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13th February 2023

Russia Supplied India With Arms Worth $13 Billion In Past 5 Years: Report


Russia supplied India with around $13 billion of arms during the past five years. New Delhi has orders placed with Moscow for weapons and military equipment exceeding $10 billion, as per Russian state news agencies.



  • India is the world's biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20% of Moscow's current order book.
  • Annual arms exports were about $14-15 billion, and the order book has remained steady at around $50 billion.

SIPRI’s Report

According to data firm Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India was the top importer of Russian arms from 2017 to 2021, and Russian equipment made up 46% of India’s arms imports. 

India’s say in the Russia-Ukraine war

  • New Delhi has not explicitly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
    • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for dialogue and diplomacy to solve the conflict, now in its 12th month.
  • Despite the unprecedented pressure on India from Western countries led by the United States in connection with Russia's special operation in Ukraine, it continues to be one of Russia's main partners in the field of military-technical cooperation.

What are Russia’s more exciting systems?

  • Asian customers are particularly interested in Russia's-
    • S-400 Triumf missile defence systems
    • short-range surface-to-air missiles systems such as the Osa, Pechora or Strela
    • Su-30 warplanes
    • MiG-29 helicopters and drones

Russia in Aero India 2023

Russia will be presenting about 200 samples of weapons and military equipment at the 14th international aerospace exhibition Aero India 2023.

India-Russia Defence Cooperation

  • Agreement on the Programme for Military-Technical Cooperation: India-Russia defence cooperation is guided by the Agreement on the Programme for Military Technical Cooperation signed between the two countries.
    • The Agreement for 2021-2031 was signed during the inaugural meeting of the India-Russia 2+2 Dialogue in 2021.
  • Important Major Contracts
    • Bilateral projects currently underway include licensed production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft, etc.
    • Production of the Brahmos cruise missile.
    • The joint venture, Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), has been established and started production of AK-203 rifles in India under the “Make in India” initiative.

MeitY may soon integrate ChatGPT with WhatsApp for key government schemes


The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is reportedly working on a ChatGPT-powered WhatsApp chatbot to help Indian farmers learn about various government schemes. 


Key highlights of the development

  • Bhashini, a small team at the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), is currently building a WhatsApp-based chatbot that relies on information generated by ChatGPT to return appropriate responses to queries.
    • Essentially, voice memos could be used to make requests to the chatbot, which would then respond with a voice-based response produced by ChatGPT.
  • Benefits: The ChatGPT-powered WhatsApp chatbot will let users send a question via voice notes. This will help numerous farmers in India who may not be familiar with typing on smartphones.
  • Why WhatsApp: WhatsApp has more than 500 million users, and even those with relatively low digital literacy know their way around the app.
  • Background: This development comes as the competition between Google and Microsoft over the future of internet search heats up.

What are the persistent limitations?

  • ChatGPT is occasionally found to generate incorrect answers to queries. 
  • This can potentially produce harmful instructions or biased content. 
  • The chatbot’s knowledge is limited to events before 2021. 
  • It is also unable to provide answers to country-specific questions. 
  • It is only capable of providing generalized answers, unlike Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa which are more focused on giving specific answers to user queries

About Bhashini

  • Digital India BHASHINI is India’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) led language translation platform.
  • Bhashini aims to build a National Public Digital Platform for languages to develop services and products for citizens by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

About ChatGPT

  • ChatGPT is a chatbot powered by AI that can be used to ask queries.
  • This chatbot is designed in such a way that the replies to the queries are both technical and jargon-free.
  • It is a natural language processing (NLP) model that uses a large corpus of conversational data.
  • It is capable of generating human-like replies, allowing natural conversation between the user and the virtual assistant.
  • The chatbot uses Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) technology. However, it is modified to appear more friendly to humans.
  • It is based on GPT-3.5 – a deep-learning language model that produces human-like text.
  • The technology produces different answers for the same question in the future since it improves over time and understands queries better through machine learning.

China plans Aksai Chin railway to connect Tibet, Xinjiang


China will soon begin construction on an ambitious new railway line connecting Xinjiang and Tibet that will run close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and through the disputed Aksai Chin region.


What is in the ‘proposed’ plan?

  • The medium to long-term railway plan for Tibet envisages expanding the TAR rail network to reach 4,000 km by 2025 up from the current 1,400 km, including new routes that will run up to China’s borders with India and Nepal.

Current Rail Network in Tibet

Tibet currently only has three rail lines in operation:

  • the Qinghai-Tibet link that opened in 2006
  • the Lhasa-Shigatse rail launched in 2014
  • the Lhasa-Nyingchi line that began operation in 2021
  • The most ambitious of the new plans is the Xinjiang-Tibet railway, which will broadly follow the course of the G219 national highway.
  • The construction of the Xinjiang-Tibet highway through Aksai Chin triggered tensions between India and China in the lead-up to the 1962 war.

The Route

  • The proposed railway will begin in Shigatse in Tibet, and run northwest along the Nepal border, before cutting north through Aksai Chin and ending in Hotan in Xinjiang.
  • The planned route will pass through Rutog and around Pangong Lake on the Chinese side of the LAC.
  • The first section, from Shigatse to Pakhuktso, will be completed by 2025, with the rest of the line, up to Hotan, expected to be finished by 2035.




India, US to jointly develop UAVs and share IP rights


India and the US have moved ahead to jointly develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles that will be used for surveillance missions


What is Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV)? 

  • In 2021, the Indian Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a Project Agreement for ALUAV, under the Joint Working Group Air Systems in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
  • Execution: Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, along with the Indian and U.S. Air Forces, are the principal organisations for the execution of the project agreement.
  • The ALUAV is being developed to be launched from an aircraft (C130J aircraft).

In 2016, the United States designated India as a “major defence partner," and since then, the two countries have signed agreements that facilitate transfers of top-grade arms and deepen military cooperation.

What about IP Rights?

  • The Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV) program is taking place under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and a critical factor is that the intellectual property (IP) rights for the new system will be jointly shared by the two sides.

Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)

  • The main aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to promote collaborative technology exchange and create opportunities for the co-production and co-development of future technologies for Indian and US military forces.
  • Under DTTI, Joint Working Groups on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established to focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains.
  • The Project Agreement (PA) for the co-development of ALUAV has been overseen by the Joint Working Group on Air Systems and is a major accomplishment for DTTI.

Short News Article

International Relations

US India Business Council (USIBC)

USIBC working to support plans to promote a free open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.


  • Founded in: 1975
  • The U.S.-India Business Council aims to create an inclusive bilateral trade environment between India and the United States 

The Indo-Pacific Region

  • The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
  • The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.

Polity & Governance

BCI has power to hold All-India Bar Exam: SC


The Bar Council of India (BCI) has powers to hold the All-India Bar Examination (AIBE) that a lawyer is required to qualify to practice law in courts, the Supreme Court ruled recently.


  • Founded: 1961
  • The Bar Council of India is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar. 
  • BCI regulates legal education and professional standards in India including directing the state bar councils, standardizin law education, and course the framework at the universities and law colleges in India as well as conducting the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) to grant 'Certificate of Practice' to advocates practicing law in India.

Polity & Governance

Swayam tops other eLearning platforms

With 2.4 crore enrolling for courses which yield credits and with over 26 lakh having earned them, the government-run SwayamMassive Open Online Courses (MOOC) has outperformed any other eLearning platform by a big margin.

What is SWAYAM?

  • Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is an Indian Massive open online course platform.
  • SWAYAM is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.
  • SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.


Humans can contract Bird Flu: WHO

WHO has said that since Bird Flu (H5N1) first emerged in 1996, only rare transmission was seen in humans, however, the recent spill-over to mammals must be monitored closely.

  • It added that the risk to humans is currently low but it cannot be assumed it will remain the case.


  • Bird flu, also called avian flu, is a strain of influenza (flu) that infects mostly wild water birds but can infect domestic birds (poultry) and other animals.
  • These strains belong to influenza A type viruses.
  • It’s not usual, but bird flu can also infect people.
  • The most common subtypes that may affect humans are A(H5N1), A(H7N9) and A(H9N2).
  • The symptoms can range from mild (pink eye) to severe flu-like illness that results in respiratory failure or death.

Science & Technology

Aero India 2023

The 14th edition of Aero India is being held at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru.


  • Being one of the premier aerospace exhibition, Aero India has held 13 successful editions in Bengaluru since 1996.
  • This five-day event would combine a major trade exhibition of the aerospace and defence industries as well as an aerial display by IAF.
  • Theme: The theme of Aero India 2023 is "The Runway to a Billion Opportunities".


  • The event would promote the export of indigenous air platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas, HTT-40, Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).




The government's consolidation strategy relies heavily on centralisation, which has both limits and limitations in approach. NBFC crisis in 2020-21, the pandemic year of 2020-21 and 2021-22 the recovery and the Global turmoil in 2022-23, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has affected India’s Fiscal consolidation in a negative way.

India’s fiscal resilience to uncertain situations:

  • Tax Collection and capital expenditure:Tax collections as a per cent of GDP are actually marginally higher than they were in 2018-19. Capital expenditure soared from 1.5 per cent of GDP to a budgeted 3.5 per cent of GDP.
  • Fiscal Deficit: Fiscal deficit is now on a downward trajectory, budgeted to fall to about 6 per cent of GDP next year from a Covid peak of more than 9 per cent.
  • Mixed developments in Revenue collection: Personal income taxes shown an encouraging rise, GST’s collection ratio has remained essentially the same as it was five years ago and corporate tax revenuedeclined significantly, because tax rates have been reduced.
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