What’s in the news?
- Amid high operational alert by the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the ongoing standoff with China in Ladakh, India and Russia are scheduled to hold the bilateral naval exercise, Indra 2020, in the Andaman Sea, close to the strategic Strait of Malacca.
- This is the first bilateral naval exercise since all such engagements were suspended due to COVID-19.
- The timing of the exercise coincides with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers meet and also comes just after India withdrew from the Kavkaz-2020 multinational exercise in Russia scheduled for later this month.
- In July, frontline warships of the Indian Navy conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Nimitz strike group in the same area near the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands.
- With ongoing tensions, Indian Navy is keeping a close watch on movement in the IOR of Chinese Naval ships whose presence has gone up considerably over the years in the name of Anti-Piracy patrols. In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
- Given their strategic location, India has also embarked on a major infrastructure expansion plan on the A&N island chain.
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation established in 2001.
- It’s a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
- Prior to the creation of SCO in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
- Following the accession of Uzbekistan to the organisation in 2001, the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO.
- India and Pakistan became members in 2017.
- The SCO Secretariat, based in Beijing, is the main permanent executive body of the SCO.
Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure
- The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
- It is headquartered in Tashkent.
- The head of RATS is elected for a three-year term.