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Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 9th December – 2021

CURRENT AFFAIRS 09-12-2021

  

Daily Current Affairs – Topics

  • The Raigad fort-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict
  • World Inequality Report 2022
  • Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)
  • World Malaria Report 2021: WHO

 

 

1. The Raigad fort-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

#GS1-Indian art and culture.

Context:

  • President Ram Nath Kovind recently paid homage to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Raigad Fort.

In depth information

The Fort of Raigad

  • Raigad is a hill fort that sits 2,851 feet above sea level and is located around 25 kilometres from Mahad in the Raigad district.
  • Early Europeans dubbed the fort the “Gibraltar of the East.” Its defining feature is a mile-and-a-half flat summit with ample building space. The fort contained 300 stone dwellings and a garrison of 2,000 men at its peak.

Historical connection:

  • In the 12th century, the fort, which was formerly known as Rairi, was the seat of the Maratha clan Shirke.
  • From the Bahamini dynasty to the Nizam Shahis and subsequently the Adil Shahis, the fort was ruled by many dynasties.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took it from the More’s of Javli, who were ruled by the Adilshahi Sultanate, in 1656.
  • In 1662, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj changed the fort’s name to Raigad and erected a few structures.
  • By 1664, the Raigad fort had become the seat of Chhatrapati’s authority.
  • The fort not only assisted Shivaji in challenging the Adil Shahi dynasty’s supremacy, but it also provided him with access to the Konkan, allowing him to expand his influence.

Raigad Fort’s Political Importance in Maharashtra:

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji is Maharashtra’s tallest and most respected figure, and political parties of all stripes are always attempting to usurp his legacy. Many political leaders make it a point to visit Raigad fort because of its significance in their lives.

Important facts about Chhatrapati Shivaji:

  • He was born in 1639 to ShahajiBhonsle, a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate, and Jijabai, a religious woman who influenced him greatly.
  • He initially demonstrated his military zeal in 1645, when he successfully took control of the Torna Fort, which was under Bijapur’s hands, as a teenager. In addition, he bought the Kondana Fort. Both of these forts were under the control of Bijapur’s Adil Shah.
  • Chhatrapati, Shakakarta, Kshatriya Kulavantas, and HaindavaDharmodhhaarak were his titles.

Important battles he was involved in include:

  • Battle of Pratapgad, 1659.
  • Battle of Pavan Khind, 1660.
  • Battle of Purandar, 1665.
  • Battle of Sinhagad, 1670.
  • Battle of Kalyan, 1682-83.
  • Battle of Sangamner, 1679.

Purandar’s Treaty:

  • Shivaji and Raja Jai Singh I signed the Treaty of Purandar in June 1665. (representing Aurangzeb)
  • Many forts were given to the Mughals as part of this pact, and it was decided that Shivaji would visit Aurangzeb at Agra. Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son, consented to accompany him.

 

2. Russia-Ukraine Conflict

#GS2- India & Its Neighborhood Interests

Context

  • Recently, a report stated that the tension on the Russia-Ukraine border represents a major security crisis for the region.

 In details

  • The situation has the potential to escalate into a larger confrontation.
  • According to Ukraine, Russia has gathered over 90,000 troops on the border, and US intelligence sources suggest that a Russian invasion of Ukraine might happen as soon as next month.

The Source of the Conflict

Disintegration of the Soviet Union

  • Before becoming a Soviet republic, Ukraine was a part of the Russian empire for centuries.
  • As the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, it gained independence.
  • Since then, it has worked to distance itself from Russia’s imperial past and has grown closer to the West.
  • Following the invasion of Crimea, both countries signed ceasefire agreements in Minsk in 2014 and 2015.
  • In the beginning, there was a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine (by Russian speaking population)
  • Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s then-Russian-leaning president, rejected an association agreement with the European Union in 2014 in favour of deeper ties with Moscow.
  • This generated widespread demonstrations, which culminated in his deposition in 2014.
  • Russia retaliated by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and lending support to a separatist uprising in the country’s east.

The start of armed warfare

  • The battle in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as Donbas, has claimed the lives of over 14,000 people.
  • Russia has been accused by Ukraine and the West of sending troops and weaponry to support the rebels.
  • Moscow refuted this, claiming that Russians who sided with the rebels did so voluntarily.
  • A increase in cease-fire breaches in the east, as well as a Russian force concentration near Ukraine, stoked war worries earlier this year.

Why does Russia dislike Ukraine?

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has regularly referred to Russians and Ukrainians as “one people” and says that Ukraine was unfairly given historic Russian regions during the Soviet era.
  • Influence of the ‘West’: The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of breaking the 2015 peace agreement and has chastised the West for failing to persuade Ukraine to comply.
  • Asylum for rebels: The accord was a diplomatic coup for Moscow, as it required Ukraine to grant insurgent territories broad autonomy and grant the rebels a broad amnesty.
  • Affinity for the United States and NATO: Ukraine’s desire to join NATO is a red line for Moscow.

The United States is concerned about Russia’s military build-up.

  • Russia’s buffer state: Ukraine serves as a vital link between Russia and the West.
  • Russia has not disclosed any details about its soldier numbers or positions, claiming that their deployment on its own soil should not be of concern to anyone.
  • Invasion: Russia plans to send an estimated 175,000 troops, with about half of them already stationed near Ukraine’s border in preparation for a military invasion.
  • Ukraine has always been a staunch ally of the United States. As a result, NATO’s military infrastructure has been moved closer to Russia.

Situation Right Now

  • Russia wants assurances from the United States that Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO. The United States, on the other hand, is unwilling to provide such assurances.
  • This has resulted in a standoff between the two countries, with tens of thousands of Russian troops poised to invade Ukraine.
  • In order to obtain sanctions relief and other concessions from the West, Russia is keeping tensions near the Ukraine border high.
  • Any military action by the US or the EU against Russia would cause a massive global crisis, and none of the countries involved has suggested it thus far.

India’s Position

  • India signalled its support for traditional partner Russia on the Ukraine issue during a UNSC meeting in May 2021.
  • India has pushed for political and diplomatic solutions that protect all countries in the region’s legitimate interests while also ensuring long-term peace and stability in Europe and beyond. Only peaceful discourse can lead to a long-term solution that is agreeable to all parties involved.
  • India voted against a UN resolution sponsored by Ukraine that criticised alleged human rights breaches in Crimea last November, so siding with longtime friend Russia on the subject.

Concerns

  • Efforts to admit Ukraine to NATO have been continuing for years, but they appear to have accelerated recently. Such a move has been labelled a “red line” by Russia, which is concerned about the ramifications of US-led military alliances reaching right up to its doorstep.
  • It is difficult to learn about Russia’s plans and prevent them from being carried out.
  • Sanctions on Russia might not be enough to deter her.
  • Russia’s position that it is not a party to the war and so is not obligated by the terms of the Minsk 2 Agreement has been a major roadblock.

Ahead of Schedule

  • To resolve the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, international cooperation is required.
  • Both countries should avoid making any moves that may exacerbate tensions.

 

3. World Inequality Report 2022

#GS-3 Indian Economy

Context

  • In 2021, India will be the most unequal country in the world, with the wealthiest 1% of the population controlling more than one-fifth of total national income.
  • The report was released by World Inequality Lab, a global research organisationcentred in Paris.

The Report’s Major Highlights

Income disparity

  • According to the report, India’s top ten percent and one percent control 57 percent and 22 percent of the country’s total national GDP, respectively, while the bottom 50 percent owns only 13 percent.
  • The adult population of India earns an average of Rs 2,04,200 per year.
  • The bottom half of the population makes 20 times as much as the richest 10%.

Public wealth is decreasing.

  • The paper points out that the global proportion of public wealth has been declining for decades.
  • Public assets often include government buildings, schools, universities, hospitals, and other government services.

During colonial India, there was a lot of inequality.

  • Going back in time, the paper demonstrates that income disparity was exceptionally high in India during British colonial rule (1858-1947), with a top 10% income share of over 50%.
  • Due to socialist-inspired five-year plans, this percentage was cut to 35-40% after independence.
  • India launched on deregulation and loosening regulations in the form of liberalisation measures in response to dismal post-independence economic conditions.

Inequality of wealth

  • In India, the average household wealth is roughly Rs 9,83,010.
  • With an average worth of Rs 66,280, or 6% of the entire pie, the bottom 50% of the country appears to own almost nothing.
  • With an average worth of Rs 7,23,930, or 29.5 percent of the total, the middle class is quite low.
  • The top 10% owns 65 percent of total wealth, with an average of Rs 63,54,070, and the top 1% owns 33 percent, with an average of Rs 3,24,49,360.

Inequality between men and women

  • In India, gender inequality is similarly considered to be on the higher end of the scale.
  • In India, female labour income accounts for 18 percent of total income, which is much lower than the Asian average (21 percent excluding China) and among the lowest in the world.
  • Despite the fact that it is slightly greater than the Middle East’s average share (15 percent ).
  • However, while there has been a significant increase since 1990 (+8%), it has not been enough to bring women’s labour income share up to the regional norm.

States with an affluent population

  • Over the last 40 years, countries around the world have become wealthier, but their governments have been much poorer.
  • According to the research, in rich countries, the share of money held by public actors is close to zero or negative, implying that the whole wealth is in private hands.
  • Following the pandemic, governments borrowed between 10 and 20 percent of GDP, primarily from the private sector.

Data availability is a problem.

  • The report goes on to state that the government’s quality of inequality data has decreased significantly over the last three years.
  • This has made assessing recent changes in inequality particularly difficult.

Situational analysis:

  • The poorest half of the world’s population “barely owns any wealth,” with only 2% of the total, whereas the richest 10% of the world’s population own 76% of all wealth.
  • The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are the world’s most unequal regions, whereas Europe has the lowest levels of inequality.
  • In Europe, the top 10% of income earners account for roughly 36% of total income, whereas in MENA, it accounts for 58%. In East Asia, the top 10% earns 43% of total income, whereas in Latin America, the top 10% earns 55%.

Nations have grown wealthier, but governments have deteriorated:

  • Over the previous 40 years, as countries have been wealthier, their governments have become increasingly poorer, a tendency that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • In prosperous countries, the share of money held by public actors is close to zero or negative, implying that the whole wealth is in private hands.

Issues

  • Deregulation and liberalisation policies: Since the mid-1980s, deregulation and liberalisation policies have resulted in one of the world’s highest levels of income and wealth disparity.
  • Economic changes have resulted in unequal advantages: While the top 1% has reaped the majority of the benefits, growth among low and middle-income groups has been modest, and poverty has persisted.
  • Globalization: Global inequities have persisted despite three decades of commercial and financial globalisation.
  • The pandemic of Covid-19 and the economic downturn: It hit every part of the globe, albeit with various degrees of intensity. Europe, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia saw the highest decreases in national income in 2020, but East Asia was able to maintain its income in 2020 at the same level as in 2019.
  • Unemployment: The fundamental cause of the majority of Indians’ poor income is unemployment and underemployment, as well as the resulting low labour productivity. Low labour productivity translates to low economic growth, which is the primary source of poverty and inequality among the masses.
  • Inflation is another factor that contributes to inequity. During inflation, only a small percentage of profit earners benefit, while the majority of wage people lose. In India, this is exactly what has happened. Profits have risen while wages have lagged behind prices. As a result, there has been an increase in inequity.
  • Tax evasion: The personal income tax rates in India are extremely high. High tax rates encourage evasion and avoidance, resulting in the emergence of a parallel economy. This is precisely what happened in India during the period of the plan.
  • Indirect taxes are regressive since they provide the government with the most money. They are, however, regressive in character. Due to the government’s rising reliance on such taxes, such levies have also created more and greater inequality over time.

Suggestions

  • Multimillionaire wealth tax: The paper proposes levying a modest progressive wealth tax on multimillionaires. “Given the huge amount of wealth concentration, governments may raise significant revenue through modest progressive taxes.”
  • Investment in diverse sectors: We estimate that 1.6 percent of global incomes might be created and reinvested in education, health, and environmental change in our scenario.
  • Landholdings Ceiling: In rural regions, a landholdings ceiling has been enforced. A fixed quantity of land is allotted to each household (or family). Any surplus that exceeds this amount is taken over by the government and divided to landless labourers and small farmers.
  • Self-Employment Initiatives: To address the growing unemployment problem, many self-employment projects have been implemented in both rural and urban areas.
  • Transfer Payments: Various sorts of transfer payments have been made to improve the welfare of some weaker parts of society (such as unemployment, compensation, soft loans, pensions to freedom fighters, concessions to senior citizens, and so on).
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

?       According to the Niti Aayog’s new Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), one out of every four Indians is multidimensionally impoverished.

?       Bihar has the highest proportion of persons who are multidimensionally poor (51.91% of the state’s population), followed by Jharkhand (42.16%) and Uttar Pradesh (37.79%).

 

4. Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)

#GS3- Space

Context

  • The new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration was launched by NASA (LCRD).
  • It’s NASA’s first laser communications system, launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

In depth information

What exactly is LCRD (Laser Communications Relay Demonstration)?

  • Laser communications, also known as optical communications, uses infrared light to convey data and is used in LCRD.
  • The LCRD spacecraft is launched into a geosynchronous orbit about 35,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.
  • The LCRD is equipped with two optical terminals, one for receiving data from a user spacecraft and the other for transmitting data to ground stations.
  • The digital data will be converted into laser pulses by the modems. This will then be conveyed by light beams that have been encoded.

Radio vs. Laser

  • Different wavelengths of light are used in laser communications and radio waves. It transmits information using infrared light, which has a shorter wavelength than radio frequencies.
  • This will allow more data to be transmitted in a shorter amount of time.
  • LCRD will send data to Earth at 1.2 gigabits per second using infrared lasers (Gbps).
  • With today’s radio frequency technologies, transmitting a complete map of Mars back to Earth would take about nine weeks. According to NASA, using lasers, we can reduce this time to roughly nine days.

Benefits of a Laser System

  • Different wavelengths of light are used in laser communications and radio waves.
  • Infrared light, which has a shorter wavelength than radio waves, is used by the laser. This will allow more data to be transmitted in a shorter amount of time.
  • With today’s radio frequency technologies, transmitting a complete map of Mars back to Earth would take about nine weeks. We can cut it down to roughly nine days with lasers.
  • When compared to radio equipment, optical communications systems are smaller, lighter, and use less power.
  • More room for science instruments requires a smaller size. A lighter launch equals a lower cost. Less power means the spacecraft’s batteries will last longer.

 

5. World Malaria Report 2021: WHO

#GS2- Health

Context

  • According to the World Malaria Report 2021, global efforts to combat malaria were hampered in 2020 by the COVID-19.

In depth information

Report on Malaria in the World

  • Every year, the World Health Organization publishes the World Malaria Report.
  • It offers a detailed and up-to-date analysis of global trends in malaria control and elimination.
  • The report for 2021 is based on data from malaria-endemic countries across all WHO regions.

The Most Important Findings

  • Total Malaria Cases and Deaths: In 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 241 million malaria cases and 627 000 malaria deaths worldwide.
  • In 2020, there will be around 14 million more cases than in 2019, with 69 000 more deaths.
  • Causes: During the pandemic, almost two-thirds of the excess deaths (47 000) were attributable to disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • The WHO African Region accounted for the majority of the increase.
  • Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3.4%), and Burkina Faso (3.4%) accounted for roughly 55% of all cases worldwide.
  • In the WHO South-East Asia Region, India accounted for 83 percent of cases.
  • Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free in 2016 and continues to be so.
  • In 2021, WHO declared China and El Salvador as malaria-free, and in 2020, the Islamic Republic of Iran achieved three years of zero indigenous cases.

Issue

  • If prompt action is not done, the globe, particularly Africa, risks seeing an instant reappearance of the illness.

WHO’s New Strategy

  • This year, the World Health Organization updated the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030, taking into account lessons learnt from the global malaria response from 2016 to 2020.
  • The World Health Organization’s malaria plan advocated for customising malaria solutions to local contexts, leveraging innovation, improving health systems, and guaranteeing stable global malaria funding.
  • To achieve the WHO malaria strategy’s 2030 targets, which include a 90% reduction in worldwide malaria incidence and fatality rates by 2030, new approaches, technologies, and better execution of existing ones will be required.
  • Meeting global goals will also necessitate adequate finance.

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