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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 29 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. COP 26 global summit: India’s views and more
  2. Rupee, bonds gain on global oil price decline
  3. Sundarbans NP: On of the highest blue carbon stocks
  4. MNRE launches Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM)
  5. China to build military base in Tajikistan

COP 26 global summit: India’s views and more

Context:

  • Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav throwed light on what would be India’s viewpoints as he leaves to Glasgow to participate in the 26th edition of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP).
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be participating in a World Leaders Summit to be held next week as part of the COP.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment, International Treaties and Agreements), GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Conference of Parties (CoP)?
  2. Background: What is the Paris Agreement?
  3. What does COP26 aim to achieve and what is its Significance?
  4. Which countries have submitted new NDCs?
  5. India likely to update climate NDC ahead of COP26
  6. What has the Environment Minister said about India’s agenda at COP26?
  7. Why China matters at Glasgow?

Click Here to read about Conference of Parties (CoP), COP26 and its goals and Kyoto Protocol

Background: What is the Paris Agreement?

  • The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed by almost all countries in the world at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
  • Its aims are to keep the rise in the global average temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, ideally 1.5 degrees; strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align all finance flows with ‘a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’.
  • The Paris Agreement has a ‘bottom-up’ approach where countries themselves decide by how much they will reduce their emissions by a certain year. They communicate these targets to the UNFCCC in the form of ‘nationally determined contributions’, or ‘NDCs’.

What does COP26 aim to achieve and what is its Significance?

Implementation of the Paris Agreement:

  • At COP26, parties also need to try and finalize the Paris Agreement’s ‘implementation guide’ – the Paris Rulebook.
  • Agreeing on what rules should govern international carbon markets – the ‘Article 6 negotiations’ – is expected to be particularly difficult.

1.5-degree target is still possible, there’s still hope:

  • The 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores the it is still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree-target.
  • Hence, COP26 is a critical summit for global climate action to have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
  • The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming is substantial: every increment of a degree translates into increased risks for people, communities, and ecosystems.

Raising Ambition levels of NDCs:

  • The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted in 2015 were collectively not ambitious enough to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 1.5 degrees.
  • Hence, as the signatories of the Paris Agreement are expected to submit new and more ambitious NDCs every five years (known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’) – COP 26 becomes important as the first test of this ambition-raising function.

Meeting Financial commitments:

  • The official figures for 2020 will not be available until 2022, but it is clear the goal was not met in 2020.
  • A successful outcome in Glasgow also requires developed countries to honour a promise they made back in 2009 of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries.
  • Recent announcements, including President Joe Biden’s pledge to double US climate finance, have brought developed countries closer to honouring the pledge, but more will need to be done to restore credibility and strengthen trust between developing and developed nations. 

Ability to adapt to climate change:

  • The question of how to deal with economic and non-economic harms caused by climate change impacts which cannot be avoided through adaptation or mitigation – known as ‘loss and damage’ is another important element of COP26.
  • Discussions on the issues with ‘strengthening the ability to adapt to climate change impacts’ – often focus on mobilizing finance.
  • However, it is also important that parties make progress on other issues such as further operationalizing the Paris Agreement’s ‘global goal on adaptation’ which, at present, is vaguely formulated.

Which countries have submitted new NDCs?

  • As of September 2021, 86 countries and the EU27 have submitted new or updated NDCs to the UNFCCC.
  • A few governments, like China and Japan, have pledged new 2030 targets but are yet to submit them officially.
  • Some of the new NDCs are in the upper limits of what many had expected.
  • The UK has, for instance, pledged to reduce emissions by 68 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and 78 per cent by 2035. The European Union (EU) is aiming for a reduction of at least 55 per cent by 2030 relative to 1990 levels, and the US target is ‘a reduction of 50-52 per cent’ compared to 2005 levels.
  • However, the NDC updates only narrow the gap to 1.5 degrees by 15 per cent at most.
  • Around 70 countries are yet to communicate new or updates targets. And several – Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam – have submitted without raising ambition.

India likely to update climate NDC ahead of COP26

  • India’s present NDC submitted in 2015 consists of three main elements —
  • An economy-wide emissions intensity target of 33% to 35% below 2005 levels,
  • Electric power capacity target of 40% installed capacity from non-fossil-based energy resources by 2030 (conditional to international support), and
  • Creating a carbon sink expansion target of creating an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 billion tonnes through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • India’s non-fossil fuel installed power capacity at 153.88 GW is already almost 40% of the total installed capacity – indicating that India is likely to exceed one of the elements of its NDCs.
  • India has already achieved a drop of 24% in the emissions intensity of its GDP compared to 2005 levels.
  • “India will install 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated on September 2021 session of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Hence, there are talks of announcing a slightly updated target taking into account our commitments on renewable energy at COP26 according to an official at the environment ministry.

What has the Environment Minister said about India’s agenda at COP26?

  • The points of discussion will be the assistance that developing countries such as India need for:
    1. Mitigating carbon emissions,
    2. Adapting to a warming world, and
    3. Insisting on a firm, transparent framework that lays out how this can be met.
  • The 26th COP is expected to be fractious with many developed countries, led by the United States, to push for a deadline by which all countries agree to cease net carbon dioxide emissions.
  • India is among the major emitters, the third largest in the world, to not have indicated any deadline or even a tentative pathway towards such a “net zero”’ goal. China and the United States, the other two major polluters have indicated 2060 and 2050 as potential deadlines for capping their net emissions.
  • India has on several fora resisted being forced to commit to such a deadline on the grounds that it violates agreed-upon principles of climate justice that require countries to have “differential responsibilities” to addressing the climate crisis.

Why China matters at Glasgow?

Increase in China’s Emissions

  • Till the early 2000s, the US, EU, UK, Russia, Australia, Canada and Japan dominated global emissions. But this has changed significantly from the time China joined the World Trade Organization and became the factory of the world.
  • By 2005, China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions surpassed the US and the country is currently the world’s largest emitter.
  • Between 1990 and 2019, China increased its share of global CO2 emissions from 5% to 20%. In 2019 alone, it emitted roughly 28% of the world’s emissions.
  • China’s rapid growth is visible in terms of the fact that it has exceeded emissions of the other developed countries in a matter of two decades or so.
  • By comparison, the historical emitters had over a century to reach this level. On cumulative terms, however, China’s contribution is lower than the other historical polluters.
  • In terms of per capita emissions, China emitted 10.5 tonnes in 2019 — five times that of India’s meagre 1.9 tonnes of per capita CO2 emission. This is despite the fact that both the countries have a comparable population.

Issues with China’s NDC

  • China’s official NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution), submitted in Paris in 2016, is based on a carbon intensity target. In September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China will “aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060”.
  • Because it has not set a quantifiable target for reduction — its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is based on carbon intensity reduction — its emissions are expected to continue to grow in this decade.
  • The country still runs over half of the world’s operating coal fleet, which is growing. China’s total installed coal capacity is estimated at 1,050 GW in 2020, half of the global total. In 2020, China put another 38.4 GW of new coal-fired power capacity into operation — more than three times the amount that is being built elsewhere around the world.
  • And so, despite all the talk about China’s renewable energy, it is still dependent on coal for power — 60.75 per cent of its electricity came from coal in 2020 while 20.02 per cent came from low-carbon sources like solar, wind and hydropower. (Note: India’s non-fossil energy generation capacity is in fact higher than that of China.)
  • In terms of domestic renewable energy, China has an installed capacity of 253 GW of solar energy and 288 GW of wind energy by 2020. According to China’s NDC, the plan is to augment the capacity to 1,200 GW by 2030, as against India’s plan for 450 GW by 2030.
  • China will also be in the forefront to supply the world with clean energy technology and in this way benefit from the climate mitigation efforts of the world – as China has made massive investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles and surpasses all other countries in production capacity.
  • Despite its lofty renewable energy plans, China’s goal for carbon neutrality will be unachievable unless it curbs its growing coal power production.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, Down to Earth Magazine


Rupee, bonds gain on global oil price decline

Context:

  • The rupee and bonds strengthened  as a drop in global crude oil prices helped calm investor worries over sustained imported inflationary pressures in the economy.
  • Traders said bond yields too dropped – the 10-year bond yield was trading at 6.33%, down 1 basis point on the day after having touched 6.31% earlier in the session.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Inflation, Capital Market)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why are oil prices falling now (Last week of October 2021)?
  2. What are Bonds?
  3. Relating Bond Yields and Exchange rates

Why are oil prices falling now (Last week of October 2021)?

  • Oil markets had hit multi-year highs earlier in October 2021 on the back of a global coal and gas crunch, which has driven a switch to diesel and fuel oil for power generation. Higher the demand – Higher the prices.
  • The rising oil prices headed for the first weekly losses after U.S. oil stocks rose more than expected, and Iran flagged it was resuming talks with Western powers which could lead to an end to sanctions (end to sanctions = increase in supply).
  • Concerns about erratic demand growth persist, with China looking to curb pollution ahead of the Beijing winter Olympics and restricting mobility to curb any outbreaks of COVID-19.

What are Bonds?

  • A bond is like an IOU. The issuer of a bond promises to pay back a fixed amount of money every year until the expiry of the term, at which point the issuer returns the principal amount to the buyer.
  • When a government issues such a bond it is called a sovereign bond.
  • Governments issue bonds as part of their borrowing programme.
  • By purchasing a debt instrument like bond, an investor becomes a creditor to the corporation (or government).
  • A bond is a financial security issued by a borrower to avail long term funds.
  • Thus, a bond is like a loan: the holder of the bond is the lender (creditor), the issuer of the bond is the borrower (debtor). The primary advantage of being a creditor (by purchasing bonds) is that he has a higher claim on assets than shareholders do. That means, in the case of bankruptcy, a bondholder will get his money back before a shareholder.
  • However, the bondholder does not have a share in the profits of a company.

What is Bond Yield?

  • Bond yield is the return an investor realizes on a bond.
  • The bond yield can be defined in different ways.
  • Setting the bond yield equal to its coupon rate is the simplest definition.
  • The current yield is a function of the bond’s price and its coupon or interest payment, which will be more accurate than the coupon yield if the price of the bond is different than its face value.

As bond prices go down – bond yields go up

  • Now, seeing the increased bond yield, more and more buying of the bonds will ensue leading to increased demand of the bonds and we know that increased demand will command a higher price.
  • So, an increased demand will propel the bond prices up thereby leading to a reduction in bond yield, which will further lead to reduction in demand.

Relating Bond Yields and Exchange rates

  • Bond yields play a significant role in determining the direction of a currency. The difference between one countries bond yield and another countries bond yield, known as an interest rate differential, is more influential on the direction of a currency than the actual bond yield.
  • Bond yields differentials usually move in tandem with currency pairs. This phenomenon occurs because capital flows are attracted to higher yielding currencies.
  • When people are willing to take risks, the rate of one currency increases relative to another, as investors are attracted to the higher yielding currency. Additionally, the cost of owning the lower yielding currency increase as the bond yield differential moves in favour of the currency that is sold.
  • As a rule of thumb, short-term, when a central bank raises rates (liquidity in the market reduces) – the yields rise and bond prices fall; further, the currency appreciates as it becomes more attractive to hold.
  • This sort of relationship between Bond yields and exchange rates go into the decisions taken during open market operations conducted by the RBI.

Why is the RBI keen on keeping yields in check?

  • The RBI has been aiming to keep yields lower as that reduces borrowing costs for the government while preventing any upward movement in lending rates in the market.
  • The RBI wants to keep interest rates steady to kick-start investments. A rise in bond yields will put pressure on interest rates in the banking system which will lead to a hike in lending rates.

Related Prelims Question in 2021:

Indian Government Bond Yields are influenced by which of the following?

1. Actions of the Federal Reserve United States
2. Actions of the Reserve Bank of India
3. Inflation and short-term interest rates  

Select the correct answer using the code given below.  

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3  

Answer: D

-Source: The Hindu, Economic Times


Sundarbans NP: On of the highest blue carbon stocks

Context:

India’s Sundarbans National Park is among five sites that have the highest blue carbon stocks globally, according to a new assessment of greenhouse gas volumes emitted from and absorbed by forests in UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Sunderbans
  2. Flora and Fauna of the Sunderbans
  3. Risks faced by the Sunderbans
  4. What is Blue Carbon?
  5. About Sundarbans and Blue Carbon
  6. The colors of carbon

About Sunderbans

  • Sunderbans, formerly Sunderbunds, is a vast tract of forest and saltwater swamp forming the lower part of the Ganga (Padma)-Brahmaputra River delta in southeastern West Bengal state, northeastern India, and southern Bangladesh.
  • The tract extends approximately more than 250 kms west-east along the Bay of Bengal from the Hugli River estuary in India to the western segment of the Meghna River estuary in Bangladesh.
  • A network of estuaries, tidal rivers, and creeks intersected by numerous channels, it encloses flat, densely forested, marshy islands.
  • Three-fifths of the Sunderbans area is in Bangladesh, out of the approximate 10 thousand square kilometers of area it covers.
  • Much of the area has long had the status of a forest reserve, but conservation efforts in India were stepped up with the creation of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve in 1973.
  • Sunderbans National Park, established in 1984, constitutes a core region within the tiger reserve; it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

Flora and Fauna of the Sunderbans

  • The forestland transitions into a low-lying mangrove swamp approaching the coast, which itself consists of sand dunes and mud flats.
  • Mangrove forests constitute about two-fifths of the Sunderbans region’s overall surface area, with water covering roughly half of that area.
  • Mangrove forests perform multiple ecological functions such as production of woody trees, provision of habitat, food and spawning grounds for fin-fish and shellfish, provision of habitat for birds and other valuable fauna; protection of coastlines and accretion of sediment to form new land.
  • Notably, it is one of the last preserves of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), which are found in relative abundance there. The Sunderbans Delta is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers. s
  • Other mammals include spotted deer, wild boars, otters, wildcats, and Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica), but several species that once inhabited the region—including Javan rhinoceroses, guar, water buffalo, and spotted deer—are now believed to be extinct there.
  • Several dozen reptile and amphibian species are found in the Sunderbans, notably crocodiles, Indian pythons, cobras, and marine turtles.
  • The region is home to more than 250 bird species—both seasonal migrants and permanent residents—including hornbills, storks and other waders, kingfishers, white ibis, and raptors such as sea eagles.

Risks faced by the Sunderbans

  • The landscape is constantly being transformed by the erosional forces of the sea and wind along the coast and by the enormous loads of silt and other sediments that are deposited along the myriad estuaries.
  • Human activity has also altered the landscape, notably through forest removal, which accelerates erosion.
  • In addition, because considerable amounts of river water have been diverted upstream for irrigation and other uses, salinity in the mangrove swamps has moved farther inland, especially in the Indian sector of the territory.
  • During each monsoon season almost all the Bengal Delta is submerged, much of it for half a year. The shore currents vary greatly along with the monsoon and they are also affected by cyclonic action. Erosion and accretion through these forces maintains varying levels of physiographic change.
  • In a study conducted in 2012, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) found out that the Sunderban coast was retreating up to 200 metres (660 ft) in a year.
  • Agricultural activities had destroyed more than 40 thousand acres of mangroves from 1975 to 2010. Shrimp cultivation had destroyed more than 18 thousand acres during that time.
  • The mangrove vegetation itself provides a remarkable stability to the entire system, and loss of the mangrove forest will result in the loss of the protective biological shield against cyclones and tsunamis.

What is Blue Carbon?

  • Blue carbon is simply the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.
  • Our ocean and coasts provide a natural way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere, through sequestration (or taking in) of this carbon.
  • Sea grasses, mangroves, and salt marshes along our coast “capture and hold” carbon, acting as something called a carbon sink.
  • These coastal systems, though much smaller in size than the planet’s forests, sequester this carbon at a much faster rate, and can continue to do so for millions of years.
  • Most of the carbon taken up by these ecosystems is stored below ground where we can’t see it, but it is still there. The carbon found in coastal soil is often thousands of years old.
  • When these coastal systems are damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere, where it can then contribute to climate change.

About Sundarbans and Blue Carbon

  • India’s Sundarbans National Park is among five sites that have the highest blue carbon stocks globally – however, such ‘World Heritage forests’ are now releasing more carbon than they are absorbing, primarily due to human activity and climate change.
  • Researchers estimated the gross and net carbon absorbed and emitted by UNESCO World Heritage forests between 2001 and 2020 to be comparable to roughly half the United Kingdom’s annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
  • The study added that World Heritage forests also stored substantial amounts of carbon in addition to absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • The total carbon stored till now by these forests is approximately 13 billion tonnes of carbon. If all this stored carbon were to be released into the atmosphere as CO2, it would be akin to emitting 1.3 times the world’s total annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
  • UNESCO lists 50 sites across the globe for their unique marine values. These represent just one per cent of the global ocean area. But they comprise at least 15 per cent of global blue carbon assests.

The colors of carbon

  • Green Carbon – The Carbon incorporated into plant biomass and the soils below is called Green Carbon. Green Carbon is Carbon removed by photosynthesis and stored in the plants and soil of natural ecosystems and is a vital part of the global carbon cycle.
  • Black Carbon – Black carbon is a potent climate-warming component of particulate matter formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, wood and other fuels. Complete combustion would turn all carbon in the fuel into carbon dioxide (CO2), but combustion is never complete and CO2, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and organic carbon and black carbon particles are all formed in the process. The complex mixture of particulate matter resulting from incomplete combustion is often referred to as soot.
  • Brown Carbon – Brown carbon is brown smoke released by the combustion of organic matter (and coexisting with black carbon when released in the atmosphere). The way light reflects off brown carbon causes the material to appear brown or yellow. Light absorbing aerosols have become an interest of study because of its effects on atmospheric warming.
  • Red carbon – In its broadest context, Red carbon includes all living biological particles on snow and ice that reduce albedo to survive. Red carbon is the newest colour in the carbon spectrum. Red expresses a common pigment produced by snow microorganisms, but the term also encompasses pigments spanning yellow through to purple. These colours absorb abundant green and blue wavelengths of light, melting the snow and ice, and “producing liquid water necessary for life, and freeing up nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) that are bound within ice crystals”.

Related Prelims Question in 2021:

What is blue carbon?  

(a) Carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems
(b) Carbon sequestered in forest biomass and agricultural soils
(c) Carbon contained in petroleum and natural gas
(d) Carbon present in the atmosphere  

Answer: A

-Source: The Hindu


MNRE launches Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM)

Context:

Union Minister of Power & New and Renewable Energy, launched the new market segment, Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM).

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Renewable sources of Energy, Energy Security, Solar Energy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Green-Day-Ahead Market (GDAM)?
  2. How will GDAM be beneficial?
  3. Significance of GDAM

What is Green-Day-Ahead Market (GDAM)?

  • Green Day Ahead market (GDAM) is a marketplace for trading renewable power on a day-ahead basis.
  • National Load Despatch Center (NLDC), Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO) as the nodal agency has set up the requisite technologies and infrastructure for the launch of the GDAM.
  • With GDAM, any renewable energy generating company can set up and sell renewable energy on the exchange.
  • The energy company now has the option of the market rather than suffering a loss of revenue in case any electricity distribution company (Discom) refuses to buy their electricity.
  • The Green Day-ahead market will operate in an integrated way with the conventional day-ahead market but with a separate clearing mechanism and price discovery for both the renewable segment and convention energy segment.
  • Participants in the market (sellers and buyers) can submit their bids together for both conventional and renewable energy through separate bidding windows. The clearance will take place in a sequential manner, with priority given to renewables.
  • Sellers and buyers can submit bids during a window each day, the electricity would be delivered the following day. Unlike GTAM (Green-Term Ahead Market) which was not for sale or purchase of power the following day, the sellers will get instant payment on the day of delivery itself.

How will GDAM be beneficial?

  • The launch of GDAM will offer competitive price signals as well as an opportunity to the market participants to trade in green energy in the most transparent, flexible, competitive, and efficient manner.
  • With the market-based competitive prices, the renewable generators will find an option to sell power as well as boost the renewable capacity addition towards the government’s vision of building India as a sustainable and efficient energy economy.
  • Benefits of free ISTS (inter-State transmission system) will be available for renewable energy and open access will be available within 15 days.
  • The distribution utilities would also be able to sell surplus renewable power generated in their area.
  • The obligated entities (distribution licensee, open access consumers, and captive power consumers) would also be able to meet the RPO target by directly buying green power from the power exchange(s).
  • The non-obligated entities will be able to buy power on a voluntary basis and help increase the share of green power.
  • Other benefits of GDAM include reduction of curtailment of green power, assured instant payment to Renewable Energy generators on the day of delivery itself, and tapping into the unlocked renewable energy potential of India.

Significance of GDAM

  • Green-Day-Ahead Market has been termed as a unique product launch in the energy market in India. The world is witnessing a wave of energy transition. India is also committed to the energy transition from fossil fuel to non-fossil fuel sources.
  • There is a significant shift in the buyer’s behavior from long-term contracts to short-term contracts, and also towards the power market. GDAM aims to enable this energy transition for India.
  • GDAM will enable the achieving India’s green targets and facilitate the integration and expansion of green energy in an efficient, competitive, sustainable & transparent manner.
  • GDAM is expected to create a domino effect that will lead to a gradual shift from PPA-based contracts to market-based models and enable India in achieving its ambitious target of 450 GW green capacity by 2030.

-Source: PIB


China to build military base in Tajikistan

Context:

China will take full control of a military base in Tajikistan near the Afghan border that it has been quietly operating and will also build a new base for the Tajik government, according to a report.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s military base in Tajikistan
  2. Recently in news: Russia’s support to Tajikistan’s military
  3. Recently in news: Tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  4. Significance of the Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan etc., region for India

About China’s military base in Tajikistan

  • Tajikistan granted approval for the construction of a new base, following an agreement reached between Tajikistan and China.
  • The new base, would be owned by Tajikistan’s Rapid Reaction Group or special forces, and financed by China for a cost of $10 million.
  • It will be located in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province near the Pamir mountains, and Chinese troops will not be stationed there.
  • While this base will be under Tajik control, the Tajikistan government has also agreed to transfer full control of an existing facility that both sides have been using jointly, a former Soviet base not far from the China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan tri-junction and the Wakhan Corridor, where China shares a less than 100 km border with Afghanistan.
  • Russia and India are among countries that already have a military presence in bases in Tajikistan. China and Tajikistan have, however, continued to officially deny the presence of Chinese security forces there.

Recently in news: Russia’s support to Tajikistan’s military

  • Russia will bolster Central Asian ally Tajikistan’s military with weapons, equipment and training amid a “deteriorating” situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
  • Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will hold joint military drills near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made huge military gains and claims to control 90% of the country’s borders.
  • Russia organized additional supplies of weaponry and equipment to bolster Tajikistan’s Army.
  • Russia continues to train qualified Tajik military personnel.
  • Russia blamed the worsening security situation in the region around Afghanistan on the “hasty” withdrawal of U.S. forces and said that it was ready to offer “any necessary help to” countries like Tajikistan.

Recently in news: Tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

  • Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have claimed the area around the water supply facility in Kok-Tash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.
  • After the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in late 1991 – Soviet mapmakers drew the dividing lines for Soviet republics which is now the current configuration of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
  • The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km length is disputed. Restrictions on access to land and water that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
  • Russia and European Union (EU) welcomed the ceasefire deal and emphasised the need for a lasting and peaceful solution.

Significance of the Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan etc., region for India

  • Central Asia serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe, making it geopolitically axial for India.
  • The region is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminum, gold, silver, coal and uranium which can be best utilized by Indian energy requirements.
  • Central Asia has huge cultivable areas lying barren and without being put to any productive use, offering enormous opportunity for cultivation of pulses.
  • India intends expansion of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. This will act as a vital gateway to access Eurasian markets and optimally operationalize its use, requiring a Central Asian state joining the project as a direct stakeholder.
  • India has proposed setting up of ‘India-Central Asia Development Group’ to take forward development partnership between India & Central Asian countries. This group will help India to expand its footprints in the resource-rich region amid China’s massive inroads and to fight terror effectively, including in Afghanistan.
  • India has a very wide array of interests in Central Asia covering security, energy, economic opportunities etc., therefore Security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development of India.
  • Both India and Central Asian Republics (CARs) share many commonalities and perceptions on various regional and world issues and can play a crucial role in providing regional stability.

-Source: The Hindu

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