Current Affairs - Current News

India Protests China's Blocking of Arunachal Pradesh Athletes from Asian Games

India has recently strongly objected to China's deliberate and selective obstruction of three athletes from Arunachal Pradesh, a region claimed by China, preventing them from participating in the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Key Points

  • Arunachal Pradesh Athletes Barred: Three women wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh faced difficulties downloading travel documents from an official Chinese website, preventing their participation in the Asian Games.
  • Meanwhile, the rest of the wushu squad, consisting of ten players, faced no such obstacles and travelled to Hong Kong, with a connecting flight to Hangzhou.
  • Strong Protest Lodged: India lodged a strong protest both in New Delhi and Beijing against China's actions, which were characterized as a "deliberate and selective obstruction" of Indian sportspersons.
  • India-China Relations: This incident occurred amid strained India-China relations, primarily due to the prolonged military standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Rejection of Differential Treatment: India reiterated its long-standing position of rejecting differential treatment of its citizens based on domicile or ethnicity.
  • Arunachal Pradesh is recognized as an integral and inalienable part of India, despite China's claims.
  • Stapled Visas Controversy: The same three wushu players had previously been unable to compete in the World University Games in Chengdu due to China issuing stapled visas.
  • Stapled visas are considered a signal that China does not recognize India's sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh.

India- China Dispute on Arunachal Pradesh

China's Territorial Claim

  • China asserts ownership of approximately 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It refers to this area as "Zangnan" in Chinese and often mentions "South Tibet" in connection with this region.
  • Chinese maps depict Arunachal Pradesh as part of China and occasionally label it as "so-called Arunachal Pradesh."
  • China periodically reinforces this unilateral claim to Indian territory, including by assigning Chinese names to places in Arunachal Pradesh.

China’s Argument for Claiming These Areas

  • China disputes the legal status of the McMahon Line, which demarcated the border between Tibet and British India through the Simla Convention (also known as the 'Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet') of 1914.
  • During the Shimla Convention, China was represented by a delegate from the Republic of China.
  • The Chinese representative did not provide consent to the Shimla Convention, contending that Tibet lacked the independent authority to engage in international agreements.
  • The McMahon Line, named after Henry McMahon, the principal British negotiator in Shimla, extended from the eastern Bhutan border to the Isu Razi pass along the China-Myanmar boundary.
  • China asserts territorial rights to the south of the McMahon Line, encompassing parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Additionally, China justifies its claims by referring to historical connections between monasteries in Tawang and Lhasa.

Origin of the Border Dispute with China

  • Following the Communist Party's ascent to power in China, the country withdrew from all international agreements and "unequal treaties" imposed during its "century of humiliation."
  • China demanded renegotiation of its borders.
  • The border between China and India has remained un-delineated.

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • The LAC separates Indian-administered areas from Chinese-administered territories.
  • It comprises three sectors: Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim), Middle (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh), and Western (Ladakh).
  • India and China hold different views on the LAC's alignment.
  • India defines the LAC as approximately 3,488 km long, while China estimates it to be around 2,000 km.

Rationalization of Centrally Protected Monuments

A recent parliamentary committee report on the 'Functioning of Archaeological Survey of India' has suggested significant changes to the management of India's cultural heritage.

Key Points

  • Rationalizing Protected Monuments: The committee suggests reevaluating the list of centrally protected monuments in India based on their national significance and unique architectural and heritage value.
  • Archaic Era: The report points out that a substantial number of these monuments lack national importance, including colonial-era graves with minimal historical or architectural significance.
  • Government's Proposed Legislation: This recommendation aligns with the government's intention to reintroduce the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment) Bill, aiming to redefine monuments and their surrounding areas.
  • Aim of Legislation: The legislation aims to modernize the criteria for protected monuments, possibly moving away from the current 100-year-old benchmark, in line with efforts to disassociate from India's colonial past.
  • Review of Prohibited Areas: The AMASR Act currently imposes construction restrictions up to 100 meters around protected monuments, extending to 200 meters as regulated areas.
  • The report anticipates potential amendments to relax these restrictions, especially for less significant monuments, such as statues, cemeteries, and cannons.
  • ASI Restructuring: To enhance the Archaeological Survey of India's effectiveness, the committee recommends dividing it into two wings: the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the India Heritage Development Corporation (IHDC).
  • Twin Objectives: ASI would focus on exploration, excavation, and conservation, while IHDC would manage revenue-related activities like ticket sales, auctions, and cafe operations.

RBI Proposes Timely Classification of "Wilful Defaulters" Amidst Norm Revisions

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently introduced a proposal suggesting that borrowers be categorized as "wilful defaulters" within six months of their accounts being designated as non-performing assets (NPAs).

Key Points

  • Review and Consideration: The RBI's revision of norms follows a comprehensive review of instructions and a consideration of Supreme Court and High Court judgments, in addition to feedback and suggestions received from banks and stakeholders.
  • Defining Wilful Defaulters: The RBI identifies wilful defaulters as individuals who possess the means to repay a bank's dues but deliberately fail to do so or divert bank funds.
  • While a large defaulter is one with an outstanding amount of Rs 1 crore or more, classified as doubtful or loss, a wilful defaulter refers to a borrower or guarantor who commits wilful default with an outstanding amount of Rs 25 lakh or more.
  • Timely Classification: The proposed norms dictate that lenders examine the "wilful default" aspect in all accounts with outstanding amounts of Rs 25 lakh and above, or as notified by the RBI.
  • The classification process to label a borrower as a wilful defaulter must be completed within six months of the account being declared an NPA.
  • Identification Committee: To ascertain evidence of wilful default, an Identification Committee will be established by lenders.
  • Publication of Defaulters' Photographs: In cases where lenders intend to publish photographs of wilful defaulters, they must formulate a non-discriminatory, board-approved policy outlining the criteria for publishing photographs of individuals classified as wilful defaulters.
  • Restrictions on Credit Facility: The RBI also proposes that no additional credit facility should be extended by any lender to a wilful defaulter or any entity associated with a wilful defaulter.
  • Exclusion from Credit Restructuring: As per the proposed norms, wilful defaulters will not be eligible for credit facility restructuring.

SEBI Amends Rules for Listing Non-Convertible Debt Securities Issuance

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently made amendments to regulations, mandating that listed entities with outstanding non-convertible debt securities must list subsequent issuances of such securities on stock exchanges.

This regulatory change will be effective from January 1, 2024, according to a notification published by SEBI.

Key Points

  • Enhancing Transparency: SEBI's move aims to enhance transparency in the price discovery process for non-convertible debt securities.
  • It also seeks to provide investors and the market with improved disclosures, thereby reducing confusion related to International Securities Identification Numbers (ISINs) and the potential mis-selling of unlisted bonds.
  • Exemptions from Requirement: These exemptions include debt securities subject to capital gains tax under Section 54EC of the Income Tax Act, 1961; Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) where parties have agreed to hold the securities until maturity, ensuring they remain unencumbered; and NCDs issued in compliance with orders from courts, tribunals, or regulatory requirements set by financial sector regulators, such as SEBI, RBI, IRDA, PFRDA, or IBBI.
  • Lock-in for Investors: SEBI clarified that securities issued by listed entities will be locked in and held by investors until maturity, thus encumbering them.

Indian Navy's INS Sahyadri Participates in Trilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise

The Indian Navy's indigenous warship, INS Sahyadri, currently mission-deployed in the Indo-Pacific, engaged in its inaugural trilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise alongside ships and aircraft from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Indonesian Navy on September 20-21, 2023.

Key Points

  • Enhancing Regional Stability: The trilateral exercise served as an invaluable opportunity for these three maritime nations to reinforce their partnership and bolster their collective capacity in promoting a stable, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region.
  • Sharing Expertise: The exercise facilitated the exchange of knowledge and expertise among the participating navies. It provided an arena for leveraging each other's experience, contributing to improved readiness and cooperation.
  • Comprehensive Training: The exercise encompassed intricate tactical and maneuvering drills, cross-deck visits, and cross-deck landings of integral helicopters.
  • These activities were undertaken to enhance crew training and boost interoperability among the naval forces involved.
  • INS Sahyadri: INS Sahyadri, the third vessel in the indigenously designed and constructed Project-17 class multirole stealth frigates, was constructed at Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai.

Quad Foreign Ministers Reaffirm Commitment to a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

On 22nd September, 2023, the Foreign Ministers of the Quad nations – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – convened in New York during the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, where they underscored their dedication to a "free and open Indo-Pacific."

Key Points

  • Common Ground Reinforced: During the meeting, the four top diplomats reemphasized their shared objectives and assessed the progress of the Quad's ongoing initiatives.
  • Initiatives like the Quad Infrastructure Fellowships Program and the Quad Partnership for Cable Connectivity and Resilience were discussed.
  • Secure Telecommunications Network: Efforts to develop a secure and trustworthy telecommunications network were addressed.
  • Maritime Domain Awareness: The ministers discussed the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, designed to assist regional countries in combating illegal maritime activities and responding to climate-related events.
  • Counter-terrorism: Counter-terrorism efforts were among the topics of discussion, reflecting the Quad's commitment to regional security.
  • Geopolitical Crises: The ministers addressed various geopolitical crises, including ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Myanmar, as well as North Korea's ballistic missile launches.

RNA Successfully Extracted from Preserved Tasmanian Tiger Specimen

In a groundbreaking experiment, researchers have achieved the extraction of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) from a preserved specimen of an extinct Tasmanian tiger, marking the first-ever recovery of RNA from an extinct species.

Key Points

  • RNA Extraction Milestone: The specimen, preserved since 1891 in a Stockholm Museum, has significant implications for efforts to recreate extinct species and understand the causes of past pandemics.
  • The Tasmanian Tiger: Also known as the thylacine, the Tasmanian tiger was a carnivorous marsupial resembling a dog in size.
  • It once inhabited the Australian continent and nearby islands as an apex predator, preying on kangaroos and other species. However, due to human activities, the species became extinct.
  • Insights into Thylacine Biology: RNA sequencing from the preserved specimen provides insights into the biological and metabolic processes that occurred within the Tasmanian tigers before their extinction, shedding light on their physiology and genetics.
  • Thylacine's Extinction: The arrival of European colonizers in the 18th century led to significant population declines among the Tasmanian tigers, which were concentrated on the island of Tasmania.
  • The last-known Tasmanian tiger perished in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936.

India Global Forum and World Governments Summit Join Forces for Emerging Economies Programme

Recently, India Global Forum and World Governments Summit have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Emerging Economies Programme, a significant endeavour aimed at fostering sustainable economic growth and development in the Global South.

Key Points

  • Fostering Sustainable Growth: The Emerging Economies Programme is a testament to the collaborative commitment of India Global Forum and World Governments Summit.
  • It is geared towards promoting sustainable economic growth and development in the Global South.
  • High-Level Engagement: The programme will serve as a platform to convene key stakeholders, including government officials, business leaders, economists, and experts.
  • It will facilitate high-level discussions on topics such as sustainable economic growth, geo-economic perspectives, and innovative solutions.
  • Thought Leadership and Research: The partnership will emphasize cultivating and nurturing thought leadership.
  • It will involve producing research on emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities specific to the Global South.
  • Enhancing Data for Future Governments: The programme will also work on progressively enhancing data related to the region, ensuring that future governments have access to valuable insights.
  • About India Global Forum: India Global Forum plays a crucial role in narrating India's contemporary story. It serves as a gateway for businesses and nations looking to engage with the rapidly changing and growing Indian market.
  • About World Governments Summit: The World Governments Summit Organization is a global, impartial, non-profit entity dedicated to shaping the future of governments.

ADB Revises India's GDP Growth Projection for 2022-2023

Recently, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) adjusted India's gross domestic product (GDP) projection for the fiscal year 2022-2023, lowering it from 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent due to factors such as slowing exports and the potential impact of erratic rainfall on agricultural output.

Key Points

  • This adjustment is attributed to concerns over declining exports and the possible adverse effects of irregular rainfall on agriculture.
  • Steady Growth for 2023-2024: The GDP projection for the current fiscal year, 2023-2024, remains at 6.7 percent.
  • This optimism is based on expectations of rising private investment and industrial output driving economic growth during this period.
  • Drivers of Growth: The Asian Development Outlook for September 2023 predicts that India's growth for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next will be primarily propelled by robust domestic consumption due to improving consumer confidence. Investment, including increased government capital expenditure, will also contribute to this growth.
  • Downside Risks: ADB identifies downside risks, including global geopolitical tensions that could create economic uncertainty or lead to a rapid increase in global food prices.
  • Additionally, adverse weather conditions during the kharif (July-October) and rabi (October-April) seasons may further impact agricultural growth.
  • Potential Upside: The report suggests that economic growth in FY25 could surpass expectations if there is a significant increase in foreign direct investment, especially in the manufacturing sector, as multinational corporations diversify their supply chains to include India.

India to Introduce Rashtriya Vigyan Puruskar for Scientists

Recently, the Government of India announced that it is set to establish the Rashtriya Vigyan Puruskar to recognize the contributions of scientists, with awards distributed across four categories.

Key Points

Categories of Recognition:

  • The awards will encompass four categories:
    • Vigyan Ratna: Recognizing lifetime achievements of scientists.
    • Vigyan Shri: Acknowledging distinguished contributions to a specific field.
    • Vigyan Yuva–Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar: Encouraging young scientists who have made exceptional contributions.
    • Vigyan Team: Recognizing collaborative efforts of teams comprising three or more individuals.
  • Recognition Domains: The Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar will be conferred across 13 domains, encompassing areas such as Physics, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, Earth Science, Medicine, Engineering Sciences, Agricultural Science, Environmental Science, Technology and Innovation, Atomic Energy, Space Science and Technology.
  • The government emphasizes the importance of ensuring adequate representation of women in these domains.
  • Annual Awards Distribution: Annually, there will be three Vigyan Ratnas, 25 Vigyan Shris, 25 Vigyan Yuvas, and 3 Vigyan Teams. Only the Vigyan Yuva category will have an age limit of 45 years.
  • Award Ceremony Date: The award ceremony will take place on National Space Day, August 23, which commemorates the day India's Chandrayaan-3 mission landed on the Moon.
  • Rationalizing Science Awards: The introduction of the Rashtriya Vigyan Puruskar aligns with the government's effort to rationalize awards in the field of science and technology. It seeks to enhance the prestige and value of these awards by reducing their numbers and eliminating endowments.
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