The strategic partnership between India and Oman and highlights the importance of Oman in India's West Asia policy. It covers various aspects of the bilateral relationship, including trade, defense, security, and regional cooperation.
Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman is visiting India on a state visit.
This is his first visit to India since becoming Sultan in January 2020.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Oman in February 2018, where key agreements on trade, defence, and security were made.
Oman is strategically important to India due to its location and proximity as a neighbor in the Arabian Gulf region.
Oman, along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is one of India's key strategic partners in the Gulf region.
The ruling family of Oman has a strong connection with India, with Sultan Qaboos being favorably disposed towards India.
India and Oman have close ties at the people-to-people level, with a large Indian community residing in Oman.
Oman has been a consistent supporter of India, even during the Cold War era when other Arab countries were supportive of Pakistan.
Oman has pursued a foreign policy of moderation and mediation, maintaining deliberate neutrality in regional conflicts.
Oman has maintained close relations with western powers and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, while also maintaining a pragmatic approach towards Iran.
Oman played a key role in diffusing tensions between the United States and Iran during the Persian Gulf crisis in 2019.
Oman played a crucial role in the Iran nuclear deal in July 2015.
Oman refused to join Saudi Arabia and other countries in breaking diplomatic ties with Qatar during the GCC-Qatar diplomatic stand-off in June 2017.
Oman's importance in the region was confirmed by a surprise visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October 2018.
Oman is a crucial pillar of India's West Asia policy and the two countries have a strategic partnership based on mutual trust and shared interests.
Oman was invited by India as a guest nation during its G-20 presidency earlier this year.
Defence and security engagement is a key aspect of the strategic partnership between India and Oman.
Oman is the first Gulf country where all three wings of India's defence forces hold joint exercises.
Indian naval ships have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman for anti-piracy operations since 2012-13.
Oman allows Indian military aircraft to overfly or transit through its airspace.
Both countries have cooperated in ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Navy launched 'Operation Sankalp' during the Persian Gulf crisis in June 2019 to ensure the safe passage of Indian flagged ships, which often operated off the coast of Oman.
The MoU on Duqm Port is a significant development in security cooperation, providing basing facilities and logistics support to Indian naval ships in the region.
Trade and commerce are also important aspects of the India-Oman relationship.
Bilateral trade reached $12.388 billion in FY2022-23.
There are over 6,000 India-Oman joint ventures in Oman, with an estimated investment of over $7.5 billion.
India is the second largest market for Oman's crude oil exports after China.
In October 2022, India and Oman launched the Rupay debit card in Oman as part of India's initiative to promote digital public infrastructure globally.
India and Oman have signed an MoU on space cooperation during Prime Minister Modi's visit.
There is a possibility of an agreement on joint exploration of rare earth metals, which are important for modern electronic equipment.
The proposed India-Middle-East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEEC) infrastructure project could see Oman playing a significant role.
There is a proposal for a 1,400 km long deep-sea pipeline from Oman to India for the transfer of gas.
India is seeking deeper engagement and collaboration in West Asia, with Oman being an important pillar.
Any instability in the region has a direct impact on the safety and security of Indians working there, India's energy security, and trade relations.
Oman is India's oldest strategic partner in the region and an integral part of important groupings in the region.
Oman's ability to manage rival ideologies and power games in the region makes it important to India.
Oman is considered India's gateway to West Asia.
The visit of Oman's Sultan is timely and important for India and the region, especially with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The frequent floods in Chennai and the need for effective flood mitigation strategies. It raises important questions about the role of human errors and conventional wisdom in flood occurrences, and emphasizes the importance of learning from past extreme events. It also highlights the need to understand Chennai's hydrology and ecosystem, and suggests interventions to make the city flood resilient.
Unusually heavy rainfall years have become more frequent in recent decades in India, leading to more frequent floods in several parts of the country, including Chennai.
Chennai has experienced devastating floods in 2005, 2015, and 2023, with the flood in 2023 being considered the worst in the past 47 years.
The article raises questions about whether the floods are solely due to climate change or if human errors and blunders have also played a role.
It questions the effectiveness of conventional wisdom followed by the state in mitigating floods and droughts and emphasizes the need to learn from past extreme events.
The article also highlights the need to make Chennai flood resilient and to address the impact of coastal floods and rising seawater levels due to climate change.
It calls for decoding Chennai's urban and peri-urban hydrology, understanding its ecosystem, and implementing scientific interventions for flood mitigation, drought handling, and building climate-resilient strategies.
Chennai and adjoining districts have 3,588 irrigation tanks that are neglected and silted up.
These tanks were designed to have surplus water from upstream tanks feed into downstream tanks.
Neglect and siltation have led to low water storage and high run-off, causing damage to Chennai.
A study is needed to understand the water dynamics and map water bodies in the proposed Chennai Metropolitan Area.
Protection of water bodies from encroachments is crucial, including catchment areas, channels, flood plains, and bunds.
Restoration of water bodies to their original or increased capacity can help save excess water and reduce run-off.
Chennai has three rivers (Kosasthalaiyar, Cooum, and Adyar) and the Palar river that run through the city, making it geographically unique.
These rivers also have numerous tanks and the Buckingham canal, which cuts across all four rivers.
However, these major drainage systems are in bad shape due to encroachments and sludge deposits, leading to a loss of gravity and velocity.
Efforts have been made to restore these rivers and the Buckingham Canal, but conditions remain unsatisfactory.
Other macro and micro drains, as well as the Storm Water Drain network, also require year-long attention and maintenance.
Chennai's urban expansion is contributing to the worsening drainage situation.
Chennai city has experienced rapid urban expansion, which is irreversible and needs to be regulated.
The expansion has resulted in the loss of water bodies, marshlands, and wetlands.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority is planning to expand the CMA to cover more districts.
It is important for the authority to identify and protect ecological hotspots and "no development zones" in the Master Plan III.
By following appropriate measures, Chennai can prevent floods and ensure round-the-clock water supply even during drought years.
The recent resurgence in retail inflation in India and the risks posed by volatile food prices. It provides insights into the factors driving the increase in food prices, such as cereals and vegetables, and highlights the challenges policymakers face in controlling inflation.
Headline retail inflation in November rose to a three-month high of 5.55% year-on-year.
Food price gains measured by the Consumer Food Price Index increased by 209 basis points to 8.7%.
Cereals and vegetables were the main contributors to the surge in food prices.
Cereals saw double-digit inflation for the 15th straight month, with rice, wheat, and jowar experiencing sequential price gains.
Vegetable prices increased by almost 15 percentage points from October's rate, with tomato prices surging by 41% from the previous month.
Ginger and garlic registered inflation rates of over 100% for the seventh and third months, respectively.
Onion prices in India have seen a year-on-year inflation rate of 86% and a sequential inflation rate of 48%.
The government's ban on onion exports is unlikely to moderate prices due to a projected 25% shortfall in onion output during the key rabi season.
Potato prices have remained in deflationary territory, providing some relief.
Pulses and sugar are also areas of concern, with pulses experiencing over 20% inflation and sugar seeing an uptick in price gains to 6.55%.
Lower rainfall is expected to impact sugar production, adding to supply-related challenges.
The responsibility to control inflation falls on the government, as the RBI has chosen not to raise rates for now.
Failure to control inflation could lead to a decline in consumption and economic growth.