9 PM Daily Brief – October 20th, 2020

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  1. Bangladesh’s Economic Success
  2. HIV and way forward
  3. UN Reforms


  1. Security and Terror Outfits
  2. It’s time to save urban rivers
  3. Boundary issues in northeast

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1. Bangladesh’s Economic Success

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Context: Regional implications of Bangladesh’s economic success


  • The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook has predicted that Bangladesh’s per capita GDP will overtake that of India this year.
  • International development institutions have asked the rest of the subcontinent and developing countries around the world to learn much from Dhaka’s experience or the Bangladesh model.

What are the regional implications of Bangladesh’s economic success?

  • Rise of Bangladesh: Over the last five decades, South Asia, for most purposes, has meant India and Pakistan. Now, the economic rise of Bangladesh is changing world’s South Asian perspective.
  • Fall of Pakistan as a power in south Asia: With the rise of Bangladesh GDP over Pakistan’s GDP, the Bangladesh will gain geopolitical importance steadily in coming years whereas the Geopolitical weight of Pakistan will continue to fall negative.
  • Promotion of regional integration: Bangladesh’s economic growth can accelerate regional integration in the eastern subcontinent. The BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) sub-regional forum will have more significance for India.
  • Increasing role of Bangladesh in Indo pacific: With the economic success of Bangladesh drawing attention from countries in East Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore and also the US, the status of Bangladesh as a global power is going to intensify in the new geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.
  • Enhanced opportunities for Eastern India: The economic rise of Bangladesh could boost India’s national plans to accelerate the development of its eastern and north-eastern states through connectivity and Integration.

What hinders India’s Cooperation with Bangladesh?

Progress in India- Bangla relations

  • Parliamentary approval of the boundary settlement in 2015.
  • India accepted the 2014 international arbitration award on the maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh.
  • Progress in strengthening economic ties and connectivity between eastern India and Bangladesh in recent years

Hindrance to India-Bangla relations

  • Though India and Bangladesh are eager to promote greater cooperation between West Bengal and Bangladesh there has been the little political will in Kolkata.
  • In case of Assam, the issue of migration continues to impose major political constraints.
  • Also, recent Citizenship Amendment Act has strained India-Bangla relations.

What is the way forward?

  • India should jointly develop and pursue with Dhaka an ambitious framework for shared prosperity that would help India consolidate the golden chapter in India-Bangla relations.
  • For this, India has to shift the focus from legacy issues to future possibilities.

2. HIV and way forward

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Health

Context: There is a reduction in new HIV infections among children and in AIDS-related deaths in India.

Discuss the developments made by India in tackling HIV-related infections and AIDS.

  • According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)/Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with the technical support of UNAIDS show that there has been a 66.1% reduction in new HIV infections among children and a 65.3% reduction in AIDS-related deaths in India over a nine-year period.
    • The number of pregnant women living with HIV has reduced from 31,000 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2019.
  • HIV testing has increased over time and within target range and treatment coverage has also expanded.
  • Under the leadership of NACO, a ‘Fast-Tracking of EMTCT (elimination of mother-to-child transmission) strategy-cum-action plan’ was drawn by June 2019, in the run towards December 2020: the deadline to achieve EMTCT.
    • The plan involved mobilisation and reinforcement of all national, State and partners’ collective efforts in a strategic manner, with district-level focus, and considering latest evidence so that the States/Union Territories and the country as a whole achieve the EMTCT goal.
  • India made important progress in reducing the HIV impact on children through prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 2010 to 2019.
    • This was done through education and communication programmes
    • Increased access to HIV services with innovative delivery mechanisms for HIV testing
    • Counselling and care
    • Treatment and follow-ups
  • India made HIV testing for all pregnant women free and HIV treatment is offered the same way countrywide without cost to pregnant mothers living with HIV through the national ‘treat all’ policy.
  • UNICEF has worked with the World Health Organization and NACO to find high burden districts (in terms of density of pregnant women living with HIV) for 2 years.
  • It is a challenge to diagnose 20,000 pregnant women living with HIV in an estimated 30 million pregnancies annually in India.
    • Since 2002 a series of implementation strategies were rolled out so that all pregnant women can access free HIV testing along with other services at pregnancy clinics, and free treatment routines for life to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to babies.
  • National Health Mission made this possible in government health centres and grass-root level workers through village health and nutrition days and other grass-roots events.
    • Using data-driven and decision-making approaches, we are certain that AIDS will no longer be a public health threat for children in India by the end 2030, if not before.

3. UN Reforms

Source- Live Mint

Syllabus- GS 2- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Context- UN  reforms are urgently required. India’s absence from UN decision-making structures and lack of genuine reforms might force India to look for alternatives.

What are the current issues of the UN?

  1. Ineffectiveness of UN-The UN has been unable to respond effectively to the once-in-a-century global crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
  • A global health pandemic should have been the high point of the multilateral search for a collective solution. Instead, it has turned out to be its nadir.
  1. Challenge to multilateralism– The rift between the permanent members of the Security Council has already started affecting the work of the UN Security Council.
  • China has stepped in to take advantage of the West’s retreat from multilateralism.
  • The U.S. withdrawing from multilateralism.
  • Brexit has shown that nationalism remains strong in Europe.

What steps should India take in future with regard to UN?

  1. Reforming UNSC – Equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC is the desired reform that India envisages.
  • It is not readily evident if the global multilateral order will be able to reform itself and cope with rising geopolitical tensions and new security challenges.
  1. Looking for Alternatives– If the extant multilateral order will not work to secure Indian interests, then India will have to look for alternatives.
  • Today, the Indo-Pacific is driving the global economic and political agenda. Global institutional frameworks should reflect this shift.
  • Reforming UN multilateralism is wishful thinking and countries like India should embrace plurilateral setups, where like-minded nations come together on common interests.

Way forward-

  • India called for a new template of multilateralism that reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare.
  • For India, the status quo is no longer a viable option. If UN reforms fail, New Delhi’s approach to the United Nations could significantly alter in the coming years as India would feel it necessary to look elsewhere for solutions.

4. Security and Terror Outfits

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs3: Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.

Context: During the pandemic, the terror activities around the world has decreased but once the pandemic eases, we may see a resurgence of terror.

The Doha Accord background

  • After 9/11 attacks, the U.S. intervened in Afghanistan immediately to capture Osama bin Laden and his associates.
  • However, the U.S ended up getting entangled with the Taliban and both remained hostile for several years.
  • Under Doha Accord, the Taliban and the U.S. are engaged in the process of brokering peace. In return for the Taliban’s promise to preserve peace in Afghanistan the U.S has agreed to a near total withdrawal of all its troops from Afghanistan.

What are the factors that makes the al-Qaeda and other terror outfits still relevant to India’s security?

  • They are threat to modern society, especially to India and its neighbourhood.
  • They attract misguided youth in India whose loyalties are extraterritorial.
  • Even though they are small in numbers, they can cause a ripple effect that can be devastating.
  • Terrorist cells are utilising this period for gathering resources for future lethal assaults against India and other countries in the neighbourhood.
  • The aggravating poverty in developing nations due to COVID-19 could offer a fertile ground for recruitment and intensified religious indoctrination of poverty ridden communities.
  • Unlike other outfits such as JeM, LeT, that are confined to the Afghanistan-Pakistan area, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State they have global reach backed by global ambitions.
  • Recent raids by the National Investigation Agency confirms the presence of al-Qaeda network in India who are conspiring to attack various targets, including the National Capital Region.
  • Once the pandemic eases, AL-Qaeda with other aggressive Islamic outfits in and around Pakistan is bound to escalate the offensive against India.

What are the Implications of Doha Accord for India?

  • The Taliban’s assurance to the U.S. that, as part of the agreement, it will keep the al-Qaeda under check seems doubtful.
  • The Taliban and the al-Qaeda need each other in many areas. Both are friendly towards Pakistan and could pose threat to India’s security in the near future.

Terror outfits may not indulge in  attacks like 9/11, but they will have the determination and prowess to carry out operations that can impact India’s border security.

Read also:-  Daily Current Affair

5. It’s time to save urban rivers

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: The article discusses about urban river pollution and solutions to address the same.

What is the Importance of Urban Rivers?

  • Rivers provide water, and provide habitats for plants and animals.
  • These are important to the city. For example, they have a cooling effect, help to lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and releasing moisture into the air.
  • They also manage floods as most of the plants species that grow on river banks absorb a lot of water, reducing flood energy.
  • Urban Rivers also provide space for social cohesion and socio-economic benefits to citizens.

What are the threats to urban rivers?

  • Unplanned urbanization: Rapid and unplanned urbanization leads to increase in impervious surfaces which, coupled with urban drainage systems, alters the hydrological regime, sediment regime morphology of rivers.
  • Water Pollution: point sources such as waste water from a tributary drain, sewage draining and grey water, industrial effluents and wastewater.
  • Encroachment: The fragmentation of vegetation in the riparian zone due to human settlements and construction

What are the institutional challenges in protecting urban rivers?

  • No specific land-use category or legislation which identifies the ‘River Regulation Zone’ or ‘River Riparian Zone’ and the optimum width of this zone has been identified in India.
  • India has various socio-cultural religious issues involved human activities in the rivers like mass idol immersion, cremation by river bank.
  • India has promoted ‘urban riverfront development’. However, this has been limited to cosmetic ‘river beautification’ and investment to increase its real estate and commercial value.

What is the way forward?

  • The solutions need to be multi-dimensional, holistic and should involve all relevant stakeholders.
  • The river front development should involve the community to be the key agents for action to mitigate problems related to river pollution.
  • The optimal land-use planning for the riverfront areas should be done by adding green spaces along the river edges.
  • Regulation and riparian limits should be framed for protection of the actual riverbeds and riparian fringes.
  • The encroachments inside the river channels and river beds should be checked and riparian fringes be fully protected along with strict and transparent social and environment impact assessments.
  • Yodogawa river side development in Osaka, Japan, and Room for the Rivers Programme in The Netherlands are best practices to refer to for successful models of riverfront development and other interventions at decentralised level.

6. Boundary issues in northeast

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Internal Security

Context: Residents of Assam and Mizoram have clashed twice over territory, injuring at least eight people and set fire to a few huts and small shops.

What were the recent clashes about?

  • Residents of Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district clashed with residents of localities near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
  • According to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area.
  • People from Lailapur broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts, in response people from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.
  • The Karimganj DC, said that even if the disputed land was historically cultivated by Mizoram residents, on paper it fell within the Singla Forest Reserve that is under Karimganj’s authority.
  • Mizoram civil society groups blame “illegal Bangladeshis” on the Assam side who came and destroyed huts, cut plants and pelted stones on policemen.

How complex is the boundary dispute?

  • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram is 165 km long and it dates back to the colonial era, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • The dispute branched from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that draws a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • Mizoram believes the boundary should be drawn on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873. 
  • Mizo leaders have argued in the past argued against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted and the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation. This was the point of conflict.
  • The last time the boundary saw violence was in February 2018 when the MZP had built a wooden rest house in a forest for farmers and Assam police with the forest department officials demolished it saying this was in Assam territory.

What are the other boundary issues in the Northeast?

  • During British rule, Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides Mizoram, which became separate state one by one. Today, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.
  • According to a 2008 research paper from the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, violent clashes and armed conflicts, marked by killings, have occurred on the Assam-Nagaland border since 1965.
  • In two major incidents of violence in 1979 and 1985, at least 100 persons were killed and the boundary dispute is now in the Supreme Court. Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam.
  • Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary (over 800 km), clashes were first reported in 1992, according to research paper from the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
  • There have been several charges of illegal intrusion from both sides, and recurrent clashes. This boundary issue is also being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The 884-km Assam-Meghalaya boundary faces clashes as well. There are 12 areas of dispute between the two states according to Meghalaya government.

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