Current Affairs Analysis

23rd & 24th February 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

New species of snail discovered; International Judicial Conference; E-court Integrated Mission Mode Project; G20 financial leaders meet; G-20 group; location of Saudi Arabia; Kawal Tiger Reserve; GSI falsifies claims of huge gold deposits in Sonbhadra; Sonbhadra; Gold; 5G Hackathon; 5G technology;Advantages of 5G technology; Bodo accord and rifts in Assam; Joint commands for armed services
By IASToppers
February 24, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • International Judicial Conference

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Bodo accord and rifts in Assam

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • New species of snail discovered
  • Kawal Tiger Reserve

Bilateral & International Relations

  • G20 financial leaders meet

Defence & Security Issues

  • Joint commands for armed services

Science & Technology

  • 5G Hackathon

Also in News

  • GSI falsifies claims of huge gold deposits in Sonbhadra

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Polity & Governance

 International Judicial Conference

The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, delivered the valedictory address at the International Judicial Conference being organised by the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi recently.

Theme:Judiciary and the Changing World

Core issues:

  • The topics addressed in the conference were: Gender Justice, Contemporary Perspectives on Protection of Constitutional Values, Dynamic Interpretations of the Constitution in a Changing World, Harmonisation of Environment Protection, Sustainable Development and Protection of Right to Privacy in the Internet Age are issues that influence every member of the global community.
  • These distinctly defined topics cover the matrix of challenges faced by the judiciary across the world.

Recognising the contribution of Supreme Court:

  • Supreme Court of India deserves admiration for carrying out many radical reforms that made justice more accessible to common people.
  • Landmark judgements passed by this Court have strengthened the legal and constitutional framework of our country.
  • Its bench and bar are known for their legal scholarship and intellectual wisdom.
  • Referring the service rendered by the Supreme Court in making the higher courts’ judgments available in regional languages, the President said that this is indeed an extraordinary achievement given the linguistic diversity of India.
  • As of now, the judgments of the Supreme Court get translated in up to nine Indian languages to make them accessible to common people.

E-court Integrated Mission Mode Project:

  • The E-courts Mission Mode Project is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District Courts across the country.

Objectives:

  • To make whole judicial system ICT enabled by putting in place adequate and modern hardware and connectivity.
  • Automation of workflow management in all courts.
  • Electronic movement of records from taluka/trial to appeal courts.
  • Installation of video conferencing (VC) facility and recording of witness through Video Conferencing.
  • Connecting all courts in the country to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) through WAN and additional redundant connectivity.
  • Citizen centric facilities such as electronic filing, e-payment and use of mobile applications in all courts.
  • Touch screen based kiosks in each court complex, full computerisation of State and district level judicial and service academies and centres.
  • To automate the processes to provide transparency in accessibility of information to its stakeholders.
  • To enhancejudicial productivity, both qualitatively & quantitatively, to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost effective, predictable, reliable and transparent.
[Ref: PIB]

Government Schemes & Policies

Bodo accord and rifts in Assam

Bodo peace accord was signed on 27 January 2020 between the Ministry of Home Affairs, Assam government and Bodo groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union and militant outfits.

It was India’s third attempt at conflict resolution after the 1993 and 2003 accords.

Bodo Accord:

For detailed information on Bodo Accord 2020, please visit the link given below:

Is all well with the peace accord?

  • The third peace accord with the Bodos threatens to intensify the socio-political contestation among groups in the State not just in the expanded area, which will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), but also regions where the so-called Scheduled Hill Tribes reside in large numbers.
  • While greater contiguity of Bodo-populated areas would aid more efficient governance in the Sixth Schedule administrative unit, it has deepened insecurity among other groups such as Koch Rajbongshi, Adivasis and Muslims in the existing Bodoland Territorial Area Districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.
Govt signs accord with NDFB, ABSU to resolve Bodo issue1
  • The local Kokrajhar MP, a non-Bodo, has appealed to the government to ensure that a Bodo solution does not engender a non-Bodo problem.
  • The Bodoland Peoples Front, which has dominated the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) since inception in 2003, is also not pleased with newer claimants to power in the council elections due soon.
  • BTC chief HagramaMohilary, himself a former Bodo Liberation Tigers militant, has threatened to reject the accord and refused to use BTR as part of the new vocabulary.
  • The agreement stipulates that Bodos living in the hill areas outside the BTAD will be conferred Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status, something that has not gone down well with tribes such as the Karbis.

Why are the hill tribes up in arms?

  • In Assam, there are as many as 14 recognised plains tribe communities, 15 hill tribe communities and 16 Scheduled Caste communities.
  • The plains tribes are Barmans in Cachar, Bodos, Deoris, Hojais, Kacharis, Sonowals, Lalungs, Mechs, Misings, Rabhas, Dimasas, Singphos, Khamtis and Garos.
  • The ST (Hills) status is primarily reserved for tribes residing in the two autonomous hill districts of KarbiAnglong and Dima Hasao, where the Karbis and Dimasas are the most dominant in their respective areas.
  • At present, while 16 seats are reserved for STs in the 126-member Assam Assembly, two are reserved for existing tribes in the 14 Lok Sabha seats of the State.
  • Students’ bodies of the hill districts, chiefly the Karbi Students’ Association and the Dimasa Students’ Union, have risen in unison against the Centre’s assurance of granting ST (Hills) status to the Bodos living in the hill areas.
  • Militant group KarbiLongri and North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), which signed a ceasefire with the Centre in 2009, has also opposed the move saying it would adversely impact the “identity of the Karbis”.
  • While political configurations at the State level will not be largely altered because of the measure in the five Assembly seats of the hill districts, elections to the local autonomous tribal councils in KarbiAnglong and Dima Hasao, which also enjoy Sixth Schedule protections, could witness realignments.
  • The KarbiAnglong Autonomous Council, which has 26 seats, is due for elections in 2022.
  • The Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council has 30 seats.
  • The Karbis comprise over 46% of the population in the KAAC area and the Dimasas around 35% in the DHADC.

Will it have a ripple effect?

  • Other insurgent groups including the KarbiLongri N.C. Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), have taken note of the Bodo pact and are likely to push for similar generous terms.
  • The pot is likely to be stirred further in Assam if the plan to accord ST status to six communities from the State — Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Sootea, Moran, Matak and 36 different Adivasi groups clubbed together as ‘Tea Tribes’ — gets the final nod.
  • The communities are estimated to make up almost 27% of Assam’s population.
  • The impending Naga peace accord, in the works in its latest iteration since 2015, could also spur a demand for territorial and administrative rights in the Naga territoriesof Manipur even as the dominant Meiteis of the valley push their own agenda of inclusion in the ST category.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

New species of snail discovered

A new species of land snail has been identified, recently during a field course conducted by Taxon Expeditions at Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre in Brunei, Asia.

  • The species has been namedCraspedotropis gretathunbergae, in honour of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

About the species:

  • The new species comes from tropical rainforests and is sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures, which are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues.
  • Hence it was named to honour Thunberg, who has been making efforts to raise awareness about climate change.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Kawal Tiger Reserve

As a matter of relief, Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) in is speculated to foresee no man-animal conflict, on account of sufficient water availability in upcoming summer.

What is the issue?

  • The areas in the vicinity of Kawal Tiger Reserve saw man-animal conflict in the past due to shortage of water in the reserve and animals infiltrating into human settlements in search of water.
  • A per the officials, no man-animal conflict is foreseen on account of water this year.
  • Water will be available for a comparatively longer period in natural water bodies due to a prolonged monsoon and also the intensified efforts of the Reserve managementlike construction of artificial water holes in making it available through artificially created water holes.

About Kawal Tiger Reserve:

  • Kawal Tiger Reserve is located at the old Adilabad district inTelangana state of India.
  • Government of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012.
  • The reserve is the oldest sanctuary in the northern Telangana region of the state.
  • It is well known for its abundant flora and fauna.
  • This sanctuary is catchment for the rivers Godavari and Kadam, which flow towards the south of the sanctuary.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Bilateral & International Relations

G20 financial leaders meet

Finance ministers and central bank governors from G20 nationsmet in the Saudi Arabia’s capital for a two-day gathering recently to discuss the global economy and the risks from the coronavirus epidemic.

Agenda of the meet:

  • Finance ministers and central bank governors will discuss an action plan to shield the world economy from the impact of the corona virus outbreak.
  • They discussedglobal economic outlook and possible policy responses to support growth and safeguard against downside risks and ways to achieve a fairer global taxation system for the digital era.
  • At the core of discussions at the gathering was the action plan to shield the world economy which isalready facing a slowdownfrom the impact of the outbreak.

Impact of Corona virus:

  • The impact of the epidemic could see a “V-shaped” trajectory, with a sharp decline in China’s GDP followed by a sharp recovery, but the situation could have dire consequences for other countries.

V-Shaped Recovery:

  • In a V-shaped recession, the economy suffers a sharp but brief period of economic decline with a clearly defined trough, followed by a strong recovery.
  • V-shapes are the normal shape for recession, as the strength of economic recovery is typically closely related to the severity of the preceding recession.

G-20 group:

  • The G-20 is a group of 20 nations of the world comprising of the G-7 Nations-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus 11 emerging market and smaller industrialized countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey. The EU is also a member of the G-20.
  • The G-20’s members represent two-thirds of the world’s people and 85% of its economy.
  • The G-20’s primary mandate is to preventfuture international financial crises and shape the global economic agenda.
  • The finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 countries meet twice a year and at the same time as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • Group of Twenty (G20) summit will be held on 21–22 November 2020 in the capital city of Riyadh.

Location of Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest sovereign state in Western Asia, the second-largest in the Arab world (after Algeria), the fifth-largest in Asia, and the 12th-largest in the world.
  • Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south; it is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba.
  • It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains.
  • As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world.
[Ref: TOI, France24]

Defence & Security Issues

Joint commands for armed services

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said that his office is working on a tentative timeline for the establishment of joint commands among the three defence servicesArmy, Navy and Air Force — beginning with an Air Defence Command.

What are joint commands?

  • It is a unified command in which the resources of all the services are unified under a single commander looking at a geographical theatre.
  • It means that a single military commander will have the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to manage a security threat.
  • The commander of a joint command will have the freedom to train and equip his command as per the objective, and will have logistics of all the services at his beckoning.

What is the structure right now?

  • There are 17 commands, divided among the three services.
  • The Army and the Air Force have seven commands each, while the Navy has three commands.
  • These commands report to their respective services, and are headed by three-star officers.

How do joint commands help?

  • One of the main advantages is that the leader of a unified command has control over more varied resources, compared to the heads of the commands under the services now.
  • For Ex: The head of one of the proposed commands, Air Defence Command, will have under him naval and Army resources, too which can be used as per the threat perception.
  • Through such integration and jointness the three forces will be able to avoid duplication of resources.
  • The resources available under each service will be available to other services too.
  • The services will get to know one another better, strengthening cohesion in the defence establishment.

When will the new commands be ready?

  • Study for a proposed Air Defence Command has already been initiated and a report on the details of the command are expected by end of March.
  • He said the Air Defence Command should start becoming operational by the end of this year, and the Peninsula Command by the end of 2021, followed by theatre commands — joint commands looking at the land boundaries — with the first of these to begin rolling out by the end of 2022, but can take longer time too.

Do militaries of other countries have such commands?

  • Several major militaries are divided into integrated theatre commands. China’s People’s Liberation Army has five theatre commands: Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central. Its Western Theatre Command is responsible for India.
  • The US Armed Forces has 11 unified commands, of which seven are geographic and four functional commands. Its geographic commands are Africa, Central, European, Indo-Pacific, Northern, Southern and Space. Cyber, Special Operations, Transportation and Strategic are its functional commands.
  • India will not follow any country and find its own structure for the unified commands.

Key facts:

  • The three services will retain their independent identities as well.
  • There are two tri-services commands at the moment.
  • The joint command at the moment, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), is a theatre command, which is headed by the chiefs of the three services in rotation
  •  It was created in 2001 after a Group of Ministers had given a report on national security following the Kargil War.
  • The Strategic Forces Command was established in 2006 and is a functional tri-services command.
[Ref: Indian express]

Science & Technology

5G Hackathon

To identify and promote applications relevant to India in the 5G realm, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched ‘5G Hackathon’in association with a number of government, academia& industry stakeholders.

Major highlights:

  • Aimed at shortlisting India focussed cutting edge ideas that can be converted into workable 5G products and solutions, the Hackathon will be spread across three phases beginning from February 21, 2020 and culminate in a grand felicitation ceremony at India Mobile Congress on October 16, 2020.
  • Winners of the various phases will share a total prize pool of INR 2.5 Crores, and a unique opportunity to scale and implement their 5G applications to make them market ready with the support of DoT, MeitY and a number of leading industry, academia, Telcos/OEMs.
  • Various phases of the Hackathon broadly include preliminary submission of ideas, selection of 100 best ideas, mentorship and support from the Hackathon partners, development of solutions/products, selection and testing of 30 best solutions/ products on 5G trial network followed by felicitation of the 3 best ideas during India Mobile Congress (IMC), 2020.

Participation:

  • The 5G Hackathon is open to developers, students, start-ups, SMEs, academic institutions & registered companies in India & NRIs.
  • Stakeholders can participate as individuals or as a team to present use cases for the 5G network in the Indian context.
  • Participants can develop 5G solutions from across 10 categories including Healthcare, Education & Governance, AgriTech & Livestock, Environment, Public Safety & Disaster Management Enterprise, Smart Cities & Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Banking, Finance & Insurance, Logistics & Transportation, Multimedia & Broadcast, among others.

5G technology:

  • 5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before and will replace 4G LTE.
  • 5G will offer connections that are multitudes faster than current hook-ups, with average download speeds of around 1GBps is expected.
  • The networks are expected to supercharge Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data that allows for a smarter and more connected world.

Advantages of 5G technology:

  • 5G technology provides quantum leap over 4G in terms of speed, peak data rate, latency, spectrum efficiency and connection density.
  • Most distinct feature is applications in different economic verticals.
  • 5G Hackathon will convert innovating ideas in to products and solutions in different verticals and develop India specific use cases around 5G.
[Ref: PIB]

Also in News

GSI falsifies claims of huge gold deposits in Sonbhadra

Recently in February 2020, a PTI news report incorrectly claimed that Geological Survey of India has found 3,000 tonnes of gold deposits in Sonbhadra district.

  • PTI later clarified on Twitter that the GSI had told PTI that there had been no such discovery of large gold deposits in the district.

Sonbhadra:

  • Sonbhadra is the second largest district by area of Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • Sonbhadra is the only district in India which borders four states namely Madhya Pradesh in west, Chhattisgarh in south, Jharkhand in south east and Bihar in the northeast.
  • Sonbhadra district is an industrial zone and it has lots of minerals like bauxite, limestone, coal, gold etc.
  • Sonbhadra is called as “Energy Capital of India” because there are so many power plants.
  • Sonbhadra lies between Vindhyas and Kaimur hills, and its topology and natural environment.

Key facts about Gold:

  • Gold is a chemical element with chemical symbolAu and atomic number 79.
  • Compared to other metals, gold is less chemically reactive and good conductor of electricity and heat.
  • Gold is shiny, soft and dense and malleable, i.e. can easily be beaten into thin sheets or other shapes.
  • Due to a similar appearance to gold, the mineral pyrite has the nickname fool’s gold.
  • The amount of gold in various alloys (a combination of gold and another metal such as silver) is measured in carats (k). Pure gold is 24k.
  • Over the last 100 years South Africa has been the biggest producer of gold. In the recent times however it has been surpassed by China.
  • Throughout history gold has often been seen as a symbol of wealth and is a popular precious metal for investments.
  • The price of gold continually fluctuates and is often linked to major economic events.
[Ref: Indian Express, ScienceKids]

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