Agni-V to be inducted in nuclear arsenal very soon :-
India is in the process of inducting the first batch of its intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM) – Agni-V – into the nuclear arsenal very soon, which will bring targets across China within its range, and is expected to significantly bolster the country’s military prowess.
- The missile system, capable of carrying nuclear warhead, is being inducted into the elite Strategic Forces Command.
- It has been successfully test-fired six times & all the tests have been successful.
- Other pre-induction tests are being planned in next few weeks.
Agni-V has strike range of 5,000 km
- With a strike range of 5,000 km, Agni-V is capable of bringing targets across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, under its range
- India currently has Agni-1 with a 700-km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with a 2,500-km to more than 3,500-km range
- The Agni-V actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 km away, but the Indian government had deliberately downplayed the missile’s capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries.
- The official said the missile features the latest technologies for navigation and improved accuracy.
- The Agni series of missiles constitute the backbone of India’s nuclear weapons delivery, which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft.
- The submarine-based nuclear arsenal, which assures second strike capability in the face of the proclaimed no-first-use policy, is taking shape.
America plans to build Space Weapons :-
- U.S. President Donald Trump in June announced the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces. The imperative by America to build space weapons, which is nothing new, goes back to the Cold War, an example being the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan Administration.
- Mr. Trump said at the time of the announcement, the intention is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space. A Republican-controlled Congress explains the push for the creation of a space corps, the purpose being to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
- The creation of the new force represents an important shift & What advantages it will bring to American war-fighting capabilities are still unclear.
Concerns within the US Administration :-
- U.S. Air Force is not entirely enthusiastic about this new service, which could take resources away from it and the prestige that comes with being the driver of space military operations.
- U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis, was emphatic as well in a letter to the Congress last October that adding another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
♠ First, it could undercut ongoing missions.
♠ Second, it could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
♠ Third, his objections were clear in that a space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
A new space force is not merely a brand new service, it potentially increases greater organisational uncertainty within the U.S. military.
What would be the difficulties for Space Forces ?
- Physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris.
- Despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
- The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.
China and Russia’s responses :-
- China has reiterated its response to the Trump Administration’s announcement with its oft-repeated statement that it opposes the weaponization of space, it knows that it is the prime target of this incipient force.
- Russia for its part has been shriller in its response, making it clear that it will vigorously take on the U.S.. However, given its lack of the resources for competition, it will in all probability, for tactical reasons, align itself with China.
Implications for India :- American military goals, which are still undefined in space, could still have consequences for India.
- India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
- India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own & its inter-services rivalries will have to be resolved about the command and control.
Way Forward :- India also has to be concerned about Mr. Trump’s move for another reason — China.
- New Delhi would do well to come out with an official white paper on space weapons.
- The government needs to engage with multiple stakeholders directly about the role space weapons will play in India’s grand strategy.
The Dream of being an AI Powerhouse :-
- In a recent discussion paper, NITI Aayog has chalked out an ambitious strategy for India to become an artificial intelligence (AI) powerhouse.
What is AI & How AI is present in India ?
AI is the use of computers to make decisions that are normally made by humans. Many forms of AI surround Indians already, including chatbots on retail websites and programs that flag fraudulent bank activity.
NITI Aayog Strategy on AI :-
- NITI Aayog envisions AI solutions for India especially in five key sectors –
♣ Smart Cities Infrastructure
- In agriculture, For example :- Machines will provide information to farmers on the quality of soil, when to sow, where to spray herbicide, and when to expect pest infestations. It’s an idea with great potential & If computers help agricultural universities advise farmers on best practices, India could see a farming revolution.
However, there are formidable obstacles. AI start-ups already offer some solutions, but the challenge lies in scaling these to cover the entire value chain, as NITI Aayog envisions.
AI Challenges :-
Lack of Data :-
- Machine learning, the set of technologies used to create AI, is a data-eater.
- It takes reams of historical data as input, identifies the relationships among data elements, and makes predictions.
- More sophisticated forms of machine learning, like “deep learning”, attempt to mimic the human brain. And even though they promise greater accuracy, they also need more data than what is required by traditional machine learning.
- Unfortunately, India has sparse data in sectors like agriculture, and this is already hampering AI-based businesses today.
Domain knowledge :-
- Another problem for AI firms today is finding the right people.
- NITI Aayog’s report has bleak news: only about 50 Indian scientists carry out “serious research” and they are concentrated in elite institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Science. Meanwhile, only about 4% of AI professionals have worked in emerging technologies like deep learning.
- A survey of LinkedIn found 386 out of the 22,000 people with PhDs in AI across the world to be Indians.
Way Forward :- To become AI Powerhouse as NITI Aayog Envisions much needs to change immediately :-
- First, if the government is serious about AI solutions powering agriculture or healthcare, it must collect and digitise data better under its existing programs.
- Second, to close the skill gap, NITI Aayog suggests setting up a network of basic and applied AI research institutes. But if these institutes are to fulfil their mandate, they must collaborate closely with agricultural universities, medical colleges and infrastructure planners. The NITI Aayog report talks about collaboration but unless collaboration is the basis for the new crop of institutes, these institutes won’t make a difference, experts say.
- Third, NITI Aayog’s ambitious road map does not mention deadlines or funding. Without these, it lacks accountability. The government must make haste and specify its commitments on these fronts.