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23-December -2023


Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions, agencies and fora
Diplomatic developments: India’s leadership role in IONS, strengthening maritime cooperation, and strategic partnerships in focus.
  • The 8th IONS Conclave in Bangkok saw Thailand assume leadership, India co-chairing key working groups, and Republic of Korea Navy joining as an observer
  • Bilateral engagements and future plans, including India’s 2025-27 chairmanship, were emphasized in discussions among 27 participating nations.
Event Overview:
  • 8th edition of IONS Conclave of Chiefs held in Bangkok, Thailand from Dec 19-22, 2023.
  • Attended by Chiefs of Navies from 27 countries.
Leadership Changes:
  • Thailand assumed IONS Chair; India co-Chair of Working Groups on Maritime Security and HADR.
  • India’s designed flag chosen as the official IONS Flag.
  • Republic of Korea Navy welcomed as the latest ‘Observer,‘ increasing IONS strength to 34.
Future Plans:
  • Work Plan for the next two years finalized.
  • India scheduled to take over as IONS Chair (2025-27) during the 9th CoC in late 2025.
Background on IONS:
  • IONS was conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008 to enhance maritime cooperation among Indian Ocean littoral states.
  • It provides an open and inclusive platform for discussions on regionally relevant maritime issues.
  • The inaugural edition was held in Feb 2008 in New Delhi, with India serving as the Chair for two years (2008-2010).
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium
  • Establishment: IONS was established in 2008.
  • Members: It comprises the navies of Indian Ocean littoral states.
  • Purpose: IONS serves as a multilateral maritime security initiative.
  • Objectives:

–     Enhancing regional maritime security.

–     Promoting cooperation in addressing maritime threats.

  • Principles:

–     Inclusiveness is a key principle.

–     Cooperative security is emphasized.

  • Activities:

–     Information sharing among member states.

–     Capacity building for collective maritime strength.

–     Collaboration on common challenges in the maritime domain.

  • Significance:

–     Facilitating dialogue among regional navies.

–     Strengthening overall maritime cooperation.

  • Symposia: Regular conferences provide a platform for discussions and coordination.
  • Focus Areas: IONS concentrates on maritime security, piracy, disaster relief, and environmental protection.
  • Outcome: The organization aims to promote collective security and stability in the Indian Ocean region.
PYQ: What are the maritime security challenges in India? Discuss the organizational, technical and procedural initiatives taken to improve the maritime security. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022) (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Critically analyze the emerging maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and suggest India’s strategic response to address them. (250 words/15 m)

2. Year End Review of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections
Significant for UPSC as it showcases government initiatives for minority empowerment, socio-economic development, and efficient governance through integrated schemes.
  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs, established in 2006, focuses on empowering minority communities.
  • Key initiatives include the PM VIKAS Scheme, PM Jan Vikas Karyakram, and successful coordination for Haj Pilgrimage 2023, emphasizing improved facilities and extensive ICT utilization.
Establishment of Ministry:
  • Ministry of Minority Affairs formed in 2006 to empower minority communities – Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims.
  • Create an inclusive environment for multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-religious India.
  • Improve socio-economic conditions of minority communities through affirmative action and inclusive development.
PM VIKAS Scheme:
  • Subsumes five existing schemes.
  • Focus on the life cycle of underprivileged minority segments.
  • Components: Skilling, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Education, and Infrastructure.
  • Trained 9,63,448 beneficiaries.
PM Jan Vikas Karyakram:
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme for socio-economic development in areas with minority population concentration.
  • Projects include school buildings, ITIs, health centers, etc.
  • Geo-tagging of infrastructure initiated.
NMDFC Achievements:
  • Highest-ever credit disbursement – Rs. 881.70 Cr., covering over 2.05 lakh beneficiaries.
  • NMDFC’s MILAN software for digitized loan accounting and mobile app launch.
Haj Pilgrimage 2023:
  • Record 4000+ single ladies under Lady Without Mehram category.
  • Elimination of 500 seats under Government Discretionary quota.
  • Successful coordination for Haj operations, improved health facilities, and extensive use of IT.
ICT Initiatives:
  • Web portals for various schemes, including Seekho Aur Kamao, Nai Roshni, USTTAD, and PMJVK.
  • Online application, funds allocation, and monitoring for efficient scheme implementation.
  • In-house development of ICT systems using state-of-the-art technologies.

3. Year End Review 2023: Ministry of Culture.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies Significant for UPSC: G20 cultural initiatives, UNESCO recognitions, and cultural exchange showcase India’s global cultural prominence.
  • India marked Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, culminating in “Meri Maati Mera Desh.”
  • G20 cultural activities, UNESCO recognitions, and the inauguration of the Indian Art Biennale showcased India’s rich cultural heritage.
 G20 Activities:
  • Hosted various G20 Culture Working Group Meetings under India’s Presidency.
  • Outcome Document titled ‘Kashi Culture Pathway’ agreed upon.
  • ‘G20 Culture: Shaping the Global Narrative for Inclusive Growth’ report launched.
  • Special edition stamp released by Culture Ministers to mark CWG’s conclusion.
International Cultural Relations:
  • Cultural Exchange Programs signed with Egypt, Slovakia, Colombia, Mauritius, Italy, and Belarus.
  • Global Buddhist Summit organized in collaboration with International Buddhist Confederation.
  • Santiniketan and Hoysala temples included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
  • ‘Garba of Gujarat’ declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
 Other Important Events/Initiatives:
  • Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign with over 10 crore people uploading Tiranga selfies.
  • Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in Mumbai showcasing folk, tribal, and classical performances.
  • Festival of India held in Kuwait and Namaste France event in Paris.
  • Prime Minister inaugurated various events, including Veerangana Rani Durgavati Smarak, Mathura event for Meera Bai, and International Museum Expo 2023.
Cultural Extravaganza and Recognitions:
  • Participation in Republic Day celebrations and inclusion of Gwalior and Kozhikode in UNESCO Creative Cities.
  • Gita Press, Gorakhpur, awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021.

4. Year end Review- Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies Relevant for UPSC: Highlights India’s environmental policies, COP 28 outcomes, NDC achievements, wildlife conservation, and circular economy initiatives.
  • The article highlights – India’s environmental initiatives: COP 28 updates, Green Credit Initiative, NDC achievements, wildlife conservation, circular economy, and air quality improvements.
 Green Credit Initiative:
  • Launched by PM at COP 28.
  • Encourages voluntary environmental actions for green credits.
  • Focus on tree plantation on degraded land, waste land, etc.
India’s NDC Updates:
  • Targets: 45% emissions intensity reduction, 50% non-fossil fuel power by 2030.
  • Achieved targets ahead of schedule: 43.81% non-fossil fuel power, 33% emissions intensity reduction.
 G-20 Initiatives:
  • Launch of Global Alliance on land restoration, Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition, and High-Level Principles for a Sustainable Blue Economy.
  • Mangrove Initiative (MISHTI) for shoreline restoration launched.
 International Big Cat Alliance:
  • PM launched for global big cat conservation, including tigers.
India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021:
  • Total forest and tree cover: 80.9 million hectares (24.62% of the country’s area).
  • Increase in forest cover by 1,540 sq km, tree cover by 721 sq km compared to 2019.
PARIVESH 2.0 Integration:
  • Integration with Gatishakti portal.
  • Seamless collaboration for environmental clearances.
Air Quality Improvement:
  • Positive impact on air quality in non-attainment cities.
  • Reduction in annual PM10 levels in monitored cities.
Mission Circular Economy:
  • Committees formed for Circular Economy Action Plans.
  • Amendments in rules for plastic waste, E-waste, battery waste, and more.
Wildlife Conservation:
  • Transcontinental relocation of cheetah to Kuno National Park.
  • Tiger population increase from 2226 in 2014 to 3,682 in 2023.
  • Launch of International Big Cat Alliance for global big cat conservation.

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