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Current Affairs 13 April 2023

CONTENTS

  1. China Taiwan Conflict
  2. Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice)
  3. REITs and InvITs Index
  4. Amrit Bharat Station Scheme
  5. International Prize in Statistics

 China Taiwan Conflict


Context:

China has announced that it is prepared to fight against any attempt to achieve Taiwan’s independence or any foreign interference.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. What is the Taiwan issue?
  3. Why is Taiwan so important to China?
  4. India’s Stand on Taiwan Issue

Details:

  • China conducted military exercises simulating a “seal off” of Taiwan, in response to the visit of Taiwan’s President to the United States.
  • Largely unrecognized by other nations, Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign country. However, China considers it to be a breakaway state and is determined to bring the island under its control.

What is the Taiwan issue?

The Point of Contention: The situation between China and Taiwan

Background:
  • Taiwan came under Chinese control during the Qing dynasty, but Japan was given control after China lost the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895.
  • China regained control of Taiwan in 1945 after Japan lost World War II, but the civil war between the nationalists and communists led to the nationalists fleeing to Taiwan in 1949.
  • The Kuomintang party, led by Chiang Kai-shek, ruled Taiwan for many years and is still a prominent political party.
Current Situation:
  • China claims Taiwan as a Chinese province, but Taiwan argues that it was never part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • Only 13 countries recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country due to China’s diplomatic pressure.
  • The US officially subscribes to PRC’s “One China Policy”, but backs Taiwan’s independence, maintains ties with Taipei, and sells weapons to it.
  • In the 1950s, the PRC bombed islands under Taiwan’s control, drawing in the US, which passed the Formosa (Old Name of Taiwan) Resolution to defend Taiwan’s territory.
  • In 1995-96, China’s testing of missiles in the seas around Taiwan led to the biggest US mobilization in the region since the Vietnam War.
  • The 2016 election of President Tsai marked the beginning of a sharp pro-independence phase in Taiwan, which has been intensified by her re-election in 2020.
  • Taiwan now has significant economic interests, including investments in China.
  • Pro-independence groups worry that this economic dependence may hinder their goals, while pro-reunification groups in Taiwan, as well as China, hope that increasing people-to-people contacts will eventually wear down the pro-independence lobbies.
Conclusion:
  • Taiwan has been able to maintain its independence, but the situation remains volatile.
  • As Taiwan continues to develop economically, tensions are likely to rise between China and Taiwan, making it crucial to monitor the situation in the region closely.

Why is Taiwan so important to China?

  • China has always seen Taiwan as a territory with high geopolitical significance.
  • This is due to its central location in the First Island Chain between Japan and the South China Sea, which is seen as the first benchmark or barrier for China’s power projection.
  • U.S. military outposts are scattered throughout this region, and hence, taking control of Taiwan would mean a significant breakthrough as per China’s geostrategic calculus.
  • Moreover, its reunification will formally bury the remaining ghosts of China’s “century of humiliation”.
  • China under President Xi Jinping seems to have lost its patience and currently sees very slim chances of a peaceful reunification.
  • This has been demonstrated in the growing frequency of rhetorical spats between Beijing and Taipei, and China’s military drills and patrols across the Strait, as well as the record-breaking aerial transgressions by China of Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
  • Also, this build-up of tensions is happening simultaneously and drawing parallels with the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

Strategic Significance of Taiwan

  • Location: Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, adjacent to China, Japan, and the Philippines
  • Gateway: Its location provides a natural gateway to Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, critical for global trade and security
  • High-tech electronics: Major producer of high-tech electronics, including semiconductors, and home to some of the world’s largest technology companies
  • Semiconductors: Produces over 60% of the world’s semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones
  • Military: Has a modern and capable military focused on defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Geopolitics: A major focus of regional and global geopolitics, with the potential to influence the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond

India’s Stand on Taiwan Issue:

India’s stance on Taiwan has evolved over the years, with a focus on improving economic and cultural ties, while also adhering to the One China policy. Here is a breakdown of India’s stand on the Taiwan issue:

India-Taiwan Ties:
  • India’s Act East policy has helped in improving India’s ties with Taiwan gradually over the years.
  • India has been working towards developing extensive cooperation with Taiwan in science & technology, environment issues, and people-to-people exchange, apart from trade and investment.
  • Though there are no formal diplomatic relations, India and Taiwan have representative offices in each other’s capitals that have facilitated high-level visits and helped deepen economic and cultural ties.
One China Policy:
  • India follows the One China policy, which recognizes Taiwan as part of China.
  • India also expects China to recognize India’s sovereignty over territories like Jammu and Kashmir.
  • However, India has stopped mentioning its adherence to the One China policy in recent times.
  • India’s engagement with Taiwan is restricted due to its ties with China, but it considers Taiwan an important economic partner and strategic ally.

Source: Indian Express


Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice)


Context:

The European Space Agency (ESA) is all set to launch the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or Juice, mission from its spaceport in French Guiana on an Ariane 5 launcher.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice)
  2. Mission Objectives

About Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice)

  • Juice has been constructed by an industrial consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space based on the parameters provided by the ESA.
  • The mission is planned to reach Jupiter in 2031.
  • Only two other spacecraft have ever examined Jupiter: the Galileo probe, which orbited the gas giant between 1995 and 2003, and Juno, which has been circling the planet since 2016.
  • Another spacecraft, NASA’s Europa Clipper, is scheduled to be launched in October this year and would already be orbiting Jupiter when Juice reaches the planet. Europa Clipper aims to study the Europa moon.
Mission Objectives
  • The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission aims to carry out a detailed exploration of Jupiter and its icy moons, which potentially have habitable environments.
  • The mission will use remote sensing, geophysical, and in situ instruments to make detailed observations of the gas giant and its three large ocean-bearing moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.
  • The main focus of the mission will be on Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, which is the only one to generate its own magnetic field.
  • The mission will create detailed maps of the moons’ surfaces and enable scientists, for the first time, to look beneath them and probe their water bodies.
Scientific Goals
  • The mission aims to provide insight into how such a planetary system and its constituents are formed and evolved over time.
  • It will help scientists understand the origin, history, and evolution of Jupiter and its moons.
  • The mission will reveal how possibly habitable environments can arise in Jupiter-like systems around other stars.
  • Juice will analyze the chemistry, structure, dynamics, weather, and climate of Jupiter and its ever-changing atmosphere.

Juice’s Capability to Detect Life on Jupiter’s Moons

Possible existence of life on Jupiter’s moons

  • Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa have immense amounts of water
  • Possibility of life in the form of microbes or advanced species

Juice’s capability to detect life

  • Not equipped to detect life on Jupiter’s moons
  • Capable of finding places inside the icy moons where necessary conditions to sustain life are present
  • Juice can examine the presence of water, biological essential elements, energy, and stability for life

Challenges in detecting life on Jupiter’s moons

  • Life may exist deep underneath the ice crusts, which is hard to access

Source: Indian Express


REITs and InvITs Index


Context:

Recently, NSE Indices Ltd, a subsidiary of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), launched India’s first-ever Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) Index

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the REITs and InvITs Index?
  2. What are REITs?
  3. What are InvITs?

What is the REITs and InvITs Index?

  • The REITs and InvITs Index tracks the performance of publicly listed and traded REITs and InvITs on the NSE.
  • The index’s base year is 1 July 2019, and it will be reviewed and rebalanced every quarter.
  • The index’s securities’ weights are determined based on their free-float market capitalization, with a security cap of 33% each, and the top three securities’ combined weight is capped at 72%.
  • The Nifty Reits & InvITs index’s top constituents include Embassy Office Parks REIT and Powergrid Infrastructure Investment.

What are REITs?

  • Companies that own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate.
  • Publicly traded like stocks, making them highly liquid.
  • Modeled after mutual funds, pooling the capital of numerous investors.
  • Enables individual investors to earn dividends from real estate investments without the need to buy, manage, or finance any properties themselves.

What are InvITs?

  • Mutual fund-like institutions that allow investments in the infrastructure sector by pooling small sums of money from individual investors.
  • Set up as a trust and registered with SEBI.
  • Composed of four parties: Trustee, Sponsor(s), Investment Manager, and Project Manager.

Source: Live Mint


Amrit Bharat Station Scheme


Context:

South Western Railway (SWR) is all set to revamp two railway stations, Krishnarajapuram and Whitefield stations under Amrit Bharat Station scheme.

Relevance:

GS III: Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amrit Bharat Station Scheme
  2. Objectives

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

  • The Amrit Bharat Station Scheme aims at the development of stations on a continuous basis with a long term vision.
  • The scheme is based on Master Planning for the long term and implementation of the elements of Master Plan as per the needs and patronage of the station.

Objectives:

  • Implementation of the Master Plan in phases to enhance the facilities beyond the Minimum Essential Amenities (MEA).
  • Aiming for the creation of Roof Plazas and city centres at the station in the long run.
  • Meeting the needs of the stakeholders and station usage studies based on availability of funds and inter-se priority.
  • Introduction of new amenities as well as upgradation and replacement of existing amenities.
  • Covering the stations where detailed techno-economic feasibility studies have been conducted or are being conducted but the work for construction of Roof Plazas has not been taken up yet.
  • Attempts to club different grades/types of waiting halls and provide good cafeteria/retail facilities as far as possible.
  • Providing high level platforms (760-840 mill meter) at all categories of stations.
  • Improving station approaches to ensure smooth access by widening of roads, removal of unwanted structures, properly designed signages, dedicated pedestrian pathways, well-planned parking areas, improved lighting etc.
  • Providing amenities for Divyangjan at stations as per guidelines issued by Railway Board from time to time.

Source: The Hindu


International Prize in Statistics


Context:

Calayampudi Radhakrishna Rao, a prominent Indian-American mathematician and statistician, will be awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the field.

Relevance:

Facts for prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About International Prize in Statistics:
  2. Works and Awards of C R Rao:

About International Prize in Statistics:

  • Awarded every two years.
  • Collaboration among five leading international statistics organizations
  • Recognizes major achievements in the statistics field
  • Particularly focuses on achievements that led to practical applications and breakthroughs in other disciplines
  • Modeled after the Nobel prizes, Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Turing Award

Works and Awards of C R Rao:

Works:
  • C R Rao’s 1945 paper in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society demonstrated three fundamental results that laid the foundation for the modern field of statistics and provided statistical tools that are widely used in science today.
  • His work introduced the Cramer-Rao Lower Bound, which provides a way to determine when a method for estimating a quantity is as good as any method can be, and the Rao-Blackwell Theorem, which provides a way to transform an estimate into an optimal estimate. These results are essential to many statistical analyses.
  • C R Rao’s work on information geometry provided insights that established a new interdisciplinary field known as “information geometry.” Information geometry is the study of the geometrical structure of families of probability distributions.
Significance of Rao’s Contribution:
  • Rao’s work has contributed significantly to the optimization of Higgs boson measurements at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as advancements in artificial intelligence, data science, signal processing, shape classification, and image segregation.
  • The Rao-Blackwell process has been applied to stereology, particle filtering, and computational econometrics, among others.
  • The Cramer-Rao lower bound is of great importance in diverse fields such as signal processing, spectroscopy, radar systems, multiple image radiography, risk analysis, and quantum physics.
Awards:
  • C R Rao was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan award in 2001 for his contributions to the field of statistics.

Source: Indian Express


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