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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.