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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENTFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 08 December 2021

 

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Significance of Raigad fort.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Ukraine issue.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What is NASA’s new communications system LCRD? 

2. Kasturirangan Committee on Western Ghats.

3. Assam Rifles’ dual control structure.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. ACE2 protein.

2. Hornbill festival.


 

Ukraine Issue

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: India and neighbourhood relations.

 

Ukraine Issue

Context:

The United States, NATO and Ukrainian officials have been making statements for nearly two weeks, referring to what they say are unusual Russian troop movements in the proximity of Ukraine.

 

What is the conflict all about?

  • Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, both former Soviet states, escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union. After the pro-Russian then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the talks, weeks of protests in Kiev erupted into violence.
  • Then, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, an autonomous peninsula in southern Ukraine with strong Russian loyalties, on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.
  • Shortly afterwards, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared their independence from Kiev, prompting months of heavy fighting. Despite Kiev and Moscow signing a peace deal in Minsk in 2015, brokered by France and Germany, there have been repeated ceasefire violations.

 

Need for international attention:

Fourteen thousand people have died in the battle between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country. Out of these, 3,393 deaths were of civilians, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’s October 2021 report.

 

International response:

The European Union and US have imposed a series of measures in response to Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, including economic sanctions targeting individuals, entities and specific sectors of the Russian economy.

 

Russia’s response:

Moscow sees the growing support for Ukraine from NATO — in terms of weaponry, training and personnel — as a threat to its own security.

  • It has also accused Ukraine of boosting its own troop numbers in preparation for an attempt to retake the Donbas region, an allegation Ukraine has denied.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for specific legal agreements that would rule out any further NATO expansion eastwards towards Russia’s borders, saying the West has not lived up to its previous verbal assurances.

 

Minsk Agreements:

Minsk I: Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014.

  • Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
  • The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.

Minsk II: In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany.

  • It was designed to end the fighting in the rebel regions and hand over the border to Ukraine’s national troops.

current affairs

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know where Sea of Azov is located? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Minsk Agreements.
  2. About NATO.
  3. About EU.
  4. Significance of Crimea.
  5. Ukraine and Russia conflict.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of NATO.

Sources: Indian Express.

Significance of Raigad fort:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Indian art and culture.

 

Context:

President Ram Nath Kovind recently visited Raigad Fort and paid tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

 

Kingdoms and dynasties associated with the fort?

  • The fort, which was earlier called Rairi, was the seat of the Maratha clan Shirke in the 12th century.
  • The fort changed hands a number of times from the dynasty of Bahaminis to the Nizamshahis and then the Adilshahis.
  • In 1656, Chhatrapati Shivaji captured it from the More’s of Javli who were under the suzerainty of the Adilshahi Sultanate.
  • In 1662, Shivaji formally changed the fort’s name to Raigad and added a number of structures to it. By 1664, the fort had emerged as the seat of Shivaji’s government.

The fort not only helped Shivaji challenge the supremacy of the Adilshahi dynasty but also opened up the routes towards Konkan for the extension of his power.

 

Why is it significant?

The fort was known to early Europeans as the Gibraltar of the East. Its decisive feature is a mile and a half flat top which has adequate room for buildings. In its prime, the fort had 300 stone houses and a garrison of 2,000 men.

 

Importance of Raigad Fort in Maharashtra’s polity:

Chhatrapati Shivaji is the tallest and the most revered icon in Maharashtra and there is a constant attempt by political parties of all hues to appropriate his legacy. Due to the significance of Raigad in his life, many political leaders make it a point to visit the fort.

 

About Chhatrapati Shivaji– notable points:

  • He was born in 1639 to Shahaji Bhonsle, a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate and Jijabai, a pious woman whose religious qualities had a profound influence on him.
  • He displayed his military zeal for the first time in 1645 when as a teenager, he successfully got control of the Torna Fort which was under Bijapur. He also acquired the Kondana Fort. Both these forts were under Adil Shah of Bijapur.
  • He took on the titles of Chhatrapati, Shakakarta, Kshatriya Kulavantas and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak.

 

Important battles associated with him:

  1. Battle of Pratapgad, 1659.
  2. Battle of Pavan Khind, 1660.
  3. Battle of Purandar, 1665.
  4. Battle of Sinhagad, 1670.
  5. Battle of Kalyan, 1682-83.
  6. Battle of Sangamner, 1679.

 

Treaty of Purandar:

In June 1665, the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Shivaji and Raja Jai Singh I (representing Aurangzeb).

  • As per this treaty, many forts were relinquished to the Mughals and it was agreed that Shivaji would meet Aurangzeb at Agra. Shivaji also agreed to send his son Sambhaji as well.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that in 1674, Shivaji was crowned at Raigad by Gagabhatt where he took on the title of Chhatrapati?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Raigad Fort.
  2. Chatrapati Shivaji.
  3. Aurangzeb.
  4. Battle of Pratapgad, 1659.
  5. Battle of Pavan Khind, 1660.
  6. Battle of Purandar, 1665.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Raigad Fort in India’s history.

Sources: Indian Express.

What is NASA’s new communications system LCRD?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Science and technology.

 

Context:

NASA has launched its new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD).

  • It is the agency’s first-ever laser communications system.
  • The LCRD will help the agency test optical communication in space.

 

About LCRD:

LCRD is a technology demonstration that will pave the way for future optical communications missions.

  • The LCRD payload is hosted onboard the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6).
  • It will be in a geosynchronous orbit, over 35,000km above Earth.

 

Advantages of optical communications systems:

Optical communications systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power compared with radio instruments.

  • A smaller size means more room for science instruments.
  • Less weight means a less expensive launch.
  • Less power means less drain on the spacecraft’s batteries.
  • With optical communications supplementing radio, missions will have unparalleled communications capabilities.

 

Laser VS radio:

Laser communications and radio waves use different wavelengths of light.

  • Laser uses infrared light and has a shorter wavelength than radio waves. This will help the transmission of more data in a short time.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that optical communications will help increase the bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About LCRD.
  2. Radio frequency.
  3. Optical communications systems.
  4. NASA missions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of NASA’s LCRD.

Sources: Indian Express.

Kasturirangan Committee on Western Ghats:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Context:

Recently, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai informed the Centre that the state is opposed to the Kasturirangan Committee report on Western Ghats.

  • He said that declaring Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive zone would adversely affect the livelihood of people in the region.
  • However, the experts called the state’s opposition disastrous for the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.

 

What did the Gadgil Committee say?

  • It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management.
  • It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
  • Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
  • It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.
  • The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.

 

Why was Kasturirangan Committee setup?

None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.

  • In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
  • The Kasturirangan report seeks to bring just 37% of the Western Ghats under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones — down from the 64% suggested by the Gadgil report.

 

Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:

  • A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining.
  • No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions.
  • A ban on new polluting industries.
  • Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned.
  • Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.

current affairs

 

Importance of western ghats:

  • The Western Ghats is an extensive region spanning over six States. It is the home of many endangered plants and animals. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.
  • According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas. They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Geographical extension of Eastern and Western ghats, Important rivers, passes and mountain ranges, tallest peaks.
  2. Critically endangered, endangered and endemic species found in this region.
  3. ESAs vs. ESZs, who designates them?
  4. Differences between recommendations of the two committees.
  5. What is a World Heritage site? Who designates them?
  6. What are “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity? Who designates them?

Mains Link:

Various committees have been formed to give recommendations on preservation of Western Ghats, but not a lot has happened on that front. Examine.

Sources: Indian Express.

Assam Rifles’ dual control structure:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

 

Context:

Following the recent incident in Nagaland, Assam Rifles, which has the responsibility of the area where the incident occurred, has issued a statement expressing regret over the loss of innocent lives. It also informed that the Indian Army had instituted an inquiry into the incident.

 

What is Assam Rifles?

Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.

 

How is it unique?

It is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure. While the administrative control of the force is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

  • This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Army.
  • All its senior ranks, from DG to IG and sector headquarters are manned by officers from the Army. The force is commanded by Lieutenant General from the Indian Army.

 

What’s the issue now?

The force is the only central paramilitary force (CPMF) in real sense as its operational duties and regimentation are on the lines of the Indian Army. However, being a Central Armed Police force under MHA, its recruitment, perks, promotion of its personnel and retirement policies are governed according to the rules framed by the MHA for CAPFs.

  • This has created two sets of demands from both within the Assam Rifles and by MoD and MHA for singular control over the force by one ministry.

Why there is a demand for Assam Rifles to be placed under the MoD?

A large section within the force wants to be under the administrative control of the MoD, as that would mean better perks and retirement benefits which are far higher compared to CAPFs under MHA. However, Army personnel also retire early, at 35, while the retirement age in CAPF is 60 years.

  • Also, CAPF officers have recently been granted non-functional financial upgradation (NFFU) to at least financially address the issue of stagnation in their careers due to lack of avenues for promotion. But Army personnel also get one rank one pension which is not available to CAPFs.

 

Why do both MHA and MoD want full control?

MHA’s arguments:

  • MHA has argued that all the border guarding forces are under the operational control of the ministry and so Assam Rifles coming under MHA will give border guarding a comprehensive and integrated approach.
  • MHA sources also say that Assam Rifles continues to function on the pattern set during the 1960s and the ministry would want to make guarding of the Indo-Myanmar border on the lines of other CAPFs.

 

Army’s arguments:

  • The Army is of the opinion that the Assam Rifles has worked well in coordination with Army and frees up the armed forces from many of its responsibilities to focus on its core strengths.
  • It has also argued that Assam Rifles was always a military force and not a police force and has been built like that. It has argued that giving the control of the force to MHA or merging it with any other CAPF will confuse the force and jeopardise national security.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force raised way back in 1835 in British India with just 750 men?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Assam Rifles- formation.
  2. Administrative control of the force is under?
  3. Who has the operational control?
  4. Functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the key mandate carried out by Assam rifles. What are the issues and concerns surrounding the dual control of the same?

Sources: Indian Express.

Facts for Prelims:

ACE2 protein:

ACE2 is an enzyme molecule that connects the inside of our cells to the outside via the cell membrane.

  • In normal physiology, another enzyme called ACE alters a chemical, Angiotensin I, and converts it into Angiotensin II, which causes blood vessels to constrict. The tightening of the blood vessels leads to an increase in blood pressure.
  • That’s when the ACE2 molecule comes in: to counteract the effects of ACE, causing blood vessels to dilate and lowering blood pressure.
  • The spikes that make up the ‘crown’ of coronavirus bind to ACE2 enzymes to get into our cells.

 

Hornbill festival:

  • Nagas celebrate this festival to revive, protect, sustain and promote the richness of the Naga heritage and traditions.
  • It occurs during 1 – 10 December on an annual basis.
  • It is also called the “Festival of Festivals”.
  • The festival pays tribute to Hornbill, the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas for its qualities of alertness and grandeur.
  • It is organized by State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments and also supported by Union Government.
  • Hornbill Festival was established on 1st December 1963 and was inaugurated by the then President Dr. S Radhakrishnan.

Why in the News?

The state government has decided to call off the ongoing Hornbill Festival in protest against the killing of 14 civilians by security forces.


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