Current Affairs - News Crux
35th Edition of Indo-Thai CORPAT
From 3 to 10 May 2023, the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy successfully conducted the 35th edition of the India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in the Andaman Sea.
- Participants: The Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari, an indigenously built Landing Ship Tank (Large), and His Thai Majesty’s Ship (HTMS) Saiburi, a Chao Phraya Class Frigate, along with Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies took part in the CORPAT.
- Objectives of Indo-Thai CORPAT: The CORPAT aims to strengthen maritime linkages between India and Thailand and ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean for international trade.
- Since 2005, the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy have been conducting CORPAT bi-annually to enhance understanding, interoperability, and cooperation between the two navies.
- The patrol helps in preventing and suppressing unlawful activities such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, piracy, armed robbery, smuggling, illegal immigration, and enables Search and Rescue (SAR) operations at sea.
- SAGAR Vision: The Indian Navy's participation in the Indo-Thai CORPAT is in line with the Government of India's vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), which aims to enhance regional maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
- The Indian Navy actively engages with countries in the region through bilateral and multilateral exercises, Coordinated Patrols, Joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Surveillance, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
- Strong Bonds between India and Thailand: The Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy have a close and friendly relationship that has strengthened over the years.
ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise 2023
On May 8, the Indian Navy successfully concluded the Sea Phase of the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise 2023.
- Aim: The aim of the exercise was to promote maritime cooperation and enhance trust, friendship, and confidence among the participating navies.
- The exercise also aimed to refine procedures, learn best practices, and enhance interoperability with the ASEAN navies.
- The Sea Phase of the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise 2023 took place in the South China Sea.
- The exercise saw participation from the navies of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India. (Note: ASEAN is a regional intergovernmental organization composed of ten countries in Southeast Asia. The member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.)
Red Giant Star Swallows Jupiter-like Planet
On 8 May 2023, scientists announced that they had observed a bloated star swallowing a Jupiter-like planet and then expelling some material into space in a belch.
- The researchers used the Zwicky Transient Facility at Caltech's Palomar Observatory to spot the star rapidly become 100 times brighter and then figured out why this happened.
- Located in the Milky Way galaxy: The star is in the early stages of the red giant phase, located in the Milky Way galaxy about 12,000 light-years from the Earth.
- Depleted Hydrogen Fuel: The star depleted hydrogen fuel in its core, causing it to expand.
- Resembling the Solar System: The planet, classified as a "hot Jupiter," is similar in appearance to the solar system's largest planet and is several times larger than Jupiter. The planet orbited its star in less than a day.
- As the star grew, its surface drew closer to the planet's orbit.
- Sudden Plunge of the Planet: The planet plunged suddenly into the star, powering the emission that scientists observed.
- A Glimpse of Earth's Fate: This event is a glimpse of the fate that awaits Earth, Mercury, Venus, and other planets as the sun evolves through its red giant phase in about 5 billion years.
Uranus's Largest Moons Could Have Subsurface Oceans
According to a recent study, four of Uranus's largest moons - Titania, Oberon, Umbriel and Ariel - could have subsurface oceans.
- Structure of the Moons: The study utilized data from NASA's Voyager spacecraft and new computer modeling to analyze the composition and structure of all five large Uranus moons.
- Four Biggest Moons: Uranus has a total of 27 moons orbiting around it. Amongst this the four biggest moons range in size from 1,160 km (Ariel) to 1,580 km (Titania) across.
- Four Moons Could Hold Oceans: The study suggests that these four moons could hold oceans that are potentially dozens of kilometers deep, and could potentially be warm enough to support life.
- Source of Heat in the Moons' Mantles: The research also found a potential source of heat in the moons' mantles, which releases hot liquid that could help maintain a warm environment.
Future space missions could investigate these subsurface oceans to see what they are made of and whether they can be habitable.
2023 World Press Freedom Index
Recently, the 2023 World Press Freedom Index report was released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
- India’s Rank: India's ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 161 out of 180 countries.
- This represents a drop from India's previous year's rank of 150.
- Top Three Positions: Norway, Ireland, and Denmark occupy the top three positions in press freedom.
- Bottom Three Positions: Vietnam, China, and North Korea are at the bottom three.
Global Report on Food Crisis
On May 2, 2023, the Global Network Against Food Crisis, an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, and other agencies working to tackle food crises, released the Global Report on Food Crisis.
- Acute Hunger on the Rise: The number of people experiencing acute hunger has increased to 258 million from 193 million in the previous year, representing a 34% jump in just one year.
- Three Key Drivers: The report identified three key drivers of this crisis, namely economic shocks, conflicts, and climate extremes.
- Economic shocks: Economic shocks, which include the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, have become the primary driver of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in several major food crises, surpassing conflict.
- Conflict: Conflict and insecurity were still the most significant driver of acute food insecurity in 19 countries/territories.
- Weather and Climate Extremes: Weather and climate extremes were the primary driver of acute food insecurity in 12 countries.
- Reminder of Failure: The report serves as a reminder of the world's failure to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) of ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition by 2030.
First Anniversary of India-UAE CEPA
On May 1st, 2023, India and the UAE celebrated the first anniversary of the implementation of their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
- India-UAE CEPA was signed during a virtual summit between the two countries.
- It has been in force since May 1st, 2022.
- It aims to boost bilateral trade between these countries by creating new opportunities for businesses on both sides.
- Significant Impact: Over the past 11 months, the CEPA has made a significant impact on India's bilateral trade with the UAE, especially in terms of India's exports to the UAE.
- Vital Growth Engine: The CEPA has become a vital growth engine for bilateral trade between the two countries.
- Boost to Economic Ties: The agreement has boosted economic ties and created new opportunities for businesses on both sides.
- India's exports to the UAE have registered a multiyear high.
- Considerable Surge in Exports: Sectors that have experienced a considerable surge in exports include mineral fuels, electrical machinery (particularly telephone equipment), gems & jewellery, automobiles (transport vehicles segment), essential oils/perfumes/cosmetics (beauty/skin care products), other machinery, cereals (rice), coffee/tea/spices, other agri products, and chemical products.
Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises
On April 27, 2023, the Union Minister for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME), launched the revamped Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) Scheme in Mumbai.
- CGTMSE is collaborating with various State Governments for enhanced guarantee coverage for MSEs in respective States.
- Modifications included reducing the guarantee fees for loans up to ₹1 crore by 50%, raising the ceiling for guarantee from ₹2 crore to ₹5 crore and enhancing the threshold limit for claim settlement without initiation of legal action to ₹10 lakh.
- CGTMSE has been provided with an additional corpus support of ₹9,000 crore in the Union Budget for FY 2023-24 to revamp its Scheme to provide guarantee for additional ₹2 lakh crore to Micro & Small Enterprises.
- THE Minister for MSME urged lending institutions to make best use of liberalisation to ensure enhanced lending to the MSE Segment without insisting for collateral.
- CGTMSE will collaborate with National Institute for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ni-msme), Hyderabad, for setting up a Centre of Financial Inclusion for MSME.
Surge in Sea Surface Temperatures of the World's Oceans
Recently, a study has reported a considerable surge in the sea surface temperatures of the world's oceans since early March 2023.
- Causes: The study has found that the significant rise in sea surface temperatures of the world's oceans since early March 2023 to late April 2023 is attributed to a natural El Nino event combined with a rebound from a three-year cooling La Nina, on top of global warming effects.
- Marine Heat Waves: While some scientists believe that the warming is solely due to El Nino, others have pointed to marine heat waves in areas such as the northern Pacific near Alaska and off the coast of Spain as evidence of an unusual pattern.
- Implications: The warming trend is significant because the world's oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface, and it has the potential to cause damage to marine ecosystems, coral reefs, and fish populations, as well as increase the risk of more severe weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons.
- Need for Urgent Action: The study serves as a reminder that the world must take urgent action to address the climate crisis and its impact on the planet's oceans and ecosystems.
Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-23
From 27 April to 11 May 2023, the 7th edition of the joint military exercise "AJEYA WARRIOR-23" between India and the United Kingdom is taking place at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom.
- The aim of the exercise is to build positive military relations, imbibe each other’s best practices and promote the ability to operate together while undertaking company-level sub-conventional operations in urban and semi-urban environments under UN mandate, in addition to developing inter-operability, bonhomie, camaraderie, and friendship between the two armies.
- Soldiers of the 2 Royal Gorkha Rifles from the United Kingdom and Indian Army soldiers from the BIHAR Regiment are participating in the exercise.
- The scope of this exercise involves a Command Post Exercise (CPX) at the Battalion level and Company level Field Training Exercise (FTX).
- “Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR” is yet another significant milestone in defence cooperation between the Indian Army and British Army which will further foster the bilateral relations between the two nations.