Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 10th January 2019

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Raisina Dialogue: Outcomes

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; international Relations

Key focus areas:

  • Terrorism, threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and climate change.
  • Digital age and radicalization: In the digital age, the challenge is even greater, with a greater vulnerability to radicalization.
  • Rules-based order: India reiterated its stand for a democratic and rules-based international order, in which all nations thrive as equals.

Do you know?

  • As far back as 1996, India proposed a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN, but it remained a draft because of a lack of consensus on a common definition.
  • International Solar Alliance to tackle Climate Change – India jointly launched with France last year with the participation of 120 countries.

Persian Gulf Regional Dialogue Forum

  • In order to address the lingering conflicts and mistrust in the Gulf region, Iran proposed a new platform for regional peace building.
  • The announcement of Persian Gulf Regional Dialogue Forum is significant as it comes in the wake of continued erosion of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which in the recent years has been divided between the Iranian and the Saudi spheres.


India- Malaysia

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; international Relations

In news:

  • Dato’ Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim, president of the People’s Justice Party and leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition of Malaysia, has been elected back to Parliament 20 years after being imprisoned.
  • Ibrahim is said to become next PM (as Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, currently serving as Prime Minister of Malaysia said he will step down before May 2020).
  • Ibrahim said ties with India are well below potential and must be strengthened.
  • On India-Myanmar and Rohingya issue, Ibrahim expressed his disappointment that Indian position is business first and human rights in the background. India could have been the voice of reason and champion the cause of justice.

Concern:

  • One big issue between India and Malaysia ties is the presence of Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamic preacher, and the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation.
  • Zakir Naik is accused of hate speech in India and of inciting terrorists to carry out an attack in Bangladesh.
  • Malaysia has incurred a $250 billion debt.

Free Indo-Pacific not against China: U.S. Admiral

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; international Relations

In news:

  • Four countries of the Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia) stressed the need for improving interoperability and evolving a “common maritime awareness picture” in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Concern: Rapid expansion of the Chinese Navy
  • US Admiral announced that – Free and open Indo-Pacific is not a containment strategy for China.

Do you know?

  • U.S. has been conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China.
  • U.S. Admiral said that it was the responsibility of all our nations here to help the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations in their discussions for a Code of Conduct with China in the SCS.
  • The four quad countries represent the open inclusive rule-based order.

India’s GDP may grow at 7.3% in 2018-19, says World Bank

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it.

In news:

According to 2019 Global Economic Prospects report released by the World Bank

  • India’s GDP is expected to grow at 7.3% in the fiscal year 2018-19 and 7.5% in the following two years.
  • Upswing in consumption and investment to drive growth.
  • The bank said India will continue to be the fastest growing major economy in the world.
  • China’s economic growth is projected to slow down to 6.2% each in 2019 and 2020 and 6% in 2021.
  • In 2018, the Chinese economy is estimated to have grown by 6.5% as against India’s 7.3%.
  • In 2017, China with 6.9% growth was marginally ahead of India’s 6.7%, mainly because of the slowdown in the Indian economy due to demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Tokenisation may aid safe digital transactions

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it; Cyber Security

In news:

  • RBI decides to allow card payment providers to offer tokenisation services.
  • It believes the move will ensure the safety of digital transactions and reduce chances of fraud.
  • Tokenisation involves a process in which a unique token masks sensitive card details like card and CVV number.
  • The token is used to perform card transactions in contactless mode at Point Of Sale (POS) terminals, Quick Response (QR) code payments, etc.

How does tokenization work?

  • The debit or credit card holder will create a code for a particular amount, say ₹500, through an app in the form of a number.
  • That number will have the amount that can be spent, the merchant type where it can be spent as well as time within which the transaction needs to be completed.
  • Then the number can be shared with the merchant who will enter it in the mobile, to get the payment for the items sold.
  • There will be no need to enter card number, CVV, expiry date etc online. One can generate a token and make the payment. There is no risk at all for digital payments.

RBI makes changes in gold scheme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it.

In news:

  • RBI made some changes in the Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS) by including charitable institutions and the Central government, among others.
  • In other words, apart from individual and joint depositors, the scheme could now be availed by charitable institutions, the Central government, the State government or any other entity owned by the Central government or the State government

About GMS

  • In 2015, the government launched the GMS to mobilise the gold held by households and institutions.
  • GMS allows bank customers to deposit idle gold holdings for a fixed period in return for interest.

J&K IAS topper quits in protest against killings

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social/Welfare issue; Human Rights Issue; Threat to Secularism, Unity and Diversity

In news:

  • Shah Faesal, the Jammu & Kashmir resident who topped the Indian Administrative Service examination in 2010, resigned from service.
  • He cited that the “marginalisation” of Muslims and the continued killings in the State as reason for his resignation.
  • His resignation comes as a protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach out from the Union Government.

Other concerns:

  • Marginalisation and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces.
  • Reducing Indian Muslims to second-class citizens.
  • Insidious attacks on the special identity of the J&K State.
  • Growing culture of intolerance and hate in the mainland India.

Google’s virtual assistant to serve as real-time language translator

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology

In news:

  • Google has unveiled a new feature: the ‘interpreter mode’ in Google Assistant, its voice-based Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • This would enable Google’s virtual assistant to serve as a real-time language translator between two people.
  • Currently, this feature supports 27 languages, including English, Hindi, Polish, Indonesian, Swedish, Thai, German and Korean.

Adam Smith and Laissez-faire

Basics:

  • Adam Smith was an 18th century philosopher renowned as the father of modern economics and a major proponent of laissez-faire economic policies.
  • Laissez-faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention.
  • In other words, Laissez faire is the belief that economies and businesses function best when there is no interference by the government.
  • It is one of the guiding principles of capitalism and a free market economy.


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Shaping Afghanistan’s Future

Context:

  • There might be some potential consequences due to withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. It can result into instability in Afghanistan, South and Central Asia.
  • If this happens, security could hinge on efforts made by regional powers to stabilise Afghanistan.
  • Therefore, there is a need for China to emerge as the power broker in Afghanistan and India should help enhance Afghanistan’s security.

Why stability of Afghanistan is vital for China’s development?

  1. Sharing part of a border with Afghanistan, China has a great interest in its stability.
  2. China would be adversely affected by war and chaos, which could spill over into north-western China, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
  3. As all these areas are vital in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), peace in Afghanistan is critical.

Role played by China

Over the last decade, China has gained considerable economic and diplomatic influence in Afghanistan.

  • China announced its intention to build regional consensus on Afghanistan’s security, when Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, made China the destination of his first official trip abroad in October 2014.
  • China has joined the U.S. and Russia in several peace talks with the Taliban.
  • China is part of the four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (with Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S.).
  • It is giving military aid to Afghanistan, to help fight terrorism and increase security cooperation.
  • China has used diplomacy and finance to appear influential and generous.
  • China has invested in projects such as mining, roads and railways, and health.
  • A rail link, completed in 2016, and running from far eastern China via Uzbekistan to the river port of Hairatan in northern Afghanistan, could reduce the time taken to make shipments, from six months by road, to just two weeks.
  • In 2012, it brought Afghanistan into the regional diplomatic processes by giving it observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • At the 18th SCO summit at Qingdao, China, in 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared China’s readiness to train 2,000 law enforcement officers ‘for all parties’ in the next three years.
  • The SCO’s programme for 2019-21 also calls for combating terrorism, and generally enhancing security cooperation.

Do you know?

  • If the U.S. withdrawal aggravates conflict, southern Russia will also face the threat of an extremist spillover. Therefore, Russia and other Central Asian countries would be willing to expand their cooperation with China to curb insecurity.
  • However, question remains how China will deal with Pakistan, which trains and exports extremists across the Durand Line?
  • Since 2011, China has continually blamed Pakistan for exporting extremists to Uighur in Xinjiang, and for extremist attacks on Chinese workers in the CPEC area.
  • Could China have some leverage over Pakistan? Would China’s strategic and economic interests prompt it to press Pakistan to stop exporting terrorists across the Durand Line?

India’s role

  • India supports China’s role in international negotiations on Afghanistan.
  • It had supported the activation of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and other mechanisms of dialogue and cooperation for restoration of peace and development in Afghanistan.
  • India has contributed much ‘soft power’ – ranging from telecommunications to education, Bollywood movies and pop music.
  • India supports for Afghanistan’s democracy. National Assembly was built with Indian assistance.
  • India has been implementing a range of mega infrastructure projects and carrying out community development programmes.
  • India has also been supplying military equipment to Afghanistan besides providing training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.
  • India seeks to build capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals and its institutions for governance and delivery of public service, develop socio-economic infrastructure, secure lives and promote livelihood.
  • India, which has been against holding talks with the Taliban for a long time, finally sent two retired diplomats, at the ‘non-official level’, to join them at the Moscow peace talks.

However, India’s lengthy absence from regional diplomacy has resulted in its limited contribution to the negotiations that are necessary to stabilise Afghanistan.

Combined Role for Afghan’s Future

  • India and China should work together, bilaterally and in multilateral groupings, to build a secure Afghanistan.
  • India-China economic cooperation in Afghanistan can boost progress and enhance human security.
  • Last October, in a first, India and China started a joint training project for Afghan diplomats. They can expand cooperation by facilitating Afghanistan’s full membership of the SCO.
  • China’s leadership role of the SCO and contacts with all parties (the U.S., the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, Russia and the five Central Asian states) can work together to craft a regional solution in Afghanistan.

Connecting the dots:

  • U. S. has embraced the idea of seeking a regional solution to Afghanistan. Do you think it is a welcome move? Can regional countries play vital role for Afghan’s secure future? Discuss.

INTERNATIONAL/SECURITY

TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • Science and Technology; Space Missions and Related Achievements
  • Security Issues

The space race

Context:

  • We read recently about China’s Chang-e’4 lunar probe lander-rover touched down on the lunar far side (Von Karman Crater).
  • The tasks of the Chang’e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon’s terrain, land form and mineral make-up, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side.

This achievement of China could trigger yet another rivalry with the U.S., this time in outer space.

Reasons:

  • Unlike the near side, the far side of the moon is shielded from radio transmissions from earth.
  • The Chang’e-4 mission also got around the problem of lack of communication with those on earth by using a relay satellite.
  • The data that China obtains on the moon’s craters could help it acquire an edge over other countries, including the U.S., in the highly competitive domain of space research.
  • S. fears that the Chinese could also steal a march over the Americans by launching advanced rockets, which would explore new frontiers in space.
  • Unlike earth, the moon has an abundance of helium-3. In the far future, this can serve as the ideal fuel to power a new generation of spaceships, with the moon as the launchpad, instead of earth.
  • S. believes that the Chinese may have also taken the lead over peers in exploring the possibilities of human habitation on the moon.

Do you know?

  • The Yutu-2, the rover of the ongoing Chang’e-4 mission, is programmed to explore the South Pole-Aitken Basin.
  • This vast impact region has copious reserves of ice. The promise of water has persuaded international space scientists to peg the site as suitable for a permanent lunar outpost, which is on China’s radar.
  • Colonisation of moon: Space exploration buffs have considered asteroids as lucrative sources of precious metals such as gold, platinum, silver and iridium in the future. But if the relatively more accessible surface of the moon could yield precious resources, the race for lunar colonisation would begin, providing China a substantial early-mover edge.

Outer space is becoming another arena of a budding Cold War between Washington and Beijing.

It becomes the responsibility of new generation of Chinese and American peace advocates, global citizens and cyber-activists to step up their game and prevent outer space race and rivalry.

Connecting the dots:

  • Outer space is becoming another arena of a budding Cold War between Washington and Beijing. Elucidate or Discuss.
  • India’s space program needs techno-military orientation. Do you agree? Critically examine.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements with regard to International Solar Alliance:

  1. The International Solar Alliance was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.
  2. The Alliance includes all the member countries of the United Nations.
  3. It is headquartered in Paris

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. Only 1
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism is related to which of the following?

  1. UNFCCC
  2. International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  3. Stockholm Convention
  4. CBD

Q.3) Which of the following countries are part of ‘QUAD’?

  1. India
  2. S.A.
  3. Russia
  4. Japan

Select the correct answer using code below

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 2 and 4
  3. 1, 2 and 4
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.4) Which one of the following issues the “Global Economic Prospects” report periodically?

  1. The Asian Development Bank
  2. World Economic Forum
  3. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  4. The World Bank

Q.5) Consider the following statements with reference to Raisina Dialogue 2019

  1. The theme of this year is “A World Reorder: New Geometries; Fluid Partnerships; Uncertain Outcomes”.
  2. The name “Raisina Dialogue” comes from Raisina Hill, an elevation in New Delhi that is home to the Government of India.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 1,2 and 3

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