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Current Affairs 22 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Kudumbashree
  2. 25th anniversary of Pokhran-II
  3. Quad Summit 2023
  4. G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023

Kudumbashree


Context:

Recently, the President of India has inaugurated the 25th anniversary celebrations of Kudumbashree, the largest Self-Help Group (SHG) network in the country.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Kudumbashree
  2. Significance
  3. About Self-Help Groups

About Kudumbashree:

  • Kudumbashree was founded in 1997 in Kerala, following the recommendations of a government-appointed task force, with the goal of eradicating poverty and empowering women.
  • The mission received support from the Government of India and NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development).
  • The term “Kudumbashree” means ‘prosperity of the family’ in the Malayalam language, reflecting its focus on poverty alleviation, women empowerment, democratic leadership, and the establishment of support structures within the “Kudumbashree family.”
Operational Structure:
  • Kudumbashree operates through a Three-Tier structure consisting of:
    • Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) at the primary level.
    • Area Development Societies (ADS) at the ward level.
    • Community Development Societies (CDS) at the local government level.
  • This structure creates a vast network of Self-Help Groups.
Goal:
  • The main objective of Kudumbashree is to eliminate absolute poverty within a specific timeframe of 10 years, with active participation from local self-governments.
  • Through its mission and the approach of self-help groups, Kudumbashree aims to uplift families and empower women, enabling them to enhance their socio-economic status and overall well-being.

Significance:

Empowerment, Employment, and Poverty Alleviation:

  • Kudumbashree has played a significant role in empowering women, generating employment opportunities, and alleviating poverty.
  • It has initiated various social initiatives that have had a positive impact on the lives of its members.

Political Representation:

  • Kudumbashree has emerged as Kerala’s largest social capital, with its members successfully being elected as representatives in local government bodies.
  • This demonstrates the organization’s influence and the recognition of its members as capable leaders.

Contributions during Kerala Floods:

  • During a severe flood that occurred in Kerala five years ago, Kudumbashree, through its self-help group network, donated Rs 7 crore to the Chief Minister’s distress relief fund.
  • The contribution made by Kudumbashree surpassed the donations made by tech giants like Google and Apple, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Despite many Kudumbashree workers being flood victims themselves, they selflessly contributed to the relief fund to help others in need.

About Self-Help Groups:

  • Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are informal associations of individuals who come together voluntarily to improve their living conditions.
  • These groups consist of people with similar socio-economic backgrounds, and their purpose is to collectively work towards a common goal.
  • SHGs promote self-governance and peer control, encouraging self-employment and poverty alleviation.
Objectives of Self-Help Groups:
  • Building Functional Capacity: The primary objective of SHGs is to enhance the functional capacity of the poor and marginalized individuals in the areas of employment and income-generating activities.
  • Conflict Resolution: SHGs aim to resolve conflicts through collective leadership and mutual discussions, fostering a supportive and cooperative environment.
  • Collateral-Free Loans: SHGs provide collateral-free loans to their members at market-driven interest rates. The terms of these loans are decided by the group itself.
  • Collective Guarantee System: SHGs serve as a collective guarantee system for members who intend to borrow from organized sources. This helps individuals access loans more easily.
  • Savings and Micro-Enterprises: SHGs encourage their members to save their earnings in banks. In return, they gain easy access to loans with lower interest rates, enabling them to start their micro-enterprises.

-Source: Down to Earth


25th Anniversary of Pokhran-II


Context:

India recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of Pokhran-II on 11th May 2023 marking the successful nuclear bomb test explosions which became a significant milestone in its journey to become a nuclear power.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pokhran-II and India’s Journey as a Nuclear Power:
  2. Pokhran-I
  3. Pokhran-II
  4. India’s Nuclear Policy

Pokhran-II and India’s Journey as a Nuclear Power:

Historical Background:
  • In 1945, physicist Homi J. Bhabha advocated for the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay, focusing on nuclear physics research.
  • TIFR became India’s first research institution dedicated to the study of nuclear physics.
  • After India gained independence, Bhabha convinced Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru about the importance of nuclear energy.
  • In 1954, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was established, with Bhabha as its director.
  • The DAE operated autonomously, with limited public scrutiny.
Motivation for Nuclear Weapons Pursuit:
  • India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was driven by concerns over sovereignty and security threats posed by China and Pakistan.
  • The 1962 Sino-Indian War and China’s subsequent nuclear test in 1964 heightened India’s need to safeguard its national security.
  • The war with Pakistan in 1965, with Chinese support, further emphasized the necessity of self-sufficiency in defense capabilities.

Pokhran-I:

  • By the 1970s, India had developed the capability to conduct a nuclear bomb test.
  • Pokhran-I refers to India’s first nuclear bomb test, which took place on May 18, 1974, at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan.
  • The operation was codenamed “Smiling Buddha” and was officially described as a “peaceful nuclear explosion” with minimal military implications.
  • With Pokhran-I, India became the sixth country in the world to possess nuclear weapons capability, joining the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China.
Consequences:
  • The tests faced widespread condemnation and significant sanctions, particularly from the United States and Canada.
  • These sanctions hindered India’s progress in nuclear technology and slowed down its nuclear journey.
  • Domestic factors, such as the political instability during the Emergency in 1975 and opposition to nuclear weapons, also hampered progress.
Resurgence and Expansion:
  • In the 1980s, India witnessed a renewed interest in nuclear weapons development, driven by Pakistan’s advancements in the field.
  • India increased funding for its missile program and expanded its plutonium stockpiles, signaling its commitment to strengthening its nuclear capabilities.

Pokhran-II:

  • Pokhran-II refers to a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India between May 11th and 13th, 1998, in the Pokhran desert of Rajasthan.
  • The operation was codenamed “Operation Shakti” and marked India’s second successful attempt at nuclear tests.
Significance:
  • Pokhran-II solidified India’s status as a nuclear power on the global stage.
  • It demonstrated India’s capability to possess and deploy nuclear weapons, enhancing its deterrence capabilities.
  • Following Pokhran-II, the Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, officially declared India as a state possessing nuclear weapons.
International Response:
  • While the 1998 tests resulted in some countries imposing sanctions, notably the United States, the condemnation was not as widespread as it was after Pokhran-I in 1974.
  • India, with its rapidly growing economy and market potential, was able to assert its position and solidify its status as a significant nation-state despite the sanctions.

India’s Nuclear Policy:

  • India has since adopted a policy of “credible minimum deterrence,” which means maintaining a nuclear arsenal sufficient to deter any potential adversary from launching a nuclear attack.
  • India has consistently emphasized its commitment to a “no first use” policy, stating that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict.
International Recognition:
  • In 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted a waiver to India, allowing it to engage in nuclear commerce despite not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • This recognition marked a significant shift in India’s status within the international nuclear order.

-Source: Indian Express


Quad Summit 2023


Context:

The Prime Minister of India recently participated in the third in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About QUAD
  2. What were the objectives of the grouping?
  3. Quad Initiatives
  4. What are the future plans of the Quad?

Quad Leaders’ Summit 2023 Highlights:

  • Recently, the Prime Minister of Australia, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister of Japan, and President of the United States held the third in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit.
  • The summit took place on the sidelines of the ongoing G-7 Summit in Hiroshima and was originally scheduled to be held in Sydney, Australia, on May 24.
  • However, it was cancelled after the US President announced the postponement of his visit due to debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.

Key Highlights:

  • Joint Vision Statement: The leaders issued a joint vision statement titled ‘Enduring Partners for Indo-Pacific’, expressing their commitment to act as a “force for good” and find common solutions for the benefit of the region.
  • Quad Principles: The leaders also issued three other statements outlining Quad Principles on clean energy supply chains, cyber security and secure software, and critical and emerging technology standards.
  • International Standards Cooperation Network: The Quad International Standards Cooperation Network was launched, emphasizing the Quad leaders’ support for industry-led, consensus-based multi-stakeholder approaches to technology standards development.
  • Next Quad Summit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would host the next Quad leaders’ meeting in 2024.
  • Condemnation of Terrorism: The Quad leaders unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms, including cross-border terrorism.
  • ORAN Security Report: The leaders released the ORAN Security Report to support industry investment in open, interoperable, and secure telecom platforms.
  • Quad Investors’ Network: The Quad Investors’ Network was launched as a private sector-led platform aimed at facilitating investments in strategic technologies.

About QUAD

  • The Quad is an informal strategic forum comprising four nations, namely –India, United States of America, Australia and Japan.
  • One of the primary objectives of the Quad is, to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
  • The group for the first time met in 2007 on the side lines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • It is considered an alliance of maritime democracies.
  • The forum is maintained through meetings, semi-regular summits, information exchanges, and military drills of all the member countries.
  • The motive behind the Quad is, to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific, free of any military or political influence.
  • The core objective of the Quad is, to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and, a liberal trading system.
  • The coalition also aims to offer, alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Purpose of Quad:
  • Recently the U.S. has clarified that Quad is not a security or military partnership.
  • Its purpose is to advance cooperation on key priorities in specific sectors that is consistent with international law
  • It promotes shared values of its members and underpins peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • A U.S. State Department spokesperson said that “We work to support the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity through open dialogue and information sharing on a diverse set of issue areas, including Maritime Security”.
Significance of Quad:

Quad is becoming a powerful mechanism and its significance is given below:

  • Helping to vaccinate a big part of the world and getting a lot of vaccines out there,
  • Strengthening maritime security to push back against aggression and coercion in the Indo-Pacific region,
  • Working together on emerging technologies and making sure that they can be used in positive ways and an increasingly broad and deep agenda.
  • It also supports many activities/platforms as part of its shared approach to the Indo-Pacific.
What were the objectives of the grouping?
  • Coming together to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific formed the bedrock of cooperation.
  •  Emphasis was laid on “rule of law, territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, and democratic values” in the region.
  • The other areas of immediate focus were the pandemic through strengthening equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, combating climate change, sharing critical technologies, cyber security, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure and connectivity projects.
  • Now it commits to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
Quad Initiatives:
  • Quad leaders launched the Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI) with the aim of manufacturing and distributing at least a billion COVID-19 vaccines for the Asia region by the end of 2022.
  •  As for emerging technologies, the four countries aimed to work on the development and diversification of 5G telecommunications and the creation of supply chains for critical minerals and technologies for making semiconductors used in smartphones, another area where China is a leader.
  • Quad nations had also agreed to build joint connectivity projects and transparent infrastructure funding for countries in the region.
    • The emphasis on connectivity saw the Quad challenge China in another sphere: a coordinated effort to provide financing and sustainable alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has led many nations to take loans and accept infrastructure bids from Beijing.
  • The Quad also created a working group for combating climate change which would oversee efforts to foster green shipping by decarbonising maritime supply chains and promoting the use of clean hydrogen.

-Source: The Hindu


G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023


Context:

The Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) met in Hiroshima for 49thannual Summit. This year’s summit is hosted by Japan in its capacity as the President of the grouping.

Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the G7?
  2. History of the G7

G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué

The G7 leaders held a summit in Hiroshima and issued a communiqué covering various areas of cooperation and shared goals. Here are the key points:

Ukraine:

  • The G7 leaders strongly condemned Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and expressed their support for Ukraine. They decided to take concrete steps to assist Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal actions.

Disarmament and Non-proliferation:

  • The G7 leaders committed to strengthening efforts towards disarmament and non-proliferation with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
  • They released the G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament.

Indo-Pacific:

  • The leaders emphasized the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law. They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen coordination with regional partners, including ASEAN.

Global Economy, Finance, and Sustainable Development:

  • The G7 recognized the resilience of the global economy against multiple shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
  • They decided to coordinate approaches to economic resilience and security through partnerships and de-risking strategies.
  • They also focused on issues such as resilient supply chains, non-market policies, and economic coercion.

Debt Sustainability:

  • Debt sustainability was highlighted as a major concern, particularly for low- and middle-income countries affected by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
  • The G7 supported efforts to improve the implementation of debt treatments and welcomed the development of Climate Resilient Debt Clauses (CRDC).

Infrastructure:

  • The G7 reaffirmed their commitment to the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and aimed to mobilize up to $600 billion by 2027 for infrastructure funding.

Climate Change and Environment:

  • The G7 committed to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and emphasized the connection between poverty reduction and addressing the climate and nature crisis.
  • They focused on clean energy transition, decarbonization, renewable energy deployment, plastic pollution, and ocean protection.

Food Security:

  • The G7 announced concrete steps to launch the Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security to address current and future needs.

Health:

  • The G7 leaders pledged investment in global health, including vaccine manufacturing capacity, pandemic preparedness and response, and efforts towards universal health coverage (UHC).

Digital:

  • The G7 expressed their commitment to advancing international discussions on inclusive AI governance and interoperability for trustworthy AI.

Other Areas of Cooperation:

  • The G7 aimed to strengthen partnerships with African countries, increase cooperation on international migration, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and address gender, human rights, science, and technology.

China:

  • The leaders urged China to pressure its strategic partner Russia to end the war on Ukraine.
  • They expressed concern about China’s activities in the East and South China Seas and opposed China’s expansive maritime claims and militarization in the South China Sea region.

What is the G7?

  • The Group of 7 (G7) is an informal group of seven countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, the heads of which hold an annual summit with European Union and other invitees.
  • Unlike other bodies such as NATO, the G7 has no legal existence, permanent secretariat or official members.
  • It also has no binding impact on policy and all decisions and commitments made at G7 meetings need to be ratified independently by governing bodies of member states.
  • The major purpose of the G-7 is to discuss and deliberate on international economic issues.
  • G7 is capable of setting the global agenda because decisions taken by these major economic powers have a real impact. Thus, decisions taken at the G7 are not legally binding, but exert strong political influence.
  • It sometimes acts in concert to help resolve other global problems, with a special focus on economic issues.
Other details:
  • As of 2022, G7 countries make up 10% of the world’s population, 31% of global GDP, and 21% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Summit website.
  • China and India, the two most populous countries with among the largest GDP figures in the world, are not part of the grouping.
  • In all G7 countries, annual public sector expenditure exceeded revenue in 2021.
  • Most G7 countries also had a high level of gross debt, especially Japan (263% of GDP), Italy (151%) and the US (133%).
  • The G7 countries are important players in global trade.
  • The US and Germany in particular are major export nations. Both sold goods worth well over a trillion US dollars abroad in 2021.
History of the G7
  • A meeting between the current G7 members, excluding Canada, in 1975 laid the basis for the formation G7. At the time, the global economy was in a state of recession due to the OPEC oil embargo.
  • As the energy crisis was escalating, the then US Treasury Secretary decided that it would be beneficial for the large players on the world stage to coordinate with each other on macroeconomic initiatives.
  • After this first summit, the countries agreed to meet annually and a year later, Canada was invited into the group which marked the official formation of the G7 as we know it.
  • The President of the European Commission was asked to join the meetings in 1977 and following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a subsequent thaw in relations between the East and West, Russia was also invited to join the group in 1998. Thereafter the group was named the G8 until 2014, when Russia was expelled for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
  • The presidency of G7 meetings is held by each of the seven countries in turn, each year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for organising and hosting the meeting.

-Source: Indian Express


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