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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 25 January 2024

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 ina 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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 3:

  1. Border Security Force (BSF) and issues of operational Jurisdiction

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Bharat Ratna Karpoori Thankur
  2. VAIBHAV Fellowship
  3. Surrogacy Act, 2021
  4. Standards Machine Applicable Readable and Transferable (SMART)
  5. Indian Stock market
  6. Dynamic wireless charging technology
  7. Evolution of Universe

 

Mapping:

  1. Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar

 


 

Border Security Force (BSF) and issues of operational Jurisdiction

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Border and its management, security forces

 

Source: TH

 Context: Punjab has filed a suit challenging the central government’s decision to increase the BSF’s operational jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km, considering it a breach of federal principles and an encroachment into state law and order powers. West Bengal shares a similar view.

 

What is the Special Powers of BSF?

In all border states, there is a power under the BSF Act,1968 to extend the jurisdiction of BSF so far as offences are considered. Different states have different jurisdiction limits. E.g., Gujarat had 80 km, but in some states, it was less (e.g., 15km in Punjab). Now (by the Central Government 2021 notification) it has been made uniform 50 kms.

 

BSF has concurrent power with state police/agencies with regard to some offences under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Passport Act, 1967 etc.

 

The procedure:

The BSF conducts search and seizure for violations such as smuggling narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners, and offences under Central Acts. After detaining a suspect or seizing a consignment in the specified area, the BSF can only perform “preliminary questioning” and must hand over the suspect to local police within 24 hours. The BSF lacks the authority to prosecute crime suspects.

 

What is the Issue?

In 2021, the Punjab government moved the Supreme Court (under Article 131) challenging the Centre’s decision that expanded the BSF’s jurisdiction from 15 to 50km.

It alleged a breach of federal principles and encroachment into the state’s law and order powers.

Note: Article 131 vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over disputes occurring between states or between states and the Centre.

 

What has SC said?

The Supreme Court clarified that the 2021 notification expanding BSF’s jurisdiction in Punjab from 15 to 50 km grants concurrent authority for preventing specific offences but does not diminish the investigative authority of the state police.

 

What does the Constitution Say?

Under Article 355, the Centre can deploy forces to protect a state from external aggression or internal disturbance, even without the state’s request. If a state opposes deployment, the Centre can issue directives under Article 355. If the state doesn’t comply, the Centre can take further action under Article 356 (President’s Rule).

 

Issues with the Centre’s extension of BSF’s jurisdiction:

IssuesDescription
Public Order vs Security of StateThe responsibility for public order and police rests with the State Government.
Weakening Spirit of FederalismThe notification without state government concurrence is seen as an encroachment on state powers. The Punjab Government views it as an encroachment under the guise of security or development
Affecting Functioning of BSFPolicing in the hinterland weakens BSF’s capacity to fulfil its primary duty of guarding the international border.
Issues Specific to PunjabThe extension covers major cities in a relatively small state like Punjab. In contrast, states like Gujarat and Rajasthan have specific geographical features (marshland and desert, respectively) that may justify the extension.

 

Arguments from the Central Government 

  1. Enhanced Border Security:The increase to 50 km is justified to improve border patrol effectiveness.
  2. Standardizing Operations:The expansion aims to unify the operational area across different states for consistency.

 

The way forward involves:

  1. Desirable State Consent: The Union Government should consult the State Government before deploying armed forces, whenever possible.
  2. State Self-Reliance: Each State Government, in consultation with the Union Government, should develop short-term and long-term plans to strengthen its Armed Police.
  3. Regional Arrangements: Neighbouring States can establish a standing arrangement, agreed upon by consensus, for using each other’s Armed Police in times of need. Zonal Councils provide a suitable forum for States within a zone to reach such agreements.

 

About Border Security Force (BSF): 

The Border Security Force (BSF), established in 1965 following the India-Pakistan war, is a significant component of India’s security apparatus. Operating under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces. With a force strength of over 2 lakhs, it is primarily deployed along the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders, managing security on the Indo-Pakistan International Border, Indo-Bangladesh International Border, and Line of Control (LoC) in coordination with the Indian Army

 

Role of the Border Security Force (BSF) in dealing with illegal migration and cross-border crimes.

  • Defending the porous borders: BSF has been defending Sir Creek in the Arabian Sea and Sundarbans Delta in the Bay of Bengal with its state-of-the-art fleet of Water Crafts.
  • Cooperating with local police: most of the raids and arrests that are conducted are in close coordination and cooperation with the local police.
    • Police do act against any smuggler or criminal if the BSF provides irrefutable evidence.
  • The First Line of Defence: It has been termed the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories because of the role played by it in dealing with illegal migration from the eastern border and tackling cross-border crimes.
  • Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System: has vastly improved the capability of the Border Security Force (BSF) in detecting and controlling cross-border crimes like illegal infiltration, smuggling of contraband goods, human trafficking and cross-border terrorism, etc.
  • BSF and internal security duties: While border protection has been the primary duty of BSF, it has also been deployed for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in troubled areas of the country like J&K, NE states and Naxal-hit areas.
  • Trans-border crimes: BSF was given powers way back in 1969 under the Indian Passport Act, Customs Act Arms Act, NPSD Act, and CrPC to arrest, search and seize a person, vessel or premises so it can effectively deal with trans-border crimes which have a bearing on national security in larger areas of the bordering states.
    • For instance, the smuggling of narcotics, arms and ammunition, fake currency and other contraband items on the western and eastern borders of the country.
  • Gathering information: The BSF does not have the responsibility only to apprehend the offenders while committing trans-border crimes at the zero line,
    • but also to gather information to neutralize the network and accomplices operating from their side of the area, independently as well as with the help of local police.

 

Challenges before BSF in dealing with illegal migration and cross-border crimes:

  • Porous border—along the India-Bangladesh border, from Sunderbans in the south to Malda in the north, and is the most porous stretch of India’s borders in the entire eastern theatre making it complex to manage.
  • Challenges on both our eastern and western borders have grown many folds in the last four decades despite the increased presence of BSF units, the erection of a border fence and the use of modern technologies.
  • Trans-border crimes are no longer confined to petty smuggling of few eatables or locally produced consumable items; pushing in of narcotics, arms and fake currency into India and large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals and Rohingyas pose a serious threat to our security and economy.
  • Increased connectivity and communication: As connectivity, communication and mobility have increased, trans-border criminals have the advantage of operating from deeper areas.
    • Most of the time BSF operates in close coordination with the local police, but this delays the operational functioning of BSF.
  • Wider outreach of criminals: While BSF is responsible for preventing trans-border crimes, the sphere of action of these criminals expands to the hinterlands.
    • In places like West Bengal, the trans-border criminals were cleverly operating from areas beyond the jurisdiction of BSF.

 

Conclusion and opinion

Thus, BSF needs to overcome these challenges and further strengthen its border domination against the threats from underground tunnels or enhanced threats by the use of drones or other methods. The added responsibility will require better-coordinated efforts at every level.

 

Insta Links:

  1. Illegal immigration in India’s northern and eastern borders

 

Mains Links:

Analyze the multidimensional challenges posed by external state and non-state actors, to the internal security of India. Also, discuss measures required to be taken to combat these threats. (UPSC 2021)

 

Prelims Links:

Department of Border Management is a Department of which one of the following Union Ministries? (UPSC 2008)

(a) Ministry of Defence
(b) Ministry of Home Affairs
(c) Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways
(d) Ministry of Environment and Forests

 

Ans: B

 

Bharat Ratna Karpoori Thankur

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TOI

 Context: The Centre has announced the posthumous award of the Bharat Ratna to Karpoori Thakur, former chief minister of Bihar, on his birth centenary.

  • Known as “Jannayak” (leader of the people), Thakur was a prominent backward caste leader in Bihar.
  • Thakur’s radical policy decisions, including removing English as a compulsory subject, implementing alcohol prohibition, and introducing a layered reservation system, had a significant impact.

 

About Bharat Ratna:

The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award in India, awarded by the President of India.

It is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order” without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.

The award was established on January 2, 1954, by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad.

Initially, the Bharat Ratna was only awarded for exceptional services in the fields of science, arts, literature, and public services, but the criteria were later expanded to include any field of human endeavour.

The recipients receive a certificate signed by the President and a medallion. The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. It does not carry any monetary grant. It is not a title under Article 18.

VAIBHAV Fellowship

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced the first recipients of the ‘Vaibhav’ fellowship, a scheme designed to attract Indian-origin scientists based abroad for short-term collaboration.

  • Twenty-two scientists will spend one to two months annually, for a maximum of three years, at Indian institutes such as the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institutes of Technology.
  • The fellows will receive a stipend, accommodation, and research grants for their host institutions.

 

The scheme aims to encourage collaborative projects, technology start-ups, and the establishment of long-term research connections between diaspora scientists and Indian institutions.

Surrogacy Act, 2021

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Union Health Ministry has requested data from all States and Union Territories regarding the number of couples and single and unmarried women who have successfully availed surrogacy under the Surrogacy Act, 2021, and the number of couples and single women who have opted for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) under the ART Act, 2021.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 is a law that regulates and promotes surrogacy in India. The law also prohibits commercial surrogacy and regulates in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics.

The purpose of the ART Act is to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics and banks in India. The Act also aims to ensure that ART practices are safe and ethical. 

Standards Machine Applicable Readable and Transferable (SMART)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The Director General of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), advocates for the implementation of the SMART (Standards Machine Applicable Readable and Transferable) approach to make Indian standards easily readable and understandable for all stakeholders.

  • A SMART standard initiative by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), emphasises machine interpretability and readability as key factors.
  • There is a need for accessible standards, especially for sectors dominated by small enterprises, which constitute more than 80% of the licenses granted by BIS.

Indian Stock market

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: India has surpassed Hong Kong to become the fourth-largest equity market globally, with the combined value of shares listed on Indian exchanges reaching $4.33 trillion compared to Hong Kong’s $4.29 trillion.

  • The top three stock markets are currently the U.S., China, and Japan.
  • This achievement marks India’s ascent in the global financial landscape, following the crossing of the $4 trillion mark.
  • India’s stock market growth has been attributed to factors such as strong GDP, political stability, foreign portfolio investment, and becoming an alternative to China for global investors and companies.

In contrast, Hong Kong has faced challenges, including COVID-19 restrictions, regulatory crackdowns, a property-sector crisis, and geopolitical tensions, impacting its appeal to investors.

 

The stock market is a collection of exchanges where investors can buy and sell company shares and other securities. It also includes over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces where investors can trade securities directly with each other.

 

Types of MarketsPurpose
Primary MarketIssuance of new securities by companies to raise capital. This includes processes like IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) and Rights Issues.
Secondary MarketTrading of existing securities among investors without the involvement of the issuing company through exchanges such as NSE, BSE etc.  Provides liquidity to investors and allows for price discovery based on market demand and supply.

Dynamic wireless charging technology

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE

  

Context: The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is considering the electrification of the Golden Quadrilateral, connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata, as part of Vision 2030: PM Public Transport Sewa.

  • The plan, expected to be implemented over the next seven years, aims to boost e-mobility and deploy e-buses.
  • The proposal includes dynamic wireless charging technology, enabling EVs to charge while on the move.
  • This approach could potentially reduce the battery size, making EVs more affordable.

 

About Dynamic Wireless Charging Technology: 

Dynamic wireless charging technology refers to a system that enables electric vehicles (EVs) to charge while on the move by using base pads embedded under the surface of the road.

Unlike traditional stationary wireless charging, dynamic wireless charging allows EVs to receive power continuously as they travel, eliminating the need to stop charging.

 This technology relies on inductive transfer of energy, similar to stationary wireless charging. The base pads installed beneath the road’s surface generate a magnetic field, and a corresponding pad on the vehicle receives this energy, facilitating charging without physical connections.

Evolution of Universe

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context:  As the universe ages, its future is shaped by fundamental laws of physics. Utilizing a logarithmic clock, cosmologists can trace the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present.

  

Various stages in the evolution of the universe:

StageDescription
Initial SingularityThe universe begins as an extremely hot and dense point called a singularity. This marks the starting point of the Big Bang theory, where all matter and energy are concentrated in a tiny, infinitely dense space.
Inflationary EpochA brief period of exponential expansion, known as cosmic inflation, occurs within the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This rapid expansion helps explain the uniformity and large-scale structure observed in the present universe.
Quark EpochAs the universe cools further, quarks and gluons combine to form protons and neutrons. This transition occurs in a matter of microseconds.
Hadron EpochProtons and neutrons continue to form and combine, creating a “soup” of particles called hadrons. This epoch lasts for a few minutes and is crucial for the formation of light elements like helium and deuterium.
Lepton EpochThe universe becomes transparent as it cools, allowing photons to move freely. Electrons and positrons annihilate, leaving behind a small excess of electrons, which form the basis for the cosmic microwave background radiation.
Photon EpochPhotons dominate the universe, interacting with charged particles. As the universe expands and cools, it enters a phase where photons no longer interact frequently, marking the transition to the era of cosmic microwave background radiation.
Formation of StructureOver millions of years, gravitational instabilities lead to the formation of cosmic structures. Gas clouds collapse to form galaxies, stars, and other celestial structures, shaping the large-scale structure observed in the universe today.
Stellar EvolutionStars form from collapsing gas clouds, undergo fusion, and eventually exhaust their nuclear fuel. Depending on their mass, stars may end their lives as supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, or white dwarfs. Stellar evolution contributes heavy elements to the cosmos.
Galactic EvolutionGalaxies evolve through interactions, mergers, and the continuous formation of new stars. Over billions of years, galaxies take on various forms, influencing the distribution of matter and shaping the cosmic landscape.
Dark Energy DominanceIn late cosmic history, dark energy, a mysterious force driving the accelerated expansion of the universe, becomes more dominant. It counteracts the gravitational pull, leading to an ever-faster expansion.
Beginning of EndOver time, stars will exhaust fuel, galaxies collide, and new stars will form from merging brown dwarfs. Eventually, stars will be ejected from galaxies, and black holes will dominate, consuming rogue stars until their evaporation.

Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar

Mapping:

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Indian government is considering reevaluating the Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement with Myanmar, which allows residents along the India-Myanmar border to travel up to 16 km inside each other’s country without a visa.

 

What is FMR?

FMR, implemented in 2018, the Free Movement Regime (FMR) permits residents on both sides of the 1,643 km India-Myanmar border to travel up to 16 km into each other’s territory without a visa. This requires a border pass with one-year validity, allowing a two-week stay. The border spans four states: Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The India-Myanmar border is a 1,643-kilometer international boundary running from the tripoint with China in the north to the tripoint with Bangladesh in the south. The trijunction between India, China, and Myanmar is yet to be agreed upon, with the de facto tripoint located just north of the Diphu Pass. The border traverses various geographical features, including the Mishmi Hills, Patkai, Kassom Ranges, Tiau River, and Chin Hills, before reaching the Bangladeshi tripoint through irregular lines.

 

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