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Current Affairs – 24 November 2021

China Foreign Military Base

Indian Express

GS 2: India and its neighbourhood

Context:

  • China’s growing interest in acquiring foreign military bases has been reported for more than a decade. Beijing opened its first foreign military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in 2017. It is said to be building its second foreign military base at Ream, Cambodia.
  • It has become more engaged since 2008 when it participated in the multinational anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Through acquiring foreign military bases, China is trying to assert its primacy in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region while pushing out the US and India. A permanent naval presence in the Indian Ocean will profoundly alter India’s security environment.

About:

  • The recent US annual report on Chinese military power cites several countries that People’s Liberation Army is targeting for military bases.
  • In Bay of Bengal: Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka are candidates from the Bay of Bengal
  • To the West of India: Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, and the UAE.
  • Pakistan is likely to emerge as the most important vehicle for Chinese naval power projection in the Indian Ocean, with significant implications for India’s military planning.

Reasons behind this:

  • In the past, Communist China claimed that it had no interest in projecting power to distant seas or foreign military bases. China also actively campaigned against the foreign military presence in Asia.
  • As a defensive power in the second half of the 20th century, China’s priority was to fight off external threats to its sovereignty and consolidate its communist revolution. India also opposed foreign military bases in Asia and the Indian Ocean.
  • In the 21st century, India began to recognize the need for military access to strategic locations in the Indo-Pacific. China changed its policy to rose rapidly to become a great power in the 21st century.

– Due to its vast globalized economy and growing reliance on foreign markets and resources, a need was felt within the Chinese security establishment to secure its regional and global interests.

– In the 1970s, China valued the US role in containing Soviet social-imperialism and latent Japanese militarism. Today, China wants to establish primacy in Asia and its waters by expanding its military reach and is trying to push America out of Asia once again.

Hence, China started establishing foreign bases.

Strategy of China:

  • China’s focus was on building dual-use facilities rather than explicit military bases on foreign soil.
  • China’s dual-use approach benefited immensely from its expansive foreign port construction and the more recent Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure across the Indo-Pacific.
  • Cultivating special relationships with the political elites, as well as strengthening ties with the military establishments in a potential host country.
  • Arms transfer, and military diplomacy, are also an integral part of China’s pursuit of foreign bases.
  • There is a downside to the presence of foreign forces on the continent. For instance, the African security landscape has become overcrowded by a multiplicity of foreign security and military activities.
  • The competition among some of the world’s powers has been heightened by the increasing presence of Asian powers.

Efforts by India:

  • India is another Asian nation that has increased its naval presence in Africa. The country has established a network of military facilities across the Indian Ocean to counter China’s rising military footprint in the region.
  • It also wants to protect its commercial sea lanes from piracy.
  • India has ongoing deployments that monitor developments in the Horn of Africa and Madagascar. The country also plans to establish 32 coastal radar surveillance stations with sites in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and other locations outside Africa.

Conclusion:

  • As the world’s second-largest economy, a great trading power with a rapidly growing navy, and a massive geopolitical ambition, China is bound to get, sooner than later, a permanent naval presence in the Indian Ocean that will profoundly alter India’s security environment.
  • In such case, Delhi’s efforts included negotiating arrangements with friendly states in the Indian Ocean, as well as developing deeper strategic partnerships with the US and its regional allies.
  • But India is still a long way from matching the speed and intensity of Chinese military diplomacy in its near and extended neighbouhood.

 

Changing Track of Himalayan Glacier

The Hindu

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • For the first time, scientists have described the findings in a peer-reviewed Journal of Geosciences, that turn in glacier’s course has been recorded in the Himalayas.

About:

  • Nearly 20,000 years ago, a 5-km-long Himalayan glacier “abruptly” changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier in present day Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand. Change in climate along with tectonic movement probably caused this to happen.
  • Based on remote sensing and an old survey map, the study assessed that the glacier had been affected by active fault and climate change.
  • The glacier, which does not have a name and lies in an extremely inaccessible region, was large enough that it formed its own “valley” and the accumulated debris that accompanies the formation of glaciers probably caused it to turn from a north-eastern direction to a south-eastern course.
  • The study adds to evidence of the inherent instability of the Himalayan region, among the youngest mountain ranges in the world due to which the underlying tectonic plates that support it are not stable but are jittery and frequently trigger earthquakes and landslides.
  • The event had “similarities” to the February disaster in Rishiganga valley, Uttarakhand, in which a large mass of rock and debris detached from a glacier and hurtled down the Rishiganga river.
  • 5-km-long unnamed glacier, which covered around 4 sq km in Kuthi Yankti valley (Tributary of Kali River), after changing course moved and ultimately merged with the adjacent glacier named Sumzurkchanki as a result of tectonic forcing during the time between Last Glacial Maxima (19-24,000 years ago) and Holocene (10,000 years ago).

 

Oral Sex

The Hindu

GS 1: Issues related to children

Context:

  • Oral sex with a minor is not aggravated sexual assault and only a “lesser” offence, the Allahabad High Court has concluded in a judgment.

About:

  • Putting penis into mouth does not fall in the category of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault. It comes into category of penetrative sexual assault which is punishable under Section 4 of POCSO Act.
  • The Sessions Court had earlier convicted the man under “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
  • However, the Single Judge of the High Court had set aside the trial court findings and said oral sex did not amount to “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” but was only “penetrative sexual assault” under Section 4 of the Act.
  • The definition of ‘sexual assault’ in POCSO include administering hormones to children expedite their sexual maturity for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
  • It also covers 20 categories of definition of penetrative sexual crimes against children and the Cabinet has approved adding sexual assault of children who are victims of calamities or natural disasters, taking it up to 21 categories.
  • The 21 categories under aggravated penetrative sexual assault cover child victims who have been subject to penetrative sexual assault by a police officer or a member of the armed forces or security forces, by a public servant, a relative, the staff of a jail or remand home or protection home, staff of a hospital, educational institution, or religious institution among others.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

  • The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment, and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.
  • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as matter of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • The Act defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.

 

New Cryptocurrency Bill

The Hindu

GS 3: Mobilisation of resources

Context:

  • The Union Government will introduce a Bill to regulate cryptocurrency and ostensibly ban all private cryptocurrencies, along with 25 other pieces of legislation.
  • The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which is yet to be officially approved by the Cabinet, seeks to create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

Pilot project:

  • The central bank is looking at launching a pilot project for an official digital currency soon.
  • The Bill also seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India. However, it allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.

Reasons For Adoption of Crypto in India

  • Financial inclusion
  • Establish India as an Integral Part of the New Financial Ecosystem
  • Capitalize on New Technology and Services Opportunities

Issues associated with ban of cryptocurrency:

  • Categorising the cryptocurrencies as public or private is inaccurate as the cryptocurrencies are decentralised but not private.
  • Ban is most likely to result in an exodus of both talent and business from India, similar to what happened after the RBI’s 2018 ban.
  • Banning as opposed to regulating will only create a parallel economy, encouraging illegitimate use, defeating the very purpose of the ban.

Way ahead:

  • Regulation is must
  • Clear definition of crypto-currency
  • Strong KYC Norms
  • Ensure transparency
  • Entrepreneurial wave in India’s startup ecosystem and create job opportunities.

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