9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 10th, 2021

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
  • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Mains Oriented Articles


GS Paper 1

A caste census will serve no clear worthy purpose

Source: LiveMint

Syllabus: GS 1  – Communalism, regionalism & secularism

Relevance: Understand the challenges with the caste census in India.

Synopsis: There are proposals to revive the caste-based census in the National Census of 2021. But introducing them is not easy, and the caste census has certain challenges.

Introduction

With census fast approaching, some sections argue the need to include caste in the Census questionnaire. While there are merits to this argument, the state should be extremely cautious of this move.

Why do certain sections favour such a move?

  • It will help identify inequities suffered by backward classes.
  • It will help in better targeting of Government welfare schemes.
  • Since job and education quotas are based on caste, this will help in evidence-based policymaking. The current policies are based on the last caste census, which was conducted in 1931.
  • SECC which was conducted to overcome this did not release its findings.

What are the challenges surrounding this move?

  • Such a move requires detailed deliberation, for which the time is less.
  • Any such last-minute move to change the questionnaire could delay the census.
  • As India seek to eliminate and weaken the notion of caste, such a caste-based census would only strengthen it.

Way forward

The state should not enumerate citizens based on caste until it is badly needed. The state should focus on Governance and implementation for better outcomes of schemes.


GS Paper 2

The importance of the Gulf in shaping the geopolitics of Afghanistan

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations (IR)

Relevance: Understanding the Afghan issue from a regional perspective.

Synopsis: Importance of the Gulf countries in shaping the geopolitics of Afghanistan.

Background

The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the US began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1. The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.

The meetings of the “extended troika” this week in Doha, Qatar, are apparently aimed at reversing the current dangerous turn towards anarchy in Afghanistan.

  • Troika-plus: Troika-plus meeting, to discuss ways to advance intra-Afghan talks in Doha, is scheduled to be held this week. Troika-plus-Pakistan meeting involves consultations between the US, Russia, China, Pakistan along with the representatives of the Afghanistan government, Taliban, and other senior Afghan leaders
  • Troika: US-Russia-China troika was set up in 2019 at Moscow’s initiative to support the negotiations for a peace settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It has taken an “extended” form with the inclusion of Pakistan this year.

Note: India is not a part of Troika-plus.

Gulf countries have played a significant role in shaping geopolitics of Afghanistan.

Role of gulf countries

Over the decades, different nations from the Gulf have sought to influence the outcomes in Afghanistan.

  1. Qatar (Doha): The capital of the tiny state of Qatar, is now the main venue for the so-called peace talks on Afghanistan. Since 2011, it has formally hosted the Taliban delegation in Doha and taken the lead in promoting the so-called peace process in Afghanistan. For Doha, this peace process was very much part of its promotion of political Islam in the Greater Middle East and the subcontinent. It has also aligned with Turkey President’s similar objectives in the region.
  2. Saudi Arabia & UAE: After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan at the end of 1979, Saudi Arabia poured in significant resources to support the US-Pak mobilisation of a jihad in the 1980s against the communists in Kabul. And when the Taliban took charge of Afghanistan in 1996, Saudi and UAE were the only countries, other than Pakistan, to recognise the new political dispensation.
    • Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken a back seat in the current regional diplomacy on Afghanistan. In recent years, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had sought to promote political reconciliation in Afghanistan but had little success in nudging the Taliban towards moderation.
  3. Iran: Before Arabs of the Gulf gained prominence in Afghanistan, it was Shah of Iran, whose close ties with the United States had made him the main regional actor in South West Asia. Well before the oil boom, the Shah sought to build a federation of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, promote regional connectivity, and lead the economic modernization of South West Asia.
    • The developments in Iran — ouster of the Shah and the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979 — and the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 marginalised Iran from the Afghan geopolitics in the 1980s. But not for long.
    • Iran was back in the game during the 1990s as it worked with Russia and India to back the anti-Taliban coalition. Tehran also extended support for Washington’s efforts to oust the Taliban from power after the 9/11 attacks.
    • But once the US declared Iran as part of the “axis of evil” in 2002, Tehran and Washington have been at odds in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

There are too many independent actors in the region with high stakes in Afghanistan. They will figure out ways and means to cope with the new Afghan dynamic. India’s intensifying consultations with Iran is one example. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose interests are threatened by Taliban’s religious extremism, are not going to sit back forever. Integration of the Gulf into India’s regional security calculus is now likely to be a permanent feature.


Here’s a sure-fire way to boost your count of Olympic medals

Source: live mint 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies and interventions

Synopsis:

Empirical data shows that the host country gets benefitted from hosting the Olympics. It raises their medal count.

Background:

Hosting Olympic Games is an economic disaster, even in non-pandemic times. A recent estimate suggests that the cost doubled from initial expectations to $15.4 billion. This includes an additional $3 billion due to the one-year delay and related pandemic-control measures.

Nonetheless, there exists a positive correlation between hosting and medals won by a country. The empirical data shows that GDP, growth rate, population, etc. variables are not a guarantee of more medals, but hosting is. 

Boost to the host country:

  1. A look at the count of gold, silver, and bronze shows that the host country gets a significant boost, one that persists in subsequent games. 
  2. Japan’s incredible haul for Tokyo 2020, with 27 gold medals, puts it third behind the US and China. Significantly, it captured the top prize in 7.9% of all events. It is much higher than 3.9% in Rio 2016 and 2.3% for London 2012. 
  3. Spain’s Golden Games (Host) at Barcelona in 1992 saw it grab 5% of the gold on offer, putting it sixth. 
  4. Australia jumped from 3.3% in its Green Games (the event prior to hosting) to 5.3% in Sydney 2000. It climbed to 5.7% four years later in Athens, then slid to 4.6% in Beijing.

Analyzing other variables:

  • There’s little to suggest any connection between the Olympics and economic performance. Being rich doesn’t hurt, with the US consistently near the top. China’s increasing wealth over the past 30 years to become the world’s second-largest economy has coincided with its increasing share of medals. But then, the Indian economy is also very big, but its performance shows a different result.
  • Thus, medal performance cannot be explained by GDP growth. China has expanded along with its sporting might, yet Vietnam’s incredible rise since 1990 comes with minimal improvement in athletic results.
  • Population too doesn’t correlate with performance, as India, Indonesia, and Pakistan all lag in medals despite having a high population.

Conclusion:

Doubtless, there are numerous contributors to performance, including institutionalized support for athletic programs, access to facilities and coaching, and illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But the data indicate that the best way to boost results is to enjoy the home-ground advantage.


Jal Jeevan Mission: Flowing in the right direction

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Synopsis:

Jal Jeevan Mission promises to go down in history as an iconic development initiative. Its objectives can be duly achieved by encouraging greater participation of corporations and charitable trusts towards it.

Background:

Rural India has 18.93 crore households, of whom only 17 percent had some version of a tap water connection. Realizing this disparity, the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) was launched by the Indian PM on 15th August 2019.

About Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • It aims to deliver a functional tap connection by 2024 to every household in rural India.
  • The total mission outlay has been estimated at Rs 3.60 trillion, of which Rs 2.08 trillion is the share of the Central government.

Read moreJal Jeevan mission

Benefits of JJM:

  • The expected outcomes are linked to a reduction in drudgery in the life of women and providing dignity of life to rural communities.
  • The Mission will also see the skill-development of an entirely new set of plumbers, masons, pump-mechanics, quality-control specialists across Bharat — opening up a vast job market. 
    • At 15 new jobs per village, there would be an addition of 90 lakh new jobs in rural India. 

Progress of JJM:

  • The reported progress to date has been more than satisfactory. It has met around 41% of its target as of July 2021. It does appear that by 2024, the overall target can be achieved. 
  • This by itself will be commendable considering the federal structure of our polity, the diversity of the water-source challenge in different geographies, and the sheer granularity of the deliverables.

Other measures that JJM can take:

  • Experts suggest launching an aggressive outreach program for corporations, trusts, and foundations in India and abroad. This may enable them to participate in this historic drive by adopting a cluster of villages.
  • Further, the evolution of the Pani Samitis into local Water Utilities can be widened to include electricity, public health, and education. 
  • The numerous incidences of contamination of groundwater with fluoride, arsenic, iron, salinity, nitrate, and heavy metals are posing quite a challenge. 
    • A dedicated technical team to address the long-term elimination of these conditions will be a blessing to the affected communities.

Uncaging the Indian tiger from attestations and thumb prints

Source: Livemint 

Syllabus: GS2 – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors

Relevance: Significance of digital empowerment of States

Synopsis: States must increase the adoption of digital technology to boost the overall ease of doing business. Presently, despite many initiatives by central government, states lag behind implementing digital solutions, resulting in a low ease of doing business.

What is e-Rupi?
  • This pre-paid voucher is provided directly to beneficiaries via a QR code or SMS.
  • It doesn’t require an internet connection, a smartphone, or an app, and, most importantly, is person and purpose dependent.
  • The service provider gets paid in a timely manner but only after providing the service such as medical care, medicines, nutritional support, books, subsidies, etc.
  • It is done by redeeming the e-voucher that’s been paid for by the sponsor, such as the government, a philanthropic foundation, or a private- sector Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

Despite the launch of various digital initiatives like e-RUPI, the ease of doing business in states lags behind due to varioud issues.

Issues
  • Model laws prepared by centre, but implementation left with states as they see fit.
  • Poor digital capacity of states: States have complex and tedious procedures to register a company involving filling of too many forms, resulting in an increased compliance burden. This also results in huge amount of productive time being wasted.
Way forward

Hence, the digital capacity of states in terms of their awareness and readiness to deploy solutions needs to be significantly enhanced for the benefits of digitization to flow to businesses.


Years after Indo-US nuclear deal, very little progress on n-deal projects

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2- Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

Relevance – Nuclear energy Development in India.

Synopsis: A picture of the slow progress of greenfield projects under the Indo-US nuclear deal. Current scenario of some projects.

Background

Signed in 2005, the 123 agreement signed between the United States of America and the Republic of India is known as the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Objectives

  • As per the deal, India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear activity.
  • India also agreed to open up the civilian part to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • In return, the US offered to resume full nuclear trade (selling of reactors, transfer of technology, Uranium sale) with India, ending its nuclear ostracism.
  • A major aspect of the Indo-US nuclear deal was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave a special waiver to India that enabled it to sign cooperation agreements with a dozen countries
Current scenario
  • Other than the imported Russian-built reactor-based project in Tamil Nadu (Kudankulam) under an earlier 1998 agreement, progress of greenfield projects since the Indo-US nuclear deal has been slow.
  • The US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since the 2008 pact and two subsequent agreements were signed only in 2016 and 2019.
    • A “project proposal” to set up six reactors in collaboration with Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) has been announced.
    • However, the work is yet to begin.
  • Another major project involved the French state-owned operator Areva, which was subsequently taken over by the French electricity utility EDF, also controlled by the state.
    • EDF is learnt to have submitted to NPCIL this year a “binding techno-commercial offer to supply engineering studies and equipment” for the construction of six EPR reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
    • This will effectively enable discussions aimed at a binding framework agreement in the coming months, and the submission of EDF’s non-binding proposal at the end of 2018.
  • The project in Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh, about 260 km from Visakhapatnam, will comprise six AP-1000 reactor units of 1208 MWe (mega watt electric) capacity each.
    • In May 2017, the Union Cabinet gave it “in-principle” approval.
    • WEC’s AP-1000s are Light Water Reactors, like the ones being set up in collaboration with Russia in Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam, where water is used both as coolant and moderator. WEC has been negotiating to build reactors in India since the nuclear deal was inked.
    • The project came under a cloud after WEC filed for bankruptcy.

Terms to know


Protection from Police

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus:  GS-2 Polity and Governance: Important aspects of institutional and other measures

Relevance: The article highlights the police actions on vulnerable people and steps to stop the custodial deaths

 Synopsis:

The CJI has raised concerns over the threat of human rights issues in police custody. CJI’s remarks should expedite steps to stop custodial torture.

Introduction:

Recently, the CJI observed that Custodial violence and other police atrocities still prevail in our society despite various constitution safeguards. Further, the Ministry of Home Affairs has reported that 348 custodial deaths and 1,189 cases of torture by the police were reported in the last 3 years alone.

Read more: Threat to human rights is highest in police stations: CJI

 Constitutional Provisions to protect people from custodial torture

Article 20 (3): says that no person “shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”.

Article 21:  Provides protection of life and liberty.

Similar provisions have also been provided in IPC and CrPC to protect individuals but they are not relevant to the present time.

Problems with these provisions:

These provisions do not act as deterrence to police as they are backed by political parties. There have been cases of use of police for political purposes and killing of suspected criminals in encounters

 What needs to be done?

  1. Reforms in police and criminal justice system to ensure speedy delivery of justice
  2. No political interference
  3. Police departments should be adequately manned and equipped with modern techniques of investigation

Misinformation through Feminist Lens

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Women and related issues

Relevance: Understand misinformation against women

Synopsis: The Internet has empowered society,  but also created a new threat of disinformation against women. This needs a detailed analysis as a healthy democracy should empower and protect the entire society.

About the misinformation on Gender:

Sexism and online harassment prevent women from taking vocal stands and hinder progress. Men are at the centre of this disinformation. Men manufacture such false news and also fall for it.

They also indulge in disinformation to keep propaganda, including political propaganda alive. Such misinformation has been empowered by the arrival of the internet.

Major problems:

  • Women are not heard and shut down by sexism or threat of violence.
  • There are many sexist groups like ‘sharing is caring’ which indulge in defaming and sexist activities.
  • UNESCO report pointed that political actors fuel and instigate online violence campaigns against women journalists.

Misinformation and Sexism: These two share a symbolic relationship. Misinformation piggybacks on sexism to discredit vocal women, and sexism uses misinformation to reinforce patriarchal norms.

Examples of Feminist movements:

However, there are examples of some feminist movements, that have strengthened democracy.

  1. Efforts of Savitrabai Phule to bring reforms in modern education in 1800s with her husband Jyotirao Phule (Shudra) support when education was restricted to the elite class
  2. Contribution of gay women lawyers Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, who reformed the LGBTQ movement and won the landmark case in 2018 which decriminalize gay sex

Way Forward: We need to promote a more democratic society, as a healthy democracy is participatory and promotes gender inclusiveness.

 


GS Paper 3

Explained: Electricity amendment bill 2021 —why are states such as WB opposing it?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: Energy, changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

Relevance: Resolving issues with the discom-sector.

Synopsis: The Central government is facing opposition to the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 even before it is introduced in Parliament. Examining key concerns being raised.

Context

West Bengal Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister requesting that the Bill not be brought before Parliament claiming it was “anti-people” and would promote crony capitalism.

Must Read: Electricity Amendment bill 2021 – Explained

Note: For a better understanding of the issue, please read about the amendment bill first.

Concerns

States have expressed various concerns against the bill:

  • Ignoring of residential & agri consumers: States have highlighted concerns that allowing the entry of private players could result in private players providing power to only commercial and industrial consumers and not residential and agricultural consumers. Amendment would therefore lead to a concentration of private, profit-focussed utility players in the lucrative urban-industrial segments, while poor and rural consumers would be left to be tended by public sector discoms.
  • Higher penalties for failure to meet Renewable energy Purchase Obligations (RPOs)
  • The requirement that Regional Load Dispatch Centres and State Load Dispatch Centres follow instructions by the National Load Dispatch Centre.

Pegasus scandal points to the making of a surveillance state in India

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3 – Security

Relevance: Understanding increasing state surveillance in India, measures to safeguard privacy.

Synopsis: There seems to be a concerted effort to create a surveillance state, monitor free flow of information and use technology to control instead of empowering citizens. Increasing rate of surveillance in India and measures that must be taken to counter it.

Surveillance projects by Indian govt 
  • Facial recognition: On March 11, the Indian government announced the adoption of facial recognition technology enabled surveillance. Using photographic and other information from government “databases”, 1,100 individual participants in the Delhi riots had been identified. When other advanced democracies, including the European Union and several states in the US, have been slowing down or stopping use of facial recognition in the public sphere altogether, here in India, we seem to be traveling at top speed in the other direction.
  • CMS, NATGRID and NETRA: There are at least three other projects that are building a 360-degree surveillance mechanism by the government. These projects, namely CMS (Central Monitoring System Project), NATGRID and NETRA, operate under complete secrecy without any publicly available information.
    • NATGRID was built with an intent to enable government agencies to get information such as bank account details and transaction details, in violation of the principles which were laid down in the Supreme Court’s Puttaswamy judgment.
Measures
  1. Pressure must be kept on the government to take suitable action.
  2. An independent inquiry commission must be set up. This commission should not be headed by one or two Supreme Court judges, but by a panel consisting of members of judiciary, civil society and technical experts. Matter should not go to CBI.
  3. In the absence of an independent judicial inquiry ordered by the Supreme Court, states should order the kind of investigations the state of West Bengal has ordered.
  4. All the victims should approach courts, police and ask for their rights to be enforced. Courts should stop buying the argument of national security every time, and should not allow governments to use the market to create an infrastructure of surveillance.
  5. Government’s right to have continuous access to our data, without adequate safeguards, should also be held a violation of constitutional human rights.
  6. Information about the three surveillance projects, namely CMS, NATGRID and NETRA, should be publicly available and they must be subject to the principles laid down in the Puttaswamy case.
  7. Parliament should be persuaded to frame a law containing a strong personal privacy charter protecting the right to be free from collection and mass data analysis that are demonstrably harmful. Such an Act should not have any exceptions. It should subject all government surveillance — and government use of private surveillance technologies — to the rule of law.

Migration from factories to farms, a sign of distress

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economy 

Synopsis:

The government’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report shows a sharp increase in employment in agriculture. It has increased to 45.6% in 2019-20, compared to 42.5% of the total employment in 2018-19. This is a sign of distress as migration to agriculture has been due to compulsion and not in wake of better opportunities.  

Background:

The government’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report shows a sharp increase in employment in agriculture from 2018-19 to 2019-20. The survey findings show a similar trend as shown by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE’s) – Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS). The CPHS also showed a rise in agricultural employment and a decline in manufacturing jobs.

About Periodic Labour Force Survey:

  • The PLFS is an annual survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO). 
  • It was started in 2017, and it essentially maps the state of employment. 
  • In doing so, it collects data on variables such as the level of unemployment, the types of employment and their respective shares, etc.

Key Findings of the Survey:

  • A sharp increase in employment in agriculture is witnessed, from 42.5% of the total employment in 2018-19 to 45.6% in 2019-20
  • The biggest increase in employment in 2019-20, within agriculture, was largely among women. Nearly 60% of all employed women were engaged in agriculture.
  • According to the PLFS, the share of manufacturing in total employment fell from 12.1% to 11.2%. 
    • Of all the specific sectors for which PLFS provides data, the manufacturing sector saw the biggest fall (0.9 percentage points). 
    • The next largest loser is construction (0.5 percentage points). 
    • And then it is transport, storage and communication (0.3 percentage points).

Analyzing the Key Findings:

  • The reverse migration from factories to farms has enhanced due to a reduced growth rate in the economy and the job losses due to the Pandemic.
  • Further, such a large shift of labour in favour of agriculture is involuntary. It is a sign of distress in the labour market, where non-agricultural sectors are unable to provide employment and labour is forced to shift to agriculture.
    • The forced or at least involuntary nature of this migration is evident from the wages data provided by the PLFS. 
    • Salaried jobs provide wages of the order of Rs.16,780 per month which translate into wage rates of Rs.558 per day.
    • In comparison, casual labour which is the type of employment provided by agriculture yields much lower wages – of the order of Rs.291 per day. 
  • The safety net provided by agriculture reduces the political pressure that widespread unemployment could have created.
  • Presence of a huge number of females in the agriculture sector shows the domination of poor quality of employment that women get in India.
  • It can also be deduced that large parts of employment from the relatively unorganised construction sector and the unorganised manufacturing sector moved into agriculture.
  • Government efforts to boost manufacturing through production linked incentives or liquidity support to medium and small scale enterprises have not been effective in stemming the decline of manufacturing in India.

The foreign stimulus

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economy

Synopsis:

Foreign money pouring into the start-up universe may finally provide the stimulus to the economy that the government was unable to provide. This money would help the country to achieve a sustained growth rate of 7% for the coming years.

Background:

  • The Indian start-up scene is on fire. In the first six months of calendar 2021, $10 billion was raised by start-ups and private companies in India. In July, another $10 billion was raised, led by the mammoth $3.6 billion by Flipkart, the single largest fundraising by a private company in India. 
  • At this rate, in 2021, we may see almost $40 billion being pumped into the Indian private company universe by global capital. This surge points to the faith shown by investors in the Indian Economy.

Factors pointing towards a robust future growth of the Indian Economy:

First, money raised by the start-up/private ecosystem will be spent to hire people, build infrastructure, strengthen the core tech, accelerate demand and build the brand.

Second, experts have predicted a strong revival of the IT sector. Attrition has rocketed (Cognizant just reported attrition of 31%) and salary hikes are accelerating. 

  • Attrition is defined as the natural process by which employees leave the workforce (through resignation or retirement) and are not immediately replaced.

Third, there is a clear trend of higher value-added manufacturing relocating to India. The trend is a result of the Production Linked Incentives schemes, China+1 strategy adopted by most MNC’s or structural industry change. 

  • It is noticeable particularly in specialty chemicals, API, precision manufacturing in automotive and light engineering, and textiles. As a result, exports will accelerate, after almost five years of no growth.

Fourth, there is a clear reversal in the real estate sector. Housing demand is strong and pricing is improving. It is only a matter of time before new construction begins to pick up. 

  • This sector has been under serious stress for almost five years now. A recovery here will be a big multiplier, as it creates low-skill jobs and pulls in demand for cement/steel, and helps clean up the non-performing asset mess.

Way Forward:

  • India must make sure that it does not shoot itself in the foot and inadvertently take measures to temper foreign enthusiasmThe enthusiasm is very high towards India due to the apparent next wave of innovation and a high degree of mistrust over China post the pandemic.
  • The proposed pricing and valuation of some new issuance in the start-up space seem quite rich. It is inevitable that a few issues will fail and investors, including retail, will lose money. However, even if some companies fail, we cannot shut the door to IPOs by the start-up ecosystem or raise significant hurdles to list.
  • We must also be careful to guard against the perception of a lack of a level playing field. Many global investors are continually worried that domestic lobbies can make the operating and regulatory environment difficult for foreign-funded companies. There should be no discriminatory treatment of such companies in order to ensure a continuous flow.

Tax certainty is critical if the economy is to attract enough capital

Source: ToI

Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Issue of retrospective taxation

Synopsis: The repeal of the retrospective tax decision helps to minimize the risk of authorities taking harmful and unpredictable decisions.

Background
Introduction
  • It is hard to grow an economy without individuals and firms taking risk, and for an economy to grow at 7% or 8% annually for several decades the dependency on foreign risk capital is even larger.
  • In this context, retrospective taxation laws have hampered the flow of FDI’s and undermined the ability of corporate to take risks.
  • Encouraging them to invest more requires such confidence-building steps that the government is committed to reducing uncertainty, and rectifying past errors.
Adverse impact of Retrospective taxation
  • Adds to the risks and destroys investment environment: According to experts, changing laws retroactively, spoils the operating environment, and adds to the imagined risks a firm must keep in mind before investing.
  • Higher costs: The expected returns from an investment, depends on the cost of capital, which in turn depends on the uncertainty a project or business faces. The higher the uncertainty, the higher the cost.
Positives of curb on Retrospective taxation 
  • The impact on the flow of investments is likely to be much more significant, as the change signals that retrospective changes will not happen again.
  • Often, the capital comes attached with technology and skill transfers, which further helps growth.
  • Tax certainty will help to attract enough capital to grow at 7%-8% for decades.
  • Growth of Start-ups in India is highly dependent on foreign investments.

The shaky foundation of Labor Law Reforms

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3, Industrial, Policy reformsRelevance: To understand the challenges with the recent labour reforms

Synopsis: Government sought to reform the labour by bringing long-pending labour reforms. Despite their positives, there are many challenges associated with the labour reforms.

Introduction

The government has brought out the next series of reforms that were deemed comprehensive and game-changing. The set of reforms was categorized into:

  • Code on wages
  • Industrial relations code
  • Occupational Safety, Health and working conditions code
  • Code on social security

The code on wages bill was enacted in August 2019 and the other three were enacted in September 2020.

Issues with the enactment of the bills:

  • The bills were passed in Parliament without proper consultation and amidst opposition boycott.
  • The government announced rollout from April 1, 2021, even though the State Governments were unprepared for it.
  • The speedy process encouraged the investors and employers.
  • However, the implementation on the ground is more symbolic than real. Courts have intervened by passing directives for urgent implementation. But, the response of the Government has been tardy.

Government arguments in support of the bills:

The government has given numerous arguments to support its stand.

  • According to GOI, it would extend universal minimum wages. It would also enhance Industrial security and social security for gig workers.
  • The industrial relations code also provides for recognition of trade unions by employers, which has been eluding for over 7 decades.
  • It also had benefits for employers by providing them flexibility like relief from framing standing orders for firms.

Challenges with the Bills:

The Government has failed to provide legal visibility to millions of unorganized and migrant workers.

Havoc unleashed by COVID 19 on the labour market

  1. It led to more workers entering the informal market
  2. Led to the withdrawal of workers from the labour market
  3. It has increased unemployment
  4. There have been instances highlighting the concerns of Industrial safety. IndustriAll reported that between May to June, 32 major industrial accidents have occurred in India, killing 75 workers.

Implementation issues:

  • Even though the central Government announced enactment in August 2019, the notification for the constitution of the advisory committee came much late in March 2021.
  • Major states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and West Bengal have not issued draft rules.
  • States like Jharkhand, up, MP has only framed partial rules.

Way forward:

We should not look at symbolic implementation to achieve a better ranking in EoDB.

Timely and well-discussed legislation followed by a thorough implementation is the need of the hour.


World Indigenous Peoples Day: How net-zero climate goal alienates tribals

Source: DTE

Syllabus: GS 3 Environment

Relevance: To analyse the concept of ‘Net-Zero’ emission.

Synopsis: With the rising popularity of the ‘Net-Zero’ emission concept, it is time to analyze all its facets.

Introduction

  • The impacts of climate change are now visible from melting glaciers to climatological disasters. The polluters can no more deny or dismiss this.
  • But they have come up with a new pledge which can be called ‘green washing’ or ‘net-zero’ emissions.

What is Net-zero Emission?

Net-zero emission is the method of balancing the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gas absorption from the atmosphere.

In zero-carbon emission, the country will focus on limiting carbon emission. But in Net-zero carbon the country will focus on bringing the net carbon emission to zero.

In the initial phase, the country will focus on reducing human-caused emissions like burning fossil fuels, balancing factory emissions, etc. But, gradually the Net-zero emissions can be extended to the remaining areas as well.

Read more: Net Zero Emissions Target for India – Explained, Pointwise

Challenges with this concept:

  • Since technologies involved are unproven, most of it will come from land-based removal and storage of carbon dioxide.
  • Oxfam’s report pointed how these goals can end up consuming a large amount of land.
  • The demand on land could lead to challenges of food security.
  • It would also threaten biodiversity, wildlife and indigenous communities.
  • Any measure of vast plantations would tend to ignore local biodiversity.
  • A recent analysis by Land Conflict Watch (LCW) showed that afforestation drives cause massive conflict between state and tribal communities. e.g. more than a hundred thousand hectares of such contested land is locked in compensatory plantations-related conflicts, affecting over 50,000 forest dwellers across six states.
  • LCW (Land Conflict Watch) report also highlighted that more than a million tribal are under the conflict of Forests Rights Act, 2006.
  • The development projects that are undertaken also lead to conflict with indigenous communities e.g. In Kachchh, tribal herdsmen and farmers have been fighting to protect their common lands from the construction of windmills.
  • With India targeting 450 GW of green power, such conflicts are expected to rise.
  • The real issue of emission and focus should be on emission cuts.

What is the way forward?

  • There is a need to educate and create awareness about indigenous people and their rights as any future solution also needs to incorporate them.

A circular economy for plastic

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Dealing with plastic waste

Synopsis: The Plastic pact model to address plastic pollution is now being brought to India by CII and WWF India. An analysis of the plastic waste issue and solutions offered by plastic pact model.

Why plastic waste needs to be managed?

A 2019 report by the Center for International Environment Law suggest that by 2050 Greenhouse Gas emission from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes. Similarly, the report Closing the Plastics Circulatory gap by Google suggest that without a large scale intervention we will be mismanaging more than 7.7 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste globally in the next 20 years.

The solution for India

As much as 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19. This roughly translated to 9,200 tonnes a day (TPD).

The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.

Hence, India also needs a long terms solution for its plastic waste problem. And for India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact.

Plastic pact model which is now implemented in number of countries such as UK, South Africa, Australia offers such a solution.

What is Plastic Pact Model?

The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products. The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.

Aim: It aims to achieve 4 targets

  1. to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation
  2. to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable
  3. to increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging
  4. to increase recycled content in plastic packaging
Must Read: Single-use plastic pollution in India – Explained
Advantages of the Pact
  1. It is expected to boost demand for recycled content
  2. Increase investment in recycling infrastructure
  3. Creation of jobs directly as well as indirectly
  4. Formalisation of informal sector engaged in plastic waste collection
  5. It will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  6. Will ensure access to expertise and knowledge from different Pacts worldwide
  7. This will lead to significant reduction of Green house gases
About India Plastic Pact

It focuses on innovation and solutions. It ensures accountability trough setting up of targets and data reporting. While the India Plastics Pact will be active
in India, it will link globally with other Plastics Pacts which is expected to benefit businesses especially MSME’s.

Terms to know:


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


No authority can force RTI applicant to submit ID: Panel

Source: TOI

What is the news?

In a landmark order in a case, the state information commission (SIC) Haryana has made it clear that no authority in the state can force an RTI applicant to apply in a particular format or submit identity proof with the application.

Background

As per the case, an advocate had filed an RTI before a block development and Panchayat officer (BDPO) in Haryana to know about the funds given to different institutions by the office for construction purposes.

He was denied the requisite information while informing that the state government has made an amendment in the Haryana Right to Information Rules, which stipulates that an applicant seeking information under the Act is required to file the RTI in Model Form A, along with an identity card issued by the government.

What did the commission say?

As per the commission:

  • The RTI Act, 2005 is the central Act and Section 6 (2) of the same allows an applicant to conceal his identity and to seek information without giving any reason.
  • An applicant making a request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.

The commission directed the public information officer to supply complete information to the applicant free of cost.

Terms to know:


I-T Dept issues three email IDs for registering grievances

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

​​The Income Tax (I-T) Department has notified three official email IDs to register grievances, under the Faceless e-Assessment Scheme.

About Faceless e-Assessment Scheme.

  • The Income Tax Department in 2019 has rolled out the faceless e-assessment scheme that eliminates physical interface between the taxpayer and the Income Tax (I-T) Department.
  • Aim: To promote an efficient and effective tax administration, minimizing physical interface, increasing accountability and introduction of team-based assessments

Key Features of Faceless e-Assessment Scheme

  • Selection of a taxpayer only through system using data analytics and AI
  • Abolition of territorial jurisdiction
  • Automated random allocation of cases
  • Central issuance of notices with Document Identification No. (DIN)
  • No physical interface, no need to visit the income tax office
  • Team-based assessments and team-based review
  • Draft assessment order in one city, review in another city and finalisation in the third city.

What are cases exempted from the Faceless e-Assessment?

Cases relating to:

  • Serious frauds, major tax evasion, sensitive & search matters
  • International tax
  • Black Money Act and Benami Property.

PM releases ninth installment of PM-Kisan and pitches for edible oil self-reliance

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

The Prime Minister of India has released the ninth installment under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi(PM-KISAN) scheme. Moreover, the PM has also announced a new initiative named ‘National Edible Oil Mission-Oil Palm(NMEO-OP)’.

Click here to read about PM-KISAN scheme

About National Edible Oil Mission-Oil Palm(NMEO-OP):

  • Aim: The scheme aims to incentivise the production of palm oil to reduce dependence on imports and help farmers cash in on the huge market.
  • Under the scheme, oil palm farmers will be provided financial assistance and will get remuneration under a price and viability formula.
  • The special emphasis of the scheme will be in India’s north-eastern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to the conducive weather conditions in the regions.

Note: The government of India has planned to raise the domestic production of palm oil by three times to 11 lakh MT by 2025-26. This will involve raising the area under oil palm cultivation to 10 lakh hectares by 2025-26 and 16.7 lakh hectares by 2029-30.

What was the need of the Mission on Palm Oil?

  • India is the world’s biggest buyer of edible oils. India buys more than two-thirds of its total edible oil imports as palm oil.
  • In 2016-2017, the total domestic consumption of palm oil by India was 9.3 million MT, with 98.97% of it imported from Malaysia and Indonesia. 
  • This means India was domestically producing only 1.027% of its requirement.
Read more: Panel submits a report on reducing oil import dependency

Scientists develop carbon-based non-toxic and reusable wrapper to increase shelf-life of fruits

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Indian Scientists have developed a composite paper made of carbon (graphene oxide) loaded with preservatives that can be used as wrappers to help extend shelf life of fruits. 

What is the present system?

  • Fruits are highly perishable and about 50% of the produce gets wasted, causing huge losses. 
  • Conventional preservation relies on coating the fruits with preservatives like resin, wax, or edible polymer.
  • However, this current preservative dipping technology leads to preservatives being absorbed by the fruit causing chronic toxicity to the consumers.

What did the scientists develop?

  • Indian Scientists have developed a graphene oxide carbon wrapper that releases the preservative only when needed
  • The wrapper is non-toxic and can also be reused which is not possible with the present technology.

About Graphene:

  • Graphene is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. 
  • Graphene is considered to be the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material – of both electricity and heat. 
  • Uses: It can be used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices like computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.

Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt at Brunei to enhance Bilateral Ties

Source: PIB

What is the News?

As part of Act East Policy, Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt have arrived at Brunei as part of their deployment to South East Asia.

What will the Ships do in Brunei?

  • During the stay, the ships will participate in various bilateral interactions with the Royal Brunei Navy.
  • The exercise will provide an opportunity to both the navies to enhance interoperability, gain from best practices and develop a common understanding of procedures for maritime security operations.
  • The bilateral exercise will conclude with a Passage Exercise with the Royal Brunei Navy.

Exercise Malabar-21:

  • The ships will also participate in Exercise MALABAR-21 with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the United States Navy (USN).

Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt:

  • Indian Navy Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt are the latest indigenously designed and built, multi-role Guided Missile Stealth Frigate and Anti-Submarine Corvette respectively.
  • They form part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command. 
  • The two ships are equipped with a versatile array of weapons and sensors, can carry multi-role helicopters, and represent the maturation of India’s warship-building capabilities.

Indian promoters likely to give personal guarantee on foreign assets

Source: Business Standard

What is the news?

In a major shift from its earlier stance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed allowing Indian promoters to issue personal guarantees for overseas firms in which they have acquired a controlling stake, albeit with limits.

  • At the same time, an Indian company can pledge its foreign shareholding to raise funds overseas, but within prescribed limits.
  • Local companies can even pledge their Indian assets to raise funds for overseas entities, but within prescribed limits.
  • There will be limits and conditions on how much guarantee can be issued by the Indian promoter or the parent Indian firm.
Who is a promoter?

In simple words, a promoter may be an individual, a firm or a company that does all the necessary preliminary duties to bring a company into existence. The promoter’s work is to formulate new ideas and to develop it, and also persuade others to join the company.

Key proposals
  • Indian promoters can issue personal guarantees.
  • Foreign assets can be pledged to raise funds for Indian entities
  • Indian assets can also be pledged for raising funds for foreign entities
  • NoC from banks to suffice instead of RBI permission in most cases
  • ‘Strategic sector’, where govt would fix investment limit, introduced
Present rules

The rules were proposed through two draft guidelines on the RBI website. This is a change of stance by the central bank from its existing norms as spelt out in its Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 2000.

According to the earlier FEMA rules, giving of a guarantee or surety in respect of any debt or obligation is prohibited.

  • by a person resident outside India; or
  • by a person resident in India and owed to a person resident outside India

Rationale behind RBI’s Draft proposal

  • The aim is to enable ease of doing business by offering fewer prior approvals and simplified processes.
  • It will boost foreign direct investment.
  • This is a major step towards capital convertibility.
  • It tries to introduce a definition of ‘strategic sector’, which was missing in the earlier FEMA rules. “Strategic sector” will include energy and natural resources sectors such as oil, gas, coal and mineral ores or any other sector as advised by the Central government.

Terms to know:


Why the Atlantic Ocean current system is slowing down, and its implications

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

According to a study, Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is losing its stability and is very likely that AMOC will decline over the 21st century.

What is Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation(AMOC)?

AMOC
Source: Wikipedia
  • AMOC is a large system of ocean currents. It is the Atlantic branch of the ocean conveyor belt or Thermohaline circulation (THC) and distributes heat and nutrients throughout the world’s ocean basins.
  • How does AMOC work? AMOC carries warm surface waters from the tropics towards the Northern Hemisphere, where it cools and sinks. It then returns to the tropics and then to the South Atlantic as a bottom current. From there it is distributed to all ocean basins via the Antarctic circumpolar current.

What happens if AMOC collapses?

  • Firstly, the Gulf Stream, a part of the AMOC, is a warm current responsible for mild climate at the Eastern coast of North America as well as Europe. Without a proper AMOC and Gulf Stream, Europe will be very cold.
  • Secondly, the AMOC shutdown would cool the Northern Hemisphere and decrease rainfall over Europe. It can also have an effect on El Nino.

Has AMOC weakened before?

  • According to a study, AMOC has been relatively stable until the late 19th century. But with the end of the little ice age in about 1850, the AMOC began to decline, and a more drastic decline began in the mid-20th century.

Why is the AMOC slowing down?

  • Global Warming: Global warming can cause a weakening of the major ocean systems of the world.
  • Melting of Glaciers: Researchers have found that a part of the Arctic’s ice called the “Last Ice Area” has also melted. The freshwater from the melting ice reduces the salinity and density of the water. Now, the water is unable to sink as it used to and weakens the AMOC flow.
  • Indian Ocean: Indian Ocean may also be helping the slowing down of AMOC.
    • According to researchers, as the Indian Ocean warms faster and faster, it generates additional precipitation. With so much precipitation in the Indian Ocean, there will be less precipitation in the Atlantic Ocean, leading to higher salinity in the waters of the tropical portion of the Atlantic.
    • This saltier water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster.

India to host the first Internet Governance Forum in the country

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Government of India has announced the launch of The India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) -2021. 

About India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) -2021: 

  • India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) is an Indian chapter of the United Nations-based forum Internet Governance Forum.
  • Purpose: IIGF was launched as a policy discussion platform to bring representatives together from various groups to discuss public policy issues related to the Internet.
    • This mode of engagement is referred to as the multi-stakeholder model of Internet Governance which has been the key feature for the Internet’s success.
  • First Session: IIGF will host a session in October 2021 to discuss public policy issues related to the Internet.
  • Theme: Inclusive Internet for Digital India.

About Internet Governance Forum (IGF):

  • IGF is a multi-stakeholder governance group for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance.
  • Purpose: It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate, whether they represent governments, the private sector or civil society through an open and inclusive process.
  • Origin: The establishment of the IGF was formally announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006. Its first meeting was first convened in 2006 and has held an annual meeting since then.
  • Secretariat: UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Funding: IGF is financed through the extra-budgetary Trust Fund Account managed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs(UNDESA).

At 1.2 million India has highest number of snakebites in the world

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR), India has seen an estimated 1.2 million (12 lakh) snakebite deaths from 2000 to 2019, an average of 58,000 per year.

About Snakebite Deaths:

  • The snakebite envenoming (poisoning from snake bites) was classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a high-priority neglected tropical disease
  • About 5.4 million (54 lakh) snake bites occur globally each year, resulting in 1.8 to 2.7 million cases of envenoming.
  • Most of these occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Asia, up to 2 million people are envenomed by snakes each year.

Snakebite Cases in India:

  • India has the highest number of snakebite cases and accounts for nearly 50% of the global snakebite deaths. 
  • Farmers, labourers, hunters, shepherds, snake rescuers, tribal and migrant populations, and those with limited access to education and healthcare are high-risk groups for snakebites.

Initiatives against Snakebite deaths:

  • WHO’s Roadmap for snakebite envenoming(SE): WHO launched its roadmap with an aim to halve death and disability from snakebite by 2030.
  • Moreover, ICMR has also started community awareness and health system capacity building from the year 2013. They are continuing their work through a national study funded by the National Task Force on snakebite, ICMR.

Indian Navy undertakes bilateral exercise ‘Zayed Talwar 2021’ with UAE Navy

Source: AIR

What is the News?

Indian Navy took part in a bilateral exercise named ‘Zayed Talwar 2021’ with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Navy off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

About Exercise Zayed Talwar 2021:

  • Exercise Zayed Talwar is a bilateral naval exercise between Indian and UAE Navy.
  • Aim: The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability and synergy between the two navies.
  • As part of the exercise, the Indian Navy deployed warship INS Kochi and two Sea King MK 42B helicopters.

Other Exercises between India and UAE:

  • Exercise Desert Eagle II: It is a bilateral air force exercise between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Exercise Desert Flag: It is an annual multilateral large force employment exercise hosted by the UAE. In 2021, Six countries: India, UAE, USA, France, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had participated in the exercise.

‘Seekho Aur Kamao’ Scheme

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Union Minister for Minority Affairs has informed Rajya Sabha about the Seekho aur Kamao Scheme

About Seekho aur Kamao Scheme:

  • Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn) is a scheme implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  • Purpose: It is a Skill development scheme for the youth of the 14 – 35 years age group. It aims at providing employment and employment opportunities, improving the employability of existing workers, school dropouts etc.
  • Implementation: The scheme is implemented through selected expert Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs).
  • The scheme ensures placements of a minimum of 75% trainees, out of which at least 50% placement is in the organized sector.
  • Moreover, Post-placement support of Rs. 2000/- per month is provided to placed trainees under the scheme for two months as placement assistance.

Other Schemes of Ministry of Minority Affairs:

  • Naya Savera Scheme- The Scheme aims to provide free coaching to students/candidates belonging to minority communities for qualifying in entrance examinations of technical/ medical professional courses and various competitive examinations.
  • Padho Pardesh Scheme – Scheme of interest subsidy to students of minority communities on educational loans for overseas higher studies. 
  • Nai Udaan Scheme– Support for students clearing Prelims conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), State Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff Selection Commission (SSC) etc. 
  • Nai Roshni Scheme- Leadership development of women belonging to minority communities.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) – Being implemented to provide basic infrastructure such as Schools, Colleges, Drinking water and Sanitation facilities, Primary Health Centres in deprived areas of the Country. 
  • USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development)
  • Nai Manzil Scheme– A scheme for formal school education & skilling of school dropouts. 
  • Hamari Dharohar- A scheme to preserve the rich heritage of minority communities of India under the overall concept of Indian culture. 

PM Modi outlines five-point framework for maritime security debate at UNSC

Source : The Hindu, Indian express, Mint, Times of India

Syllabus : GS2 – Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate

What is the news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a debate on maritime security at UNSC.

5 Principle Framework from India– Indian PM laid down the framework:

  • Removal of barriers to maritime trade: First framework called for removal of barriers to maritime trade, in this context PM highlighted the significance of India’s SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region).
  • Peaceful resolution of maritime diputes: Second framework focused on peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in accordance with International laws.
  • Jointly tackling maritime threats: Third framework asked countries jointly tackle maritime threats from non-state actors and natural disasters
  • Protection and conservation: Fourth framework called for protection and conservation of maritime environment and marine resources
  • Responsible maritime connectivity: Fifth framework asked countries for responsible maritime connectivity. It was a reference to China’s Belt & Road initiative.
Views of other states
  • USA– Criticized the actions of Russia in the Black Sea, Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov, against Ukraine; criticized China for violating maritime laws and held Iran responsible for the attack on MV Mercer Street. It is the responsibility of every member state to defend the rules that we all agreed to follow and peacefully resolve maritime disputes. (The U.S. has not ratified UNCLOS but recognizes it as international law)
  • France-  Highlighted that the maritime domain has emerged as a theatre for new generation of challenges and urged greater cooperation among the members of the UN Security Council.
  • UK-  UNCLOS applies to all the oceans, and all the seas and does not depend on wish of the state. The UK has a vision for a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific as like India.
  • Russia- Russia held that UN principles must be observed in peaceful and responsible use of maritime spaces
  • China-  slammed the formation of “exclusive groupings”with reference to Quad and pointed out that the United States has not signed UNCLOS. The UNSC is not the right platform for a discussion on the South China Sea. It also criticised Japan for releasing the radioactive water of the Fukushima nuclear reactors
Significance of the debate
  • the debate is attended by important functionaries from major powers reflecting the importance of maritime security
  • growing cooperation between India and USA, India and Russia
  • India’s role as net security provider in the region was reiterated and endorsed
  • Adoption of “presidential statement” highlights major diplomatic achievement for India

Terms to know: 


Road ahead from Gogra: On India-China border issue

Source: The Hindu, Indian express

What is the news?

After the talks on July 31, India and China have taken one more step towards restoring peace and normalcy on the LAC by disengaging at patrolling point 17A at Gogra post. However, it is viewed as a faint beginning of the process to disengage.

It took 12 military talks  to see both sides disengage and put in place buffer zones in the Galwan Valley, the site of the June 2020 clash that marked the worst violence since 1967.

The next round of talks will discuss PP15 in Hot Springs.

What is meant by disengagement?

Disengagement means that troops of the two armies deployed at the point will no longer be eyeballing (staring) each other, a situation that could quickly go out of control as it did in the Galwan Valley last year.

Things agreed to

Both armies are said to have removed all their temporary structures from near PP17A. As at Galwan and Pangong, a mutually agreed no-patrolling zone has been created, and the troops have fallen back to their respective bases.

Issues that remain
  • Demchok, where China has transgressed in relatively smaller numbers than the deployments seen in Pangong Lake, also remains unresolved.
  • Beijing has appeared unwilling to discuss the strategically significant Depsang plains, where the Chinese side has been blocking Indian patrols.  Considering that the relatively flat terrain of Depsang makes it vulnerable to an offensive, and the Chinese posturing in this area poses a threat to the strategically important Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie Road, resolving differences in this area is what actually matters now
  • The buffer zone model is a temporary measure and India should not accept as permanent as it would prevent India from enforcing its territorial claims and favour the PLA which can deploy faster in larger numbers owing to more favourable terrain and better logistics.
Way forward

There is a need to come up urgently with new protocols and confidence-building measures, as both sides gradually resume patrolling in the buffer zones. Full de-escalation, along with the withdrawal of some new forward deployments that have come up close to the LAC will be an important to push for resolution.

Conclusion

There is a need to come up urgently with new protocols and confidence-building measures, as both sides gradually resume patrolling in the buffer zones. De-escalation of troops is need of the hour. Unless that happens reduction in India-China tensions, will remain elusive goals.

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