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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 28 June 2021

Contents

  1. Drone attacks at IAF Jammu station
  2. World Drug Report & International day against drug abuse
  3. Centralised farmer database under ‘AgriStack’
  4. “The India Story” booklet on India’s energy transition
  5. Why only some bacteria develop multi-drug resistance?
  6. India, Greece call for respect of territorial integrity

Drone attacks at IAF Jammu station

Context:

In a terror attack, two low-intensity explosions left two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel injured at the Jammu Air Force Station and the devices are suspected to have been dropped and detonated by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Defence Technology), GS-III: Science and Technology, GS-II: Governance (Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Drones
  2. Usage of Drones Explored in India
  3. Drone Attacks
  4. About the Drone attack on Jammu Air Force Station
  5. Regulation of Drone usage in India

About Drones

  • Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA). There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft- Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Autonomous Aircraft and Model Aircraft.
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.
  • Drones offer low-cost, safe and quick aerial surveys for data collection and are useful for industries such as power, mining, realty, oil and gas exploration, railways and highways. They are also effective in relief and rescue work and in policing.
  • DGCA has designed five different categories of drones as: Nano, Micro, Small, Medium, and Large.

Usage of Drones Explored in India

  • Agriculture- Gather data and automate redundant processes to maximize efficiency, to spray medicines, In a process of planting by distributing seed on the land, etc.
  • Healthcare- Delivering quick access to drugs, blood, and medical technology in remote areas, transportation of harvested organs to recipients (through drones corridor), etc.
  • Disaster Management- Surveillance of disaster-affected areas to assess damage, locate victims, and deliver aid.
  • Urban Planning- Instant mapping and survey of the land which has to be developed avoiding congestion and increasing green cover. E.g.: Recently, the Greater Chennai Municipal Corporation (GCMC) became first Municipal Corporation to map Chennai using drones.
  • Conservation of Endangered Species- Monitor and track the number of animals.
  • Weather Forecasting- Drones can physically follow weather patterns as they develop to understand the environment and imminent weather trends in a better way.
  • Waste Management- Identify where the garbage is so that it can be picked up the garbage picking vans. Drones can be used to clean ocean waste as well. UAV like Roomba by RanMarine operates at the vanguard of these initiatives and have helped to clean oceans in past.
  • Mining- Drones in mining can be used in volumetric data capturing of ore, rock and minerals storage which is extremely difficult to measure manually.

Drone Attacks

  • With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.
  • Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.
  • The primary reason for this proliferation is that drones are relatively cheaper in comparison to conventional weapons and yet can achieve far more destructive results.
  • The biggest advantage that comes with using a drone for combat purpose is that it can be controlled from a remote distance and does not endanger any member of the attacking side.
  • Drones fly low and therefore cannot be detected by any radar system and this ensures their effective usage by negating chances of detection and neutralization.
  • It is this easy-to-procure, easy-to-operate, and proven damage potential that makes it important for any country to equip its forces with anti-drone combat technology.
  • These threats aside, what makes combat drones in the hands of non-state actors most dangerous is the threat of them being used deliver weapons of mass destruction.

About the Drone attack on Jammu Air Force Station

  • Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.
  • However, over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory.
  • Although the local police suspect that the drones were flown from across the border, it is yet to be established beyond doubt
  • Officials said the incident could be an extension of the trend Pakistan-based syndicates using drones to smuggle drugs and weapons into the Indian side, apart from conducting aerial surveillance.
  • There have been warnings that Pakistan-based terrorist groups could attempt to target military bases with drones. After the drone attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Eastern Saudi Arabia in September 2019, the armed forces held deliberations on the issue and put in place plans to procure counter-drone capabilities.

Regulation of Drone usage in India

Drone Regulation 1.0

  • Drone Regulation 1.0 is a set of guidelines issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for commercial use of drones or remotely operated aircraft came into force from 2018.
  • Under this regulation, the Digital Sky Platform will enable online registration of pilots, devices, service providers, and NPNT (no permission, no take-off).
  • The Digital Sky Platform is a unique unmanned traffic management (UTM) system which is expected to facilitate registration and licensing of drones and operators in addition to giving instant (online) clearances to operators for every flight.
  • The airspace has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission). The restricted locations are airports, near international border, near coastline, state secretariat complexes strategic locations, military installations.

Drone Regulations 2.0

  • Drone regulations 2.0, focuses on three thresholds:
    • BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight),
    • Delivery of payloads, and
    • Automate the air traffic management to the extent possible.
  • The current policy allows one drone pilot for each drone whereas in the next set of regulations, one pilot can operate any number of drones. Under drone regulations 2.0, the drones will be tracked by computers through artificial intelligence.
  • However, delivery of products by e-commerce players like Amazon and flying taxis like Uber Elevate are likely to be part of drone regulations 3.0.

Draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020

  • The Draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020 are a set of rules notified by the government aims to regulate the production, import, trade, ownership, establishment of the drone ports (airports for drones) and operation of unmanned aircraft systems. It also seeks to create a framework for drones use by businesses.
  • The Rules state that an authorised manufacturer or importer of drones can sell its devices only to an individual or entity approved by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and only Nano class drones will be allowed to operate in India in general and only a qualified remote pilot will be permitted to operate heavier drones.
  • The DGCA will have the powers to inspect a UAS manufacturing or maintenance facility before granting any authorisation under these rules.
  • No UAS shall operate in India unless there is in existence a valid third-party insurance policy to cover the liability that may arise on account of a mishap involving such UAS.
  • No UAS should carry any payload except as permitted by the DGCA.
  • No person shall drop or project or permit to be dropped from a UAS in motion any object except when specified.
  • For owning and using a drone, one has to be at least 18 years old and in the case of companies, the requirement is that their main place of business has to be in India and the chairman and at least two thirds of directors have to be Indian citizens.

-Source: The Hindu


World Drug Report & International day against drug abuse

Context:

June 26 every year is observed as International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the World Drug Report 2021 recently.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Organized Crime and Terrorism), GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
  2. Drug Abuse problem worsening due to Covid-19 Pandemic
  3. About United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  4. UNODC World Drug Report
  5. Highlights of The World Drug Report 2021
  6. India’s Vulnerability

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

  • International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed every year on June 26 with an aim to spread awareness about the global drug problem and eliminate drug misuse.
  • Activists, therapists and organisations working in the field of preventing drug abuse come together on this day to help victims of this social evil.
  • ‘Share Drug Facts to Save Lives’ is the theme of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2021.
  • The focus of 2021 is to curb the spread of misinformation on the topic and to encourage the exchange of facts related to drugs.

Drug Abuse problem worsening due to Covid-19 Pandemic

  • The economic downturn caused by the global pandemic may drive more people to substance abuse or leave them vulnerable to involvement in drug trafficking and related crime.
  • In the global recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis, drug users sought out cheaper synthetic substances and patterns of use shifted towards injecting drugs, while governments reduced budgets to deal with drug-related problems.
  • All over the world, the risks and consequences of drug use are worsened by poverty, limited opportunities for education and jobs, stigma and social exclusion, which in turn helps to deepen inequalities, moving us further away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Worrying Data Regarding Drug Abuse prevalence

  • One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment.
  • People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people also face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.
  • Number of people using drugs in 2018 increased by 30% from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users.
  • While the increase reflects population growth and other factors, the data nevertheless indicate that illicit drugs are more diverse, more potent and more available.
  • At the same time, more than 80% of the world’s population, mostly living in low- and middle-income countries, are deprived of access to controlled drugs for pain relief and other essential medical uses.

About United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 and has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • UNODC was established to assist the UN in better addressing a coordinated, comprehensive response to the interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, crime prevention and criminal justice, international terrorism, and political corruption.
  • These goals are pursued through three primary functions: (i) Research, (ii) Guidance and (iii) Support to governments in the adoption and implementation of various crime-, drug-, terrorism-, and corruption-related conventions, treaties and protocols, as well as technical/financial assistance to said governments to face their respective situations and challenges in these fields.
  • The office aims long-term to better equip governments to handle drug-, crime-, terrorism-, and corruption-related issues, to maximise knowledge on these issues among governmental institutions and agencies, and also to maximise awareness of said matters in public opinion, globally, nationally and at community level.
  • Approximately 90% of the Office’s funding comes from voluntary contributions, mainly from governments.

UNODC World Drug Report

  • Every year, the UN body United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) publishes The World Drug Report with statistics and data on how to tackle the global drug crisis.
  • The World Drug Report is aimed at fostering greater international cooperation to counter the impact of the world drug problem on health, governance and security.
  • By drugs, the Report refers to substances controlled under international drug control conventions, and their non-medical use.
  • The Report, based on data and estimates collected or prepared by Governments, UNODC and other international institutions, attempts to identify trends in the evolution of global illicit drug markets.
  • It provides estimates and information on trends in the production, trafficking and use of opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants.

Highlights of The World Drug Report 2021

  • Between 2010-2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22%, owing in part to an increase in the global population.
  • Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.
  • Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.
  • A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs was also observed during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased as much as four times in some parts, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40%.
  • Access to drugs has also become simpler than ever with online sales, and major drug markets on the dark web are now worth some $315 million annually.
  • In Asia, China and India are mainly linked to shipment of drugs sold on the 19 major darknet markets analysed over 2011-2020.
  • Cannabis dominates drug transactions on Dark web and on clear web involves sale of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) and substances used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs.

Impact of Covid-19 on Drug use according to the report

  • The Covid-19 crisis has pushed more than 100 million people into extreme poverty, and has greatly exacerbated unemployment and inequalities, as the world lost 255 million jobs in 2020.
  • Mental health conditions are also on the rise worldwide. Such socioeconomic stressors have likely accelerated demand for the drugs.
  • Drug traffickers have quickly recovered from initial setbacks caused by lockdown restrictions and are operating at pre-pandemic levels once again.
  • Contactless drug transactions, such as through the mail, are also on the rise, a trend possibly accelerated by the pandemic.
  • Vendors play a cat-and-mouse game with law enforcement by marketing their products as “research chemicals” or advertising “custom synthesis”.

Positive outcome of the pandemic on

  • A rise in the use of technology during the pandemic has also triggered innovation in drug prevention and treatment services, through more flexible models of service delivery such as telemedicine, enabling healthcare professionals to reach and treat more patients.
  • The pharmaceutical opioids used to treat people with opioid use disorders have become increasingly accessible, as science-based treatment has become more broadly available.

India’s Vulnerability

Golden crescent

  • The Golden Crescent is the name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit Opium production, located at the crossroads of central, south and western Asia.
  • This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.

Golden triangle

  • The Golden Triangle is located in the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers.
  • Along with the Golden Crescent, it is regarded as one of the largest producers of opium in the world since the 1950s until it was overtaken by the Golden Crescent in the early 21st century.

-Source: Hindustan Times, Indian Express


Centralised farmer database under ‘AgriStack’

Context:

The Union government’s new exercise to give agriculture a shot of technology — by creating a centralised farmer database under ‘AgriStack’— may not run a smooth course.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology (Use of Developments in Science and Technology), GS-III: Agriculture (Use of Technology to aid farmers and agriculture)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About AgriStack
  2. About the Ministry of Agriculture move with Microsoft
  3. Criticisms of the AgriStack move

About AgriStack

  • AgriStack is a collection of technologies and digital databases that focuses on farmers and the agricultural sector.
  • AgriStack will create a unified platform for farmers to provide them end to end services across the agriculture food value chain.
  • It is in line with the Centre’s Digital India programme, aimed at providing a broader push to digitise data in India, from land titles to medical records.
  • Under the programme, each farmer will have a unique digital identification (farmers’ ID) that contains personal details, information about the land they farm, as well as production and financial details. Each ID will be linked to the individual’s digital national ID Aadhaar.

About the Ministry of Agriculture move with Microsoft

  • Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft to run a pilot programme for 100 villages in 6 states.
  • The MoU requires Microsoft to create a ‘Unified Farmer Service Interface’ through its cloud computing services.
  • This comprises a major part of the ministry’s plan of creating ‘AgriStack’ (a collection of technology-based interventions in agriculture), on which everything else will be built.

Analysis of the Ministry’s move

  • At present, the majority of farmers across India are small and marginal farmers with limited access to advanced technologies or formal credit that can help improve output and fetch better prices – hence, use of advancements such as AgriStack would help in improving the financial constraints faced by farmers.
  • Among the new proposed digital farming technologies and services under the programme include sensors to monitor cattle, drones to analyse soil and apply pesticide, may significantly improve the farm yields and boost farmers’ incomes.
  • Problems such as inadequate access to credit and information, pest infestation, crop wastage, poor price discovery and yield forecasting can be sufficiently addressed by use of digital technology.
  • It will also fuel innovation and breed investment towards the agricultural sector and augment research towards more resilient crops.

Criticisms of the AgriStack move

  • The formation of ‘AgriStack’ will imply commercialisation of agriculture extension activities as they will shift into a digital and private sphere.
  • The MoUs provide for physical verification of the land data gathered digitally, but there is nothing on what will be the course of action if disputes arise, especially when historical evidence suggests that land disputes take years to settle.
  • It might end up being an exercise where private data processing entities may know more about a farmer’s land than the farmer himself and they would be able to exploit farmers’ data to whatever extent they wish to.
  • Several researchers have demonstrated the vulnerability of the Aadhaar database to breaches and leaks, while Aadhaar-based exclusion in welfare delivery has also been well documented in different contexts.
  • Also, making land records the basis for farmer databases would mean excluding tenant farmers, sharecroppers and agricultural labourers.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


“The India Story” booklet on India’s energy transition

Context:

Union Minister of State Power, New and Renewable Energy launched “The India Story” booklet which is a compilation of Indian initiatives that are shaping India’s energy transition.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Energy Security, Renewable energy, Energy Sources and Infrastructure, Government Schemes and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights – Statements made during the launch
  2. Indian Initiatives regarding renewable Energy

Highlights – Statements made during the launch

  • Power Minister has said that as much as USD 70 billion (about Rs 5.2 lakh crore) has been invested in renewable energy across the country in the past seven years.
  • In the last 6 years, India’s installed renewable energy capacity has increased by over two and a half times and stands at more than 141 Giga Watts (including large Hydro), which is about 37 per cent of the country’s total capacity (as on 16th June 2021).
  • In the last 6 years, the installed solar energy capacity in India has increased by over 15 times, and stands at 41.09 GW.
  • India’s renewable energy capacity is the 4th largest in the world.
  • India’s annual renewable energy addition has been exceeding that of coal based thermal power since 2017.

Indian Initiatives regarding renewable Energy

  • National Solar Mission (NSM): The 100 GW solar ambition at the heart of the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme
  • The Wind Energy Revolution: Leveraging India’s robust wind energy sector to boost clean energy manufacturing and the rural economy
  • National Biofuels Policy and SATAT: Building value chains to reduce fuel imports, increase clean energy, manage waste, and create jobs
  • Small Hydro Power (SHP): Harnessing the power of water to integrate remote communities into the economic mainstream.
  • National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM): Exploring the commercial viability of a versatile clean fuel
  • Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: Integrating India into the global clean energy value chains
  • National Biofuels Policy and SAYAY: Building value chains to reduce fuel imports, increase clean energy, manage waste and create jobs

Click Here to read about Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and Government Schemes regarding Electrification

-Source: PIB, Business Standard


Why only some bacteria develop multi-drug resistance?

Context:

A recent study subjected E. coli to fluctuating and steady environments, noting their evolutionary response in order to understand why some bacteria evolve multi-drug resistance while others do not.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?
  2. What is Multi drug resistance?
  3. Findings of the recent study on MDR
  4. Concerns regarding Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites to remain unaffected or survive antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials.
  • AMR occurs when microorganisms exposed to antimicrobial drugs develop antimicrobial resistance resulting in standard treatments becoming ineffective leading to persistence of infections and spreading of infections.
  • Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.
  • The misuse of antimicrobials in medicine and inappropriate use in agriculture is one of the major causes of spread of Antimicrobial Resistance.
  • Contamination around pharmaceutical manufacturing sites where untreated waste releases large amounts of active antimicrobials into the environment also leads to spread of AMR.

What is Multi drug resistance?

  • Multiple drug resistance (MDR), multidrug resistance or multi-resistance is antimicrobial resistance shown by a species of microorganism to multiple antimicrobial drugs.
  • The types most threatening to public health are MDR bacteria that resist multiple antibiotics; other types include MDR viruses, parasites (resistant to multiple antifungals, antiviral, and antiparasitic drugs of a wide chemical variety).
  • Recognizing different degrees of MDR, the terms extensively drug resistant (XDR) and pandrug-resistant (PDR) have been introduced.

Basis of Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Some bacteria due to the presence of resistance genes are intrinsically resistant and therefore survive on being exposed to antibiotics.
  • Bacteria can also acquire resistance by sharing and transferring resistance genes present in the rest of the population, or by genetic mutations that help the bacteria survive antibiotic exposure.

Findings of the recent study on MDR

  • Given that antibiotics exert a very strong selection pressure, it would appear that every bacteria in nature can become multi-drug resistant, which is not the case.
  • When bacteria become fit in one environment, they either lose fitness or fail to increase fitness in other environments – this study shows that when the environment is fluctuating, large (but not small) populations can by-pass this effect.
  • The study found that small populations acquire a certain set of mutations which allow them to survive in one environment while paying a cost in others. Large populations also develop these mutations but, in addition, have certain compensatory mutations that together give them fitness to survive in different environments.
  • Thus, population size determines the kind of mutations available to the bacteria, which in turn, leads to the type of fitness costs they evolve. All else being equal, whether the bacteria pay fitness costs or not will depend on the population size they evolve in.

Concerns regarding Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

  • Medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very risky due to AMR.
  • AMR increases the cost of healthcare with lengthier stays in hospitals, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.
  • No new classes of antibiotics have made it to the market in the last three decades, largely on account of inadequate incentives for their development and production.
  • Without urgent action, we are heading towards a future without antibiotics and with bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment and when common infections and minor injuries could once again kill (referred to as antibiotic apocalypse).
  • It is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Concerns regarding AMR in India

  • India, with its combination of large population, rising incomes that facilitate purchase of antibiotics, high burden of infectious diseases and easy over-the-counter access to antibiotics, is an important locus for the generation of resistance genes.
  • The multi-drug resistance determinant, New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), emerged from this region to spread globally – Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia have also been affected by multi-drug resistant typhoid originating from South Asia.
  • In India, over 56,000 newborn deaths each year due to sepsis are caused by organisms that are resistant to first line antibiotics.

-Source: The Hindu


India, Greece call for respect of territorial integrity

Context:

India and Greece have held discussions over the situation in Cyprus during the visit of External Affairs Minister to Athens.

The Ministry of External Affairs said both sides emphasised upon respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity by all members of the international community.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Greece–India relations
  2. About Turkey-Greece Stand-off
  3. New diplomatic campaign by Athens
  4. Conclusion

Greece–India relations

Historical relations

  • For the Ancient Greeks “India” meant only the upper Indus and they referred to the Indians as “Indói” literally meaning “the people of the Indus River”, till the time of Alexander the Great. Afterwards, “India” meant to the Greeks most of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent.
  • There is now tangible evidence indicating that the settlement of Greek merchants in Bengal must have begun as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century.
  • Dimitrios Galanos (1760–1833) was the earliest recorded Greek Indologist and he translated Sanskrit texts into Greek.
  • Greek and Indian civilizations survived the test of times when others went into the pages of history permanently, such as the Babylonians.
  • But despite these thousands of years of history, Greece and India have not quite reached the glories of their ancient forefathers just yet due to centuries of foreign invasions and colonialism that saw untold riches leave the shores of the Indian subcontinent and the Greek peninsula to the treasuries of foreign conquerors.

Greece and India sharing Invaders

  • From the 1200s, Indians experienced the brutality of various conquering Turkic warlords, followed by the Mughals, and then finally the British.
  • Greeks, too, have experienced over a millennium of warfare against various Turkic tribes, most prominently the Ottomans, who just like the British in India, drained Greeks of their wealth, leaving Greece backwards, destitute and underdeveloped when it achieved independence in 1821.
  • In fact, it was these conquering Turkic tribes that disconnected Greek and Indian civilizations from each for nearly a thousand years.

Modern relations

  • Modern Relations between Greece and India started in May 1950 and India opened its resident Embassy in Athens only by 1978.
  • India and Greece enjoy close bilateral relations and annual bilateral trade stands at $0.70 billion.
  • India has been an honored country at the 74th (2009) and the 84th (2019) Thessaloniki International Fair.
  • The Greek Foreign Ministry describes the Indian-Greek friendship as “excellent, with relations being multifaceted, harmonious and warm, as the two peoples are linked by close ties of friendship and mutual cooperation, and represent ancient cultures.”
  • This close relationship was reflected in a busy 2020 that saw relationship building between Athens and New Delhi reach unprecedented heights despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It was recently announced that a direct air flight between Athens and India will be established. This will allow Greece to benefit from India’s burgeoning middle class who are increasingly traveling abroad for pleasure.

About Turkey-Greece Stand-off

  • The European Union (EU) and its allies in West Asia and North Africa made plans to build a gas pipeline from the Mediterranean to Europe’s mainland to transport the gas. However, they had kept Turkey out of it, which had infuriated Turkey.
  • Turkey challenged the EU pipeline project and reached an agreement with Libya to form an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from its southern shores to Libya’s northern coast across the Mediterranean.
  • However, Greece claimed the Turkish zone violated its maritime sovereignty and later announced its EEZ with Egypt, which clashed with Turkey’s zone.
  • Turkey and Greece, vehemently disagree over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.
  • The highly complicated issue now has the potential to involve Europe, West Asia and North Africa.

New diplomatic campaign by Athens: From the Mediterranean to India

  • There is a new diplomatic campaign by Athens that extends from the Mediterranean to India.
  • One of the goals of Greek diplomacy for 2021 is the continuation and expansion of cooperation with countries that share the same views with Greece on the problems that exist not only in the eastern Mediterranean, but in the region in general, and for their resolution based on International Law.
  • This enlargement, which has been set as a goal by the Greek Foreign Minister, will be carried out, according to information, with the creation of an arc of states starting from the southeastern Mediterranean, with the participation of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, and pass into the Persian Gulf, with the participation of the United Arab Emirates, and will extend as far as India.
  • Essentially, this move is the evolution of tripartite agreements in which Greece participates and will be a resounding message to Turkey.
  • The next diplomatic goal of Greek is, according to information from Dimokratia, the renewal of Greece’s defense cooperation with the United States, which will be achieved by expanding the American military footprint in our region to existing Greek military installations.

Conclusion

  • It is on the basis of our ancient ties in exchanging ideas, knowledge and philosophy that today’s relationship between Greece and India should be built upon.
  • With India rising to Great Power status on the global stage and Greece having the most formidable military and exciting economic prospects in the East Mediterranean region, the time is ripe for Indian-Greek relations to flourish.
  • Although Greece and India want a peaceful rise to achieve economic prosperity for the betterment of citizens, both countries face revisionist and aggressive neighbours who are increasingly adopting Turkic medieval conquering ideology that not only bloats their own military budget, but that of their neighbours.
  • Greek and Indian ties are far deeper, richer and historical to only be viewed as a friendship of convenience to counter the collective threats posed by the Turkish-Pakistani expansionist axis. But there is no hiding that this must be one of the immediate and more critical components of this expanding relationship.

-Source: The Hindu

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