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21st November Current Affairs

Contents

  1. India – Luxembourg Virtual Summit
  2. Willow Warbler sighted for the first time
  3. MHA approves study on ‘status of radicalisation’
  4. India requesting for Facebook’s user data
  5. Australia for ISRO satellite tracking facilities

INDIA – LUXEMBOURG VIRTUAL SUMMIT

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Indian Prime Minister held a virtual summit with Prime Minister of Luxembourg which is the first stand-alone summit between India and Luxembourg in the past two decades.
  • Luxembourg is one of the most important financial centres globally and several Indian companies have raised capital by issuing Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
  • Besides this, several Luxembourg-based investment funds also hold substantial banking and asset management market share in portfolio investments in India.

Highlights of the Summit

  • Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi said that he is happy that ISRO recently launched Luxembourg’s four satellites and he also welcomed Luxembourg’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance, a global initiative led by India.
  • Prime Minister of Luxembourg also welcomed the agreements between India and Luxembourg in the area of space and finance.
  • He also extended Luxembourg’s full support to India and welcomed India’s election to UNSC for the term 2021-22

India – Luxembourg Relations

  • India–Luxembourg relations started in 1947, in recent years relations between the two nations have grown.
  • More than 170 Indian Companies are listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
  • There is also a significant community of Indians living in Luxembourg and working.
  • Luxembourg had planned to be the first European nation in 2019 to host the annual Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank meeting.
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-Source: The Hindu


WILLOW WARBLER SIGHTED FOR THE FIRST TIME

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), one of the longest migrating small birds that breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic, has been sighted for the first time in the country at Punchakkari in the capital.
  • This is the first time that Phylloscopus trochilus is being sighted and reported in the country.

Specialty of the Vellayani-Punchakkari paddy fields

  • The Vellayani-Punchakkari paddy fields are a birding hotspot on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram.
  • It is known to harbour more than 213 species of birds that include both resident and migratory ones.
  • As many as seven species of warblers have been recorded from the Vellayani-Punchakkari fields.

Williow warbler

  • The willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) is a very common and widespread leaf warbler which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic, from Ireland east to the Anadyr River basin in eastern Siberia.
  • It is strongly migratory, with almost all of the population wintering in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The nest is usually built in close contact with the ground, often in low vegetation.
  • Like most Old-World warblers (Sylviidae), this small passerine is insectivorous.
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-Source: The Hindu


MHA APPROVES STUDY ON ‘STATUS OF RADICALISATION’

Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has, for the first time, approved a research study on “status of radicalisation in India.”
  • The study would attempt to legally define “radicalisation” and suggest amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
  • G.S. Bajpai, Director of the Centre for Criminology and Victimology, National Law University (NLU), Delhi, will conduct the research on radicalization.
  • The study will be religion-neutral and will go by facts and the reported cases.

Road to the Study on Radicalisation

  • The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), the police think tank of the MHA, had invited research proposals from academicians and legal experts in the year 2018.
  • It received 75 proposals, and two topics – “Status of Radicalization in India: An Exploratory Study of Prevention and Remedies” and “Functioning and Impact of Open Prisons on Rehabilitation of Prisoners” were shortlisted by the MHA.

Why is the Study needed?

  • Radicalisation is yet to be defined legally, this leads to misuse by the police. It should be defined and necessary amendments made to the UAPA.
  • Radicalisation has to be addressed in a systematic manner and a policy should be devised by the Centre.
  • Aggressive policing measures could be counter-productive as the youth who were radicalised were “misguided” and not the culprits. Merely sending young men behind the bars will not solve the purpose, right thinking people in the community will have to be mobilized.
  • The United Nations’ 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning the IS (Islamic State), al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities had pointed out “significant numbers” of the IS and al-Qaeda members in Kerala and Karnataka.

Radicalization

  • Radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation.
  • The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large; for example, radicalism can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive changes in society or from a broad desire for change in society.
  • Radicalization can be both violent and nonviolent, although most academic literature focuses on radicalization into violent extremism (RVE).
  • There are multiple pathways that constitute the process of radicalization, which can be independent but are usually mutually reinforcing.
  • Radicalization that occurs across multiple reinforcing pathways greatly increases a group’s resilience and lethality.
  • Furthermore, by compromising its ability to blend in with non-radical society and participate in a modern, national economy, radicalization serves as a kind of sociological trap that gives individuals no other place to go to satisfy their material and spiritual needs

Types of Radicalisation

  1. Right-Wing Extremism – It is characterized by the violent defence of a racial, ethnic or pseudo-national identity, and is also associated with radical hostility towards state authorities, minorities, immigrants and/or left-wing political groups.
  2. Politico-Religious Extremism – It results from political interpretation of religion and the defence, by violent means, of a religious identity perceived to be under attack (via international conflicts, foreign policy, social debates, etc.). Any religion may spawn this type of violent radicalization.
  3. Left-Wing Extremism – It focuses primarily on anti-capitalist demands and calls for the transformation of political systems considered responsible for producing social inequalities, and that may ultimately employ violent means to further its cause. It includes anarchist, maoist, Trotskyist and marxist–leninist groups that use violence to advocate for their cause.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019

The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.

It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

Key Provisions of the Amendment

The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.

Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:

  1. commits or participates in acts of terrorism
  2. prepares for terrorism
  3. promotes terrorism
  4. is otherwise involved in terrorism

The word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.

However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –

  1. to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India
  2. to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country

The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.

  • The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA REQUESTING FOR FACEBOOK’S USER DATA

Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

Facebook received over 35 thousand requests from the Government of India for user data during the first half (January-June) of 2020 – the second highest globally, according to the latest Transparency Report published by the United States-headquartered firm.

Details

  • Of the total volume, the U.S. continued to submit the largest number of requests (61,528), followed by India, Germany (11,211), France (11,086), the U.K. (9,185), Brazil (7,517), Turkey (6,171) and Poland (4,572).
  • Of the 35,360 requests from India for 57,294 users or accounts, Facebook said some data was produced in 50% of the cases.
  • This is an increase of over 33% compared to the queries in the second half (July-December) of 2019.

Facebook’s enforcement

  • When content was reported as violating local law, but did not go against Facebook’s Community Standards, the platform may limit access to that content in the country where it was allegedly illegal.
  • Facebook also released its report for ‘community standards enforcement’ which contained the prevalence of hate speech on its platform globally, for the first time.
  • As per available data, in Q3, 2020 (July-September) 2020, the company took action on 22.1 million pieces of content on Facebook for hate speech, of which 94.7% was found and flagged by it before users reported the content.

Internet Disruptions

  • As per the data shared by Facebook, in the first half of 2020, it witnessed about 53 instances of Internet disruptions affecting its services in 10 countries. India continued to top the list, accounting for 79% or 42 such disruptions.
  • Other countries part of the list were Burundi, Ethiopia, Guinea, Iraq, Myanmar, Sudan, Togo, Turkey and Vietnam.

-Source: The Hindu


AUSTRALIA FOR ISRO SATELLITE TRACKING FACILITIES

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • As part of steps to deepen cooperation in civil space activities, the space agencies of India and Australia were working together to position temporarily Indian tracking facilities in Australia, said Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.
  • This would support India’s planned human space flight programme.

Details

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has embarked on an ambitious plan to put an Indian in space by 2022 under Gaganyaan mission.
  • India, Australia space cooperation is underpinned by a formal Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2012.
  • At a virtual summit in June 2020, e, both countries elevated the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and put in place practical agreements on cybersecurity, emerging technology and critical minerals.

Cyber Cooperation

  • India and Australia concluded a framework arrangement on cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology cooperation.
  • This was enhancing how the two countries collaborated to promote and preserve an open, free, safe and secure Internet.

India – Australia Relations, Issues in the past

  • The historical ties between India and Australia initiated following the European settlement in Australia from 1788.
  • Australia and India for the first time established diplomatic relations in the pre-Independence period, when the Consulate General of India was first opened as a Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.
  • Following India’s independence, the Australian leaders advocated the British counterparts to retain the strategically important Andaman and the Nicobar Islands within the British Empire.
  • During the Cold War, Australia had decided to be a close ally of the US, while India initially opted for Non-Alignment.
  • Then there was the Pakistan factor. Australia’s attempts to act as the mediator between India and Pakistan in the 1940s and 1950s were not taken well by New Delhi.
  • Over time, during the Cold War era, Australia opted for close ties with Pakistan – a close ally of the US – instead of India.
  • Following the above – India-Australia relations touched a historic low when the Australian Government condemned India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Another issue that plagued the bilateral ties was the lack of people-to-people ties due to the “White Australia” policy that banned immigration from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Improvements began when:

  • In 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group had granted a waiver to India, leading to Australia lifting its uranium ban against the NPT non-signatories
  • In 2014 Australia signed a uranium supply deal with India, the first of its kind with a country that is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in recognition of India’s “impeccable” non-proliferation record it became evident what type of relation Australia wanted with India.
  • The end of the Cold War and India’s decision to launch major economic reforms in 1991 ensured the development of closer ties between the two nations.
  • India is among the largest contributors to Australia’s population growth. There is a massive influx of Indian students and tourists to Australia.

-Source: The Hindu

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