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Current Affairs – 21 April 2021

Current Affairs (21st April 2021)

Tripura begins shifting of Mizoram Bru refugees

Context:

  • At various places in Tripura, shifting of Mizoram Bru refugees for permanent settlement has begun.

Background:

  • Bru or Reang is a community indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam.
  • In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
  • In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state.

About:

  • The process of settlement of some 35,000 Brus is taking place to respect a quadripartite accord signed in New Delhi in January 2020.

  • The Tripura government selected 16 places in four districts for the settlement. The government also formed four committees to oversee arrangements.
  • The refugees, who have been residing in makeshift camps (temporary camps) in Kanchanpur in north Tripura since 1997, constantly refused to return home, citing threats to life and repression.
  • Around 5,000 families consisting of around 30,000 Bru-Reangtribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura following ethnic tension and Mizo hardline groups always opposed their repatriation attempts.

 

India-Russia Relations

Context:

  • Recently, Russia’s Foreign Minister visited to India and this has once again highlighted the issues in India-Russia bilateral relations. As Russia has been a good friend to India, it demands a reconsideration.

About:

  • 2020 witnessed a break in the annual India-Russia bilateral summit.
  • Before this, the leaders of two countries met every year for the last 2 decades.
  • Russia’s Foreign Minister visit aimed at preparing the ground for the next India-Russia bilateral summit.

Results of the visit:

  • A joint statement was released on areas of cooperation and collaboration.
  • The diverging issues were less focused like views over Afghanistan.
  • The Russian foreign minister was not able to meet the Indian PM. This was an unprecedented event and shows the existence of numerous concerning issues between the countries.

Concerning Issues in India-Russia relations:

  • Russia doesn’t prefers the use of the term Indo-Pacific, as it symbolizes US leadership, thus it prefers to use the term ‘Asia Pacific’.
  • Russia views the QUAD grouping as a political-military alliance against the Russia-China grouping.
  • The recent border clashes between India and China have marked a new low in relations. On the other side, there has been an enhanced collaboration between Russia and China.
  • Russia is increasing its proximity with Pakistan as seen especially in the defense sector. Consequently, it is now Pakistan’s second-largest defense supplier.
  • Many Russian companies are listed as adversaries under the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). This may impair future Russia-India interaction.

Importance of Russia:

  • The bilateral relations between the countries had stood the test of time. Russia provided constant support to India since its independence.
  • The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) records that Russia supplied 49% of India’s arms imports in 2016-20.
  • The geographical location of Russia and India automatically demands cordial relations amongst them. Because this would fulfill India’s strategic interest in Central Asia and West Asia. Further, it will help in materializing projects like the International North-South Transport Corridor.

Way Forward:

  • India needs to carefully glide through the new alliances in the world order. The gliding must enable the country to maximize its global influence.
  • Further, the country should leverage Russian potential in its future endeavors like India’s manned space program.
  • Both the countries should cooperate on current commitments like a $1 billion Indian line of credit for projects in the Russian Far East and activation of a Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

 

Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323

Context

  • INAS 323, the first unit of the indigenously built ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter) Dhruv Mk III aircraft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy.

About:

  • The indigenously designed and developed ALH-DHRUV is a twin engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter in the 5.5 ton weight class.
  • The squadron will operate three state-of-the-art ALH Mk III, a multirole helicopter with Shakti engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • The Mk III version of the ALH has an all glass cockpit and will be used for Search and Rescue, Special Operations and Coastal Surveillance.
  • The aircraft, a step up from Mk 1, will be able to mitigate low visibility during search and rescue operations even at night.
  • It has a 0.7 mm gun, which will give a huge capability from a LIMO (low intensity maritime operations) standpoint.
  • The automatic flight control system is hugely superior to the previous one.
  • 16 aircraft are under procurement and the aircraft are being delivered in a phased manner to the Indian Navy.

 

Khajuraho Temples

Context:

  • Recently, Ministry of Tourism had organised webinar on “Khajuraho – Temples of Architectural Splendour” under Dekho Apna Desh.
  • Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.

About

  • Khajuraho Temples (in Madhya Pradesh) are among the most beautiful medieval monuments in the country.
  • Built between 950-1050 CE by the Chandela Dynasty.
  • Include Hindu and Jain temples.
  • Temple site is situated within Vindhya Mountain range.
  • Got the status of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1986.
  • Famous for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism.
  • Reported for the first time by Abu Rihan al Biruni in 1022 CE and the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta in 1335 CE.

 

EU Council approves conclusions on Indo-Pacific strategy

Context:

  • The Council of the European Union has approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The renewed EU commitment to the Indo-Pacific will have a long-term focus and will be based on upholding democracy, human rights, the rule of law and respect for international law.

  • The strategy looks at reinforcing the EU’s strategic focus, presence, and actions with the aim to contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity, and sustainable development, at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.

EU’s Concerns:

  • Current dynamics in the Indo-Pacific have given rise to intense geopolitical competition adding to increasing tensions on trade and supply chains as well as in technological, political and security areas.
  • Human rights are also being challenged.
  • These developments increasingly threaten the stability and security of the region and beyond, directly impacting the EU’s interests.

Aim:

  • To contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.
  • Promoting rules-based multilateralism, giving centrality to ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), a point also stressed by India.

 

CENTRE FOR LAND WARFARE STUDIES (CLAWS)

Context:

  • CLAWS, an autonomous think tank, under the patronage of Indian Army has established a joint initiative with Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Mangalore to conduct PhD programme for Army Officers.

About:

  • CLAWS, New Delhi, is an independent think tank on strategic studies and land warfare in the Indian context. CLAWS is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • CLAWS has taken this initiative to further enhance professional military education (PME) of officers which will eventually benefit the country with better equipped military leaders with in-depth knowledge in respective domains.
  • Under the initiative, CLAWS has been recognised as a sub-centre of MAHE by virtue of which five of CLAWS faculties will serve as co-supervisors.
  • CLAWS will also initiate the selection process and conduct mandatory research methodology classes, as per guidelines given by the UGC and MAHE, Mangalore.

 

India – Germany Agreement

Context:

  • India and Germany signed agreement on ‘Cities combating plastic entering the marine environment’.

About:

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India and German Federal Ministry of Environment signed an agreement on Technical Cooperation titled ‘Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment’.
  • The project’s outcomes are in line with the objectives of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban focusing on sustainable solid waste management and Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision to phase out single use plastic by 2022”.
  • This project is envisaged under the contours of the Joint Declaration of Intent regarding cooperation in the field of ‘Prevention of Marine Litter’ signed between India and Germany in 2019.
  • The project, aimed at enhancing practices to prevent plastic entering the marine environment, will be undertaken at the national level (at MoHUA), select states (Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and in the cities of Kanpur, Kochi and Port Blair for a period of three and a half years.