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Daily Current Affairs

28-October-2023

1. Pursue all legal, political options in Qatar case, say experts.

Topic: GS2 – International relations.

Options for Resolving the Qatari Court Sentencing Issue

  • Experts suggest that India should explore various avenues to secure the release of the eight Indian naval veterans facing death sentences in Qatar.
  • Apart from the legal appeals process, there are political avenues at the highest levels that India can utilize.

Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement

  • India has a 2015 agreement with Qatar on the “Transfer of Sentenced Persons.”
  • This agreement allows Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar to serve their sentences in India, and vice versa for Qatari prisoners.
  • The agreement aims to facilitate the sentenced individuals’ proximity to their families and social rehabilitation.

Leveraging Strategic Ties

  • India’s strategic ties with Qatar, including defense cooperation, could be leveraged to address the case.
  • The 2008 Defense Cooperation Agreement between India and Qatar has been extended periodically.
  • The non-renewal of the agreement may provide an opportunity for high-level negotiations.
  • India offers training to Qatari military personnel and participates in defense-related events in Qatar.

Behind-the-Scenes Diplomacy

  • Diplomacy behind closed doors and bilateral consultations at senior levels are essential to address this sensitive issue.
  • Public discussions or jingoism should be avoided.
  • Given the significant number of Indians working in Qatar, it is crucial to handle the matter delicately.

Royal Pardon Possibility

  • The Indian government should consider appealing for a royal pardon from the Qatari royal family.
  • This is an exceptional case of espionage by Indians in the Gulf region, and a royal pardon remains a possible solution.

2. ‘Arnia episode is the second ceasefire violation in 10 days’

Topic: GS3 – border security

Context:

  • Border areas in Jammu’s Arnia witnessed heavy firing from Pakistan, targeting at least six Border Security Force (BSF) posts with mortars and machine guns.
  • The reasons behind the recent flare-up on the International Border are being analyzed, marking the second such incident in the past 10 days.

Issues over India Pakistan border:

Territorial Disputes

  • The India-Pakistan border, also known as the Radcliffe Line, is a 3,326-kilometer (2,066-mile) international border that divides the Indian and Pakistani territories of the former British Indian Empire.
  • The border was drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe in 1947, in the wake of the Partition of India, and has been the subject of territorial disputes between the two countries ever since.
  • The most significant territorial dispute is over the Kashmir region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety.
  • Other territorial disputes include the Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek,and the Junagadh State.

Cross-Border Terrorism

  • Cross-border terrorism has been a major issue along the India-Pakistan border for decades.
  • Pakistan-based terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, have carried out several high-profile attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 Pulwama attack.
  • India has accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorist groups and of failing to crack down on them.
  • Pakistan has denied these allegations and has accused India of supporting terrorism in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan.

Smuggling and Illegal Migration

  • Smuggling and illegal migration are also major problems along the India-Pakistan border.
  • Goods such as drugs, weapons, and counterfeit currency are often smuggled across the border.
  • People also cross the border illegally in search of better economic opportunities or to escape persecution.
  • The porous nature of the border makes it difficult for the authorities to control smuggling and illegal migration.

Ceasefire Violations

  • Ceasefire violations are another common occurrence along the India-Pakistan border.
  • Both sides have accused each other of initiating ceasefire violations.
  • Ceasefire violations have led to the deaths of civilians and soldiers on both sides.
  • The ceasefire violations have also created an atmosphere of tension and mistrust between the two countries.

Impact on People

  • The issues along the India-Pakistan border have had a significant impact on the people living in the border areas.
  • The constant threat of violence and the lack of economic opportunities have forced many people to leave their homes and migrate to other parts of the country.
  • The border issues have also made it difficult for people to cross the border for legitimate purposes, such as trade and travel.

Way Forward

  • The issues along the India-Pakistan border are complex and there is no easy solution.
  • However, both countries need to engage in dialogue and cooperation to address these issues.
  • India and Pakistan need to work together to tackle cross-border terrorism and smuggling.
  • They also need to establish a more effective ceasefire mechanism and resolve their territorial disputes through peaceful means.
  • The two countries also need to take steps to improve the lives of the people living in the border areas.

Conclusion

         The issues along the India-Pakistan border are a major challenge to peace and stability in the region. It is important for both countries to work together to address these issues in order to create a more peaceful and prosperous future for their people.

Question: Discuss the major challenges to India’s national security along the India-Pakistan border and suggest measures to address them.

3. Mizoram has highest cancer incidence rate in India, finds study

Topic: GS3 – health sector

Context:

  • Mizoram, India’s second least populated state, has the highest cancer incidence rate in the country.
  • An 18-year trend study reveals a consistent increase in cancer incidence and mortality in the state.
  • Stomach cancer is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths among men, while lung cancer is a significant contributor among women.

Rising cases of noncommunicable diseases in India:

What are Noncommunicable Diseases?

  • Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic diseases that are not caused by infectious agents.
  • NCDs are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide.
  • The four major NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

Why are NCDs on the Rise in India?

  • There are a number of factors contributing to the rise of NCDs in India, including:
    • Urbanization:India is rapidly urbanizing, and with urbanization comes changes in lifestyle, such as increased consumption of processed foods and sugary drinks, and decreased physical activity.
    • Population aging:India’s population is aging, and older adults are at higher risk of developing NCDs.
    • Genetic factors:Some people are genetically predisposed to developing NCDs.
    • Environmental factors:Environmental factors, such as air pollution and exposure to tobacco smoke, can also increase the risk of developing NCDs.

What are the Consequences of NCDs in India?

  • NCDs are a major burden on India’s health system and economy.
  • NCDs are responsible for over 60% of all deaths in India.
  • NCDs also lead to significant productivity losses.

What can be done to Prevent and Control NCDs in India?

  • Promoting healthy lifestyles: The government can promote healthy lifestyles by educating the public about the risks of NCDs and encouraging healthy behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco smoke.
  • Strengthening the health system:The government can strengthen the health system to improve the diagnosis and treatment of NCDs.
  • Making healthcare more affordable:The government can make healthcare more affordable for people with NCDs.
  • Investing in research:The government can invest in research to develop new and better ways to prevent and treat NCDs.

Conclusion

         NCDs are a major challenge to India’s public health. The government, civil society, and individuals all have a role to play in preventing and controlling NCDs. By working together, we can reduce the burden of NCDs on India’s population and economy.

Question: Discuss the reasons for the rising cases of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in India and suggest measures to prevent and control them.

4. Panel holds back its report on crime Bills.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs postponed the adoption of a draft report on three Bills seeking to replace the existing criminal laws.

More on the news:

  • The Opposition parties sought more time to examine the draft report.
  • Three members of the committee have filed dissent notes, demanding several changes in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023.
  • One key point of contention is the Hindi nomenclature of the Bills, which has not been accepted in the draft reports.

 

5. Laptops for college students, OPS among 5 guarantees of Cong.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:Everything You Need To Know About 28 October 2023 : Daily Current Affair

  • The ruling Congress in Rajasthan has unveiled five new guarantees for the people of the state.
  • Government college students will receive laptops or tablets to support their education.
  • The Congress guarantees free school education in English medium and some other promises.

Freebies in Elections

What are Freebies?

  • Freebies are electoral promises made by political parties to offer free or subsidized goods and services to voters in exchange for their votes.
  • Freebies can take many forms, such as free electricity, water,food, transportation, education, healthcare, and housing.

Why do Political Parties Promise Freebies?

  • Political parties promise freebies to win elections.
  • Freebies can be a powerful incentive for voters, especially those who are poor or marginalized.
  • Freebies can also be used to appeal to specific groups of voters, such as farmers, youth, or women.

What are the Consequences of Freebies?

  • Freebies can have a number of negative consequences, including:
    • Fiscal burden:Freebies can put a strain on government finances and lead to increased borrowing and debt.
    • Inefficiency: Freebies can lead to inefficient resource allocation and wasteful spending.
    • Corruption:Freebies can create opportunities for corruption, as politicians may award contracts to their cronies or favor certain groups of voters with freebies.
    • Political populism:Freebies can promote political populism and discourage voters from making informed choices about the best policies for the country.

What can be done to Address the Issue of Freebies in Elections?

  • Electoral reforms:Electoral reforms can be made to make it more difficult for political parties to promise freebies. For example, parties could be required to deposit a certain amount of money with the Election Commission before making any electoral promises.
  • Public awareness:Public awareness can be raised about the negative consequences of freebies. Voters can be educated about the importance of choosing candidates based on their policies and not on the freebies they promise.
  • Role of civil society:Civil society can play a role in monitoring and reporting on political parties that promise freebies. Civil society can also pressure political parties to adopt codes of conduct that restrict the use of freebies in elections.

Conclusion

Freebies in elections are a complex issue with no easy solutions. However, it is important to address the negative consequences of freebies and to take steps to promote responsible campaigning.

Question:  Discuss the pros and cons of freebies in elections and suggest measures to address the issue.

6. ROOSTERS CAN RECOGNISE THEMSELVES IN A MIRROR: STUDY

Topic: GS3-Science and Tech

Context:

  • According to a recent study published in PLOS One, roosters are able to identify their own reflections in mirrors.
  • This finding may have implications for our understanding of other animals’ cognitive capacities in addition to providing insight into the intelligence of chickens.

Rooster Intelligence Unveiled

  • Roosters display an amazing variety of behaviors. They are renowned for crowing, particularly early in the morning, to wake up farmers.
  • It’s interesting to note that when a hawk is circling overhead, they also make noise to warn its flock.
  • But roosters keep quiet to avoid calling attention to themselves when they sense a predator nearby while they are by themselves.

The Experiment

  • To help the roosters get used to these strange new surroundings, the researchers placed them in an enclosure with a mirror. The study is thought to apply to all chickens, although it focuses on roosters because of their consistent warning behavior.
  • To see how the roosters responded, a hawk silhouette was projected over them during the experiment. Whether another rooster was mirrored in the mirror or could be seen via a partition was a major factor.

Conclusion from the study

  • The study’s main finding is that roosters mostly rely on their sense of sight to perceive and communicate with one another. This result eliminates the chance that roosters use their sense of smell or hearing to determine whether other roosters are around.
  • In conclusion, the study disproves earlier theories regarding roosters’ cognitive capacities by showing that they can identify themselves in mirrors and respond to visual stimuli.

Implications:

  • This research challenges preconceived notions about other animals’ cognitive capacities in addition to offering an intriguing window into the intellect of chickens.
  • It emphasizes how crucial it is to appreciate animal perspectives and sensory perceptions in order to fully understand animal intelligence and behavior.

7. Qatar's Death Sentence Challenge to India

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • The recent judgment in Qatar, which sentenced eight former members of the Indian Navy to death, presents a serious diplomatic obstacle for the two historically cordial countries of India and Qatar.
  • The importance of this development stems mainly from the two nations’ large trading connection, especially in light of India’s concerns about energy security.

Gas Import Dependency:

  • About 50% of India’s natural gas supply comes from imports. Even if domestic output increases, imports are anticipated to grow due to government attempts to encourage natural gas usage.
  • A long-term agreement for 8.5 million tonnes of LNG per year (mtpa) has been reached between Qatar and Petronet LNG, India’s largest LNG importer.
  • India’s ambitious aims are to expand the share of natural gas (now at 6% of primary energy mix) to 15% by 2030. India wants to switch to more cheap and environmentally friendly energy sources, and this action supports that goal.
  • The diplomatic challenge presented by the situation involving retired Navy personnel in Qatar is especially delicate given these goals and issues related to energy security.

Trade Figures:

  • India’s total imports from Qatar in the fiscal year 2022–2023 amounted to $16.81 billion, of which $8.32 billion came from LNG imports.
  • On the other hand, India’s total export value to Qatar during that same period was only $1.97 billion, with the majority of the items being processed food products, vegetables, fruits, cereals, copper articles, iron and steel articles, and processed foods.

High Reliance on Qatar for LNG

  • In FY23, India purchased 19.85 million tonnes of LNG altogether, with over half, or roughly 54%, coming from Qatar.
  • India’s significant reliance on Qatar for LNG may take years to decrease, despite efforts to diversify supply.

Global LNG Market Dynamics

  • The disruption of Russian natural gas supply to Europe after the conflict in Ukraine has tipped the global LNG market in favor of exporters. Because of the recent high price volatility in the global LNG markets, long-term contracts are a more attractive option for assuring stable and affordable rates. Qatar is in a strong position as the largest LNG exporter in the world.

Way Forward:

  • Recent long-term supply agreements with significant global energy businesses have strengthened Qatar’s position in the LNG market.
  • In addition to looking at other long-term contracts, India is now negotiating the extension of its long-term LNG contract with Qatar.

8. Maldives Seeks to Remove Indian Military Presence

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • President-elect Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives stated in an interview with Bloomberg News that the nation has started talks with India to end its military deployment there.

  • In the framework of the regional power dynamics, where Beijing and New Delhi are vying for influence in the region, this development is noteworthy.

How has been the bilateral relation between India and Maldives?

  • The recent statement about removing Indian troops from the Maldives is potentially influenced by external factors.
  • However, historically, India has maintained a supportive relationship with the Maldives, including instances such as Operation Cactus in 1988, assistance during the 2004 tsunami, and support during the Covid pandemic.

What may be the probable consequences of Maldives removing the Indian troops from its country?

  • The removal of Indian troops from the Maldives may affect the nation’s diplomatic balance with China and strain relations with France, the US, and India.
  • Moreover, India should also explore options like relocating troops and radar stations to an Indian island on the Laccadive Ridge.
  • Further, despite removal, diplomatic efforts with Maldives should still continue, highlighting India’s significance in the Indian Ocean region.

How the removal of troops may impact India’s position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)?

  • The possible withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives may not be a significant setback for India. Instead, it will give opportunity to India to adjust its diplomacy in response to China’s presence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Moreover, India has matched China’s development efforts in the Maldives, and past tensions with Maldives have not seriously damaged bilateral ties. Hence, the current statement by given by Muizzu may need further observation.

How can India respond to the Chinese challenge in the IOR?

  • India’s history of naval exercises with IOR nations and its successful hosting of the recent G20 enhance its stature and could lead to deeper engagement with IOR countries.
  • Foreign Minister Jaishankar has also highlighted the importance of aligning logistics chains and improving naval interoperability in the IOR. He advocated cooperation with like-minded nations like the US, Australia, and Japan to counter the Chinese threat.

9. Adani Group's Expanding Dominance in Indian Ports Raises Concerns

Topic: GS3- Economy

Context:

  • The Adani Group has rapidly expanded its presence in India’s ports, going from just one port in 2001 to operating 14 ports and terminals, handling a quarter of all cargo passing through the country’s ports.
  • This phenomenal growth, largely through acquisitions, is causing concerns within the government about market concentration in the vital infrastructure sector.

Concerns and Growing Market Share

  • Concerns regarding the substantial market concentration in the ports industry are being voiced by regulators and officials.
  • Acquisitions have been a major factor in Adani’s expansion; the ports it has purchased in the last ten years handle more than one-third of the company’s total cargo volume.
  • Concerns regarding market concentration have grown as a result of this trend.

Risks of Concentration:

  • High market concentration carries significant dangers, according to officials in the shipping and economic ministries.
  • These risks include low competition, high entry hurdles for smaller businesses, and the possibility of abuse of a dominating position.
  • Concerns are raised by the fact that they are also taking into account claims of stock manipulation and accounting fraud against the Adani Group.

Way Forward:

  • Even though ports are conceived as natural monopolies, experts are concerned that one player may progressively gain capacity while others struggle.
  • Hence it is recommended that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the government keep a tight eye on the issue.

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