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Current Affairs 26 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Line of Actual Control (LAC)
  2. 15th BRICS Summit
  3. Lion-tailed macaque
  4. Project AMBER
  5. Zika Virus

Line of Actual Control (LAC)


Context:

The Indian PM and Chinese President agreed on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit to intensify efforts for expeditious disengagement and de-escalation along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Line of Actual Control (LAC)
  2. Contrast with Line of Control (LoC) in Relation to Pakistan
  3. Disagreements Regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
  4. Controversy Surrounding Claim Lines in Ladakh
  5. Current Efforts to Address LAC Differences
  6. Legacy Issues Requiring Resolution in Ladakh

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) serves as the boundary between areas controlled by India and those controlled by China.
  • Three Sectors: The LAC is divided into three main sectors:
    • Eastern Sector: Covers regions like Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
    • Middle Sector: Encompasses Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
    • Western Sector: Spans across Ladakh.
  • Differing Lengths: India claims the LAC to extend 3,488 km, whereas China’s claim is around 2,000 km, indicating a disparity in their perceptions.
  • India’s Claim Line: India’s claim line is based on official maps released by the Survey of India, incorporating Aksai Chin and Gilgit-Baltistan. This diverges from the LAC, suggesting that LAC isn’t India’s precise claim line.
  • China’s Claim Line: For China, the LAC is considered its claim line, except in the eastern sector where it asserts ownership over the entirety of Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet.

Contrast with Line of Control (LoC) in Relation to Pakistan

  • Origin of LoC: The Line of Control (LoC) emerged after the 1948 ceasefire line established by the UN post the Kashmir War.
  • Formalization of LoC: In 1972, the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan designated it as the LoC.
  • Legal Standing of LoC: The LoC is delineated on a map endorsed by the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries, holding the status of a legally binding agreement.
  • LAC as a Concept: In contrast, the LAC remains a concept without mutual agreement, lacking delineation on a map or physical demarcation on the ground.

Disagreements Regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • Origin of Disagreements: The most significant disagreements over the LAC are concentrated in the western sector. The LAC’s basis can be traced back to two letters sent by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959. This followed Zhou Enlai’s initial mention of such a “line” in 1956.
  • Post-1962 War Chinese Claim: After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, China asserted that it had pulled back by 20 km from the 1959 LAC. This alignment coincided with the so-called McMahon Line in the eastern sector.
India’s Response to China’s LAC Definition
  • Rejection of LAC Concept: India rejected the concept of the Line of Actual Control in both 1959 and 1962, primarily due to its being a line established by China.
  • Critique of Chinese Line: India criticized the Chinese-defined line as a collection of disconnected points on a map that could be interpreted in various ways.
  • Basis of Line: India argued that the line should not include gains made through the 1962 aggression, emphasizing that it should be rooted in the actual positions as of September 8, 1962, before the Chinese military attack.
  • Vagueness and Potential Consequences: The vague nature of the Chinese definition left room for China to pursue gradual alterations on the ground using military actions.
Chinese Position During the Doklam Crisis
  • Doklam Crisis: In the 2017 Doklam crisis, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called upon India to adhere to the “1959 LAC.”

Controversy Surrounding Claim Lines in Ladakh

  • Historical Background: Aksai Chin, situated in the Ladakh province of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, was not a part of British India despite being under the British Empire’s influence.
  • Boundary Clarity: While the eastern boundary was well defined in 1914 through the Shimla Agreement (which established the McMahon Line), the western boundary in Ladakh remained undefined.

Current Efforts to Address LAC Differences

  • Acceptance of LAC Concept: In 1993, India formally accepted the concept of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing, following Chinese Premier Li Peng’s visit to India in 1991.
  • Peace and Tranquility Agreement: Both countries signed the Agreement to Maintain Peace and Tranquility at the LAC. However, the reference to the LAC in the agreement didn’t specify whether it referred to the LAC at the time of signing or the LAC of 1959 or 1962.
  • Resolution through Joint Working Group: To resolve differences in specific areas, India and China established the Joint Working Group to clarify the alignment of the LAC.

Plans for De-escalation in Eastern Ladakh

  • Disengagement Scope: The exact extent and locations of disengagement along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh are not immediately clear.
  • Phased Disengagement Modalities: Modalities for phased, limited disengagement have been prepared since 2020. Discussions between the Corps Commanders of India and China aimed to address flashpoints along the LAC.
  • Progress in Galwan Valley: Talks led to progress as both sides agreed to withdraw troops and dismantle temporary structures in the Galwan Valley.
  • Creation of Buffer Zones: Disengagement resulted in the establishment of buffer zones, preventing both sides’ troops from accessing areas they previously patrolled. This helped in reducing tensions.

Legacy Issues Requiring Resolution in Ladakh

Depsang Plains Issue

  • Location and Significance: Depsang Plains are situated near the strategically vital Daulat Beg Oldie region.
  • Origin in 2013: The Depsang Plains issue emerged in 2013 when China conducted an 18-km incursion into the area.
  • Incomplete Withdrawal: Although both nations agreed to withdraw from their positions at that time, Chinese PLA troops did not fully vacate the region.

Demchok Issue

  • Location and Problem Area: Demchok, found in the southern part of eastern Ladakh, faces issues primarily at the Charding Ninglung Nullah (CNN) junction.
  • PLA Interference: In several instances, the Chinese PLA hindered Indian graziers at the Saddle Pass within India’s perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC) at the CNN junction.

-Source: Indian Express


15th BRICS Summit


Context:

The 15th BRICS summit hosted by South Africa in Johannesburg, holds significant importance against the backdrop of geopolitical changes and global economic dynamics.

The theme for the 15th BRICS Summit is “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism”.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the 15th BRICS Summit
  2. What is BRICS?

Key Highlights of the 15th BRICS Summit

Expansion of Membership

  • BRICS expanded its membership from five to eleven countries, aiming to increase its global influence.
  • Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, and Argentina joined, broadening BRICS’ representation across Middle East, Africa, and South America.
  • Full membership will be effective from January 1, 2024.

Diverse Economic Landscape

  • The original BRIC members shared large economies and growth potential.
  • The expanded BRICS-11 is more varied, some facing crises and others thriving, potentially leading to an expanded agenda beyond economics.

India-China Relations

  • The summit held significance for India post the military standoff with China.
  • Bilateral talks between the Indian PM and Chinese President focused on troop disengagement and de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India’s Role and Objectives

  • India played a pivotal role in setting membership criteria and fostering partnerships among new members.
  • India utilizes BRICS to expand its network of allies and bolster its global influence.
  • India sees BRICS as a diverse platform, not an anti-western alliance.

Space Exploration and Conservation

  • India proposed establishing a BRICS space exploration consortium to advance collaboration in space technology and research.
  • India advocated BRICS collaboration under the International Big Cat Alliance for the protection of endangered big cats.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine

  • The summit took place following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leading to discussions with a “counter-western” perspective.

UN Reform and Climate Change

  • BRICS members supported comprehensive United Nations reform, including the Security Council, for greater democracy and representation.
  • Commitment to address climate change challenges and transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • BRICS nations criticized trade barriers imposed by developed countries under the pretext of climate change.

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

-Source: The Hindu


Lion-Tailed Macaque


Context:

Recently, Lion-tailed macaque has been sporadically spotted by conservationists in the forests of Nadugani, shared by the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu and Nilambur in Kerala.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Lion-tailed Macaque
  2. Conservation Status

Lion-tailed Macaque:

  • Species Classification: The Lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) belongs to the category of Old World monkeys.
  • Distinctive Male Behavior: A unique trait of this species is that males establish the boundaries of their home territories through vocal calls.
  • Rich Communication System: These macaques employ a communication system featuring as many as 17 distinct vocalizations.
Appearance
  • Grey Mane: They are recognizable by the gray mane encircling their face.
  • “Bearded” Monkeys: They are sometimes referred to as bearded monkeys due to their distinctive facial hair.
  • Tail Characteristics: The Lion-tailed macaque’s name is derived from its lion-like tail, which is lengthy, slender, and adorned with a tuft.
Habitat
  • Exclusive to India: This species is found exclusively in India.
  • Endemic Range: Lion-tailed macaques are native to the fragmented rainforests of the Western Ghats, particularly in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
Threats
  • Habitat Destruction: The primary threat to the Lion-tailed macaque population is the degradation and loss of their rainforest habitat.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Status: Listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
  • CITES Listing: Included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which offers the highest level of protection.
  • Wildlife Protection Act: In India, the Lion-tailed macaque is categorized under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, granting it legal protection.

-Source: The Hindu


Project AMBER


Context:

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), in collaboration with Generation India Foundation (GIF) and Amazon Web Services India Private Limited (AWS India), is providing ‘cloud’ skills training to 1,500 under project AMBER.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Project AMBER
  2. About Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)

Project AMBER

  • The Accelerated Mission for Better Employment and Retention (AMBER) project is a collaborative effort between the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Global Innovation Fund (GIF).
  • Objective: AMBER, operating under the SANKALP programme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), aims to establish pathways for employment and retention, particularly for underprivileged groups and women, in the tech industry.
  • Training Goal: The project’s goal is to provide training to 30,000 youths, with a special emphasis on women, accounting for 50% of the participants.

Key Features of the Project

  • AWS (re/Start) Program: Participants engage in the AWS (re/Start) initiative, a workforce development program for unemployed or underemployed individuals.
  • Skill Development: Training encompasses fundamental AWS cloud skills, along with practical insights into career development such as resume creation and interview preparation.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: Learners receive instruction in various technologies like Linux, Python, networking, security, and relational databases, using real-world scenarios, labs, and coursework.
  • Certification Coverage: The project covers the costs for participants to take the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification exam. This credential validates their cloud proficiency and connects them to job opportunities in the cloud and IT sectors.
Significance and Impact
  • Workforce Entry: AMBER introduces entry-level talent into the workforce, enabling individuals to initiate successful careers in cloud technology.
  • Enhancing Competitiveness: The project enhances organizations’ competitive edge by equipping them with sought-after talent.
  • Community Advancement: AMBER contributes to community development through increased job prospects and skills development.

About Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)

  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) is a Centrally sponsored (World Bank supported) scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • It is an outcome focused scheme marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.
  • SANKALP aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).
  • The objective of SANKALP is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.
  • The scheme provides the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions.
  • It is aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aims at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.
Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified:
  • Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level)
  • Quality Assurance Quality Assurance of skill development programs
  • Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development
  • Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
  • SANKALP aims at:
    • Strengthening institutions at the State and National levels
    • Monitoring of market relevant training;
    • Improving the quality and relevance of skill developed programs;
    • Making skills training accessible to female trainees and other underprivileged groups;
    • Expanding the scheme’s reach through private-public partnerships (PPPs). 

 -Source: The Hindu


Zika Virus


Context:

Mumbai has recently reported the first case of Zika Virus, confirmed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Relevance:

GS II- Health

About Zika Virus Disease:

  • Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
  • ZVD is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes (AM), mainly Aedes aegypti.
  • This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
  • Zika virus is also transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.
  • Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms.
  • Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly (smaller than normal head size) and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Instead, the focus is on relieving symptoms and includes rest, rehydration and acetaminophen for fever and pain.

-Source: The Hindu


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