Daily Current Affairs 14th August – Topics
- Tighter Sanctions imposed on Belarus
- Issues Related to Rohingya Muslims
- Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP)
- Earth Observation satellite (EOS-03)
- World Elephant Day
1.Tighter Sanctions imposed on Belarus
#GS2 #Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests
Context: The UK, the US and Canada have imposed fresh trade, financial and aviation sanctions on Belarus, in an attempt to increase pressure on the country’s leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Background of the issue:
- Europe’s longest-serving ruler, President of Belarus (Lukashenko) took office in 1994 amid the chaos caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
- Often described as Europe’s “last dictator”, he has tried to preserve elements of Soviet communism.
- He has been in power for 26 years, keeping much of the economy in state hands, and using censorship and police crackdowns against opponents.
- In 2020, after Lukashenko’s re-election for a 6th term triggered violent protests and crackdown.
- Opposition rejected the election as rigged
- More than 35000 protestors have been detained and 626 people are being held as political prisoners
- There has been prevalent anger against the government over a poor economy and reservations regarding the fairness of the election.
- Opponents allege Lukashenko of “weaponizing” migrants from the Middle East and Africa by encouraging them to enter Belarus by plane before transporting them to the border with Lithuania and Latvia.
- In May, Belarus forced down a passenger plane to arrest an opposition blogger and his girlfriend.
What do the Sanctions target?
- Fresh sanctions added to growing international pressure against Lukashenko, who now faces bans in sectors ranging from potash and gasoline to government bonds.
- The main objective is to focus on the regime and Lukashenko’s close aids as precisely as possible and discourage Western companies from doing business with Belarus.
- Each country’s arrangement for the disciplinary sanctions varies.
- For Example, the U.S. doesn’t prohibit Belarus from selling its sovereign debt on the American market, while other countries do have financial restrictions.
- In the cases of the EU, U.K. and Canada, the sanctions also limit financial trade such as buying state debt and insuring or reinsuring state-related entities.
- The newest sanctions restrict exports of surveillance and military technology to Belarus.
- The sanctions partly ban imports of potash fertilizer, petrol and petrol-based products from Belarus.
- The EU and U.S. have put sanctions on Belarus’ tobacco industry, which contributes to the profitable cigarette smuggling trade.
- Western countries also blacklisted few Belarusian citizens.
- For example, the U.S. has blacklisted Belarus’ National Olympic Committee because it’s controlled by Lukashenko’s son, Viktor Lukashenko.
Impact of these sanctions on Belarus economy?
- In theory, the sanctions can pinch a nation that’s already in shortage of cash, especially when it comes to Lukashenko financing his government through foreign debt.
- In 2019, Belarus’ second largest trading partner was the EU, at 18.1 percent of its goods trade.
- In 2019, 7 % of Belarusian exports went to the U.K., so Britain’s action can also cut into Belarus’ already depressed economy.
- Belarus exported 32% of its fuel to U.K., so hitting this sector is likely to damage Belarusian exports.
- Targeting Belarus’ potash sector was a strategic move insofar as the country is the 2nd largest exporter of the fertilizer behind Canada, covering 21 percent of the world’s potash exports in 2019.
- As per Belarus’ democratic opposition, EU’s potash sanctions cover only 15 percent of all potash exports to the EU.
- Also, Russia represents 49.2% of all Belarusian trade and Belarus can export its sanctioned goods across the Russian border for re-export from there.
- The bearing of restrictions on dual-use goods, monitoring and interception goods and technology, and goods used in cigarette manufacturing would be insignificant.
- Even sanctions certain types of financial services likely to be insufficient as it does most of its capital market business in Russia, which is itself under sanctions.
What does this mean for Russia?
- Russian President Putin has tense relations with Lukashenko, and the sanctions are a chance for Russia to enforce its own conditions on Lukashenko’s survival at the helm of a crumbling state, which Russia has financially supported for decades.
- Deeper integration of Russia and Belarus might act as a stepping stone to further intervention in Ukraine. This would give Russia to open a northern front with Ukraine.
- Russia and Belarus are holding a joint military exercise dubbed “Zapad” — which means “West” in Russian — in western Belarus, which puts military pressure on Ukraine, and by extension the EU and NATO.
- Accused the western countries of disregarding the will of the Belarusian people and engaging the “entire arsenal of ‘cold war’ methods” in pursuit of regime change.
- The President of Belarus should guarantee the formation of a legitimate government that could address the country’s crucial problems.
- He has to reach out to the Opposition and offer talks to find a peaceful settlement to the crisis.
2.Issues Related to Rohingya Muslims
#GS2 #Population and associated issues # Challenges to Internal Security Through Communication Networks # Security Challenges & their Management in Border Areas
Context: Recently, Union Home Affairs ministry has informed in the parliament that as per few reports some Rohingya migrants are indulging in illegal activities.
- The response came on the questions about the present state of Rohingya living illegally in several parts of the country.
- Recently, Union government have issued directives to state governments and Union Territories administrations for taking necessary steps to find illegal migrants and confine them to specified locations as per provisions of law.
- Directives have also been issued to collect their biographic and biometric particulars and cancel fake Indian documents.
- Even the steps have been taken to initiate deportation proceedings under provisions of law.
- Union government, earlier this year, maintained that the Rohingyas, are ‘absolutely illegal immigrants’ and pose a threat to national security while opposing a plea in Supreme Court seeking release and protection of over 150 Rohingyas sent to a holding centre in Jammu as part of a process to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation to Myanmar.
- The Union government emphasized that “illegal migrants” cannot proclaim the right to settle in India under Article 21 of Indian constitution.
Issues & Apprehensions:
- Illegal migrants are more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations.
- The continuation of the illegal immigration of Rohingyas and their stay poses serious threat to national security.
- Increasing attacks against the Muslims perceived as illegal migrants have given way to radicalisation.
- The rule of law is undermined by the illegal migrants who are involved in illegal and anti-national activities.
- Increased migration also adversely effects the interests of local populations.
- In the recent years, trafficking of women and human smuggling have become quite rampant across the borders.
Existing Legal Framework:
- India signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 1997 but yet to ratify it.
- India acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1979.
- Since India has not ratified the UNCAT, the question of refoulement of Rohingya Muslims does not arise.
- As per provisions of Article 13 of ICCPR and the Assertions made by India at the time of its accession, even a lawful alien may be expelled in accordance with the applicable laws.
- Detention and deportation of illegal migrants after nationality verification is a continuous process.
- The powers of the Union Government under Section 3 of The Foreigners Act, 1946 to deport illegal foreign nationals and powers under Section 5 of The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 to remove an illegal foreigner by force have also been entrusted under Article 258(1) to all the State Governments.
- Further, under Article 239(1) of Indian constitution, Administrators of all Union Territories have also been directed to discharge the functions of the Central Government relating to the aforesaid powers.
Who are Rohingya:
- The Rohingya people are a stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who are indigenous to Rakhine State, Myanmar.
- They are described by the United Nations (UN) as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world and the victims of organised genocide.
- However, according to Myanmar government, they are illegal immigrants migrated to Rakhine following Burmese independence and Bangladesh liberation war.
- The population of Rohingyas was around 1.1 to 1.3 million before the 2015 crisis.
- To escape discrimination and violence in Myanmar, minority Rohingya Muslims have for decades fled from the Buddhist-majority country to neighbouring Bangladesh and other countries, including India.
- The Myanmar government never gave a citizenship status to Rohingyas. Hence the majority of them do not have any legal documentations, making them stateless.
- Despite of not being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, India has been one of the largest receiver of refugees in the world.
- India should make its own domestic refugee laws and it should also consider signing the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol after recording its reservations.
- India should try to avoid any conflict of interests with the new regime in Myanmar- as Myanmar has a vital role in India’s Look East Policy.
3.Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP)
#GS2 #Government policies and interventions #GS3 # Infrastructure-Energy #Industrial policy #Investment models
Context: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas recently launches round 06 bid for Open Acreage Licensing Programme.
- Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Policy framework on reforms in the exploration and licensing sector for enhancing domestic exploration and production of oil and gas.
- The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replaced the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was in March 2016 along with the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
- Under OALP, companies are permitted to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in.
- Companies can put in an expression of interest (EOI) for any area throughout the year. The areas sought are then offered for bidding.
- Before HELP, government identified these areas and offered them for bidding.
- The 06th bid round is expected to generate an immediate exploration work commitment of around $300-400 million.
- An area of 156,580 square kilometre has already been awarded under past bid rounds OALP bid rounds (I to V).
- This bid round-VI is anticipated to add a further 35,346 square kilometre, taking the total area for exploration to 191,926 square kilometre under the HELP regime.
Need of the Policy:
- India is one of the fastest growing economies in the globe and the 03rd largest consumer of petroleum products after the US and China.
- India is highly reliant on crude oil import to satisfy its energy needs.
- In this backdrop, India has set a target to reduce dependence on crude oil imports by 10% by 2022.
- HELP has led to transition from production sharing regime to revenue sharing regime.
- Because of this, the focus was shifted from ‘revenue’ to ‘production’ maximization
- The successful roll-out of the HELP regime, followed by OALP Bid Rounds, has led to an increase in exploration acreages in India.
- There is also emphasis on greater transparency and stream-lined procedures in OALP which helped in eliminating red-tapism and brought in a significant leap in the Exploration & Production sector.
- HELP provides for marketing freedom for crude oil and natural gas produced from these blocks. This is in tune with Government’s policy of “Minimum Government –Maximum Governance”.
- The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP), which adopts the Revenue Sharing Contract model, is a giant step towards improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the Indian Exploration and Production (E&P) sector.
- Union Government should consider rationalizing Taxation and Cess.
- Also, the government should talk to various stakeholders to understand their concerns.
- Private and Foreign Players should be incentivized to bring in better technology.
4.Earth Observation satellite (EOS-03)
#GS3 # Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology-Space # Awareness in Different Fields- Space
Context: Recently, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) suffered the loss of a vital earth observation satellite (EOS-03) during launch when the GSLV rocket carrying it malfunctioned due to problem in its cryogenic stage.
About the EOS-03:
- EOS-03 is a state-of-the-art agile Earth observation satellite which will be placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10. Subsequently, the satellite will reach the final geostationary orbit (36,000 km from the Earth’s surface) using its onboard propulsion system.
- Mission life of the satellite is 10 years.
- Satellite has the capacity to image the entire country 4-5 times every day.
- It was riding on a GSLV rocket (GSLV-F10), which has a new payload carrier designed to significantly reduce aerodynamic drag and thus carry larger payloads.
- EOS-03 will be capable of obtaining important info for application in various sectors including agriculture, forestry, water bodies as well as for disaster warning, cyclone monitoring, cloudburst, or thunderstorm monitoring.
- This would also provide real time images of the country and borders and also able to swift monitor of natural disasters.
- EOS-03 was being sent ahead of EOS-02 which has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- EOS-01 was launched by ISRO in 2020, the first in the series of new earth observation satellites that bear a new generic naming system.
- EOS-01 is nothing but another Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) that will work together with RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1 launched last year.
- It was launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C49).
- It is envisioned for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
Earth Observation Satellites:
- Earth observation satellites are the satellites armed with remote sensing technology. Earth observation is the gathering of information about Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems.
- Many earth observation satellites have been employed on sun-synchronous orbit.
- Other earth observation satellites launched by ISRO include RESOURCESAT- 2, 2A, CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, INSAT-3DR, 3D, etc.
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
- GSLV is a launch vehicle designed, developed, and operated by the ISRO to launch satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits.
- Geosynchronous satellites are launched into orbit in the same direction the Earth is spinning and can have any inclination.
- GSLV has the capability to put a heavier payload in orbit than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
- It is a three-stage launcher with strap-on motors.
- The GSLV Mark II is the largest launch vehicle built by India.
- These satellites can weigh up to 2,500 kg and are first launched into transfer orbits that have a distance from Earth of 170 km at closest approach and about 35,975 km at furthest approach which is close to the height of the geosynchronous orbit.
#Earth satellite Orbits
5.World Elephant Day
#GS3 #Conservation #Environment and Biodiversity
Context: On the occasion of World Elephant Day (12th August) the Union government made public the population estimation protocol to be adopted in the all-India elephant and tiger population estimation in 2022.
About World Elephant Day:
- The first international Elephant Day was observed on 12th August,2012. Since then, it is observed every year.
- It is devoted to protection and preservation of Elephants.
- This day is observed to understand the need for better protection for wild animals, elephants, and also to improve the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, better treatment of captive elephants.
- According to the 2017 census, there were 29,964 elephants in India.
- There are 03 subspecies of Asian elephant which are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
- The Indian subspecies has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
- It is classified as ‘Endangered’ in IUCN Red List.
- There are two subspecies of African elephants, the Savanna (or bush) elephant (IUCN: ‘Endangered’) and the Forest elephant (‘IUCN: Critically Endangered’).
Steps Taken for Conservation in India:
- Plans and programmes to arrest their poachers and killers.
- Declaration and establishment of various elephant reserves across the states.
- More focus is given on inclusion of local community in forest wildlife management
- Cleaning areas from lantana and eupatorium (invasive species) as they prevent the growth of grass for elephants to feed on.
- ‘Gaj Yatra’: A nationwide awareness drive to celebrate elephants and understand the importance of securing elephant corridors.
- The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor efficiency of field conservation efforts.
- Project Elephant: A centrally sponsored scheme for the protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
- The Environment ministry offers financial and technical aid to major elephant range states in the country through the project.
- Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, upholding the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.
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