Daily Current Affairs for 05nd Feb 2024

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Indian embassy staffer in Moscow held for spying

Why in the news?

  • Recently the Uttar Pradesh Anti – Terrorist Squad had arrested an employee of the Ministry of External Affairs posted at the Indian Embassy in Moscow for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s ISI.

https://static.toiimg.com/thumb/imgsize-23456,msid-107410386,width-600,resizemode-4/107410386.jpgHow was this incident carried out?

  • The UP ATS had received inputs from several confidential sources that the Pakistani spy agency ISI’s handlers had used money to influence some people working at the Foreign Ministry of India to leak top secret information regarding the Indian Army and its strategies.
  • The ATS developed this information and through electronic surveillance and evidence collection, it was found that Satendra Siwal, a native of Hapur district of UP, who works at the Foreign Ministry as a MTS (multi-tasking staff), and is currently posted at the Indian Embassy in Moscow, Russia, was involved in this.
  • It was found that he was involved with ISI handlers in anti-India activities. He was providing classified information about the Indian Army and military activities to the ISI handlers in exchange for money.
  • Siwal has been arrested under Section 121A (conspiring to wage, or attempt to wage war, or abet waging of war against the government of India) of the Indian Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act, 1923.



ED’s Pandora probe

Why in the news?

  • Recently Enforcement Directorate Pandora probe search operation touches Indian owners of offshore firms.

What is Pandora probe?

  • The Pandora Papers refers to a trove of 11.9 million secret documents from 14 offshore service providers that gave details of ownership of 29,000 offshore entities used by the super-rich to manage their global money flows.

About ED’s Probe

  • Recording of statements to seizure of assets; summons to searches of premises; getting details from Income Tax and RBI – and detection of money laundering violations.
  • These are the key aspects of the Enforcement Directorate’s ongoing action in the Pandora Papers investigation that shows probes have been “initiated” for almost all Indian owners of offshore firms named in the 2021 investigation.
  • The Centre announced the setting up of a Multi Agency Group (MAG) to spearhead the probe.
  • Subsequently, the Income Tax Department is known to have sent directives to a majority of Indian nationals; the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) until end 2022, sent requests to foreign jurisdictions for 482 people named in the reports.
  • In several cases, the ED sent “Egmont requests” – notes to the Egmont Group, the umbrella organisation of financial intelligence units of 167 jurisdictions, to glean more information about the offshore entities.



Macron reaction on president’s buggy

Why in news?

  • Amidst the historic commemoration of India’s 75th Republic Day, President Droupadi Murmu and French President Emmanuel Macron adorned the grand parade at Kartavya Path in New Delhi, breathing life into a long-forgotten tradition.  
  • Replacing the usual armoured limousine, the distinguished leaders rode in a beautifully revived horse-drawn carriage for the short, decorous trip, adding a layer of richness to the occasion reminiscent of the colonial era. 

Features of President’s Buggy

  • This six-horse-drawn carriage was owned by the Viceroy of India during British rule.
  • Its black exterior with gold-plated rims and red velvet interiors gives it a luxurious look, while the elegantly embossed Ashoka Chakra symbolises its heritage.
  • A symbol of timeless elegance, the presidential buggy is drawn by a mix of Indian and Austrian horses.
  • It is not merely a mode of transportation but also a part of a significant historical narrative. 

What was the Macrons reaction?

  • When the buggy left the forecourt after 40 years, it was described as “pretty satisfying”.
  • The 18 minutes of going to the parade venue and the 18 minutes of return, was the smoothest ride ever,”
  • President Macron expressed his pleasure. “At the state banquet in the evening, the military staffs were introduced to the state head, and President Macron expressed his pleasure and thanked the President’s Bodyguard.”

Dispute and toss for President’s Buggy

  • After gaining independence, India and Pakistan disputed ownership of the buggy, which became the centre of a unique decision-making process.
  • A coin toss, led by Colonel Thakur Govind Singh of India and Sahabzada Yaqub Khan of Pakistan, determined the fate of a luxury carriage. In a fortunate twist of fate, Colonel Singh was able to secure the buggy.
  • Following years of ceremonial use, the open-carriage tradition faced discontinuation in 1984 due to security concerns after the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, giving way to modern bullet-proof cars.
  • However, a nostalgic resurgence occurred in 2014 when President Pranab Mukherjee chose the historic buggy for the Beating Retreat ceremony. In 2017, upon taking the oath, former President Ram Nath Kovind also utilised the buggy while inspecting the Guard of Honour.
  • The 75th Republic Day celebrations witnessed a grand return to tradition as Presidents Murmu and Macron, escorted by the venerable President’s Bodyguard, “Rashtrapati Ke Angrakshak”, made their way along the newly redeveloped Kartavya Path. 

When was buggy found?

  • Founded in 1773, the President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is the senior-most regiment of the Indian Army. The unit played a pivotal role in this momentous occasion while celebrating 250 years of service.  
  • PBG comprises skilled cavalry horse riders, paratroopers, and an armoured fighting vehicle crew, who showcased their expertise during this momentous parade. 

President Droupadi Murmu arrives for the parade with Emmanuel Macron in the presidential buggy on Friday. (PTI)



India in driver seat of Quad

Why in news?

  • US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti said India is in the “driving seat” of the Quad, while America is in the seat next to it with the “corrective steering wheel”, and added that it is up to India to “forcefully define” the nature of the diplomatic partnership.
  • Garcetti, speaking at the 17th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), used a rather unique analogy of ‘eating, drinking and sharing a ride together’ to explain the different roles of member countries in the Quad.

Eric Garcetti about QUAD

  • India is very much in the driver seat of the Quad… may be America is in the next seat with the corrective steering wheel, I think Japan has been an avid navigator from the beginning and Australia is really excited to be back in the car and asking if everybody has enough to drink and eat, and where we are going.
  • Quad can be the “model for the world” as it is “very strong and stable”, not just in geometry but in diplomacy as well – more than multilateral institutions such as the UN, which he claimed “don’t have much efficacy”.
  • Bilateral are always engaging but the two countries get a little bored of each other when it is just direct.
  • It is like a dinner party, invite three people, it gets more interesting, four people, now you have a party, when others want to come to the party… now you know you have got something special.
  • He admitted that the Quad is not a group where the four member countries agree on every vote in multilateral institutions, Garcetti asserted it is not a “talk shop” either.

What is QUAD?

  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue colloquially known as the QUAD is an informal strategic forum comprising, the 4 nations: The United States of America (USA), India, Japan, and Australia.
  • This group first interacted in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • It is considered as specific nations coming along to find a common ground in being democratic nations and their interest of maritime cooperation through trade and security.
  • The occurrence of a Tsunami in the Indian Ocean led to the formation of India, Japan, Australia, and the US to build an informal alliance for collaborating on disaster relief efforts.
  • In 2007, The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, formalised it into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad.
  • After facing a threat from China in 2017, the Quad expanded its objectives by creating a mechanism that determined to establish a rules-based international order.
  • But in 2008, Australia left the group, whereas in 2020, the trio India-US-Japan did their first joint Malabar naval exercise by including Australia again.

About the Jaipur Literature Festival

  • The Jaipur Literature Festival, held in Hotel Clarks Amer from 1-5 February, hosted 550 speakers and artists, and will see an inspirational range of linguistic diversity with sessions on 16 Indian and eight international.
  • The five-day literary extravaganza held at Hotel Clarks Amer, is based on the theme of Stories Unite Us.
  • It aims to explore the transformative power of literature, how it reflects society, and brings people together.

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