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Current Affairs 05 January 2024

  1. Free Movement Regime to end at Myanmar border
  2. Extension of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I Deadline
  3. Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund(PMNRF)
  4. Savitribai Phule
  5. Gujarat’s Wolf Reintroduction Project: Early Success
  6. Swadesh Darshan 2.0 Scheme
  7. Khadi and Village Industries Commission


Context:

As per the govt officials, the Union government is all set to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Myanmar border. People living in border areas, who could cross over to India, will soon require visas.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar: A Shift in Policy
  2. Indo-Myanmar Border Dynamics: Security and Border Management

Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar: A Shift in Policy

Introduction to FMR:

  • The Free Movement Regime (FMR) is a bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar allowing border tribes to travel up to 16 km inside the other country without a visa.
  • Launched in 2018 as part of the Act East policy, it aimed to promote movement, trade, and cultural exchange among ethnically similar communities along the border.

Historical Context:

  • The boundary demarcated by the British in 1826 divided ethnically similar communities into two nations.
  • FMR intended to address this by enabling free movement without visas, fostering local trade and business.

Current Status:

  • FMR has been defunct since 2020, initially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Post the military coup in Myanmar (2021), and escalating refugee crises, India suspended FMR in September 2022.
  • Concerns arose over unintended consequences, such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and gun-running.

New Development:

  • The Indian government has decided to conclude the Free Movement Regime with Myanmar.
  • Initiatives include initiating tenders for an advanced smart fencing system along the entire India-Myanmar border.

Rationale for the Shift:

  • Insurgent groups exploit FMR to conduct attacks on the Indian side and escape to Myanmar.
  • The move aims to curb illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and gold trafficking.
  • In September 2023, Manipur’s Chief Minister advocated winding up FMR to address concerns related to illegal immigration.

Challenges:

  • Potential opposition from states like Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • While acknowledging state concerns, border security and management fall under the Centre’s jurisdiction.

Indo-Myanmar Border Dynamics: Security and Border Management

Border Characteristics:

  • The Indo-Myanmar border spans 1,643 km, with states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram sharing this boundary.
  • The demarcation of 1,472 km out of the total length has been completed, leaving two un-demarcated portions in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
Security Concerns:
  • Secessionist Movements:
    • Greater Nagaland movement destabilizes the border, aspiring to include areas from both India and Myanmar.
  • Support to Insurgents and Terrorism:
    • Insurgents in India’s North Eastern states maintain ties with groups in Myanmar, receiving political, economic, logistic, and military support.
    • The porous border facilitates insurgent safe havens.
  • Narcotics Smuggling:
    • India’s proximity to the Golden Triangle results in rampant drug trafficking, especially synthetic drugs to and from Myanmar.
Border Management Measures:
  • Security Forces:
    • The Assam Rifles, known as “Friends of the North East People,” is deployed along the Indo-Myanmar border.
  • Modern Surveillance and Security Tools:
    • Deployment of modern weapons and equipment like UAVs, BFSRs, and Laser Range Finders for effective border security.
  • Border Fencing:
    • Initiatives to fence the border to curb infiltration, smuggling, and illegal activities.
  • Comprehensive Border Infrastructure Project:
    • Undertaking a comprehensive project to enhance infrastructure along the India-Myanmar border.
  • Integrated Check Posts (ICPs):
    • Setting up ICPs at major entry points on land borders for streamlined cross-border movements.
  • Border Area Development Programme (BADP):
    • MHA’s developmental initiatives under BADP contribute to a holistic approach to border management.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The government has extended the deadline for the completion of the flagship highway development project, Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, to 2027-28. This decision comes in the wake of a significant increase in the estimated cost of the project by over 100%, indicating a slowdown in implementation and financial constraints.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bharatmala Pariyojana Overview
  2. Enhancing Project Efficiency: The Way Forward

Bharatmala Pariyojana Overview

Introduction:

  • Bharatmala Pariyojana is a comprehensive program initiated by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Phases and Timeline:

  • The first phase of Bharatmala was introduced in 2017 with an initial completion target of 2022.
Salient Features:
  • Enhanced Effectiveness:
    • Focuses on maximizing the efficiency of existing infrastructure.
  • Multi-Modal Integration:
    • Aims to seamlessly integrate different modes of transportation.
  • Bridging Infrastructure Gaps:
    • Addresses gaps in infrastructure for smooth movement.
  • National and Economic Corridors:
    • Integrates both national and economic corridors for comprehensive development.
Key Program Features:
  • Economic Corridors Integration:
    • Enhances connectivity between economically vital production and consumption centers.
  • Inter-Corridor and Feeder Routes:
    • Ensures connectivity for the first mile and last mile.
  • National Corridor Efficiency Improvement:
    • Focuses on lane expansion and decongestion of existing national corridors.
  • Border and International Connectivity Roads:
    • Improves border road infrastructure for maneuverability and boosts trade with neighboring countries.
  • Coastal and Port Connectivity Roads:
    • Strengthens connectivity to coastal areas, fostering both tourism and industrial development.
  • Green-Field Expressways:
    • Introduces expressways to address traffic congestion and enhance efficiency.

Project Status:

  • As of November 2023, 42% of the project, equivalent to 15,045 km, has been completed.
Challenges:
  • Cost Factors:
    • Challenges include the cost of raw materials and increased land acquisition expenses.
  • High-Speed Corridor Construction:
    • Challenges associated with constructing high-speed corridors.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) Impact:
    • Increased GST rates pose a challenge to the project’s progress.

Enhancing Project Efficiency: The Way Forward

Strategic Procurement:
  • Examine Procurement Methods:
    • Assess strategic procurement methods for acquiring raw materials at competitive prices.
  • Negotiations with Suppliers:
    • Actively participate in negotiations with suppliers to secure favorable rates, especially during market fluctuations.
Land Acquisition Practices:
  • Efficient and Transparent Practices:
    • Implement efficient and transparent land acquisition practices to mitigate compensation disputes.
  • Exploration of Alternatives:
    • Explore alternatives such as land pooling and community engagement to streamline the land acquisition process.
High-Speed Corridors:
  • Thorough Feasibility Studies:
    • Conduct comprehensive feasibility studies before incorporating high-speed corridors to ensure their viability.
  • Optimized Corridor Designs:
    • Optimize corridor designs to strike a balance between functionality and cost-effectiveness.
GST Policies:
  • Advocacy for Stability:
    • Advocate for stable and predictable GST policies to reduce uncertainties in the project.
  • Engagement with Authorities:
    • Engage with government authorities to provide industry insights on the potential impact of tax rate changes.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

An acid attack survivor has approached the Delhi High Court seeking additional compensation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), highlighting delays and challenges in accessing the grant.

Relevance:

GS II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable Sections

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund(PMNRF)
  2. Difference between PMCARES and PMNRF in the below table;-

About Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund(PMNRF)

  • Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in India is the fund raised to provide support for people affected by natural and man made disasters.
  • Natural disasters covered under this include flood, cyclone, earthquake etc. Man made disasters include major accidents, acid attacks, riots etc.
  • The fund is also allotted to the people for treatment like cancer, kidney transplantation, heart surgery etc.
  • The fund was first consolidated during the time of the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

Difference between PMCARES and PMNRF in the below table;-

PMNRF (Prime Minister National Relief Fund)PM CARES Fund [Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund]
PMNRF (Prime Minister National Relief Fund) was established in January 1948.PM CARES Fund was established on 27th March 2020.
PMNRF was established by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.The PM CARES Fund was established by the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
The initial purpose of establishing PMNRF (Prime Minister National Relief Fund) was to help the people displaced due to partition of India and Pakistan.The PM CARES fund was established with the objective of helping people affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is the Prime Minister of India. Other members are from Tata Trusts, representatives of FICCI, Congress President.Chairman of the PM-CARES fund is the Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister has the power to nominate members. The other members of the PM CARES Fund are the Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.
The minimum amount one can donate in the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is Rs 100.PM CARES Fund allows option for Micro donation, one can donate as low as Rs 10 in the PM CARES Fund.
PMNRF focuses on all kinds of natural disasters and calamities like Cyclones, Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunamis etc. The PMNRF funds are also utilized for acid attack victims, cancer treatments, kidney transplants etc.PM CARES fund is exclusively used for COVID-19 purposes.
The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), which was set up in 1948, is not audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)CARES Fund is not being audited by the CAG, and is being audited by a private party appointed directly by the Government of India instead.

-Source: The Hindu



Context

Recently, the Prime Minister of India paid tributes to Savitribai Phule on her birth anniversary (3rd January 1831).

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who was Savitribai Phule?
  2. The loud opposition to Phules’ schools
  3. Phule’s role as a social reformer, beyond education
  4. Savitribai’s literary works

Who was Savitribai Phule?

  • A Dalit woman from the Mali community, Savitribai was born on January 3, 1831, in Maharashtra’s Naigaon village.
  • Married off at the tender age of 10, her husband Jyotirao Phule is said to have educated her at home.
  • Later, Jyotirao admitted Savitribai to a teachers’ training institution in Pune.
  • Throughout their life, the couple supported each other and in doing so, broke many social barriers.
  • At a time when it was considered unacceptable for women to even attain education, the couple went on to open a school for girls in Bhidewada, Pune, in 1848.
    • This became the country’s first girls’ school.
The loud opposition to Phules’ schools
  • The Phules opened more such schools for girls, Shudras and Ati-Shudras (the backward castes and Dalits, respectively) in Pune, leading to discontent among Indian nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
    • They opposed the setting up of schools for girls and non-Brahmins, citing a “loss of nationality”, and believing not following the caste rules would mean a loss of nationality itself.
  • The opposition to the couple was so hostile that eventually Jyotirao’s father Govindrao was forced to kick them out of his house.
  • Savitribai herself faced great animosity from the upper castes, including instances of physical violence.
  • But this would not deter the work and the schools came to be hailed as a success.

Phule’s role as a social reformer, beyond education

  • Savitribai Phule advocated inter-caste marriages, widow remarriage, and eradication of child marriage, sati and dowry systems, among other social issues.
  • The Phules also adopted Yashwantrao, the child of a widow, whom they educated to become a doctor.

Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha

  • Along with Jyotirao, Savitribai started the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (‘Home for the Prevention of Infanticide’) for pregnant widows facing discrimination.
  • This was inspired by a turn of events wherein a young Brahmin widow was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Andamans after she killed her newborn child.
  • The man who had raped the illiterate widow refused to take up any responsibility for the child, driving the widow to infanticide.

Satyashodhak Samaj:

  • In 1873, the Phules set up the Satyashodhak Samaj (‘Truth-seekers’ society’), a platform open to all, irrespective of their caste, religion or class hierarchies, with the sole aim of bringing social equity.
  • As an extension, they started ‘Satyashodhak Marriage’ – a rejection of Brahmanical rituals where the marrying couple takes a pledge to promote education and equality.

Balyata Pratibandak Gruha:

  • The couple also set up ‘Balyata Pratibandak Gruha’, a childcare centre for the protection of pregnant widows and rape victims.
  • Urging women to break free of caste barriers, Savitribai encouraged them to sit together at her meetings.

Husband’s funeral procession

  • At her husband’s funeral procession on November 28, 1890, Savitribai again defied convention and carried the titve (earthen pot).
  • Walking ahead of the procession, Savitribai was the one who consigned his body to the flames, a ritual which is still predominantly carried out by men.

Death:

  • Setting an extraordinary example of living a life of compassion, service and courage, Savitribai became involved in relief work during the 1896 famine in Maharashtra and the 1897 Bubonic plague.
  • She herself contracted the disease while taking a sick child to the hospital, and breathed her last on March 10, 1897.

Savitribai’s literary works

  • Savitribai Phule published her first collection of poems, called Kavya Phule (‘Poetry’s Blossoms’), at the age of 23 in 1854.
  • She published Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (‘The Ocean of Pure Gems’), in 1892.
  • Besides these works, Matushri Savitribai Phlenchi Bhashane va Gaani (S’avitribai Phule’s speeches and songs’), and her letters to her husband have also been published.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Gujarat’s unique project to reintroduce captive-bred wolves into the wild demonstrates promising early success, marking the first initiative of its kind outside the United States. The endeavor aims to replenish wolf populations, enabling them to function as biocontrol agents, regulating the populations of wild herbivores such as nilgai (blue bulls) and wild boars.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Wolves: Key Information

Wolves: Key Information

Introduction:
  • Wolves, the largest members of the Canidae family, are known for their imposing physique, dense fur, keen eyes, robust jaws, pointed ears, and a lengthy bushy tail.
Ecology and Behavior:
  • Social Animals:
    • Wolves exhibit social behavior, living in packs comprising a breeding pair and their offspring. Packs collaborate in hunting and raising pups.
  • Apex Predators:
    • Primarily hunting large ungulates like deer, elk, and moose, wolves play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem balance.
  • Communicative Masters:
    • Wolves utilize their famous howls for various purposes, including strengthening pack bonds, defending territory, and communicating with other packs.
Subspecies Found in India:
  • Grey Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes):
    • Predominantly found in the peninsular region of India.
  • Himalayan or Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco):
    • Indigenous to the northern regions of India, particularly in Ladakh and the Lahaul and Spiti region of northeastern Himachal Pradesh.
Distribution Range in India:
  • Grey Wolf:
    • Distributed across several states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, among others.
  • Himalayan Wolf:
    • Primarily found in the Ladakh region and the Lahaul and Spiti region of northeastern Himachal Pradesh, among other areas.
Protection Status:
  • Grey Wolf:
    • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
    • Wildlife Protection Act (India): Schedule I
    • CITES Appendix: I
  • Himalayan Wolf:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The tourism ministry has included Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary in the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 scheme.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Nurturing Sustainable Tourism
  2. Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Nurturing Sustainable Tourism

Inception:

  • Launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
  • Aims to foster sustainable and responsible tourism destinations across India.

Funding Mechanism:

  • A 100% centrally funded scheme.
  • Financial assistance provided to State governments, Union Territory Administrations, or Central Agencies for tourism infrastructure development.
  • Operation and Maintenance (O&M) responsibility lies with the respective State Government/UT Administration.
Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD2.0):
  • Recently revamped version focusing on comprehensive development:
    • Tourism and allied infrastructure.
    • Tourism services.
    • Human capital development.
    • Destination management and promotion.
    • Backed by policy and institutional reforms.
  • Objectives:
    • Encourage increased private sector investment in tourism and hospitality.
    • Promote Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in tourism and facilitate operation and maintenance of created assets.

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Location:
    • Situated in the Bargarh district of Odisha, near the Hirakud dam on the Mahanadi River.
  • Significance:
    • Special mention due to its association with freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai.
    • Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1985.
  • Vegetation:
    • Encompasses dry deciduous mixed forests.
  • Flora:
    • Abundance of trees including Sal, Asana, Bija, Aanla, Dhaura, etc.
  • Fauna:
    • Rich biodiversity with inhabitants like Tiger, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Hyena, Spotted Deer, Antelopes, Sambar, Gaur, Nilgai, Bison, Langur Monkeys, etc.

-Source: The Times of India



Context:

The Quality Council of India (QCI) and Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) recently signed an initial pact to enhance the quality of the latter’s products, train artisans, and introduce ‘Made in India’ label for Khadi.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

About Khadi Village Industries Commission:

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body of the Indian Constitution.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • It was established by Khadi and Village Industries Act, 1956. It has been amended twice, in 1965 and 2006.
Objectives of KVIC

The broad objectives of the Khadi Village and Industries Commission encompassing self-reliance and sustainability are:

  • To boost employment in the country.
  • To promote the promotion and sale of Khadi articles
  • To cater to the self-reliance doctrine of the country by empowering underprivileged and rural sections of the society.
Functions of KVIC

The following are the functions of Khadi Village and Industries Commission:

  • It plans, promotes, organizes, and implements programmes for the development of Khadi and Village Industries (KVI).
  • It coordinates with multiple agencies that are engaged in rural development for several initiatives w.r.t khadi and village industries in rural areas.
  • It maintains a reserve of raw materials that can be further promoted in the supply-chain.
  • It aids in creating common service facilities that help in processing of raw materials.
  • It aids the marketing of KVI products through artisans and other avenues.
  • It creates linkages with multiple marketing agencies for the promotion and sale of KVI products.
  • It encourages and promotes research and development in the KVI sector.
  • It brings solutions to the problems associated with the KVI products by promoting research study and enhancing competitive capacity.
  • It also helps in providing financial assistance to the individuals and institutions related to the khadi and village industries.
  • It enforces guidelines to comply with the product standards to eliminate the production of ingenuine products.
  • It is empowered to bring projects, programmes, schemes in relation to khadi and village industries’ development.

-Source: Indian Express


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