Current Affairs (16th August 2021)
Afghanistan capture by Taliban
GS 2: International Relations
- Taliban militants have entered the outskirts of the Afghan capital of Kabul, and said they were awaiting a “peaceful transfer” of the city. The insurgents also issued a statement that they have no plans to take the Afghan capital “by force”.
- Afghanistan’s nearly 40 million population would once again be subjected to one of the most barbaric forms of religious totalitarianism.
- Whatever limited progress and freedoms the Afghans earned over the last 20 years are at risk of being surrendered to a murderous militia that has no regard for human rights.
- The Taliban’s advances have pushed foreign governments into swift action.
- The U.S. and Britain have deployed thousands of troops to evacuate their citizens and pull out their embassy staff from the capital Kabul.
- The Pentagon also said that 3,000 U.S. troops would be deployed to Kabul. However, it was made clear that they would not be used to launch attacks against the Taliban.
- India also closed its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif.
India’s Presence in Afghanistan:
- Talking to Taliban would allow India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges as well as explore the possibility of the Taliban’s autonomy from Pakistan.
- At this point, talking to the Taliban looks inevitable. But India should not overlook the deep ties between Pakistan’s security establishment and the Haqqani Network, a major faction within the Taliban.
- The US overlooked it while fighting the Taliban along with Pakistan, and it paid a heavy price for it.
- There is no guarantee that India’s quest for engagement with the Taliban would produce a desirable outcome. So, India should broad-base its options.
- There is a convergence of interests between India and three key regional players — China, Russia and Iran — in seeing a political settlement in Afghanistan.
- None of these countries would like to see the Taliban taking over Afghan militarily, which means there would be an isolated Sunni Islamist regime in a country with fractured ethnic equations.
- Thus, there is a need for cooperation from like minded countries on this front.
- India’s immediate goal should be the safety and security of its personnel and investments.
- The long-term goal should be finding a political solution to the crisis. None of this can be achieved unless it works together with the regional powers.
- Russia has cultivated links with the Taliban in recent years. India would need Russia’s support in any form of direct engagement with the Taliban.
- Iran shares a long border with Afghanistan and has close resemblance of ethnic minorities.
- The original objective of India’s Chabahar project in Iran was to create a direct access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
- This direct access is critical for India in all different scenarios — move supplies to Afghanistan in larger quantities, retain its presence in the event of a civil war.
- However, the US’s pressure on India is a roadblock in good relations between the two countries.
- India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.
- Stick to its principle of backing only a democratically-elected government in Kabul, and providing political and humanitarian support while that lasts.
- Supply the ANDSF with military supplies, including ammunition and air power, possibly via the Iranian route. Taliban has warned India of consequences if it did take such steps.
PM Gati Shakti Master Plan
GS 3: Indian Economy
- On India’s 75th Independence Day, PM announced that the Centre will launch ‘PM Gati Shakti Master Plan’, a Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’.
- In his speech, he pegged the project as a source of employment opportunities for the youth in future.
- This project is a 100 lakh crore national infrastructure master plan which will make a foundation for holistic infrastructure and give an integrated pathway to our economy.
- The Gati Shakti plan will help raise the global profile of local manufacturers and help them compete with their counterparts worldwide. It also raises possibilities of new future economic zones.
- India needs to increase both manufacturing and exports. Every product that is sold globally from India is attached to India.
Display of the Tricolour
GS 1: Indian Heritage
- The Indian Flag was furled all over India on 75th year of Independence on 15 August.
- The Indian flag was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on July 22, 1947.
- The first national flag, which consisted of three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, at the Parsee Bagan Square, near Lower Circular Road, in Calcutta (now Kolkata).
- Later, in 1921, freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya met Mahatma Gandhi and proposed a basic design of the flag, consisting of two red and green bands.
- After undergoing several changes, the Tricolour was adopted as our national flag at a Congress Committee meeting in Karachi in 1931.
Early rules governing the display of the Tricolour:
- The earliest rules for the display of the national flag were originally governed by the provisions of The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
Restrictions on the display of the Tricolour according to the flag code:
- The Flag Code of 2002 is divided into three parts — a general description of the tricolour, rules on display of the flag by public and private bodies and educational institutions, and rules for display of the flag by governments and government bodies.
- It states that there will be no restriction on the display of the flag by public and private bodies and educational institutions except to the extent as laid down in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
- It mentions that the tricolour cannot be used for commercial purposes, and cannot be dipped in salute to any person or thing.
- It further states that whenever the flag is displayed, it should be distinctly placed and should “occupy the position of honour”.
- Among the things which are not allowed is putting up a damaged or dishevelled flag, flying the tricolour from a single masthead simultaneously with other flags, and no other object, including flowers or garlands, or flag should be placed on the same height beside the tricolour or above it.
- Moreover, the flag should not be used as a festoon, or for any kind of decoration purposes. Any tricolour which is damaged should be destroyed in private, “preferably by burning or by any other method consistent with the dignity of the Flag”.
- Also, any paper flags, which are used on occasions of national and cultural occasions or sporting events, should not be casually discarded and must be disposed of in private.
- For official display, only flags that conform to the specifications as laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards and bearing their mark can be used.
Standard dimensions of the flag:
- The flag code states that the tricolour can be of nine standard dimensions — 6300 x 4200, 3600 x 2400, 2700 x 1800, 1800 x 1200, 1350 x 900, 900 x 600, 450 x 300, 225 x 150 and 150 x 100 (all sizes in mm).
- It further adds that flags of 450 x 300 mm size should be used on VVIP flights, 225 x 150 mm on cars and all table flags should be 150 x 100 mm in size.
- Moreover, the tricolour should be rectangular in shape and the length-to-width ratio should always be 3:2.
- The national flag should always be made of hand-spun and hand-woven wool or cotton or silk khadi bunting, it further adds.
63 rescued turtles return to Assam
Times of India
GS 1: Conservation
- Sixty-three endangered turtles rescued in Maharashtra reached their native habitat in Assam.
Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) India program:
- It is managed by Indian biologists who seek local solutions to saving turtles.
- The focal point of this program is the critically endangered Red-crowned Roofed Turtle (Batagurkachuga).
- Multiple initiatives are also underway for the Sundarbans Batagur, Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle, Leith’s Softshell Turtle and the Crowned River Turtle.
- Spotted Pond Turtle is Endangered.