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Current Affairs – 28 August 2021

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Hari Singh Nalwa

Indian Express

GS 1: Indian History


  • Afghanistan, which has earned the name of graveyard of the empires, could not be controlled by anyone completely.
  • During recent times the two superpowers of the world including erstwhile USSR and the USA had to pull out their forces as the battles for establishing control dragged on for decades with no result in sight.
  • But Hari Singh Nalwa, a legendary Sikh commander, tamed the turbulent forces at play in Afghanistan and earned the reputation of the most feared Sikh warrior there.

Who was Hari Singh Nalwa?

  1. He was a commander in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s force.
  2. He remained Governor of Kashmir, Hazara and Peshawar.
  3. He defeated various Afghans and established control over various regions along the boundary of Afghanistan.
  4. He, thus, prevented Afghans from entering Punjab through Khyber Pass, which was the main route to enter India by the foreign invaders from 1000 AD till early 19th century.


  • Afghanistan was called the unconquered region and it was Hari Singh Nalwa who prevented Afghans from ravaging the North West Frontier for the first time by taking control over several regions along the Afghanistan border and Khyber pass.
  • He had defeated thousands of Hazars, a tribe of Afghanistan, with less than three times their strength.

For his bravery and ferocity, the government of India released a stamp on the name of Nalwa in 2013.

Battles in which he participated:

  1. 1807 Battle of Kasur (now in Pakistan): He defeated Afghani ruler Kutab-ud-din Khan.
  2. Battle of Attock (in 1813) Nalwa along with other commanders won against Azim Khan and his brother Dost Mohammad Khan, who fought on behalf of Shah Mahmud of Kabul and this was the first major victory of the Sikhs over the Durrani Pathans.
  3. 1818 Battle of Peshawar: Nalwa took control over Jamrud in 1837, a fort at the entryway to Afghanistan through Khyber Pass.

What difference did these victories against Afghans make for India?

  • Historians maintain that if Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his commander Hari Singh Nalwa would have not won Peshawar and the North-West Frontier, which is part of Pakistan now, then this area could have been part of Afghanistan and the invasions of Afghans into Punjab and Delhi would have never stopped.


Havana Syndrome

Indian Express

GS 3: Developments, Applications & Effects on Everyday Life


  • Recently, the US Vice-President’s trip to Hanoi (Vietnam) was delayed due to a possible case of the “Havana Syndrome”.


  • 2016: Reports first emerged of US diplomats and other employees of the government falling ill in Havana, the capital of Cuba.
  • They heard strange sounds and experienced odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
  • This mysterious illness came to be called the “Havana Syndrome”.
  • Symptoms included:  nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and hearing loss.


Drone Rules 2021

Livemint, the Indian Express, PIB

GS 2: Defence and Security


  • The government has notified the Drone Rules 2021 that is expected to make drone operations simpler for civilian drone operators.

Features of Drone Rules 2021:

  • Relaxations
    1. Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5.
    2. Types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.
    3. Various approvals that were required, such as unique authorisation number, student remote pilot licence, etc have been abolished
    4. No pilot licence will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.
    5. No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance for drones.
    6. The Director General or an entity authorised by it will issue a type certificate for drones.
    7. Quantum of fees which was earlier linked to the size of drone, has been reduced and delinked from the size
    8. No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies
    9. Maximum penalty for violations had been reduced to Rs.1 lakh.
  • Digital Sky platform will be developed as a single-window platform for the clearances
  • Airspace map – An interactive airspace map will be displayed on Digital Sky platform that will show the three zones – yellow, green and red (Reduction of Yellow zone from 45 kilometres to 12 kilometres from the airport perimeter.


  1. Plans for development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries
  2. Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exports are now exempt from type certification and unique identification number.
  3. Manufacturers and importers will be able to generate their drones’ unique identification number through the self-certification.
  4. Type Certificate required only when a drone is to be operated in India. Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt from type certification.
  • Coverage of drones – Coverage of all-up weight of an unmanned aircraft system has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones for use in the logistics and transportation sectors.
  • This will also cover drone taxis.
  • Regulation – An Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime
  • Import of drones to be regulated by Directorate General of Foreign Trade

Safety and security features:

  1. Carriage of arms, ammunition, explosives, and military stores, etc is prohibited.
  2. No permission-no takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future
  3. Any accident involving drones should be reported within 48 hours
  4. DGCA shall prescribe drone training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.

What is the significance of these new drone rules?

  • Highlights the government’s intent to allow the use of drones while at the same time ensuring security
  • Sets the premise of trust and self-certification thus reducing the entry barriers
  • Aims to make India a drone hub by 2030
  • Aims to trigger a revolution in logistics & transportation sector along with other sectors like agriculture, healthcare, etc.


World Bank stopped financial assistance

All India Radio

GS 3: Economy


  • World Bank has halted all financial assistance for projects to Afghanistan.


  • The move comes in the wake of the Taliban assuming power in the country.
  • The World Bank paused disbursements in its operations in Afghanistan and is closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with its internal policies and procedures.
  • The World Bank will continue to consult closely with the international community and development partners in this direction.
  • Concerns have also been raised as regards the impact on the country’s development prospects, especially for women.


Chagos Islands Dispute

The Hindu

GS 2: International Relations


  • Recently, Mauritius welcomed the Universal Postal Union’s (UPUs) decision to ban British stamps from being used on the Chagos archipelago.


  • The vote by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) follows a longstanding spat between Mauritius and Britain over the Chagos Islands, where London and Washington operate a joint military base.
    • This is another big step in favour of the recognition of the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos.
  • The UPU will stop registering, distributing and transmitting stamps” bearing the words British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the name given by Britain to the archipelago.

UK response:  

  • Britain insists the archipelago belongs to London and has renewed a lease agreement with the U.S. to use Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, until 2036.

What is the Chagos Islands dispute about?

  • Mauritius has argued that the Chagos Islands has been a part of its territory since at least the 18th century, till the United Kingdom broke the archipelago away from Mauritius in 1965 and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches from Seychelles in the region to form British Indian Ocean Territory. 
  • In June 1976, after Seychelles gained independence from the United Kingdom, the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches were returned by the UK.
    • The UK declared these islands as an overseas territory in November 1965.
  • After Mauritius gained independence from the UK in 1968, the United Kingdom refused to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius claiming in petitions submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration that the island was required to “accommodate the United States’ desire to use certain islands in the Indian Ocean for defence purposes”. 
  • The largest island on the Chagos Islands archipelago, Diego Garcia, is where the US and the UK operate a large military base and was also used as a US military base for the US-led attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s.
  • For decades there was no litigation concerning the violation of human rights and sovereignty in the Chagos Islands. 
    • However, in 2015, Mauritius initiated legal proceedings in these matters against the United Kingdom in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • The UK made several attempts to resist Mauritius’ attempts to take the matter to international court by claiming that the issue was a bilateral matter.

Significance of Mauritius as Regional Hub for India:

  • India deals with the islands of the southwestern Indian Ocean (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion and Seychelles) on a bilateral basis but if it considers them as a collective, Mauritius could be the axis of India’s island policy.
  • Mauritius can facilitate a number of Indian commercial activities like a banking gateway, a hub for flights to and from Indian cities and tourism in the southwestern Indian ocean.
  • India could also contribute to the evolution of Mauritius as a regional centre for technological innovation.
  • Being an island nation, climate change, sustainable development and the blue economy are existential challenges for Mauritius so it is the right partner in promoting Indian initiatives in these areas and can also become a valuable place for regional and international maritime scientific research.
  • Strategically also, for security cooperation in the southwestern Indian Ocean, Mauritius can serve the demands of all the island nations around it as well as the East African states.

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