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Current Affairs – 12 February 2021

Current Affairs (12th February 2021)

CHINA AND INDIA TO DISENGAGE

CONTEXT:

  1. Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tsobegan “synchronized and organized disengagement” from 10 February 2021 in line with the consensus reached by both sides at the 9th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting on January 24, 2021.

WHY CHINA CHANGED ITS POSITION IN APRIL 2020?

  1. China was wary of India’s rising strategic confidence in the wake of major strategic decisions taken by New Delhi since 2015.
  2. To caution India and force it to review its position, an exercise in coercion was felt necessary. The pandemicsituation was considered appropriate for greater effect and to cause far greater concern in India and the world.

NEW DISENGAGEMENT PLAN IN EASTERN LADAKH

  1. Troops from both sides have started disengaging from the Pangong Tso area in eastern Ladakh.
  2. As of now, the disengagement process seems restricted to the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.
  3. At the moment, there is no pullback of troops from the friction points and the heights they are positioned on. That will happen in a phased and verified manner.
  4. It is important to note that the process will send Indian and Chinese troops back to their traditional bases on the north bank. While India has its traditional base at the Dhan Singh Thapa Post.

 TOO MUCH TIME?

  1. Since September 2020, China has insisted that India first pull its troops back from the south bank of Pangong Tso, and the Chushul sub-sector.
  2. However, India has been demanding that any disengagement process should include the entire region, and troops should go back to their April 2020 positions.
  3. India in the military and diplomatic discussions with China since 2020 always mentioned that about a solution to the issue on the basis of three principles:
    • LAC should be accepted and respected by both the parties.
    • Neither party should attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
    • All agreements should be fully adhered to by both parties.
  4. India is of the view that the forward deployments of 2020 which are very close to each other should be pulled back and both the armies should return to their permanent and recognised posts.

 STANDOFF IS RESOLVED?

  1. There are still some outstanding issues that remain regarding deployment and patrolling on LAC and India’s attention will be on these in further discussions.
  2. Complete disengagement under bilateral agreements and protocols should be done as soon as possible. China is also aware of our resolve to protect the sovereignty of the country. It is our expectation that China will work with India seriously to resolve the remaining issues.
  3. The Pangong Tso region is just one of the friction areas. There are other friction points, all north of the Pangong Tso, where the troops have been face-to-face since last year like:
  • Gogra Post at Patrolling Point 17A (PP17A) and Hot Springs area near PP15
  • PP14 in Galwan Valley
  • Depsang Plains close to India’s strategic Daulat Beg Oldie base, near the Karakoram Pass in the north.

 

WHAT ARE THE HURDLES?

  1. Two of the main stumbling blocks in finding a permanent resolution are lack of trust and no clarity on intent.
  2. Any permanent resolution will include first, disengagement of troops from the frontlines from all friction points, then de-escalation that will entail sending the troops from the depth areas to their original bases.
  3. Neither side had been willing to take the first step to reduce their troop or military strength, as it does not trust the other side.

WAY AHEAD

  1. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities have to be activated for credible verification.
  2. A certain trust has to be established between frontline commanders of either side with liaison and communication.

CONCLUSION:

  1. By no yardstick can the current situation be termed conflict resolution. It’s a good beginning to a seemingly intractable problem.
  2. The final solution lies in confidence building through verification and consultation, a complete absence of rhetoric and resumption of full and formal contact at the diplomatic level.
  3. The situation in Depsang Plains continues to be a concern.

 

Dismantle public sector and the welfare state

CONTEXT:

  1. The Union Budget 2021 has announced the privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company in the upcoming fiscal 2021-22.
  2. The Constitution defines India as a secular state and provides for public welfare. The Rightists has been aggressively making efforts to transform the secular state into a theocracy.

PRIVATISATION:

  1. The Prime Minister, who talks of Atmanirbhar Bharat, is doing exactly the opposite by pushing the privatisation of public sector enterprises and pursuing neo-liberal policies that would make India critically dependent on international finance capital.
  2. It indicates the government’s resolve to hand over public sector banks to private hands. This would take India to the pre bank-nationalisation era.

IMPACT:

  1. Deepen inequality and poverty and intensify the concentration of wealth and means of production in a few hands.
  2. Go against the constitutional vision that aims at progressive reduction of poverty and realisationof justice and equality.
  3. The constitutional vision of social and economic justice for citizens has been jeopardised by the promotion of market forces and corporates.
  4. Affecting railways, banks, public sector enterprises including navaratna companies is seriously compromising the principle of social and economic justice enshrined in the Constitution.
  5. The Directive Principles of State Policy is clear that “the ownership and control of material resources are so distributed as best to subserve the common good” and that “the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment”.
  6. Direct attack on the policy of reservation. It deprives access to employment and education in the public sector for the SC/STs, OBCs and differently-abled persons. There is no law to provide reservation in the private sector.
  7. Deepening the existing fault lines and structured forms of inequality such as caste, patriarchy and gender.
  8. India will hereafter be more vulnerable to multiple crises of national and global dimensions.
  9. India would be susceptible to manipulation by those who have monopoly over international finance.
  10. It aggravates crises at multiple levels of economy, society and polity and makes India an easy target for control by global powers.

 

Tianwen-1 mission

CONTEXT:

  1. China’s first Mars probe is called Tianwen-1 (formerly Huoxing 1), which means “Questions to Heaven” mission successfully entered the orbit of Mars, making it the first time for a Chinese mission to be able to successfully make a journey to another planet.

ABOUT:

  1. This launch was along with the UAE’s Hope mission and NASA’s Perseverance rover mission in July 2020.
  2. During this launch window, Earth and Mars were aligned at their closest points in two years, which means using less fuel to reach the planet.
  3. Launch windows are significant since if a spacecraft is launched too early or too late, it will arrive in the planet’s orbit when the planet is not there.
  4. China’s previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, which had piggybacked on a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it could not leave the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.

 

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

CONTEXT:

  1. The Rajya Sabha passed the Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020. The bill will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:

  1. Decentralise decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
  2. Impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.
  3. Reorient the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.
  4. To make the ports world class and give the port authorities power to make their own decisions.

APPLICATION :

  1. The Bill will apply to the major ports situated in Chennai, Cochin, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar, and Vishakhapatnam.
  2. The Bill proposes to create a Board of Major Port Authority, for each major port. These Boards will replace the existing Port Trusts under the 1963 Act , that are comprised of members appointed by the central government.

Powers of the Board

  1. To use its property, assets and funds as deemed fit for the development of the major port.
  2. Declaring availability of port assets for port related activities and services,
  3. Developing infrastructure facilities such as setting up new ports , jetties
  4. Providing exemption or remission from payment of any charges on any goods or vessels.

Adjudicatory Board

  • Appointed by the Central Government to replace the existing Tariff Authority under the 1963 Act.
  • COMPOSITION: Presiding Officer and two members.
  • Functions of the Adjudicatory Board: (i) certain functions being carried out by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, (ii) adjudicating on disputes or claims related to rights and obligations of major ports and PPP concessionaires, (iii) reviewing stressed PPP projects.
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