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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 16 April 2024

InstaLinks :  Insta Links help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. Defence Diplomacy by India

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Health drinks
  2. Shrinkflation 
  3. Special Rupee Vostro Account (SRVA)
  4. Gopi Thotakura (1st Indian Space Tourist)
  5. Radiation Therapy
  6. Satellite Calls
  7. Ringwoodite
  8. Ashwagandha 

 

Mapping

  1. Bharati station (Antarctica)

 


 

Defence Diplomacy by India

GS2/ GS3 Paper 

 Syllabus: International Relations

  

Source: First Post

 Context: Recently, India announced that it will  send 16 Defence Attachés (DA) to a number of its missions in Africa and other countries (such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Philippines, Armenia, Poland etc.) for the first time in a sign of expanding focus on military/defence diplomacy

 

What are Defence Attachés (DA) and what are their functions?

Defence Attachés (DAs) are military officers assigned to foreign embassies and diplomatic missions to represent their country’s defence interests abroad. Their primary role is to:

  1. Foster defence cooperation, promote dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding
  2. Facilitate military-to-military relations (facilitate defense procurements, and promote defense exports)
  3. Gather intelligence on defence-related matters in the host country
  4. Serve as liaisons between their home country’s defence establishment and the host nation’s defence authorities
  5. Provide strategic advice to their governments on defence policy, regional security issues, and emerging threats

 

Status of DAs:

The number of Defense Attachés from other countries in India exceeds 120, in contrast, India previously had just around 50 defence wings abroad.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, grants diplomatic status to Defense Attachés (DAs). According to the Convention, DAs are classified as members of the diplomatic staff, affording them full immunity while serving in their diplomatic capacity.

 

Need for additional Defence Attachés by India:

Need Description
1. Enhanced Defence Engagement India’s increasing defence engagement with multiple countries necessitates more military attachés to effectively manage and strengthen these relationships.
India has defence cooperation agreements of one kind or the other with over 50 countries.
2. Achieving Defence Targets The target for 2024-25 is Rs 1,75,000 crore worth of total annual defence production, which would include an export target of worth ₹35,000 crore.
3. Facilitating Defence Procurements Several African countries have expressed interest in buying Indian military equipment, hardware, and platforms. India has provided a line of credit to African countries to buy military platforms and weaponry from India
4. Securing Supply Chains In light of emerging challenges to global supply chains esp. strategic minerals such as Gold, Cobalt (in Ghana) etc.
5. Mitigating National Security Risks With the changing dynamics of national security threats, more attachés can help identify and mitigate potential risks by enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing.
E.g., In Central Asia, India has an air force facility and a military hospital, to manage risks from Afghanistan and other countries
6. Strengthening Defence Diplomacy Additional attachés can bolster India’s defence diplomacy efforts by expanding its presence in key strategic regions and enhancing bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
7. Defending partner countries E.g., As per the terms of the Indo-Bhutan treaty, India has discharged its obligation to defend the security of Bhutan. It has maintained a key Indian military training establishment in Bhutan since 1969.

 

What is Defence Diplomacy?

Defence diplomacy is the strategic use of a country’s military capabilities to advance its foreign policy objectives through cooperation with other nations.

 

India’s steps towards defence diplomacy:

  1. Establishment of additional Military Wings: These wings are optimized from existing billets and aim to bolster defence cooperation and presence in these regions.
  2. Engagement through Joint Exercises: Indian armed forces have been participating in joint exercises with foreign armies, engaging with 110 countries through defence cooperation activities (E.g., military exercises like Milan and Malabar)
  3. Multilateral Engagement: India has been actively engaging in multilateral forums and conferences such as the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC) and the India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave (IACC)
  4. Defense Exports:g., Recent deals with countries like the Philippines for Brahmos cruise missiles demonstrate India’s growing defense export capabilities and partnerships.
  5. Regional Focus: India has been focusing on enhancing defense ties with Southeast Asian nations (through its SAGAR doctrine initiative), particularly in the context of the South China Sea disputes. This includes supplying defense platforms, joint production initiatives, and conducting naval war drills with countries in the region.
  6. Strategic Partnerships: India has been deepening defense cooperation with countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia through various agreements, joint exercises, and supply contracts. These partnerships aim to bolster maritime security and counter aggressive behaviour in the region, particularly from China.
  7. Support for International Law: India has expressed support for international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly in the context of the South China Sea disputes.
  8. Humanitarian Assistance: India leads in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the region, coordinating with partner countries and conducting exercises like PANEX-21 with BIMSTEC nations.
  9. Engagement in West Asia: India fosters security cooperation with West Asian monarchies through joint naval exercises, signalling a shift from traditional dynamics and addressing emerging challenges in the region.
  10. India has a substantial presence in UN Peacekeeping Forces

 

To know about India’s Defence Exports Reaching an All-time High: Click Here

 

Conclusion:

India is focusing on managing the fallout from Afghanistan while addressing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific. Leveraging defence forces for regional diplomacy, India aims to sustain cooperative engagement and partnerships, requiring increased investment in naval capabilities. The Russo-Ukraine war underscores the need for India to diversify its defence portfolio and prioritize indigenous technology. To align foreign and defence policies, national interests should be paramount.

 

Mains Link:

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the defence sector is now set to be liberalized: What influence this is expected to have on Indian defence and economy in the short and long run? (UPSC 2014)

 

Prelims Link:

 Q1. Consider the following in respect of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS): (UPSC 2017)

  1. The inaugural IONS was held in India in 2015 under the chairmanship of the Indian Navy.
  2. IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.

 

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Ans: B

 

Q2. Which one of the following is the best description of ‘INS Astradharini’, that was in the news recently? (UPSC 2016)

(a) Amphibious warfare ship
(b) Nuclear-powered submarine
(c) Torpedo launch and recovery vessel
(d) Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

 

Ans: C

Health drinks

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Business Line

 Context: The Indian government, has instructed e-commerce platforms to stop categorizing certain beverages, including Bournvita, as “health drinks” on their sites.

  • This directive follows clarification from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that there are no defined standards for the term “health drink.”
  • The government aims to prevent misleading information and ensure transparency for consumers, prompting e-commerce platforms to remove such beverages from the health drinks category.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body that regulates the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of food, and establishes standards to ensure food safety.

It is administered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Shrinkflation

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Financial Express

 

Context: Shrinkflation, the reduction in product sizes while maintaining prices, is resurfacing in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry due to rising input costs.

  • Brands like Clear, Frooti, and Smoodh are introducing smaller packaging at the same or slightly reduced prices to cope with inflation.
  • The trend is attributed to various factors, including rising prices of commodities like crude oil, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, and sugar, alongside global supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions.

 

Shrinkflation refers to the practice employed by manufacturers wherein the size or quantity of a product is reduced while keeping its price the same or slightly adjusted.

 This strategy allows companies to maintain profit margins amid rising production costs.

Shrinkflation often goes unnoticed by consumers initially but can lead to dissatisfaction as they realize they are receiving less for the same amount of money.

Special Rupee Vostro Account (SRVA)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: The Indian government has simplified the payment mechanism for traders importing pulses from Myanmar by implementing the Rupee/Kyat direct payment system through the Special Rupee Vostro Account (SRVA) via Punjab National Bank.

 

What is SRVA?

SRVA is an account that domestic banks hold for foreign banks in the former’s domestic currency, the rupee, which allows domestic banks to provide international banking services to their clients who have global banking needs without having to be physically present abroad.

The SRVA is an additional arrangement to the existing system that uses freely convertible currencies and works as a complimentary system.

 

It has three important components:

  1. All exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in domestic currency(e.g. Rupee)
  2. The exchange ratebetween the currencies of the trading partner countries would be market-determined
  3. The final settlementalso takes place in domestic currency (e.g. Rupee)

 

This mechanism aims to streamline trade transactions and reduce costs associated with currency conversions.

Gopi Thotakura (1st Indian Space Tourist)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 

Context: Gopi Thotakura, an entrepreneur and pilot, is set to be the first Indian space tourist on the NS-25 mission by Blue Origin (an American Space startup, founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon).

 

Space tourism is a burgeoning sector allowing individuals to experience space travel for recreational or business purposes. It encompasses:

  1. Suborbital space flights (altitude of 100 km referred to as Karman Line)
  2. Orbital Space Flights (altitudes over 400 kilometres)
  3. Lunar space tourism (trips to the moon).

 

Challenges facing space tourism include its high cost, environmental concerns regarding rocket emissions, and safety issues. Despite these challenges, the space tourism market is growing rapidly, with increasing interest from both tourists and industry players.

 

About Kármán Line

It is the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, located approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) above sea level. It is named after Hungarian-American engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán, who first calculated the altitude where the atmosphere becomes too thin to support conventional aircraft flight.

Radiation Therapy

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi has inaugurated its Radiation Therapy facility, providing treatment to cancer patients using Brachytherapy equipment.

About Radiation therapy (Radiotherapy):

It is a cancer treatment that kills cancer cells by exposing them to ionizing radiations like X-rays, gamma rays, high-energy electrons, or heavy particles. There are two main types: External (Teletherapy), which uses a linear accelerator to send radiation from a distance to target cells, and Internal (Brachytherapy), where the radiation source is placed inside the body.

This treatment is highly effective for various cancers, including brain, breast, head, neck, and cervical cancers, while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. However, it can lead to side effects like fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and loss of appetite.

 

Satellite Calls

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: First Post

  

Context: Chinese scientists have developed the world’s first satellite that enables smartphones to make direct calls through it, bypassing mobile towers.

  • This innovation aims to address communication challenges during emergencies, such as natural disasters.
  • The satellite, part of the Tiantong Project, symbolizes China’s commitment to enhancing communication resilience.
  • The Tiantong-1 series, involving three satellites, orbits synchronously at 36,000 kilometres altitude, potentially revolutionizing communication across the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Huawei introduced the first satellite-compatible smartphone, followed by other Chinese manufacturers.

 

Ringwoodite

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: NDTV

 

Context: Scientists have made a ground-breaking discovery of a gigantic ocean lying 700 kilometres beneath the Earth’s surface, hidden within a rock called ringwoodite.

  • This subterranean reservoir, three times the volume of all the planet’s surface oceans combined, was revealed through studies of seismic activity.
  • Ringwoodite’s unique properties allow it to trap water like a sponge.
  • This discovery suggests a whole-Earth water cycle and sheds light on the abundance of liquid water on the planet’s surface.

Ringwoodite is a mineral that forms in the Earth’s mantle at high temperatures and pressures. It’s a water-rich mineral that can contain iron and hydrogen.

/ 16 April 2024, GS3, Ringwoodite, SCIENCE

Ashwagandha

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Business Line

 

Context: Ashwagandha, a 3000-year-old Indian herb, is gaining global attention and popularity for its numerous health benefits.

  • Scientific research highlights its potential in stress management, cognitive function, physical performance, and more.

 

About Ashwagandha:

It is an evergreen shrub found in parts of India, Africa, and the Middle East.

Used as a medicinal plant, especially in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Its supplements are often promoted for stress and anxiety, sleep, male infertility, athletic performance, etc.

Bharati station (Antarctica)

Mapping

 

Source: IE

 Context: India Post recently inaugurated a post office at its Bharati station in Antarctica, coinciding with the 24th Foundation Day of the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa. This adds to the existing post offices at Dakshin Gangotri Station established in 1984 and Maitri Station set up in 1990.

 

Significance:

  1. Now, with a new post office at the Bharati research station, letters will have a new PIN code, MH-1718. These post offices, part of the Goa postal division, serve a unique purpose, allowing letters to be sent and ‘cancelled’ from Antarctica.
  2. It serves to assert India’s presence on the continent.

 

Bharati (opened in 2012) is India’s third Antarctic research station, alongside Maitri, commissioned by India. Located near Larsemann Hills, it focuses on oceanographic studies and the geological history of the Indian subcontinent.

 

 

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