9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 15, 2021

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India – China Bilateral Relationship Demands a Minimalist Approach

Source: Click Here 

Syllabus: GS 2 –  India and its neighborhood- relations

SynopsisIndia and China should adopt a minimalist approach in their future negotiations. This would give better and realistic results rather than an idealist and unfulfilled expectation.


  • A track 2 dialogue held recently between China and India. In dialogue, a consensus was aimed at the adoption of a minimalist approach.
    • This approach focuses on low-hanging fruits that are easier to grab, rather than aiming for a full-scale solution.
  • This approach is emphasized because high expectations have failed to deliver credible results in the past. 

High Expectations and Unwanted Results:

  • In the 1950s, both countries idealized the restoration of pan-Asian civilizational partnership. However, this notion didn’t exist in reality and the two sides were confronting each other in the 1962 war.
  • Two informal summits took place in 2018 (Wuhan) and 2019 (Mamallapuram) aimed at everlasting peace between the countries. However, barely after two years, a grave border confrontation took place in eastern Ladakh. 

Therefore, the countries must focus on modest goals to improve the relations. The 3 areas that deserve priority in this regard are 1) border dispute, 2)trade, and 3) the role of other countries and multilateral platforms in bilateral relations. 

Current Situation of Border Dispute:

  • The border clash at Galwan Valley, Eastern Ladakh is going on for ten months.
  • It is the worst violence since 1967 and the de-escalation effort has reached an apparent stalemate.
  • There is no clarity over the withdrawal of armies along the north and south bank of Pangong lake, Eastern Ladakh. Further, no joint statement was released post 11th round of talks between Corps Commanders on April 9.
  • Thus, it appears that China is in no mood for a final settlement of the boundary question.

Equation on the trade front:

  • There were talks of decoupling Chinese trade post the Galwan valley stand-off. However, the latest trade data shows a different picture.
  • The figure stood at $87.6 billion where Chinese exports amounted to $66.7, making it India’s largest trading partner. Similarly, Chinese company Vivo sponsored India’s biggest cricket tournament.
  • The reliance is so high that complete decoupling is not possible in the near future.

Role of other countries and multilateral platforms in bilateral relations:

  • The track 2 dialogue made it clear that China views its relationship with India through its relations with the U.S. The country criticized the creation of small circles like QUAD group to undermine its national interest.
  • India too has shown discontent over its exclusion from China led small circles in South Asia and multilateral efforts on Afghanistan.

Way Forward:

  • The countries must curtail the mistrust between them. On boundary questions, they can at least bring clarity on most sensitive hotspots and do coordinate patrolling over them.
  • They should cooperate in areas that don’t have security implications. This includes infrastructure development, clean energy, etc.
  • A robust policy framework should be drawn for security-sensitive areas like 5G operations. This would protect India from every other malicious country, not solely from China.
  • The countries must leverage shared platforms to discuss their respective concerns pertaining to 3rd countries or any multilateral platform. These platforms are also useful for reviving and strengthening bilateral relations.
    • For instance, BRICS can be used for reviving bilateral cooperation in Afghanistan or developing vaccine initiatives as done by Quad.

Thus, both countries should focus on modest goals that may be more rewarding than misplaced expectations.

Degree of Trust in Public Institutions across different castes

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections


The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) tries to ascertain the degree of trust that people across different castes hold in public institutions. A thorough analysis of the data calls for strengthening trust, especially among the vulnerable sections.


  • The IHDS categorizes public institutions into state government, judiciary, and police. Caste categories are divided into General, OBCs, SCs, and STs.
  • The survey asks a question on the degree of confidence that people have over public institutions. 
  • This confidence indicates their trust in them and people can choose from – a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, and hardly any confidence.

Findings of IHDS:

  • Household Level:
    • Judiciary is most trusted followed by state governments and police in public institutions.
  • Across different Castes:
    • Maximum general category people have low confidence in public institutions.
    • A high proportion of OBCs displays great confidence in public institutions. A similar level of confidence is shown by STs.
    • SCs display the highest level of confidence in public institutions. Only a small proportion choose the ‘hardly any confidence’ option.

Analysing the Findings:

  • SCs display a very high degree of confidence in state governments. They largely depend on affirmative actions and state support. The government gives quotas to SCs, STs, and OBCs in education and public sector employment.
  • STs, on the other hand, display slightly less confidence than SCs due to their isolationist nature. It has devoid them of various social security nets.
  • The trust over the judiciary is quite high in comparison to state governments across all the castes. Eg- three-fourths of STs reported a great deal of confidence. This is surprising given the judicial overload of cases and prolonged delays.
  • The overall confidence over police is also low with only 13-18% showing great confidence. Further SCs and STs have very little confidence in them due to the rampant corruption and discrimination against lower castes.

Need for strengthening Trust:

  1. Positive Correlation: There exists a positive relationship between trust and quality of governance or any other outcome.
    • For instance, greater trust results in better functioning of financial markets as the higher the trust, the higher is the credibility of debtors.
    • Similarly, greater trust manifests higher levels of cooperative relations between labour and management. It results in better functioning of labour markets. 
      • Eg. – Firms that have trade unions are better able to adapt to new management methods, and show better productivity.
  2. Declining Trust: The trust in institutions rose from 2005 to 2012. However, it is now showing a downward trend due to:
    • Non-inclusive policies of the government
    • Substandard judicial verdicts that compromise on autonomy and fairness
    • Also, due to,  action of Police that undermines rights of citizens

We need to transition to a policy environment that is inclusive and transparent. It is a challenging task that could be facilitated with growing awareness among the citizens.

Issue of Freedom of Navigation in EEZs

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS

Synopsis: States should consult the coastal state before conducting military exercises in an exclusive economic zone.


The USS John Paul Jones conducted a ‘Freedom of Navigation Operation’ 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands. The operation took place inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This exercise was conducted without asking for India’s consent.

  • The U.S. 7th Fleet said that India’s emphasis on prior consent is inconsistent with international law.
  • India stated that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “does not allow other States to carry out military exercises in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf without the consent of the coastal state”.

Explain the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?

UNCLOS binds all its parties and customary international law binds all states. India is a member of the UNCLOS while the U.S. is not. According to the UNCLOS, EEZ is an area next to the state waters of a coastal state where the state has rights and duties.

  1. Firstly, the right and duties involve management of natural resources; formation and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures; marine scientific research; and protection of the marine environment.
  2. Secondly, the present issue highlights Articles 58 and 87 of the UNCLOS. Article 58 (1) provides that in the EEZ, all States enjoy the freedoms referred to in Article 87 of navigation.
    • Article 87 offers freedom of the high seas under which all states have the freedom of navigation. However, the freedom of navigation is subject to the conditions provided under the UNCLOS.
    • Article 58 (3) specifies that, in the EEZ, States shall respect the rights and duties of the coastal State and shall obey the laws adopted by the coastal State.
    • The Indian law relating to this is the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone, and Other Maritime Zones of India Act, 1976.
  3. Thirdly, the assertion by India in 1995 told that the Convention does not allow other States to carry out military exercises in the EEZ. The event involving the use of weapons or explosives without the consent of the coastal State is not allowed.
  4. Fourthly, Article 310 of the UNCLOS allows the states to explain the relationship between the Convention and their own laws. However, such statements should not modify the legal effect of the provisions of this Convention.

What should be done?

  • Freedom of navigation cannot be read in a complete and isolated manner. Non-consensual military activities that obstruct the lawful enjoyment of such rights need not be allowed.
  • A coastal state is worried about military exercises posing a risk to its coastal communities, its installations or artificial islands, and the marine environment. Any state who wants to conduct such exercises must do so after consultation with the coastal state.
  • India and the U.S. should discuss such concerns and maintain international peace and security. Otherwise, it might threaten friendly relations and undermine the progress towards codification and development of international law which is particularly complex.

Chenab Bridge – An Icon of Indian Railways Heritage

Source- Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3 –  Economy – Infrastructure.

Synopsis – Indian Railway is building modern engineering marvels such as Chenab Bridge and Anji Khad Bridge. Decades from now, they will serve as the Railways’ heritage.


  • Over the last 160 years, railway engineers built a number of ‘Mega Structures,’ including railway bridges.
  • The Indian Railway has 1,50,390 Bridges, out of which 702 are important, 12,256 major and 1,37,432 minor bridges.
  • According to 2015 CAG report there are 36,470 Bridges which are more than 100 years old and 6,680 Bridges more than 140 years old.
  • Causey Arch in England, designed in 1725-26, is the world’s oldest surviving railway bridge.

Challenges during construction of Railway bride in Hilly areas

Tough Terrain- Bridge building in a hilly area presents its own set of challenges. The climatic conditions, geological features, and hydrological parameters differ greatly in a hilly environment. It makes construction conditions difficult.

  • Deep gorges, severely cold temperatures, rivers with bouldery beds, strong winds, landslides are some example of obstacles in building bridges in hilly areas.

Examples of modern marvel of Indian Bridge-

  • Irang Bridge – In Manipur, Indian Railways is building the world’s tallest pier bridge across the river Ijai. The pier bridge will be 141 metres tall surpassing the existing record of 139 metres of the Mala-Rijeka Viaduct in Europe.
  • New Pamban bridge – Indian Railways first vertical lift rail-sea bridge. The New Pamban Bridge will be over 2 kilometers long when completed. It will allow ships and steamers to pass. 
  • Bogibeel Bridge – Bogibeel Bridge, on the Brahmaputra River in Assam, is India’s longest rail-road bridge.
  • Chenab Bridge – Across the Chenab river, the world’s highest steel arch bridge is being built. It has a height of 359 metres from the bed level to the centre of the arch. Chenab Bridge will term as a future icon of Indian Railways heritage.

What is the difference between Tallest Bridge and Highest Bridge?

  • Tallest Bridge – Distance from the highest portion of the bridge to the surface of the water.
  • Highest Bridge- The highest Bridge is defined in terms of deck height. The deck height of a bridge is the maximum vertical drop distance between the bridge deck and the ground or water surface beneath the bridge span.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 15 Apr, 2021

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