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Current Affairs 29 January 2022 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS

CONTENTS:

  1. Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with National War Memorial
  2. U.S., Russia seek to ease Ukraine tensions
  3. Importers, govt. duel in SC over GST on ocean freight
  4. Saraswati river
  5. China constructing bridge on Pangong Tso

 

Amar Jawan Jyoti Merged With National War Memorial

Context:

The government has put out the eternal flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti underneath India Gate and merged it with the one instituted at the National War Memorial in 2019 a few hundred meters away.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About Amar Jawan Jyoti
  2. Why was it placed at India Gate?
  3. About National War Memorial
  4. Architecture of the memorial
  5. Why Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with National War Memorial?

About Amar Jawan Jyoti

  • The flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti was established to pay tributes to the soldiers who had died in the 1971 war.
  • It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • It was established in 1972 to mark the India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • The key elements of the Amar Jawan Jyoti included a black marble plinth, a cenotaph, which acted as a tomb of the unknown soldier.
  • The plinth had an inverted L1A1 self-loading rifle with a bayonet, on top of which was a soldier’s war helmet. The installation had four urns on it, with four burners.
  • On normal days one of the four burners were kept alive, but on important days like the Republic Day, all four burners were lit.
  • These burners were what is called the eternal flame, and it was never allowed to be extinguished.
  • Since 1972, when it was inaugurated, it used to be kept alive with the help of cylinders of liquified petroleum gas, or LPG. One cylinder could keep one burner alive for a day and a half.
  • In 2006 fuel for the flames was changed from LPG to piped natural gas, or PNG.
  • It is through this piped gas that the flame marking the tribute to Indian soldiers had been kept alive eternally.

Why was it placed at India Gate?

  • The India Gate, All India War Memorial, as it was known earlier, was built by the British in 1931.
  • It was erected as a memorial to around 90,000 Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, who had died in several wars and campaigns till then.
  • Names of more than 13,000 dead soldiers are mentioned on the memorial commemorating them.
  • As it was a memorial for the Indian soldiers killed in wars, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was established underneath it by the government in 1972.

About National War Memorial:

  • It was inaugurated in February 2019 by the Prime Minister of India and built over a 40-acre area close to India Gate.
  • It is a national monument built to commemorate all the soldiers who have laid down their lives in the various battles, wars, operations and conflicts of Independent India.
  • There are many independent memorials for such soldiers, but no memorial existed commemorating them all at the national level.
  • The names of armed forces personnel killed during the armed conflicts with Pakistan and China as well as the 1961 War in Goa, Operation Pawan and other operations such as Operation Rakshak are inscribed on the memorial walls in golden letters.
    • This allows the near and dear ones of the fallen brave heart as well as the public to pay respects to the fallen warrior.


Architecture of the memorial:

It is based on four concentric circles.

Raksha Chakra (Circle of Protection):
  • It is Largest of all the chakras  which is marked by a row of trees, each of which represent soldiers, who protect the country.
Tyag Chakra( Circle of Sacrifice):
  • It has circular concentric walls of honour based on the Chakravyuh.
  • The walls have independent granite tablets for each of the soldiers who have died for the country since Independence.
  • As of today, there are 26,466 names of such soldiers on these granite tablets etched in golden letters.
  • A tablet is added every time a soldier is killed in the line of duty.
Veerta Chakra (Circle of Bravery):
  • It has a covered gallery with six bronze crafted murals depicting the battles and actions of our Armed Forces.
Amar Chakra (Circle of Immortality):
  • It has an obelisk, and the Eternal Flame.
  • The flame from the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate will be merged with this flame, which has been kept burning since 2019 when the memorial was unveiled.
  • The flame is a symbol of the immortality of the spirit of the fallen soldiers, and a mark that the country will not forget their sacrifice.

Why Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with National War Memorial?

  • The eternal flame paid homage to the soldiers killed in the 1971 War, but does not mention their name, and the India Gate is a “symbol of our colonial past”.
  • The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before and after it are housed at the National War Memorial.
  • Hence it is a true tribute to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there.
  • National War Memorial came up in 2019, Indian political and military leaders and foreign dignitaries pay their tributes to the fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial, which used to happen at the Amar Jawan Jyoti earlier.
  • With this change it was felt that two flames were not needed, even though when the National War Memorial was built officials had categorically stated that both the flames will be kept alive.
  • But another reason is that the Amar Jawan Jyoti was etched so strongly in the emotional psyche of the country that the new war memorial did not get the attention as the government had expected, and the government wants to promote the new memorial it built in 2019.
  • Along with moving the flame, Prime Minister announced that the canopy next to the India Gate will get a statue of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


U.S., Russia Seek to Ease Ukraine Tensions

Context:

Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats agreed to keep working to ease tensions over Ukraine, with the U.S. promising a written response to Russian security demands and not ruling out a presidential meeting.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About the Russia – Ukraine crisis
  2. Recent Developments
  3. Russia’s moves
  4. What are Russia’s and the West’s interests in Ukraine?
  5. What are the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict?
  6. Conclusion: For a peaceful resolution

About the Russia – Ukraine crisis

  • Despite being an independent country since 1991, as the former Soviet republic Ukraine has been perceived by Russia as being part of its sphere of influence.
  • Ukraine was one of the republics within the USSR during the cold war days, and has remained a strong ally of Russia ever since, till 2013.
  • While it was planning to sing an association agreement with the European Union in 2013, Russia sternly objected to it, leading to tensions.
  • Russia subsequently annexed “Crimea” (Russian speaking province in Ukraine) by force and declared its sovereignty over it with people’s support.
  • The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing and protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014, centred around the status of the Ukrainian regions of Crimea and Donbas.
  • The resultant conflict has so far claimed about 10,000 lives and displaced millions with no lasting resolution in sight.
  • Though the 2014-15 Minsk peace accords prohibited air strikes and heavy artillery firing, the dispute still prevails as a low-intensity combat.

Recent Developments

  • From the beginning of April 2021, Moscow has allegedly deployed thousands of troops as well as tanks and artillery near Ukraine’s eastern border. It has also mobilised troops in the annexed Black Sea region of Crimea.
  • This was enough to send a shock wave among the political elite in Ukraine, forcing them to appeal to the U.S. and NATO and ask for an intervention, if needed.
  • In April 2021, NATO Secretary General invited Ukrainian Foreign Minister to the NATO headquarters for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on the security situation in Ukraine.
  • It was reaffirmed that NATO would continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine.
  • Besides powerful rhetoric from NATO, Ukraine seems to be desperate to receive more commitments and concrete actions.
  • The Ukrainian President has also used the current tension as an opportunity to push for NATO membership, arguing that ‘this is the only way to end the war in Donbas’.

Russia’s moves

  • Arguably, the cornerstone of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is insufficient communication, especially on the part of Russia. A deficit of explicit messages from Moscow creates room for misinterpretations and exaggerations on the part of Ukraine and its western supporters.
  • From the Russian perspective, the current ‘military build-up’ can be viewed as another round of muscle flexing and an attempt to perpetuate the narrative of a powerful and capable Russia.

What are Russia’s and the West’s interests in Ukraine?

  • Ukraine and Russia share hundreds of years of cultural, linguistic and familial links. As part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the second-most powerful Soviet republic after Russia, and was crucial strategically, economically and culturally. Ever since Ukraine split from the Soviet Union, both Russia and the West have vied for greater influence in the country in order to keep the balance of power in the region in their favour.
  • For many in Russia and in the ethically Russian parts of Ukraine, the shared heritage of the countries is an emotional issue that has been exploited for electoral and military purposes.
  • For the United States and the European Union, Ukraine is a crucial buffer between Russia and the West. As tensions with Russia rise, the US and the EU are increasingly determined to keep Ukraine away from Russian control.
  • Efforts to induct Ukraine into NATO have been ongoing for many years and seems to have picked up pace recently. Russia has declared such a move a “red line”, with Moscow worried about the consequences of the US-led military alliances expanding right up to its doorstep.

What are the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict?

MINSK I
  • Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in Minsk, the capital of Belarus in 2014.
  • Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
  • The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
MINSK II
  • Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions signed a 13-point agreement in 2015 in Minsk.
  • The deal set out a series of military and political steps that remain unimplemented.
  • An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire,Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides, Monitoring and verification by the OSCE, Dialogue on interim self-government for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and An exchange of hostages and prisoners are the primary points.

Conclusion: For a peaceful resolution

  • All the stakeholders in the ongoing crisis should focus on establishing a constructive dialogue among themselves using clear and unambiguous language.
  • The only way forward is to seek a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict rather than exacerbating the reality and using quid pro quo tactics.
  • Both countries do need support from the global community, but not in a military form. There is a need for a platform (similarly to the Minsk Agreements) that will facilitate negotiation, mutual consensus and possible compromises, as well as engagement with mediators.
  • The long-term solution should be sought out in order to break the vicious cycle of animosity and misunderstanding.

-Source: The Hindu


Importers, Govt. Duel in SC Over GST On Ocean Freight

Context:

The government is engaged in a pitched legal battle in the Supreme Court against importers over its decision to levy Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on ocean freight on a reverse charge basis.

Relevance:

GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the article:
  1. What is GST and the GST Act?
  2. What are the components of GST?
  3. What is a reverse charge mechanism?

What is GST and the GST Act?

GST is a destination-based indirect tax and is levied at the final consumption point. Under it, the final consumer of the goods and services bear the tax charged in the supply chain. GST is a transparent and fair system that prevents black money and corruption and promotes new governance culture.

GST Act
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act came into effect in 2017.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced by the Government of India to boost the economic growth of India. GST is considered to be the biggest taxation reform in the history of the Indian economy.
  • The power to make any changes in the GST law is in the hands of the GST Council. GST Council is headed by the Finance Minister. One hundred and first amendment act, 2016 introduced the GST in India in July 2017.

What are the components of GST?

  • There are 3 taxes applicable under this system: CGST, SGST & IGST.
  • Central Goods and Service Tax CGST: Collected by the Central Government on an intra-state sale (Eg: transaction happening within Maharashtra)
  • State Goods and Service Tax SGST: Collected by the State Government on an intra-state sale (Eg: transaction happening within Maharashtra)
  • Integrated Goods and Services Tax IGST: Collected by the Central Government for inter-state sale (Eg: Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu)
CGST

Revenue under CGST is collected by the Central Government.

CGST subsumes the below given central taxations and levies:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Services Tax
  • Central Sales Tax
  • Excise Duty
  • Additional Excise Duties Countervailing Duty (CVD)
SGST

Revenue under SGST is collected by the State Government.

SGST subsumed the following state taxations:

  • Luxury Tax
  • State Sales Tax
  • Entry tax
  • Entertainment Tax
  • Levies on Lottery
IGST
  • IGST is charged when there is movement of goods from one state to another state.
  • The revenue will be collected by the central government and accordingly will be shared between the Union and states in the manner prescribed by Parliament or GST Council.
What is GST Compensation?
  • The Centre promised compensation to the States for any shortfall in tax revenue due to GST implementation for a period of five years. This promise convinced a large number of reluctant States to sign on to the new indirect tax regime.
  • As per the GST Act, states are guaranteed compensation for any revenue shortfall below 14% growth (base year 2015-16) for the first five years ending 2022. GST compensation is paid out of Compensation Cess every two months by the Centre to states.

What is a reverse charge mechanism?

Usually, the supplier of goods or services pays the tax on supply. In a reverse charge, the receiver becomes liable to pay the tax, i.e., the chargeability gets reversed.

Application of Reverse Charge in GST:
  • If a vendor who is not registered under GST, supplies goods to a person who is registered under GST, then Reverse Charge would apply.
    • This means that the GST will have to be paid directly by the receiver to the Government instead of the supplier.
  • The registered dealer who has to pay GST under reverse charge has to do self-invoicing for the purchases made.
  • For Inter-state purchases the buyer has to pay IGST. For Intra-state purchased CGST and SGST has to be paid under RCM by the purchaser.

-Source: The Hindu


China Constructing Bridge On Pangong Tso

Context:

China is constructing a bridge in Eastern Ladakh connecting the North and South Banks of Pangong Tso which would significantly bring down the time for People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to move troops and equipment between the two sectors.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests, Border disputes)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About Pangong Tso lake
  2. Fingers in the lake
  3. Shifting Positions
  4. Tactical significance of the Panging Tso
  5. About the new bridge in Pangong Tso being constructed by China

About Pangong Tso lake

  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked – a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but drainage converges instead into lakes or swamps that equilibrate through evaporation) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China.
  • Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies within the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
  • It is NOT a part of the Indus River basin area and geographically a separate landlocked river basin.
  • The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.
  • The 135 km-long lake sprawls over 604 sq km in the shape of a boomerang, and is 6 km wide at its broadest point. The western end of Tso lies 54 km to the southeast of Leh.
Fingers in the lake
  • The barren mountains on the lake’s northern bank, called the Chang Chenmo, jut forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”.
  • India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, but it physically controls area only up to Finger 4.
  • Chinese use light vehicles on the road to patrol up to Finger 2, which has a turning point for their vehicles.
  • If they are confronted and stopped by an Indian patrol in between, asking them to return, it leads to confusion, as the vehicles can’t turn back.
  • The Chinese have now stopped the Indian soldiers moving beyond Finger 2.
Confrontation on the water
  • On the water, the Chinese had a major advantage until a few years ago — their superior boats could literally run circles around the Indian boats.
  • But India purchased better Tampa boats some eight years ago, leading to a quicker and more aggressive response.
Out of bounds for tourists
  • Tourists were not allowed at all at Pangong Tso until 1999, and even today, you need to obtain an Inner Line Permit from the office of the Deputy Commissioner at Leh.
  • Tourists are only allowed up to Spangmik village, around 7 km into the lake.

Shifting Positions

  • In 1960, India certainly viewed China’s presence in areas where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed in May 2020 as being beyond Beijing’s own territorial claims.
  • At the north bank of Pangong Tso, the PLA moved up to Finger 4 and prevented India from crossing Finger 4.
  • China now claims up to Finger 4, while India says the LAC is at Finger 8.
  • However, since May 2020, for the first time, completely cut off India’s access to its LAC at Finger 8, effectively shifting the line 8 km west.
  • China’s current moves to enforce its Line of Actual Control (LAC) claims, which sparked the recent border incidents, mark a shift from what Beijing told India in 1960 about where its boundaries were, both in the Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake.
  • The Fingers refer to mountain spurs on the bank, and run from 1 to 8, west to east.
China controls 1,000 sq. km of area in Ladakh
  • About 1,000 square kilometres of area in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is now under Chinese control, intelligence inputs provided to the Centre suggest.
  • From Depsang Plains to Chushul there had been a systematic mobilisation by the Chinese troops along the undefined LAC.
  • Chinese forces are occupying a considerable area from Finger 4 to 8 near Pangong Tso (lake).
  • The distance between Finger 4-8, the mountainous spurs abutting the lake, is about eight km.
  • The stretch was patrolled both by India and China till the clashes in May 2020 and India considers it to form part of its perception of the LAC.

Tactical significance of the Panging Tso

  • By itself, the lake does not have major tactical significance. But it lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
  • Indian assessments show that a major Chinese offensive, if it comes, will flow across both the north and south of the lake.
  • During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its main offensive.
  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
  • Even during peacetime, the difference in perception over where the LAC lies on the northern bank of the lake, makes this contested terrain.
  • In 1999, when the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay, China took the opportunity to build 5 km of road inside Indian territory along the lake’s bank.
How does the bridge help China?
  • Its main objective appears to be quick mobilisation of PLA troops between the two banks at one of the lake’s narrowest points.
  • The Kailash range is around 35 km west of the bridge site. According to security establishment sources, when India carried out this operation, Chinese troops could not mobilise as quickly as they might have wanted; they had to go around difficult terrain on the north bank and double back on even tougher terrain on the southern bank to get to Chushul.
  • The bridge will enable Chinese troops to simply cross over, slashing travel time to the Kailash range from about 12 hours to about four hours.

About the new bridge in Pangong Tso being constructed by China

  • A new bridge on Pangong Tso is being constructed by China which will provide an additional axis to deploy troops faster between the north and south banks of the lake, and closer to the LAC.
  • The bridge is being constructed more than 20 km east of Finger 8 on the lake’s north bank – (India says Finger 8 denotes the LAC). The bridge site is just east of Khurnak Fort in Rutog county where the PLA has frontier bases. (Historically a part of India, Khurnak Fort has been under Chinese control since 1958.)

-Source: Indian Express


Saraswati river

Context:

In an attempt to revive the Saraswati river, the Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of a dam in Himachal Pradesh in 77 acres, near the Adi Badri area of Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar district.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography 

 About the Saraswati River

  • The Indus Valley civilization was the largest and oldest urban civilization in the world flourishing the present-day North-western India and Adjacent Pakistan.
  • Nearly 2/3rd of the 1500+ archaeological sites of the Indus Valley civilization occur on the dried banks of the Ghaggar River.
  • The Sarasvati River is a deified river mentioned in the Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.
  • Since the late 19th-century, scholars have proposed to identify the Rig Vedic Saraswati river with the Ghaggar-Hakra River system, which flows through northwestern India and eastern Pakistan, between the Yamuna and the Sutlej.
  • ISRO has observed that major Indus Valley Civilization sites at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Banawali and Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat) lay along this course.

-Source: The Hindu


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