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Sushma Swaraj, VOA

Terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and climate change are the three critical challenges the world is facing today, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday.

“There was a time when India would talk about terrorism, and it would be treated as a law and order issue on many global platforms,” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing 2019’s Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship annual geopolitical and geostrategic conference, organised by the External Affairs Ministry in partnership with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) think tank.

“Today, no country, big or small, is immune from this existential threat, particularly terrorism, actively supported and sponsored by states,” she said.

“In this digital age, the challenge is even greater, with a greater vulnerability to radicalisation.”

Sushma Swaraj recalled that in 1996 India proposed a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) but lamented it has remained just a draft till today “because we cannot agree on a common definition”.

“Ensuring zero-tolerance towards terrorism, and those who use it as an instrument of convenience, is the need of the hour,” she said.

The second threat, she said, is the threat of proliferation of WMDs.

Thirdly, she said, developing and under-developed nations are the worst victims of climate change, with neither the capacity nor the resources to meet the crisis.

“We have risen to meet the challenge. India, in partnership with France, launched the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with the participation of 120 countries,” Sushma Swaraj said.

Is is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims (Source of Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In her address, she also outlined the five elements of India’s global engagement over the last four-and-a-half years.

Firstly, Sushma Swaraj said, India has rebuilt its bridges with its immediate and extended neighbours.

“In particular, Prime Minister’s strategic vision of SAGAR has spurred a qualitative transformation in India’s engagement with the Indian Ocean Region in recent years,” she said.

“Our revitalised Act East and Think West paradigms have further broadened the reach of our strategic and economic neighbourhood.”

Secondly, Sushma Swaraj said, New Delhi is shaping its relationships in a manner that synchronises with India’s economic priorities.

“With this ‘diplomacy for development’ approach, each global interaction is now focussed on building partnerships to promote our transformative flagship programmes such as Make in India, Smart Cities, Digital India, AMRUT and Namami Gange,” she stated.

“Third, we are focussed on making India a human resource power to be reckoned with by connecting our talented youth to global opportunities.

Skill India Campaign is aimed at developing skills of Indian Youth. Twitter

“This is being achieved through Skill India partnerships with several countries, as well as under the aegis of the GIAN programme and various private sector partnerships under Digital India.”

Fourthly, the External Affairs Minister said, India is building sustainable development partnerships stretching from the Indian Ocean and Pacific Islands to the Caribbean, and from the continent of Africa to the Americas.

“These initiatives have expanded; both in geographical reach and sectoral coverage, and now include Lines of Credit and grants, technical consultancy, educational scholarships and a range of capacity-building programmes,” she said.

Finally, Sushma Swaraj said, India is leading the way in reconfiguring and reinvigorating global institutions and organisations.

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“Whether it is by founding the International Solar Alliance, which will benefit our energy security and also combat climate change; or our active role in humanitarian and disaster relief operations in our neighbourhood; or our membership of key institutions of global governance – India is a proactive and constructive contributor to promoting and upholding global peace and security,” she said.

This year’s Raisina Dialogue, which is in its fourth edition, is being attended by over 600 delegates from 92 countries, including influential political leaders, strategic thinkers, policy practitioners, technology innovators, business representatives and academics. (IANS)



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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)

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