Daily Current Affairs 08-02-2024

    0
    1618

    Enhanced Surveillance of the Indo-Myanmar Border (Border Management)

    Syllabus: GS3/Internal Security

    In Context

    • The government has decided to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometer-long Indo-Myanmar border to facilitate better surveillance.

    About

    • Two pilot projects of fencing through a Hybrid Surveillance System (HSS) are under execution. 
    • The fencing will be completed in the next four-and-half years. Anyone coming through will have to get a visa.

    Free Movement Regime

    • The FMR is a mutually agreed arrangement between the two countries that allows tribes living along the border to travel up to 16 km inside the other country without a visa. 
    • Under the FMR, every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar and who is resident of any area within 16 km on either side of the border can cross over on production of a border pass with one-year validity and can stay up to two weeks.
    Brief on India- Myanmar Relations
    Location: India shares a long land border of over 1643 kms with Myanmar as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. 
    a. Four northeastern states, viz., Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, have a boundary with Myanmar. 
    Diplomatic Relations: Diplomatic relations between India and Myanmar have generally been friendly, with high-level visits and engagements strengthening ties at the governmental level. 
    a. India and Myanmar signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1951. 
    Historical and Cultural Ties: Both Nations share deep historical and cultural connections, with influences from Buddhism, Hinduism, and trade routes shaping their interactions over millennia.
    Geopolitical Significance: Myanmar holds significant geopolitical importance for India due to its strategic location, acting as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
    a. India is seeking to enhance its cooperation with Myanmar in line with our ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighborhood First’ Policies. 
    Economic Cooperation: Economic cooperation between the two nations has been steadily growing since the trade agreement in 1970, with India being one of Myanmar’s largest trading partners. 
    a. The bilateral trade stood at US$ 1.03 billion in 2021-22. Bilateral trade is conducted under ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) and India’s DutyFree Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme. 
    Security Cooperation: Both countries share concerns over border security, insurgency, and cross-border trafficking. They have cooperated on security issues, including intelligence sharing and joint patrolling along the border.
    Connectivity Projects: India is involved in various connectivity projects aimed at improving infrastructure and connectivity between the two countries. 
    a. The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway are notable examples.
    Development Assistance: India has been providing development assistance to Myanmar in various sectors, including infrastructure, healthcare, education, and capacity building.

    Borders in India

    • India currently has more than 15000 km of land borders and more than 7500 km of maritime borders. 
    • It shares borders with seven countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. 

    Border Management in India

    • Border guarding responsibility initially was with the state forces post-independence, however, the same was found inadequate to handle the challenges and threats. 
    • Central armed police forces (CAPFs) were raised under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and were tasked to guard the borders under the control of the ministry. 
    • In case of active hostilities, the Army is given the responsibility to man the borders. 

    Need for Border Management

    • India- Pakistan Border: The border with Pakistan has been a problematic one since India’s independence.
      • Despite the accession of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to India as per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Pakistan fought four conventional wars with India namely in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999. 
      • It has also been engaged in a proxy war as well both in the state of J&K and Punjab. 
      • The border is active in the form of LC where the Army has been deployed in addition to the BSF. 
    • India- China Border: India has disputed borders with China in Ladakh, Middle Sector, and in Arunachal Pradesh. Despite many levels of talks, very little progress has been made to resolve the dispute.
    • India-Bangladesh Border: The relations between India and Bangladesh have been moving up and down based on the government in power.
      • The current relations with Bangladesh are good but Pakistani efforts to create a religious divide, Chinese inroads and presence of inimical elements have made the peace process prone to disruption.
    • India-Bhutan Border: India is responsible for the defence of Bhutan and therefore responds to Chinese aggression even in Bhutan which happened in Doklam in 2017.
      • The Chinese threat manifesting through Bhutan always remains which rises the need to secure this border.
    • India-Nepal Border: Due to close relations between India and Nepal, Nepalese working in the Indian Army as soldiers and porous border management remains a challenge.
      • Several Chinese activities in terms of infrastructure development and language centers have come up in Southern Nepal close to Indian borders. 
      • Pakistan’s ISI is also using the porous nature of this border to infiltrate militants for anti-national activities in India. 
    • India-Myanmar Border: India and Myanmar share a large land boundary with the northern end bordering China and the southern end bordering Bangladesh.
      • The border remains porous as local communities are divided into both sides of the border. 
      • The current arrangement also allows insurgents to have camps in the dense jungles of Myanmar across the border. 
      • There are a large number of refugees moving into the northeastern (NE) states, primarily in Manipur. 

    Challenges In Managing the Borders

    • Length and Diversity: India shares borders with multiple countries totaling thousands of kilometers.
      • Each of these borders has unique geographical features, ranging from mountains to rivers and plains, making effective monitoring and control challenging.
    • Porosity of Borders: Many parts of India’s borders are porous, allowing illegal crossings of people, goods, and contraband such as drugs and weapons.
      • The difficult terrain, along with dense forests and riverine areas, facilitate such activities, posing a significant challenge to border security forces.
    • Cross-Border Terrorism: India faces threats of cross-border terrorism, particularly from Pakistan-based militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
      • These groups exploit the porous borders to infiltrate into Indian territory and carry out attacks, leading to security concerns and tensions between the two countries.
    • Transnational Crime: Transnational criminal activities, including smuggling of narcotics, arms, and counterfeit currency, thrive along India’s borders. 
    • Ethnic and Tribal Dynamics: India’s border regions are often inhabited by diverse ethnic and tribal communities with historical, cultural, and social ties across borders.
      • Managing these communities’ aspirations, addressing their grievances, and preventing their exploitation by external forces require nuanced approaches to border management.
    • Dispute over Borders: India has unresolved border disputes with neighboring countries, most notably with China and Pakistan.
      • These disputes lead to occasional tensions and confrontations, necessitating constant vigilance and diplomatic efforts to maintain peace and stability along the borders.
    • Infrastructure Development: Many border areas in India lack basic infrastructure such as roads, communication networks, and border outposts, hampering the effectiveness of border management efforts.
      • Developing infrastructure in these remote and often inhospitable regions is crucial for enhancing surveillance capabilities and response mechanisms.
    • Humanitarian Concerns: India shares borders with countries experiencing political instability, humanitarian crises, and refugee influxes.
      • Managing such situations while upholding humanitarian principles and international obligations poses additional challenges for border management authorities.

    Conclusion

    • Addressing these challenges requires a multi-pronged approach involving robust border surveillance and security measures, enhanced cooperation with neighboring countries, diplomatic initiatives to resolve disputes, development of border infrastructure, and engagement with local communities to address their concerns and aspirations.

    Source: IE

    Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill

    Syllabus: GS2/Budget, Bills 

    Context: 

    • The Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, 2024  by voice vote recently.  

    About:

    • The House also approved the Appropriation Bill authorising the government to meet expenses for four months in the next financial year.
      • An Appropriation Bill is a crucial piece of legislation, which authorizes the government to spend public money approved in the annual budget. 
      • It helps to ensure accountability and transparency by requiring parliamentary approval for spending and prevents unauthorized withdrawals from the Consolidated fund of India.
    • The lower house also approved the Rs 1.8 lakh crore budget of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

    Finance Bill

    • A Finance Bill is a Money Bill as defined in Article 110 of the Constitution. 
    Do you know?
    – While all Money Bills are Financial Bills, all Financial Bills are not Money Bills.  
    a. For example, the Finance Bill which only contains provisions related to tax proposals would be a Money Bill. 
    – However, a Bill that contains some provisions related to taxation or expenditure, but also covers other matters would be considered as a Financial Bill.
    a. Therefore, if a Bill merely involves expenditure by the government, and addresses other issues, it will be a financial bill.
    • It is introduced annually in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) after the Union Budget presentation.
    • It embodies the government’s budgetary proposals for taxation, spending, and other financial matters.
    • The proposals of the government for levy of new taxes, modification of the existing tax structure or continuance of the existing tax structure beyond the period approved by Parliament are submitted to Parliament through this bill. 
    • The Finance Bill is accompanied by a Memorandum containing explanations of the provisions included in it. 
    • The Finance Bill can be introduced only in Lok Sabha. 
      • However, the Rajya Sabha can recommend amendments in the Bill. 
    • It requires approval from both houses of parliament before becoming law.
    • The bill has to be passed by the Parliament within 75 days of its introduction.

    Key Features of the 2024 Finance Bill

    • No change in Income Tax: Due to the upcoming general elections in April-May 2024, the bill focuses on maintaining the existing tax structure for the financial year 2024-2025.
    • Focus on certain reliefs: Some minor tax reliefs are included for specific sectors or categories of taxpayers.
    • Measures to boost economic growth: Include provisions for infrastructure development, investment promotion, and ease of doing business reforms.
    • Fiscal consolidation: The government aims to reduce the fiscal deficit by proposing measures to control spending or increase revenue.

    Source: AIR

    Northern Ireland Conflict

    Syllabus: GS2/International 

    Context

    • Recently Michelle O’Neill, a pro-Irish unity politician became the first Nationalist First Minister of Northern Ireland, with the end of a two-year long political deadlock.

    Background 

    • Northern Ireland was created in 1921 by partitioning Ireland, and consists of the six northeastern counties (territorial division) of the island.
    • In 1922, the rest of Ireland gained independence from the British (today’s Republic of Ireland, with its capital in Dublin). 
    • Northern Ireland remained with the United Kingdom, but tensions simmered between the side which were loyal to the Crown, mostly Protestants, and the other side which wanted to join the Republic of Ireland, mostly Catholics. 
    • Today, the side loyal to the British Union are called Unionists, while those who support a united and free Ireland are called Nationalists.

    Conflict in Northern  Ireland

    • By the end of the 1960s, a bloody conflict was raging in Northern Ireland among those who wished to remain with the UK and those who wanted to join Ireland. 
    • The British Army and the police, frequently accused of excesses, worsened the violence. 
    • Finally, in 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed to end the bloodshed.

    What is the Good Friday Agreement?

    • The Good Friday Agreement is a unique peace treaty signed to end the 30-year-old civil war in Northern Ireland.
    • The treaty had three main aspects;
      • The Northern Ireland government would be formed on the sovereign wishes of both Republicans and the Unionists and that they would share governance equally; 
      • the people of Northern Ireland could seek reunification with Ireland any time subject to a referendum; and 
      • The citizens of Northern Ireland can seek Irish or British nationality or both. 
    • It also abolished border checks and encouraged the freedom of movement of people across the U.K. and Ireland.

    Collapse of parliament in 2022

    • After Brexit Northern Ireland now shared a land border with an EU member, the Republic of Ireland.
    • Now border checks were introduced between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland instead of Northern Ireland to Ireland.
    • This system angered the Unionists, who believed it undermined Northern Ireland’s position with the UK. Hence the leader of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), refused to allow government formation after Northern Ireland went to polls in May 2022.
    • Now, a new deal has been reached, published as a command paper called ‘Safeguarding the Union’ by the UK government.

    Source: IE

    India and China Bilateral Trade

    Syllabus: GS2/IR/GS3/Economy

    In Context

    • India and China trade reached record levels in 2023, indicating that bilateral trade had surpassed 2022 figures despite a slowdown.

    India and China Trade Relations

    • In 2022, the overall trade with China increased by 8.47% year on year to reach USD 136.26 billion, crossing the USD 100 billion mark for a second time in a row. 
    • The trade deficit came at USD 101.28 billion as India’s imports from China witnessed an increase by 118.77%.
    • As of 2022-23, China was India’s third-largest trading partner.
    • Trade Agreements and Negotiations: India and China have engaged in negotiations to address trade issues and enhance economic ties.
      • Both countries have participated in regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), although India withdrew from the agreement citing concerns about its domestic industry and trade imbalances with China.

    Concerns of India- China Trade Relations

    • Trade Imbalance: One of the primary concerns for India is the significant trade imbalance with China.
      • India imports far more goods from China than it exports, leading to a large trade deficit. 
      • This trade imbalance has been a persistent issue and has raised concerns about the impact on India’s domestic industries and employment.
    • Quality and Safety of Chinese Goods: There have been concerns in India about the quality and safety of some Chinese goods, particularly in sectors such as electronics and consumer products.
      • Incidents of substandard or counterfeit products entering the Indian market have raised regulatory and consumer protection concerns.
    • Dumping Practices: India has accused China of engaging in dumping practices, whereby Chinese companies allegedly flood the Indian market with cheap goods at prices below production costs.
      • This can harm domestic industries in India by undercutting their competitiveness and market share.
    • Market Access and Non-Tariff Barriers: Indian companies have faced challenges in accessing the Chinese market due to non-tariff barriers, regulatory hurdles, and lack of transparency.
      • Issues such as restrictions on foreign investment, complex approval processes, and intellectual property rights protection have hindered Indian businesses’ efforts to expand into China.
    • Geopolitical Tensions and Border Disputes: The longstanding border disputes between India and China, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), have periodically escalated into military standoffs and political tensions.
      • These tensions have spilled over into economic relations and have led to calls for boycotts of Chinese goods in India, impacting bilateral trade.
    • Strategic Competition: India and China are also engaged in strategic competition, both regionally and globally.
      • Their growing influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region has led to geopolitical rivalries, which can affect trade relations. 
    • Security Concerns: Security concerns related to Chinese investments in critical infrastructure projects in India have also raised alarms.
      • India has been cautious about allowing Chinese companies to participate in sensitive sectors such as telecommunications and infrastructure, citing national security concerns.

    Way Ahead

    • Overall, India and China have a complex trade relationship influenced by geopolitical tensions, border disputes, trade imbalances, and efforts to enhance economic cooperation. 
    • The future trajectory of their trade relations will depend on various factors, including efforts to address underlying issues and build trust between the two countries.

    Source: TH

    Deep technology and Research Funding

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    Context

    • The Finance Minister announced a Rs 1 lakh crore fund to provide long-term, low-cost or zero-interest loans for research and development.

    What is deep technology?

    • Deep tech refers to advanced and disruptive technologies that have the potential to trigger transformative change, and provide solutions for the future.
    • The term is used to describe cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, biotechnology, material sciences, quantum technologies, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, data sciences, robotics, 3D printing, etc. 

    Advantages of  Deep technology

    • Solving Complex Problems: These technologies play a key role to address complex global challenges like climate change, hunger, epidemics, energy access, mobility, physical and digital infrastructure, and cyber security.
    • Increased Efficiency: Deep technologies enhance productivity by automating repetitive tasks, optimizing processes, and enabling predictive analytics. This leads to cost savings, improved resource utilization, and faster decision-making.
    • Enhanced Decision-Making: Deep learning algorithms and predictive analytics empower organizations to make data-driven decisions based on insights extracted from large datasets. This enables better forecasting, risk management, and strategic planning.
    • Job Creation: While deep technologies may automate certain tasks, they also create new opportunities for skilled workers in areas such as software development, data science, engineering, and research. This contributes to economic growth and employment generation.

    Challenges for Deep technology

    • The deep tech projects are time- and money-intensive, with relatively high funding requirements.
    • Inadequate budget: India’s expenditure on research is far below the global average. Absolute spending has increased, but expenditure on research as a share of GDP has come down.
      • India currently spends just about 0.65% of its national GDP on research and development activities whereas the global average is about 1.8%.
    • Bureaucratic delays: Even where funds are available, delays and interruptions in disbursal often affects projects. Complex bureaucratic requirements contribute to delays.
    • Reduced budget allocation: Also in recent budget allocation the highest increase is for CSIR, ( about 9%), and the Department of Space has received only a 4% increment.
      • The budget of the Departments of Atomic Energy and Biotechnology, and the Ministry of Earth Sciences have been reduced.

    The National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP)

    • It was piloted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, and is currently awaiting government approval.
    • The idea is to create a deep tech startup ecosystem by offering the right incentives to companies that invest time and money in innovation and research.
    • The NDTSP suggests the steps that need to be taken in this regard:
      • Create opportunities for long-term funding; 
      • A simplified but stronger intellectual property rights regime; 
      • Tax incentives; 
      • A conducive regulatory framework; 
      • Development of standards and certifications; 
      • Nurturing of talent; and 
      • Linkages between industry, research centers, and educational institutions.

    WayForward

    • With the recent initiative Startups and other private sector ventures will obtain seed money for their projects and are expected to get benefitted.
    • However to raise R&D spending there is a need to have increased partnership with the private sector. 
    • Efforts are being made to create better synergies between industry, research labs, and educational institutions in order to broad-base both research activity and the funds to support it.

    Source: IE

    News in Shorts

    150th Anniversary of Acharaya Srila Prabhupada 

    Syllabus: Miscellaneous

    In Context

    • The Prime Minister addressed the programme marking the 150th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada ji at Bharat Mandapam. 

    About

    • Acharaya Srila Prabhupada was the founder of Gaudiya Mission, who played a pivotal role in preserving and spreading the fundamental tenets of Vaishnava faith. 
    • Gaudiya Mission was established in 1918 by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad, formerly known as Sri Gaudiya Math. 
    • Gaudiya Mission has played a significant role in propagating the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the rich spiritual heritage of Vaishnavism across the world, making it the centre of the Hare Krishna Movement.

    About Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

    • Indian Hindu mystic Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the 15th century, and according to his disciples he is recognised as the conjoined avatar of Goddess Radha and Lord Krishna. 
    • Bengal’s Vaishnavism was greatly impacted by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s approach to Krishna worship, which combined dancing, bhajan-kirtan, and other forms of kirtan. 
    • He promoted Bhakti yoga and made the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra chanting widespread. 
    • Mahaprabhu also wrote the Shikshashtakam, a collection of eight prayers of devotion. 

    Source: PIB

    PRITHvi VIgyan (PRITHVI)

    Syllabus:GS3/Science and Technology

    Context

    • The Union Cabinet has approved Rs 4,797 crore research scheme The PRITHvi VIgyan (PRITHVI) to enhance the understanding of the Earth.

    About

    • It encompasses five ongoing sub-schemes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), namely:
      • Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS);
      • Ocean Services, Modelling Application, Resources and Technology (O- SMART);
      • Polar Science and Cryosphere Research (PACER);
      • Seismology and Geosciences (SAGE); and,
      • Research, Education, Training and Outreach (REACHOUT).

    Objectives of the Scheme

    • Augmentation and sustenance of long-term observations of the atmosphere, ocean, geosphere, cryosphere and solid earth to record the vital signs of the Earth System and change;
    • Development of modeling systems for understanding and predicting weather, ocean and climate hazards and understanding the science of climate change;
    • Exploration of polar and high seas regions of the Earth towards discovery of new phenomena and resources;
    • Development of technology for exploration and sustainable harnessing of oceanic resources for societal applications;
    • Translation of knowledge and insights from Earth systems science into services for societal, environmental and economic benefit.

    Significance of the Scheme

    • PRITHVI promises to unify various disciplines under Earth sciences, fostering integrated, multidisciplinary research.
    • This collaborative effort aims to address significant challenges in weather, climate, oceanography, cryospheric studies, seismology, and sustainable resource utilization.

    Source: IE

    Deepasthambham

    Syllabus: Miscellaneous

    Context:

    • Recently, 390-year-old Deepastambham (lamp post) was found on the edge of River Krishna.

    About Deepasthambham (Lamp Post):

    • The 20-foot tall pillar with hollows for lamps and a multilingual inscription was found in Mudimanikyam village, Nalgonda district, Telangana.
      • However, these are rare in the Deccan region and common in temples in the west coast including Goa.
      • Dwajasthambam (flag poles) are part of temple architecture.
    • The inscription, engraved in Telugu mixed with Tamil language, dates back to June 1635 and is dedicated to Kasi Viswanatha.

    Importance: 

    • It is believed to have served as a lighthouse on the riverine trade route, and established trade ties in early mediaeval times.

    Source: TH

    Good Friday Agreement

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    Context

    • Recently, the US President was in Belfast to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement, the deal that ended 3 decades of bloodshed.

    About Good Friday Agreement

    • It was signed on April 10, 1998 at Belfast, the capital city and principal port of Northern Ireland, which was a significant milestone in the history of Ireland.
      • It is also known as the Belfast Agreement.
      • It ended more than three decades of bloody conflict, known as the ‘Troubles’.
    • The agreement had two parts:
      • A ‘multi-party agreement’ between Northern Ireland’s major parties, and;
      • An agreement between the governments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
    • The economic integration and soft borders between the two Irelands were one of the key aspects.
    • The agreement legitimised the demands of both sides:
      • The majority in Northern Ireland wanted to remain a part of the UK and;
      • A substantial minority in Northern Ireland as well as the majority in the rest of the island, wanted a ‘United Ireland’.

    Source: TH

    Rio De Janeiro 

    Syllabus: GS3/ Places in News

    In News

    • Rio De Janeiro Declared a Dengue Health Emergency

    About Rio De Janeiro

    • Rio de Janeiro is a city in Brazil  and it is shaped by interaction with mountains and sea. 
    • It lies in the narrow strip of alluvial plain between Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
    • It is widely recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting urban centres.

    Brazil

    • Brazil is a country in South America and It is the fifth largest country in the world.
    • It borders every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. To the north, it shares a boundary with Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. To the northwest, it meets Peru and Bolivia, to the west Argentina and Paraguay, to the southwest Uruguay, and to the south it is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

    Iran 

    In News 

    • Iran announced visa-free travel for Indians and citizens of several other nations for a maximum stay of 15 days.

    About Iran 

    • Iran is a mountainous, arid, and ethnically diverse country of southwestern Asia.
    • The capital is Tehrān
    • Iran is bounded to the north by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea, to the east by Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Türkiye and Iraq.
    • Mountains:  Elburz Mountains and Zagros Mountains
      • Iran’s highest point, Mt. Damavand
    • River : Karun
    • Lake : Urmia