Current events


GS Paper Prelims 2019 Meghwal’s IAS Bhopal

GS Paper Prelims 2019 Meghwal’s IAS Bhopal

Ken-Betwa river linking project has received environment, forest and tribal clearances.

The ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project has received formal environment, forest and tribal clearances. The project aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation is working out the funding pattern with NITI Aayog. The Ministry is pursuing NITI Ayog to change its funding pattern of Centre state share from 60:40 to 90:10 for the project as it is a special project.

Key Facts

  • It is India’s first river interlinking project that will connect Ken river in Madhya Pradesh with the Betwa in Uttar Pradesh. The project was envisaged first in 1980 to transfer surplus river water to dry and arid areas of Bundelkhand region. It will help irrigate an area of 6.35 lakh hectares annually in Bundelkhand region.
  • Of this, 3.69 lakh hectares will be covered in Madhya Pradesh’s Tikamgarh, Chattarpur and Panna districts. The remaining 2.65 lakh hectares of area falls in Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, Mahoba and Banda districts.
  • The project is estimated to provide 49 million cubic metres (mcm) of drinking water to a population of 13.42 lakh in Bundelkhand region in the two states. Besides, it will also generate 78 mega watt (MW) of power.

Global slavery index, 2016

Distressing scenario


According  to the 2016 Global  Slavery  Index released by Australia-based human rights  group Walk Free Foundation, India has the highest number of people  in the  world  trapped   in modern slavery.  India  has  the highest  absolute  numbers  of people  trapped  in slavery  with 18.35 million  slaves among  its 1.3  billion  population in which  more  than 1.8 crore Indian’s are victims of forced labour; forced labour includes  prostitution   and begging. An estimated  45.8 million  people,  including  women  and  children,  are subject to some form of modern slavery  in the world  which  has increased  considerably   as compared  to 35.8 million in 2014. Followed  by India is China with 3.39 million, Pakistan with  2.13 million,  Bangladesh  with  1.53 million  and  Uzbekistan   with  1.23 million.  As per the index  these  five countries  together  constitute  for almost  58 per cent of the world’s   enslaved  (26.6 million)  people  and  all these  nations  are Asian.  The survey  was conducted  in 167 countries  in which  modern day slavery was  found  in all the  countries.   The research included   over  42,000 interviews conducted in 53 languages across 25 countries,  including  15 state-level  surveys in India.  This representative    survey  covered  around 44 per  cent  of the  global population. The countries  with the highest  estimated  prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are North Korea,  Uzbekistan,  Cambodia,  Cambodia,  India,  and  Qatar.

What  is Modern  Slavery?  Modern  slavery  basically  refers  to a situation  of exploitations  in which  a person  cannot  leave because  of threats,  violence, coercion and  abuse  of power  or deception  and  the person  is totally  subdued at physical and  mental  level and  even reduced  to the level of instrumentum  vocale. How  to tackle  it? Out  of the 161 countries   assessed,   124 nations   including   India  had criminalised   human  trafficking  in line with  the UN trafficking  Protocol  and  96 nations  had developed  national  action plans to coordinate  government  response. Is our Indian  government   doing enough  to eradicate  this demon?  India has more people  enslaved  than  any other  country  and  it has made  significant  progress  in introducing   measures  to tackle the problem.

Our nation has criminalised  trafficking,  slavery, forced  labour,  child prostitution and forced marriages  in addition  to this government  is also tightening legislation  against human  trafficking  with  tough  punishment and will offer victims protection  and recovery support.  But, are we successful  in tackling  the  problem?  Well,  the  answer   lies within  these  statistics;  according  to the report  in the  year  2014, in India  there  were nearly  14.3   million  people  who  were  enslaved  and  as per the latest  report  this figure has increased  to 18.35  million.  Despite of stringent  measures  and taught  ruling we are bound  to ask, why  is this  problem   increasing  in our nation?  The answer  is poverty,  regional  disparity,   poor  execution  of law  and  far prolonged   judgments. Also business  community   have  a great contribution to human  slavery  by making the poor  work  hard  for entire  day and  pay them  menial  wages  in return. Ever since we have  achieved  our independence   we are tagged  as a developing nation  with humongous   potential.  At one hand  we are the world’s  fastest growing  economy  and  simultaneously we  topping the  modern slavery  index. The fastest  growing  cities and urban  dwellings  are accompanied with lagging ruler counterparts who are many  times forced into such practices of modern slavery. Government having  enough  laws  are failing  to tackle the situation  because  for them  it is just one more  of a series of pressing  problems.  But this is not a problem to ignore.  It is a plague  a disease  from which  we have  to get rid as soon as possible.

Almost  all the nations  have  slavery  in some form  or the other  but we have  to learn  from  the  countries   like Luxembourg,   Ireland,  Norway,  Denmark,  Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Belgium,  the  United  States  and Canada,  and Australia  and  New Zealand  which  are having  lowest  estimation  of modern slavery  by the proportion of their  population. We have to learn  to keep Human  Rights of our citizens  at the  highest  order  and  this will not happen  by just making  rules, policies and  punishments on  papers but also implementing them in day to day practice.  Jotting  down  mindlessly in the book of rules  will  yield  no results  but  facing  the  reality  will.  And the reality  is no fairy-tale.  It is written with the handicap and helplessness  of our  poor  and  week.  The  Indian  government  is trying  to maintain  the balance between the economic growth and the  social  reforms programmes. The government has introduced    programmes like  providing  150 days  of work  to unskilled  labourers  under  the MGNREGA act, tightening the forced work and child labour law, opening up the bank  account of each family of the country, offering subsidy in food grains  to the  people listed  in the  below poverty line category and many more. But still Indian is facing the state of modern day slavery innumerous forms. In nutshell, Uniform economic growth,  implementation of law and speedy justice, harsh punishment and spreading the knowledge about the modern slavery  has become  mandatory  to  solve  this  problem  or  else  enslaved  people  will remain  in their current condition of inhuman slavery and the country’s economic growth  will not be enjoyed by the entire nation but only a restricted  group.

In 2015

PSLV-C35 Growing commercialization of space technology

The total number of satellites launched by PSLV has now reached 121, of which 42 are Indian and the remaining 79 are from abroad. This is the 36th consecutively successful mission of PSLV.
In this process, India has earned more than $120m from foreign satellite launches so far
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSL,V),in its 37th flight (PSLV-C35), carried and placed the 377 kg SCATSAT-1 and seven co-passenger satellites into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
Besides the weather satellite SCATSAT-1, two satellites PRATAM and PISAT from Indian academic institutions, three from Algeria (ALSAT1N, 1B and 2B) and one each from Canada (NLS-19) and the United States (Pathfinder-1) were launched in the longest PSLV mission.
This was 15th flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).
This PSLV-C35 mission was the longest of the PSLV missions conducted till date and was completed in 2 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off.
Cost-effective ISRO
Tested a new Super Sonic Combustion RAM Jet or Scramjetwhich could bring down launch costs by up to 10-fold.
Launching a satellite on an Arianespace’s Ariane-5 rocket costs about $140 million.
But the cost of launching a satellite aboard the Falc rocket of SpaceX goes as low as $60 million.
And the average cost of the PSLV rocket of the ISRO is no more than a third of Falcon-9’s.

Missile Strategy of India


Recrudescence of missile warfare The genesis of use of rockets for military purpose in India dates back to the eighteenth century. However, the real gambit in this field in India began with the introduction of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) in 1982-83. The DRDO in conjunction with Ministry of Defence began the staged development program of various missiles with variable ranges. It was envisaged that to protect the diverse topography of India consisting of the variable terrains the nation was in dire need of been equipped with missiles of various ranges and purposes. Missile systems are more of a deterrence against the enemy than a threat. They provide a multi directional cover from lower ranges to higher ranges with least amount of setup in compare to land, air or sea forces. Missile systems are primarily transportable providing a cutting edge over any other method of attack as well as threat. When we study the Indian subcontinent we find the various challenges standing in respect of defence of the nation. Siachen Glacier in the north at 21000 ft. is the world’s highest battle-field, Western border is the vast barren lands of dessert with soring temperatures. The North-Eastern frontier also comprises steep, high ranges and dense tropical forests. To the South, there are ranges close to the sea, inland plateaus interspersed with river valleys and far-flung island territories such as the Lakshadweep to the West and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the East. Catering for the defences of this varied land is a challenge and a potent missile defence programme is an apt solution for this hurdle. Requirement of a Geo-Strategic Missile Defence in Indian Sub-Continent 1. The geographical and topographical diversity, especially on the over 15,000 km long border which we share with seven neighbouring countries (viz., Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Bhutan and Nepal), poses unique challenges to our Armed Forces. 2. India’s peninsular dimension places it adjacent to one of the most vital sea-lanes of the world stretching from the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca through which 55,000 ships and much of the oil from the Gulf region transit each year. 3. India’s location at the base of continental Asia and the top of the Indian Ocean gives it a vantage point in relation to both Central Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Additionally, India’s size, strategic location, trade links and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) links its security environment directly with the extended neighbourhood, particularly neighbouring countries and the regions of Central Asia, South-East Asia, the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. In a globalised world, these strategic-economic factors impose an increasingly larger responsibility on India. 4. South Asia hosts a diversity of political experiences and systems. The region also faces the menace of terrorism and problems by way of proliferation of arms and drugs. Against this background, India stands as a bulwark against fundamentalism and extremism. It is a centre of economic dynamism in the region and as a plural democracy, a bastion of stability and peaceful coexistence. 5. Maritime security concerns have assumed greater significance in the aftermath of the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The Indian Navy, which has been given the overall responsibility for maritime security is working in coordination with the Coast Guard and other Central and State agencies to deal with challenges of threats from the sea. The intelligence sharing mechanism has been streamlined through the creation of Joint Operation Centres and multiagency coordination mechanism. 6. India sits astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines in the Indian Ocean, namely, the Malacca Strait, Six and Ten-degree channel and the Persian Gulf. Annually, US $200 billion worth of oil passes through the Straits of Hormuz and US $60 billion through the Malacca Strait. By virtue of our geography, we are therefore interested in the security of shipping along the sea lanes of communications in the IOR. 7. India’s maritime interest is not restricted to guarding the coastline and island territories, but also includes safeguarding of our interests in the EEZ as well as keeping our Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) open in times of peace, tension or hostilities.

Brazilian President impeached

In an unprecedented move, the Brazilian Senate has impeached Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, and removed her from office for the rest of her term. The Senate voted 61 to 20 to convict Rousseff on charges of manipulating the budget to conceal the nation’s economic problems. The crisis was sparked primarily by a $3 billion corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras that has enveloped hundreds of leading politicians, laying bare systematic graft. In a second vote, Senators fell short of the two-thirds majority required to bar her from office for eight years, with just 42 of the 81 members backing the move. Michel Temer, Rousseff’s former vice president turned political enemy, has been appointed as President. Temer will serve out Rousseff’s term, which runs through 2018. Rousseff survived torture in the 1970s under Brazil’s military regime. She later beat cancer and became the country’s first woman president. Rousseff had defeated a centre-right coalition of parties by a narrow margin and earned a mandate to carry on the legacy of the centreleft Workers’ Party, which has been governing Brazil since 2003. Brazil, the world’s fourthlargest democracy, is a regional power, member of the BRICS grouping and vies for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council alongside India. Implications: 1. The impeachment puts a definitive end to 13 years of governance by leftist Workers’ Party, an era during which Brazil’s economy boomed, lifting millions into the middle class and raising the country’s profile on the global stage. 2. India is bound to be affected by the growing political instability in Brazil. India and Brazil, both having huge markets, are part of a number of important bloc including BRICS (Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa) and IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa). The impact of Brazilian economy is bound to be felt. In Real GDP contracted 0.6 per cent in the three months to the end of June compared with the quarter to the end of March and at an annual rate of 3.8 per cent — the same velocity with which it fell in 2015. Moreover, over the past nine quarters per capita real GDP has contracted 9.7 per cent, reducing it to the same level as in the third quarter of 2010, just before Rousseff contested elections and took power in 2011 from Lula da Silva. 3. Brazil’s unemployment rate hit 11.6 percent in July, up from 8.6 percent a year ago. And the budget deficit is on pace to reach almost $48 billion by the end of this year.

Hello dear students

Why is Bimstec so important for India?

BIMSTEC, or The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, brings together Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand for cooperation in trade, industry and sectors of mutual interest. The grouping was a natural progression done on the basis of the regional proximities as well as the fact that these countries share common historical trade linkages through the Bay of Bengal. The sub-region has four LDCs (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal). This regional grouping provides a unique link between South Asia and Southeast Asia, bringing together over 2 billion people, or about 22% of the world population, and a combined GDP of over $2.7 trillion.
The BIMSTEC region naturally lends itself to regional integration with physical connectivity as well as economic cooperation. As the biggest member of BIMSTEC, the nations in the region look forward to India’s leadership to show tangible results. In terms of connectivity, BIMSTEC has at last three major projects that, when finished, could transform the movement of goods and vehicles through the countries in the grouping.
Taking advantage of the opportunity of BRICS leaders’ presence in the subcontinent, the leaders of the BIMSTEC composition were invited to the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa, India. There was common agreement on strengthening BRICS – BIMSTEC solidarity and cooperation based on common interests and key priorities to further strengthen strategic partnership in the spirit of openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. Emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development which require immense concentrated and collective efforts can only be achieved when there in universal acceptance and consensus. The joint Summit explored possibilities of expanding trade and commercial ties, and investment cooperation between BRICS and BIMSTEC countries.
With the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and overarching focus on poverty eradication, as well as laying an equal and balanced emphasis on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, countries in the BRICS-BIMSTEC groupings stand to gain from the benefits of introduction of innovative mechanisms for trade. For the implementation of SDGs, the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism within the UN with a mandate to facilitate technology for the implementation of the SDGs will tremendously improve the regions’ infrastructure.
Areas such as public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity, to ensure sustained long-term growth being encouraged in the BRICS and BIMSTEC regions, new and innovative projects will see the light of day in the regions. Involvement of Multilateral Development Banks to validate call for approaches to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure will increase the number of trade engagements.
The multilateral trading system and the centrality of the WTO as the cornerstone of a rule based, open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system with development at the core of its agenda garnered much support from the BRICS and BIMSTEC member countries. There is therefore much hope in the community for a scenario of greater number of bilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements complementary to the multilateral trading system with the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and compatibility with the WTO rules very much in place.
The role of BRICS and its collaborative efforts in the field of economic and financial co-operation are yielding positive results. Emphasis on the importance of cooperation in order to help stabilize the global economy and to resume growth will be the order of the day among these nations.
Areas such as ICT expansion, energy and climate change, such that the global imperatives of attaining energy security and international cooperation are achieved inclusively, received attention. Therefore, the upcoming COP22 in November in Marrakech could demonstrate a whole new approach toward ratifications of the NDCs as well as stronger relationships and a unified BRICS and BIMSTEC participation. It is noteworthy that an MoU between Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) on General Cooperation with the New Development Bank (NDB), along with other Development Financial Institutions of BRICS nations was signed, thus marking the beginning of a fresh outlook on exports among the BRICS economies.