Current Affairs - News Crux

Exercise ‘Bold Kurukshetra’

The Indian Army and the Singapore Army successfully concluded the 13th edition of the bilateral armour exercise, "Exercise Bold Kurukshetra," held at the Jodhpur Military Station from 06-13 March 2023.

The exercise aims:

  • To enhance the interoperability and coordination between the Indian Army and the Singapore Army in the domain of mechanised warfare and joint operations.
  • To exchange knowledge, experiences, and best practices regarding modern combat procedures, tactics, and technologies, thereby improving the combat readiness and effectiveness of both armies.
  • To deepen the strategic and defence partnership between India and Singapore by promoting mutual trust, understanding, and cooperation.
  • To simulate various tactical scenarios and challenges through computer wargaming and command post exercises, and test the response capabilities and decision-making processes of both armies.
  • To provide a platform for joint training and professional exchanges between the soldiers, officers, and commanders of both armies, and to strengthen the people-to-people ties between the two nations.

India world's largest arms importer

As per recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data, released on March 13, 2023, India remains the world's largest arms importer for the five-year period between 2018-22, even though its arms imports decreased by 11% compared to the previous period of 2013-17.

  • Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India, but its share of total Indian arms imports fell from 64% to 45%, while France emerged as the second-largest supplier.
  • India's tensions with Pakistan and China largely drive its demand for arms imports.
  • India is making efforts to diversify its arms suppliers and is working towards replacing imports with domestically produced major arms.
  • Overall, the U.S. share of global arms exports increased from 33% to 40% while Russia's fell from 22% to 16%.

SIPRI is an independent organization dedicated to research on conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament. Founded in 1966 in Stockholm, Sweden, SIPRI provides valuable data, analysis, and recommendations based on open sources to policymakers, researchers, media, and the public.

Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX)

On 10th and 11th March 2023, INS Sahyadri, a guided missile frigate of the Indian Navy, participated in a two-day Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) with two warships from the French Navy in the Arabian Sea.

The aims of the exercise are:

  • Strengthening cooperation and interoperability between the Indian and French navies through joint training and operations.
  • Enhancing the tactical proficiency of both navies through a range of drills and exercises at sea.
  • Demonstrating the advanced capabilities of the Indian and French warships in detecting and neutralizing air, surface, and sub-surface threats.
  • Reinforcing the strategic partnership between them and promoting regional stability and security in the Arabian Sea.

INS Sahyadri is a guided missile frigate of the Indian Navy that is equipped with advanced weapons and sensors. This makes it capable of detecting and neutralizing air, surface, and sub-surface threats, enhancing India's naval capabilities.

Zero Waste Mandatory for Buildings

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in India is set to send a directive to all State governments to make net zero waste and liquid discharge treatment mandatory for upcoming housing societies and commercial complexes.

  • About: It is a convergence of programs like Swachch Bharat, NAMASTE, and AMRUT.
  • Aim: To achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and modernize sewage disposal system.
  • Manhole to Machine-hole: The scheme aims to replace manual scavenging with a mechanized sewage system (Machine-hole system).
  • Untreated Wastewater: This move aims to address the issue of untreated wastewater and promote a shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly waste management practices in the country.
  • India generates 72,368 million liters per day of urban wastewater, with only 28% treated.

NAMASTE (National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem) is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) aimed at eliminating manual scavenging and promoting mechanized sanitation.

AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) is a scheme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to provide basic infrastructure and services in urban areas with a focus on water supply, sewerage, and urban transport.

Glacier Retreat in Himalayas

On March 7th, 2023 scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) have published a report on the impact of debris cover on the loss of ice mass and terminus recession of glaciers in the Himalayas.

  • The report suggests that the thickness of supraglacial debris significantly affects the rate of ice mass loss in glaciers, and the presence of a thick debris cover can slow down the process of glacier retreat, as seen in the Pensilungpa Glacier with a thick debris cover.(Note: Supraglacial debris is the rock and sediment that accumulates on top of glaciers due to weathering and erosion processes).
  • On the other hand, glaciers with a thin debris cover are more vulnerable to surface lowering and mass loss, which can accelerate the rate of glacier retreat.
  • Debris cover impacts glacier dynamics and mass balance.
  • ‘Himalayan glaciers' retreat rates vary due to topography and climate.
  • Supraglacial debris thickness affects ice mass loss due to ablation.

Overhaul of the IT Act, 2000

On March 10, 2023, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology informed that the proposed Digital India Act, 2023, will involve a comprehensive overhaul of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

  • The Act will cover aspects such as AI, deepfakes, cybercrime, competition issues among internet platforms, and data protection.(Deepfakes are digital media, including video, audio, and images, that have been manipulated using Artificial Intelligence to create hyper-realistic falsifications).
  • The 'safe harbour' principle, which allows intermediaries on the internet to avoid liability for posts made by third parties, will be reconsidered.
  • The Act will seek to address new complex forms of user harms such as catfishing, doxxing, trolling, and phishing.
  • Catfishing: Pretending to be someone else online in order to deceive others.
  • Doxxing: Publishing or revealing someone's private information online without their consent.
  • Trolling: Deliberately posting inflammatory or offensive messages online with the aim of provoking others.
  • Phishing: Attempting to trick people into giving away sensitive information or money through fraudulent emails, messages or websites.

Exercise 'Tropex-23’

The Indian Navy's biggest-ever biennial exercise, 'Tropex-23', has concluded after covering over 21 million square nautical miles across the Indian Ocean. It was set in the Indian Ocean including the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

  • The exercise involved 70 ships, six submarines, and more than 75 aircraft, and featured a series of complex drills and maneuvers to showcase the Navy's operational readiness.
  • The exercise, known as the 'Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise', aimed to ensure that the Navy is prepared to respond to any maritime security threat.
  • The overall exercise construct included coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil and the amphibious exercise AMPHEX.
  • This exercise also saw participation from the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
  • It showcased the Indian Navy's capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, maritime security operations, and network-centric operations.
  • The exercise also provided an opportunity for the Navy to test and refine its tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • The successful completion of 'Tropex' is a testament to the Indian Navy's commitment to safeguarding India's maritime interests and maintaining peace and stability in the region.

A nautical mile is a unit of measurement used in navigation and is defined as the distance that covers one minute of arc along a meridian of the Earth. It is approximately equal to 1.15 statute miles or 1.85 kilometers.

NISAR Satellite

On March 8, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) received the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite, which is designed for advanced Earth observation, in Karnataka.

  • NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the ISRO.
  • Systematic Mapping of Earth: NISAR's ability to systematically map the entire globe in just 12 days using two distinct radar frequencies will provide a wealth of data and information regarding changes in the Earth's surface,and ecosystem disturbances.
  • Managing Natural Disasters: The data provided by NISAR will aid in managing natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions by enabling faster reaction times and more accurate risk assessments.
  • Enhancing Agriculture Management: NISAR's data will be utilized to enhance agriculture management and food security by providing information on crop growth, soil moisture, and land-use changes.

Virtual Digital Asset Regulation

On March 9, 2023, the Finance Ministryhas bought a range of virtual digital asset (VDA) transactions under the ambit of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, to curb money laundering and illegal activities involving virtual digital assets.

  • Virtual digital assets were defined as any code or number or token generated through cryptographic means with the promise or representation of having inherent value.
  • Any exchange between virtual digital assets and fiat currencies, exchange between one or more forms of virtual digital assets, and transfer of virtual digital assets.
  • Safekeeping or administration of virtual digital assets, instruments enabling control over virtual digital assets, and participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and sale of a virtual digital asset.
  • As a result, VDA entities such as exchanges, custodians, or administrators handling customer funds will have to comply with PMLA laws and report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit India (FIU-IND) like banks do.

IMX 2023

Participating in the International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express 2023 from February 26 to March 16, 2023, INS Trikand aims to improve maritime security and safety in the Gulf region through collaboration with other navies to counter illicit maritime activities.

  • The exercise is one of the largest multinational maritime exercises in the world, involving a range of activities such as maritime interdiction operations, search and rescue, and counter-piracy operations.
  • INS Trikand, an Indian Naval ship, is participating in the exercise for the first time.
  • IMX/CE-23 is an important exercise as it allows participating nations and agencies to work together to enhance their capabilities in countering maritime security threats in the Gulf region, such as piracy, smuggling, and terrorism.
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