two nations, started at Umroi, 25 km from Shillong, and will conclude on 28 December 2022.

More about the exercise

  1. This joint exercise will enable the two armies to train, plan and execute a series of combined tactical drills for neutralising likely threats that may be encountered during UN peacekeeping operations.
  2. The two countries instituted a joint annual training exercise in 2016 as ‘Exercise Prabal Dostyk’, which was later upgraded to a company-level exercise and renamed ‘Exercise Kazind’ in 2018.
  3. The Kazakh soldiers were drawn from their South-based Regional Command while the 11 Gorkha Rifles participated in the exercise representing the Indian Army.
  4. As both armies will be participating in various combat games besides joint tactical planning and drills.
  5. It is expected that the exercise will improve military relations, imbibe each other’s best practices and promote the ability to operate together while undertaking counter-terrorist operations in semi-urban or jungle scenarios under a UN peace enforcement mandate.

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