- Indo-US ties: Economics & Strategy
- Uniform civil code
- Negative Consequences of Inefficient Subsidies: A World Bank Report
- Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies
- Gandhi Peace Prize
- Impact of Spaceflight on Brain Fluid Dynamics
- LEED Certification
- INS Vagir
Prime Minister of India heads to the United States for an official state visit on the invitation of President Joe Biden. This visit highlights the bipartisan consensus in Washington to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- Economic Engagement
- Strategic Underpinnings
- The Indo-US strategic partnership focuses on deepening economic engagement and elevating the bilateral relationship to a “global strategic partnership.”
- The value of trade between the two countries has reached a record $191 billion, making the US India’s largest trading partner.
- India enjoys a favorable balance of trade position with the US, which is comforting considering its adverse balance with other major trading partners.
- American companies have invested approximately $60 billion in sectors such as manufacturing, telecommunications, consumer goods, and aerospace in India.
- Indian companies have invested over $40 billion in sectors like IT, pharmaceuticals, and green energy, creating 425,000 jobs across various states in the US.
- The purchase of more than 200 Boeing aircraft by Air India, announced in February, is expected to support over one million American jobs and is seen as a significant achievement.
Importance of Visit:
- Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US is seen as a crucial step in strengthening the bilateral relationship.
- The visit will solidify the “defining relationship” of the 21st century, as described by President Biden.
- The economic ties between the two countries, including trade, investments, and job creation, highlight the significance of the visit and the positive trajectory of the relationship.
- The Indo-US relationship has strategic underpinnings, with a focus on countering China’s influence and diversifying supply chains.
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), consisting of India, the US, Australia, and Japan, serves as a strategic partnership aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean rim and focusing on the Indo-Pacific region.
- The I2U2, a grouping of India, Israel, the US, and the United Arab Emirates, focuses on joint investments and initiatives in various sectors such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
- The US and India have launched initiatives on Critical and Emerging Technologies, semiconductor supply chain resilience, and chip manufacturing.
- The semiconductor manufacturing agreement holds the potential for India to play a more central role in the global electronics supply chain and benefit from collaborations with established chip firms.
- The defence sector is expected to see multiple agreements, building on the existing cooperation framework. This includes the possibility of India manufacturing GE’s F414 turbofan jet engine under license for the indigenous Tejas Mk2 light combat aircraft.
- The US export controls on India and the need for technology transfer clearance from Congress pose challenges to the free transfer of technology.
- Trade issues such as visa delays and the revoking of India’s trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program in 2019 need resolution. The US has raised concerns about India’s protectionist trade policy and entry barriers for foreign investment.
- The increasing procurement of discounted crude oil from Russia by India raises questions about its partnership with the US. However, the US has overlooked this issue so far, despite imposing price caps on Russian oil products by G-7 countries.
- India may be encouraged to join the trade pillar of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) as a substitute for a full-scale free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. However, India has reservations about the commitments required in areas such as environment, labor, digital trade, and public procurement.
- India’s exclusion from the US-led Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), aimed at securing critical mineral supply chains and reducing dependency on China, has caused concern within sections of the Indian government. Italy has been included as a new member of the partnership.
- The MSP is considering collaborative projects, including the development of a critical minerals and metals cooperation forum, battery materials, and a minerals processing facility in South America.
-Source: Indian Express
Recently, The 22nd Law Commission of India Wednesday (June 14) sought the views of religious organisations and the public on the issue of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
GS II- Polity
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?
- Positive aspects of Uniform Civil Code include
- Challenges in Implementing Uniform Civil Code Include
- Does India not already have a UCC for civil matters?
- How does the idea of UCC relate to the Fundamental Right to religion?
What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?
- The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.
- The constitution has a provision for Uniform Civil Code in Article 44 as a Directive Principle of State Policy which states that “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
Article 44 is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.
Fundamental Rights are enforceable in a court of law. While Article 44 uses the words “state shall endeavour”, other Articles in the ‘Directive Principles’ chapter use words such as “in particular strive”; “shall in particular direct its policy”; “shall be obligation of the state” etc.
Article 43 mentions “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation”, while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44. All this implies that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.
Positive aspects of Uniform Civil Code include
- UCC will divest religion from social relations and personal laws and will ensure equality in terms of justice to both men and women regardless of the faith they practice.
- There will be uniform laws for all Indians with regard to marriage, inheritance, divorce etc.
- It will help in improving the condition of women in India as Indian society is mostly patriarchal
- Informal bodies like caste panchayats give judgements based on traditional laws. UCC will ensure that legal laws are followed rather than traditional laws.
- It can help in reducing instances of vote bank politics. If all religions are covered under same laws, politicians will have less to offer to communities in exchange of their vote.
Challenges in Implementing Uniform Civil Code Include
- Implementation of UCC might interfere with the principle of secularism, particularly with the provisions of Articles 25 and 26, which guarantee freedom relating to religious practices.
- Conservatism by religious groups, which resist such changes as it interferes with their religious practices.
- It is difficult for the government to come up with a uniform law that is accepted by all religious communities. All religious groups- whether majority or minority have to support the change in personal laws.
- Drafting of UCC is another obstacle. There is no consensus regarding whether it should be a blend of personal laws or should be a new law adhering to the constitutional mandate.
Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?
- Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters — Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act, etc.
- States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and, therefore, in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws. Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.
- If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a Uniform Civil Code, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List. But “personal laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.
- In 2020, the Law Commission concluded that a Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor desirable.
How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?
- Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion; Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”; Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture. An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to fundamental rights, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights.
- In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting Uniform Civil Code in the fundamental rights chapter.
- The matter was settled by a vote. By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of Fundamental Rights and therefore the Uniform Civil Code was made less important than freedom of religion.
-Source: The Hindu
The World Bank has released a report emphasizing the detrimental effects of inefficient subsidies in the agriculture, fishing, and fossil fuel sectors.
- The report reveals that the combined subsidies in these sectors surpass USD 7 trillion, which is approximately 8% of the global gross domestic product.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Negative Consequences of Inefficient Subsidies: Major Report Highlights
- Positive Impacts of Subsidies in Various Sectors
- Challenges Related to Subsidies
Negative Consequences of Inefficient Subsidies: Major Report Highlights
Fossil Fuel Subsidies:
- Price reduction measures for polluting fuels have limited effectiveness, as energy demand remains unresponsive to price changes.
- In 2021, countries spent USD 577 billion on subsidies aimed at lowering the prices of polluting fuels like oil, gas, and coal.
- Such subsidies encourage the overuse of fossil fuels and contribute to air pollution, particularly in middle-income countries experiencing industrialization and high health burdens.
- Subsidies for fossil fuel consumption exceed commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement, with countries spending six times more on these subsidies.
- Explicit subsidies in the agricultural sector amount to around USD 635 billion annually in countries with accessible data, and global estimates surpass USD 1 trillion.
- These subsidies target farmers for specific inputs or cultivation of certain crops.
- Research indicates that subsidies often favor wealthier farmers, even when intended to target the poor.
- Inefficient subsidy usage has led to up to 17% of nitrogen pollution in water over the past three decades, resulting in health impacts and reducing labor productivity by up to 3.5%.
- The fisheries sector receives approximately USD 35.4 billion in subsidies annually, of which around USD 22.2 billion contributes to overfishing.
- Subsidies play a significant role in driving excess fishing capacity, depleting fish stocks, and reducing fishing rents.
- In the absence of sustainable management, subsidies exacerbate the negative impacts on already depleted fish stocks.
- Redirecting subsidies without incentivizing increased fishing capacity is crucial for protecting remaining fish stocks.
Positive Impacts of Subsidies in Various Sectors
- Income Support: Subsidies provide income support to farmers, helping them cope with price fluctuations, market uncertainties, and production risks. For example, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in India provides direct income support to small and marginal farmers.
- Increased Agricultural Production: Subsidies on inputs like fertilizers, seeds, and irrigation promote increased agricultural production. The Nutrient-Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme in India ensures the availability of affordable fertilizers to farmers.
- Modernization and Infrastructure Development: Subsidies in the fishery sector aid in the modernization of fishing practices and the development of infrastructure, leading to increased productivity, improved safety measures, and better storage facilities. The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) in India focuses on infrastructure development to enhance fish production and fishermen’s welfare.
- Livelihood Support: Subsidies provide livelihood support to fishermen, particularly during lean seasons and adverse climatic conditions. Schemes like the National Scheme of Welfare of Fishermen assist with the construction and repair of boats, supply of safety equipment, and training programs.
- Energy Access and Affordability: Subsidies on fossil fuels such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and kerosene ensure energy access and affordability for vulnerable sections of society. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in India aims to increase LPG usage and reduce air pollution, deforestation, and health disorders.
Challenges Related to Subsidies
- Fiscal Burden: Subsidies often impose a significant fiscal burden on the government, straining its finances and impacting the allocation of resources to other critical sectors like healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.
- Fiscal Sustainability: Balancing the need for subsidies with fiscal sustainability is a constant challenge. Governments must ensure that subsidy programs are financially viable in the long term.
- Effective Targeting: Ensuring subsidies reach the intended beneficiaries effectively is a challenge. There is a risk of subsidies being misdirected or captured by ineligible individuals or entities. Proper identification and targeting mechanisms are essential to avoid leakages and ensure that subsidies benefit the intended recipients.
- Market Distortions: Subsidies can distort market dynamics and create inefficiencies. They may lead to overproduction or overconsumption of certain commodities, resulting in market imbalances and price distortions. This can affect the competitiveness of the sector and hinder its sustainable development.
- Transition to Sustainable Energy: Subsidies on fossil fuels can discourage the transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. They can perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to environmental degradation, air pollution, and climate change.
-Source: Down To Earth
Recently, India and the United States have taken a significant step towards strengthening their strategic partnership and driving technology and defense cooperation. Under the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), the two nations have unveiled a roadmap for enhanced collaboration in high-technology areas.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- About iCET (India-US Technology Initiative)
- Progress Made So Far
- About OpenRAN Network Technology
About iCET (India-US Technology Initiative):
iCET is an initiative announced by India and the US in May 2022 and officially launched in January 2023. It is being led by the National Security Council of both countries.
- Areas of Cooperation: Both countries have identified six areas of cooperation, starting with co-development and co-production. The scope of cooperation will gradually expand to QUAD, NATO, Europe, and the rest of the world.
- Technology Sharing: India is willing to share its core technologies with the US, and it expects reciprocal technology sharing from Washington.
- Addressing Regulatory Barriers: The initiative aims to address regulatory barriers, align export controls, and foster deeper cooperation in critical and emerging fields.
- Focus on Critical and Emerging Technologies: iCET focuses on promoting collaboration in critical and emerging technology areas, including AI (Artificial Intelligence), quantum computing, semiconductors, and wireless telecommunication.
Focus Areas of the Initiative:
- AI Research Agency Partnership: Collaboration in the field of AI research agencies.
- Defense Industrial Cooperation: Cooperation in defense industrial and technological areas, including defense startups.
- Innovation Ecosystems: Promoting innovation ecosystems and supporting entrepreneurial endeavors.
- Semiconductor Ecosystem Development: Cooperation in the development of the semiconductor ecosystem.
- Cooperation on Human Spaceflight: Collaborating on human spaceflight endeavors.
- Advancement in 5G and 6G Technologies: Collaboration in the advancement of 5G and 6G technologies, as well as the adoption of OpenRAN network technology in India.
Progress Made So Far:
- Quantum Coordination Mechanism: The establishment of the Quantum Coordination Mechanism signifies the collaboration between India and the U.S. in the field of quantum technologies.
- Public-Private Dialogue on Telecommunication: The two countries have engaged in a public-private dialogue on telecommunication, indicating their commitment to fostering cooperation in this sector.
- Exchanges on AI and Space: Important exchanges and discussions have taken place between India and the U.S. regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and space technologies, showcasing their shared interest in these emerging fields.
- MoU on Semiconductor Supply Chain: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed to establish a semiconductor supply chain. This highlights the joint efforts of both countries to enhance semiconductor manufacturing and supply.
- Roadmap for Defense Industrial Cooperation: A roadmap for defense industrial cooperation has been concluded, outlining the strategic direction for collaboration in the defense sector between India and the U.S.
- Mega Jet Engine Deal: The two countries are in the final stages of finalizing a mega jet engine deal, indicating progress in the area of aviation and aerospace cooperation.
- India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X): The launch of the INDUS-X initiative is anticipated, which aims to accelerate defense-related activities and innovation between India and the U.S.
- Strategic Trade Dialogue: The establishment of the Strategic Trade Dialogue signifies the commitment of both countries to address regulatory barriers and review export control norms, promoting smoother trade relations.
About OpenRAN Network Technology
- OpenRAN Network Technology is a non-proprietary version of the Radio Access Network (RAN) system, which is a critical component of wireless telecommunications systems.
- It enables the connection between individual devices and other parts of a network through a radio link.
Interoperability: OpenRAN allows for interoperability between cellular network equipment from different vendors. This means that network components from different manufacturers can work together seamlessly.
- Open and Flexible Architecture: It creates a more open and flexible RAN architecture compared to traditional proprietary systems.
- Open Interfaces and Virtualization: OpenRAN is based on open interfaces and virtualization, enabling greater customization and adaptability.
- Industry Standards: It is supported by industry-wide standards, ensuring compatibility and promoting innovation.
- Cost Reduction: OpenRAN can potentially reduce costs by introducing competition among vendors and avoiding vendor lock-in.
- Increased Competition: With open interfaces, more vendors can enter the market, fostering increased competition.
- Faster Innovation: OpenRAN promotes faster innovation by enabling the integration of new technologies and solutions.
- Supporting 5G and 6G Networks: OpenRAN can be utilized to support the deployment and optimization of 5G and future 6G networks.
- Network Performance and Security: It enhances network performance and security through improved flexibility and adaptability.
- New Services and Capabilities: OpenRAN enables the introduction of new services and capabilities, such as network slicing and edge computing.
- Bridging the Digital Divide: OpenRAN can play a role in bridging the digital divide by providing cost-effective and accessible network solutions, particularly in underserved areas.
-Source: The Hindu
The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 will be conferred on Gita Press, Gorakhpur. The prize was announced by the Ministry of Culture.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Gandhi Peace Prize
- Previous Awardees
- Key facts about Gita Press
About Gandhi Peace Prize
The Gandhi Peace Prize is an esteemed award instituted in 1995 to honor individuals, associations, institutions, or organizations that have made significant contributions to social, economic, and political transformation through non-violence. Here are some key points about the Gandhi Peace Prize:
- Establishment: The award was established in 1995 on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 125th birth anniversary to pay tribute to his ideals and humanitarian contributions.
- Recognition: Recipients of the Gandhi Peace Prize are honored with a citation, a plaque, a traditional handicraft or handloom item, and a monetary prize of Rs 1 crore.
- Conferment: The President of India presents the award during a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President.
- Eligibility: The award is open to individuals, associations, institutions, or organizations irrespective of nationality, race, language, caste, creed, or gender.
- Joint Recipients: The jury, headed by the Prime Minister, has the discretion to divide the award equally between two recipients or institutions if they are deemed equally deserving in a given year.
- Posthumous Award: The award cannot be conferred posthumously, except in cases where a proposal had been submitted to the jury before the nominee’s demise as per the stipulated Code of Procedure.
- Notable recipients of the Gandhi Peace Prize include renowned organizations such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Ramakrishna Mission, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Vivekananda Kendra, Akshaya Patra, Ekal Abhiyan Trust, and Sulabh International.
- Distinguished luminaries like Nelson Mandela and Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman (2019) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh (2020) have also received the award.
Key facts about Gita Press:
- Establishment: Gita Press was established in 1923.
- Prominent Publisher: It is recognized as one of the world’s largest publishers.
- Extensive Book Publications: Gita Press has published a staggering number of books, with a total of 41.7 crore books in 14 languages.
- Emphasis on Shrimad Bhagavad Gita: Among its publications, Gita Press has published 16.21 crore copies of the sacred text Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.
- Contribution to Social Transformation: Gita Press has made significant contributions towards social, economic, and political transformation through non-violent and Gandhian methods.
- Recognition: The organization has received recognition and appreciation for its outstanding contribution in these areas.
-Source: Indian Express
Recently, a study was published in Scientific Reports, which sheds light on the effects of Spaceflight on the Brain, particularly concerning Longer Missions and the recovery period between flights.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key highlights of the study
- Significance of the Study
Key highlights of the study:
- Fluid Changes: Extended stays in space resulted in fluid changes in the brain, specifically the expansion of ventricles, which are cavities filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
- Cerebrospinal Fluid: Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear, colorless fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. It is produced in the ventricles of the brain and circulates throughout the central nervous system.
- Recovery Time: Astronauts who had more than three years of recovery time experienced an increase in ventricular volume after their most recent mission.
- Shorter Recovery Periods: Conversely, astronauts with shorter recovery periods demonstrated minimal to no ventricular enlargement after spaceflight.
- Inter-Mission Delays: Longer inter-mission delays between spaceflights were associated with greater increases in left and right lateral and third ventricle volumes following spaceflight.
- Fourth Ventricle: In contrast, the fourth ventricle exhibited a different pattern, showing greater volumetric decreases after space travel with longer inter-mission intervals.
Significance of the Study
The significance of the study on fluid changes in the brain of astronauts during and after spaceflight can be summarized as follows:
- Astronaut Health: The study contributes to the understanding of how space travel affects the brain and highlights the importance of safeguarding astronauts’ health during and after missions.
- Recovery Periods: It emphasizes the significance of providing adequate recovery periods between spaceflights. Recovery periods exceeding three years are suggested to allow the brain’s compensatory mechanisms to normalize intracranial fluid levels.
- Long-Term Implications: By considering the findings of this study, future space missions can take steps to protect astronauts from potential long-term neurological implications associated with extended stays in space.
- Well-being of Astronauts: Understanding the impact of spaceflight on the brain helps enhance the overall well-being of astronauts by implementing measures to mitigate potential risks and promote their neurological health.
- Safety and Mission Planning: The study’s findings can inform safety protocols and mission planning, allowing space agencies to develop strategies that prioritize the neurological health of astronauts during their missions and post-flight recovery periods.
-Source: The Hindu
According to the Green Business Certification Inc. India ranks first globally in LEED Zero-certified green building projects surpassing the US and China.
Facts for Prelims
About LEED Certification:
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a globally recognized green building rating system. Here are some key points about LEED certification:
- Widely Used: LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It is applicable to various types of buildings, including commercial, residential, institutional, and more.
- Framework for Green Buildings: LEED provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining green buildings that are environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, and sustainable. It promotes practices that conserve energy, water, and other resources while prioritizing the well-being of occupants.
- Comprehensive Benefits: LEED-certified buildings offer a range of benefits. They are designed to be healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving. These buildings contribute to a reduced environmental impact, improved indoor air quality, enhanced occupant comfort, and support social and governance initiatives.
- Symbol of Sustainability Achievement: LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. It demonstrates a commitment to environmentally responsible building practices and signifies a project’s adherence to high standards of sustainability.
- Points-Based System: The LEED certification process involves earning points by meeting prerequisites and credits. These address various aspects such as carbon emissions, energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, transportation, materials, and indoor environmental quality. The more points a project earns, the higher the level of LEED certification it can achieve.
- Certification Levels: LEED certification levels include Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These levels are based on the total points earned by a project during the verification and review process conducted by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).
- Developed by USGBC: LEED was developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable building practices and transforming the built environment.
-Source: Business Standards
Indian Navy’s state-of-the-art submarine, INS ‘Vagir’, is all set to embark on an operational visit to Colombo from June 19 to June 22.
GS III: Defence, Facts for Prelims
About INS Vagir:
- INS Vagir, a Kalvari-class submarine, was launched into the water on November 12, 2020, and began sea trials on February 1, 2022.
- It is the fifth submarine in the Scorpène-class, joining the INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela, and INS Vagsheer.
- The submarine was built as part of Project-75 by Mazgaon Docks Ltd, with technology transfer from the Naval Group of France, under a $3.75 billion agreement signed in October 2005.
- It is a versatile submarine capable of performing various missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, and surveillance.
- The INS Vagir incorporates advanced stealth features, including advanced acoustic absorption techniques, which enhance its ability to operate covertly.
- It is equipped with long-range guided torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, providing offensive capabilities.
-Source: The Hindu, PIB