India coasts to win in Security Council polls

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • Terming India’s winning of a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council one of its “best performances” ever, the Union government said the majority of votes it received in the General Assembly demonstrated the “goodwill” the country enjoyed.
  • India will promote multilateral solutions for the COVID-19 crisis and enhance global action against terrorism, among its priorities, during the two-year term beginning January 2021, it said.
  • In the election decided overnight, India secured 184 of the 192 votes, far in excess of the 128, or two-thirds minimum, it needed to be confirmed. Others that won were Mexico with 187 votes, Norway 130 and Ireland 128, defeating Canada, which won 108.

Key Details:

  • India won 184 votes out of 192 valid votes cast.
  • Previously, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the Council 7 times, for the years 1950—1951, 1967—1968, 1972—1973, 1977—1978, 1984—1985, 1991—1992 and 2011—2012.
  • Ireland, Mexico and Norway were also elected as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
  • India’s approach will be guided by “Five S’s”, as set out by the Prime Minister: Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), and Shanti (Peace), and Samriddhi (Prosperity). India’s overall objective during this tenure in the UN Security Council will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S: A New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.

Importance:

  • India’s term will begin from January 2021.
  • The 2021-22 term will be critical for India which has been pushing efforts to reform the Security Council and seek a permanent membership of the Council.
  • Support for India has been increasing with a number of countries advocating that the current UNSC does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st century.

Nepal’s new map now part of Constitution

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • New map claims parts of Indian territory in Pithoragarh district
  • The Upper House of Nepal Parliament on Thursday passed the Second Constitution Amendment Bill 2077 (Vikram era), with all 57 (one post has fallen vacant and the Chairperson doesn’t vote) members voting in favour of the new map that claims parts of Indian territory in Pithoragarh district. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari signed the Bill hours later in her official residence, Shital Niwas.

Key Details:

  • The new map claims parts of Indian Territory in Pithoragarh district.
  • The voting and the presidential assent have completed the legislative procedure of the Bill that was taken up by the Government of Nepal, after India inaugurated the Darchula-Lipulekh link road.
  • Nepal immediately protested, saying the road violated the status quo of the region, which it described as unresolved.

India to take part in meeting of RIC grouping

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that India will participate in the virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping.

Key Details:

  • The Russian reiteration of support for dialogue between China and India came even though Moscow’s Foreign Minister had said bilateral issues were usually not taken up at RIC.
  • The situation in Afghanistan and regional connectivity projects such as the International North South Transport Corridor involving India, Russia and Iran are expected to figure in the agenda.

Significance:

  • The Indian decision to go ahead with the ministerial level exchange has created an opening for de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control with the Russian diplomatic sources indicating that they support constructive dialogue over the tension in eastern Ladakh. Read more about the India-China military standoff along the Line of Actual Control.
  • Russia can act as a bridge in the strained relations between India and China.
  • It can act as a platform to discuss and address the areas of cooperation and understand mutual differences.

Russia-India-China trilateral grouping:

  • During the 2019 G-20 Summit in Osaka, Russia, India, and China (RIC) held the latest iteration of a trilateral meeting between them.
  • RIC as a strategic grouping first took shape in the late 1990s under the leadership of Yevgeny Primakov as a counterbalance to the Western alliance.
  • Primakov, a Russian politician and diplomat who was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999, is credited with the idea for RIC.
  • The group was founded on the basis of “end[ing] its subservient foreign policy guided by the U.S.,” and “renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.”
  • But the idea of meeting at the leader’s level on a more sustained basis has only surfaced over the past couple of years.

Importance of RIC:

  • RIC brings together three largest Eurasian countries.
  • It is a significant trilateral grouping as all three countries are nuclear powers.
  • Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council, India aspires to be one.
  • In the period of geopolitical transition, it is an effort to renew and rebuild some of these old initiatives as a way to counter the U.S.-led world order.
  • Here, Russia becomes the bridge between India and China, since it enjoys strong relations with both.
  • RIC can complement India’s continental ambitions and bring about more balance in its strategic autonomy.

Trump signs bill pressuring China over Uighur Muslim crackdown

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed legislation calling for sanctions over the repression of China’s Uighurs.

Key Details:

  • The Bill was intended to send China a strong message on human rights by mandating sanctions against those responsible for oppression of the Muslim minority.
  • The UN estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the Xinjiang region.
  • The Uighur men are placed in concentration camps while the women are being used by the Han community.
  • The Han community reasons these actions as the basis of providing better integration among the community.
  • China and the United States are already at loggerheads over a large number of issues from China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

China’s reaction:

  • China denies mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
  • China responded to the Bill with anger, saying it “vilified” the human rights situation in Xinjiang and was a malicious attack against China.
  • It urged the US to stop it interfere in China’s internal affairs.

Who are Uighurs?

  • The Uighurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia.
  • The Uighurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
  • They are considered to be one of China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities.
  • The Uighurs have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert comprising the Tarim Basin, a territory which has historically been controlled by many civilizations including China, the Mongols, the Tibetans and the Turkic world.
  • An estimated 80% of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs still live in the Tarim Basin. The rest of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs mostly live in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (UAR), which is located in the historical region of Dzungaria.

China passes draft of controversial Hong Kong security law

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

China’s legislature has passed a draft of a National Security Bill for Hong Kong.

Key Details:

  • The bill has been criticised as undermining the semi-autonomous region’s legal and political institutions.
  • It covers four categories of crimes.
  • The law would make criminal any act of:
  • secession – breaking away from the country
  • subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government
  • terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
  • activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong
  • China acted after the widespread and violent anti-government protests in the territory last year that Beijing saw as a dangerous campaign to split Hong Kong from the rest of China.

Issues and Concerns:

  • Critics say it could severely limit free speech and opposition political activity.
  • The U.S. has said that if the law is passed it will revoke some of the special privileges granted to Hong Kong after the former British colony was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997.
  • Beijing has denounced the move as interference in its sovereign affairs.

Umifenovir to undergo clinical trial

Paper:

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news:

The Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, a constituent lab of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has received permission for carrying out Phase III trials for the use of Umifenovir against coronavirus (COVID-19). The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will test the efficacy, safety and tolerability of the drug.

Key Details:

  • According to a release issued by the Central government, this drug has a good safety profile and acts by preventing entry of virus into human cells and also by priming the immune system.
  • To evaluate its efficacy in Indian patients, CSIR-CDRI has taken up the clinical trial.
  • All the raw materials for the drug are indigenously available, if the clinical trial is successful.

Umifenovir:

  • Umifenovir, mainly used for the treatment of influenza, is available in China and Russia.
  • It has a direct antiviral effect.
  • Umifenovir impedes the viral attachment to cells and acts as a viral entry inhibitor and it exhibits modulatory effects on the immune system and induces interferon-production.

‘₹50,000 crore scheme for migrants’

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan on June 20 to offer immediate employment opportunities to migrant workers who have returned to their villages because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Key Details:

  • Central and State governments have very meticulously mapped the skill sets of the migrant workers who have returned in large numbers to the 116 districts in 6 States (Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan).
  • The first priority of the campaign is to meet the immediate requirement of work for those who have gone back to their villages by providing them livelihood opportunities.

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan:

  • This massive rural public works scheme has been launched to boost opportunities for livelihood in rural India.
  • The districts will join this programme through the Common Service Centres and Krishi Vikas Kendras (KVKs).
  • The campaign will be spread across 125 days and aims to work in mission mode to help migrant workers.
  • It will involve intensified and focused implementation of 25 different types of work to provide jobs and create infrastructure in rural regions.
  • Combined outlay of the programme would be Rs. 50,000 crores.
  • Workers will be employed in rural housing, rural connectivity including the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, national highways, railway works, community sanitation complex, gram panchayats, anganwadis, water conservation, digging of wells, plantation and horticulture.
  • The scheme will see coordination between 12 different Ministries/Departments.

AGR demand from non-telco PSUs withdrawn, govt. tells SC

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The Union government has informed the Supreme Court that it had withdrawn 96% of its ₹4 lakh-crore demand in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) from non-telecom public sector undertakings (PSUs).

Key Details:

  • The turnaround comes after the court pulled up the government for misusing its October 2019 judgment to get money from PSUs such as DMRC.
  • A Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, had made it clear its verdict was only limited to AGR dues owed by telecom companies and not PSUs that had nothing to do with the sector.
  • Solicitor General informed the court that since these PSUs are not in the business of providing telecom services, we are withdrawing 96% of the ₹4 lakh-crore demand.
  • Also, the court is considering the viability of the government’s proposed ‘formula’ to stagger the repayment of the dues over a period of 20 years.