India-Malaysia Defence Cooperation Meeting

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    In News

    • India and Malaysia’s Defence Ministers held talks to deepen ties.

    Key Points

    • Background: The interaction among the two defence ministers comes at a time when India’s indigenously manufactured light combat aircraft Tejas is in the fray for a Malaysian fighter jet contract.
      • India has offered a dual package for the indigenous fighter jets as well as maintenance of the Russian origin Su30 MKM aircraft being operated by Malaysia.
    • Chinese Angle: Malaysia is going for acquisitions following the recent intrusion of their airspace by Chinese jets. 
    • India is tapping into Kuala Lampur, which is also facing the heat of an aggressive China in the South China Sea and on other issues such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

    Malaysia India Defence Cooperation Meeting (MIDCOM)

    • The Defence Ministers of both the nations discussed widening of existing defence cooperation activities and framework. They further deliberated ways to enhance the existing Malaysia India Defence Cooperation Meeting (MIDCOM) framework.
    • The next MIDCOM to be held in July 2022, will pave the way for a deeper engagement in the defence domain between both the countries.
    • The Indian Defence Minister suggested a visit of senior officers from Malaysia to India to get first-hand experience of the facilities and products of the Indian Defence ecosystem.
    • The need for inducting women personnel in peacekeeping missions was also discussed. 
      • Additionally, both nations agreed to engage each other on this issue
      • It was also agreed to upgrade capability for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

    India Malaysia Relations

    • Origin:
      • India established diplomatic relations with the Federation of Malaya (predecessor state of Malaysia) in 1957. 
      • India is represented in Malaysia through the High Commission of India based in Kuala Lumpur. 
      • Malaysia is represented in India through their High Commission in New Delhi and Consulates General in Mumbai and Chennai. 
    • Defence Cooperation:
      • Origin: India and Malaysia share an upstanding defence relations, which has gained momentum in the last few years. 
      • In 1993, India & Malaysia signed an MoU on Defence Cooperation, which is the cornerstone of defence relations between the two countries.
      • Visits: The Malaysian Defence Minister visited India in June 2006 and in April 2017. The Indian Defence Minister visited Malaysia in January 2008 and again in November 2015 (multilateral).
      • The 11th Malaysia-India Defence Cooperation Meeting (MIDCOM) chaired by the Secretaries of the two Defence Ministries, was held in Kuala Lumpur on 21th November 2018.
      • Previously, the 6th Army to Army Staff Talks were held in May 2017 in Kuala Lumpur. The 8th Air Force to Air Force Staff Talks were held in Kuala Lumpur on 14-16 February 2018.
      • Further, the 7th Navy to Navy Staff Talks were held in July 2018 between both the nations. 
      • Enhancing the air reconnaissance capacity, the Indian Air Force Pilots trained Malaysian counterparts on Su–30 MKM aircrafts in 2008-2010, of which the initial phase of the training was conducted in India and final phase in Malaysia.
      • Both nations also share a strong bond in helping each other at the time of exigency
      • Subsequently, India also deployed C130J and P8I Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft to assist in search of the Malaysian aircraft.
      • Exercise: Joint military exercises “Harimau Shakti” are held annually between the two countries.
    • Economic Relations:
      • India and Malaysia signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) on 1 July 2010, which came into force from 1 July 2011. 
      • India signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in services and investments with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in September 2014. 
      • Malaysia is India’s third largest trading partner in ASEAN and India is the largest trading partner for Malaysia from among the countries of the South, excluding China. 
      • Trade is significantly biassed in favour of Malaysia. 
    • Recent Changes:
      • Recently, India resumed its palm oil import from Malaysia after a ban of the nearly four-month period with an order worth 200,000 tonnes of crude palm oil. 
      • This move comes after the regime change in Malaysia. 
    • Cultural Links:
      • Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), Kuala Lumpur, under ICCR was established in February 2010 and conducts classes in Carnatic Vocal, Kathak dance, Yoga, Hindi language and Tabla by trained teachers from India and Malaysia. 
      • More than 500 students have benefited from the classes at ICC. 
      • ICC collaborates with various cultural institutions in Malaysia to promote Indian culture in various parts of Malaysia. 
    • Traditional Medicine: 
      • ICC also hosts a Library and an AYUSH Information Cell to disseminate authentic information on AYUSH systems of medicines. 
      • India and Malaysia signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine. 
      • The Ministry of Health of Malaysia has been working to popularise AYUSH systems in Malaysia. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy systems are practised in Malaysia
    • Person of Indian Origin:
      • Malaysia has one of the largest communities of Persons of Indian Origin in the world, numbering close to 2 million (about 7 to 8% of Malaysia’s population). 
      • The overwhelming numbers of PIOs are Tamil speaking, with significant people speaking Telugu, Malayalam and Punjabi as well.
      • There are over 130,000 Indian expats legally employed in Malaysia in the skilled and semi-skilled category. 

    Way Ahead

    • The two sides should work together to reactivate bilateral mechanisms in various areas.
    • India and Malaysia reviewed their whole range of bilateral relations and expressed hope for a faster recovery in the post-Covid period, taking into account both sides’ shared determination to increase collaboration in a wide range of areas. This should continue for long times to come.
    • Common issues like China’s dominance should be made common ground for bettering the relationship.

    About Light Combat Aircraft programme

    • It was conceptualised in the 1980s and the first flight of the LCA technology demonstrator was held in January 2001.
      • The indigenous single-engine 4.5 generation multi-role fighter jet christened as ‘Tejas’ has come a long way both in terms of the maturity of the platform as well as the overall aircraft development programme despite repeated delays and cost overruns. 
      • In all, 123 LCA aircraft of various configurations are on order so far.
    • It was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency under the Department of Defence Research and Development.
      • It replaced the ageing Mig 21 fighter planes.
    • Features:
      • The lightest, smallest and tailless multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.
      • Owing to their smaller size, LCAs have better manoeuvrability. 
        • Better manoeuvrability helps in getting into better positions faster to fire and score the kill.
      • Designed to carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided, weapons.
      • Air to air refuelling capability.
    • Objectives:
      • To develop LCA for the IAF and simultaneously reduce the gap in the field of aeronautical technology available in India and the advanced nations of the West. 

    Source: BL