Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary
GS Paper 1: Important personalities
Prelims exam: Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birthday as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Mains exam: Sri Aurobindo’s contribution in the Indian national movement
Why in News?
- The Indian Prime Minister recently took part in a Puducherry event celebrating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birthday as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. In Sri Aurobindo’s honour, the PM has released a commemorative coin and postage stamp.
Who was Sri Aurobindo?
- On August 15, 1872, in Calcutta, Aurobindo Ghose was born. He was an Indian patriot, yogi, seer, philosopher, poet, and Indian nationalist who propounded a philosophy of divine life on earth through spiritual evolution.
- Aurobindo is known as “the Prophet of Indian Nationalism” because of his pragmatic strategies to get rid of British rule.
- Aurobindo’s education began in a Christian convent school in Darjeeling.
- He enrolled in the University of Cambridge, where he learned several modern and two classical European languages.
- He held a number of administrative posts in Baroda (Vadodara) and Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1892.
- He started learning traditional Sanskrit and Indian languages, including yoga.
Indian Revolutionary Movement
- He took part in the struggle to free India from the British from 1902 to 1910.
- Aurobindo left his employment in Baroda and joined the nationalist movement in response to the partition of Bengal in 1905.
- In order to promote radical strategies and revolutionary actions rather than supplication, he edited patriotic journal Bande Mataram.
- The British detained him three times: twice for sedition and once for planning to “wage war”.
- He was detained in 1908 (Alipore Bomb case).
- He left British India two years later, found refuge in the French territory of Pondicherry (now Puducherry), abandoned overt political activity, and soon established himself as one of the most creative philosophers, thinkers, and spiritual gurus.
- In Pondicherry, he met Mirra Alfassa, and together their spiritual endeavours led “Integral Yoga”.
- Integral Yoga is a style of yoga that transforms the planet. The objective of this yoga is not to flee from life or reject material existence, but to drastically alter our lives while living amidst it.
The Second World War and Aurobindo’s Ideas:
- Many Indians believed that the Second World War was an opportunity to end colonial rule, and Aurobindo urged his countrymen to support the Allies and ensure Hitler’s defeat.
- Aurobindo founded a community of spiritual seekers in Pondichéry, which took shape as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.
- According to him, the basic principles of matter, life, and mind would be succeeded through terrestrial evolution by the principle of supermind as an intermediate power between the two spheres of the infinite and the finite.
Sri Aurobindo’s literary Works:
- Bande Mataram newspaper (in 1905)
- Bhagavad Gita and Its Message
- Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
- Rebirth and Karma
- Bases of Yoga
- The Future Evolution of Man
- Hour of God
Death: He passed away at Pondicherry on December 5, 1950.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
GS Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims exam: Organisation of the Islamic Conference
Mains exam: OIC’s stand on Kashmir and India’s response
Why in News?
The visit to the Line of Control (LoC) by the OIC chief from the Pakistani side was strongly criticised by India.
What is OIC?
- With 57 member states, the OIC, originally known as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, is the second-largest intergovernmental organization in the world after the UN.
- “To defend and promote the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world” is the OIC’s primary objective.
- Muslim-majority nations are only permitted to join the OIC. Russia, Thailand, and some other small countries have Observer status.
India and OIC
- In 2018, Bangladesh proposed that India, home to more than 10% of the world’s Muslims, be granted Observer status at the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit.
- At Pakistan’s behest, India was dis-invited to the Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat, Morocco, in 1969.
- Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the then-agriculture minister, was not invited when he arrived in Morocco as a result of Pakistani President Yahya Khan’s efforts to lobby against Indian participation.
- India attended the OIC Foreign Ministers’ conference in Abu Dhabi for the first time in 2019 as a “guest of honour”.
- Particularly in light of the current state of heightened hostility between India and Pakistan as a result of the Pulwama assault, this invitation was considered as a diplomatic victory for New Delhi.
- Pakistan had objected to Swaraj’s invitation and boycotted the plenary after the UAE rejected its request for the invitation to be revoked.
- The ousted Pakistani PM called a OIC summit earlier this year, which ended up without any remarks.
OIC’s stand on Kashmir
- In general, it has backed Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and has made remarks against India.
- Following India’s revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir last year, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC to denounce the action.
- Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the most powerful Muslim nations, surprised Pakistan by issuing cautious remarks that were less critical of New Delhi as Islamabad had hoped.
- Since then, Islamabad has made an effort to stir up feelings among the Muslim nations, although only Turkey and Malaysia have officially condemned India.
- India has often emphasised that J&K is an integral part of India and that this is a topic that is solely internal to India.
- India has made this assertion with varying degrees of force, but never the core message.
- India has maintained its “consistent and well known” stand that the OIC had no locus standi.
- India claims that the OIC has turned into a “mouthpiece” for Pakistan and has been approaching matters in a “blatantly sectarian, biassed, and factually inaccurate manner”.
OIC members and India
- Individually, India has good relations with almost all member countries. Particularly in recent years, relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia have improved dramatically.
- Bangladesh and the Maldives, two of India’s close neighbours, are members of the OIC.
- According to Indian diplomats, both nations privately acknowledge they do not want to complicate their bilateral relations with India about Kashmir but rather cooperate with the OIC.
- Since several of these nations have positive bilateral ties with India and advise it to ignore OIC comments, India now sees the OIC’s dualistic position as untenable.
- However, these nations sign off on the joint statements, which are primarily drafted by Pakistan.
- India feels it is important to challenge the double-speak since Pakistan’s campaign and currency on the Kashmir issue have hardly any takers in the international community.
India – China Border Clash
GS Paper 3: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Prelims exam: Bordering Areas of India with China
Mains exam: Reason of Clash
Why in News?
Indian and Chinese soldiers suffered “minor injuries” after they were engaged in a face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, the Army said.
- This is the first incident of its kind after the June 15, 2020 incident when 20 Indian soldiers were killed and several others were injured in violent clashes with the PLA troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
- Clash occurred as a large PLA patrol came across into the Indian side, one Army source said “injuries on the Chinese side were much higher than on the Indian side”.
- Around 600 PLA soldiers were present when the clashes took place, the source said.
- China and India share a disputed 3,440km (2,100 mile) long de facto border – called the Line of Actual Control, or LAC – which is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift. The soldiers on either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points.
- Tensions sometimes escalate into skirmishes. However both sides have been trying to de-escalate since a major battle in June 2020 in the Galwan Valley in the Ladakh region much further to the west – where 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers died.
- That battle fought with sticks and clubs, not guns – was the first fatal confrontation between the two sides in the the area for 45 years.
- Another face-off in January 2021 left troops on both sides injured. It took place along the border between China and India’s Sikkim state, which is sandwiched between Bhutan and Nepal.
- In September both countries agreed to disengage from at a disputed area along a remote western Himalayan border area, with both sides beginning troop withdrawals.
Why did the Chinese soldiers cross over to the Indian side?
- A military source told “In certain areas along the LAC in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh there are areas of differing perception, where both sides patrol the area up to their claim lines. This has been the trend since 2006.”
- A top source in the government told that this time the PLA had “pre-planned” the transgression for an “opportune” time. The location of the skirmish is described as heavily forested terrain, with Chinese troops occupying “top of the wall” positions with deep supply lines and infrastructure.
- Due to snowfall in the area, this was also the time for some Indian troops to withdraw from their positions, giving the Chinese side a further tactical upper hand, said the source. A heavy cloud covers also made it challenging for Indian satellites to capture images of any troop build-up.
Is there a larger context to the border clash?
- The incident came days after China expressed objection to Operation Yudhabhyas, an India-US joint military exercise at Auli in the Uttarakhand hills, claiming it was a violation of 1993 and 1996 border agreements.
- The continuing military tensions at different points along the 3,000 km-LAC comes as New Delhi kicked off a series of events as part of its presidency of the G20, a grouping of the world’s leading economies that includes China.
Timeline of India-China Relations
- 1950:-India and China established diplomatic relations on 1st April 1950.India was the first non-socialist country to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China and the catchphrase ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ became famous.
- 1955 :- Both countries attended the Asian-African Conference in which 29 countries participated in Bandung, Indonesia and jointly advocated the Bandung Spirit of solidarity, friendship and cooperation.It has led to the decolonisation of the whole of Asia and Africa and to the formation of a Non-Aligned Movement as the third Way between the Two Blocs of Superpowers.The First NAM Summit Conference took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in September 1961.
- 1962: – The border conflict led to a serious setback in bilateral relations.
- 1976: – China and India restored ambassadorial relations and bilateral ties improved gradually.
- 1988: – Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China, initiating the process of normalization of bilateral relations.The two sides agreed to look forward and develop bilateral relations actively in other fields while seeking a mutually acceptable solution to boundary questions.
Solar power projects
GS Paper 3: Energy
Prelims exam: About Solar Power Projects
Mains exam: Reason of the shortfall of Solar Projects
Why in News?
The Union government has so far sanctioned the development of solar projects with a capacity of nearly 39,000 MW but only a fourth have actually been commissioned so far, reveal figures presented by Minister for New and Renewable Energy, at the Rajya Sabha.
- Under the ‘Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects’, a total of 57 solar parks of aggregate capacity of 39,285 MW were sanctioned until November-end.
- However, only solar power projects of 10,027 MW have been commissioned in these parks.
Citing reasons for the shortfall
- Some solar parks had been cancelled due to their “slow progress”.
- The key challenges in this scheme included hurdles in acquisition of land with clear title.
- A “mismatch” in the time taken to set up a project and the infrastructure to route the power produced to the grid.
- The halt in economic activity due to COVID-19.
- In “environmental issues,” there is an issue of “Great Indian Bustard (GIB).
- In recent years, the habitat of the GIB a critically endangered species numbering less than 200 in Rajasthan has been encroached upon by solar power projects particularly by transmission lines that endanger the bird.
- Supreme Court Views
- The Supreme Court last April, had directed that power companies lay underground cables in solar parks in Rajasthan though few companies have actually complied.
- Supreme Court in December 2021 that laying underground cables were impractical and would greatly raise the cost of solar power.
SOLAR ENERGY IN INDIA
- India, being a tropical country is endowed with plenty of solar energy; hence, exploitation of solar energy becomes an important component of renewable energy sector
- India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day
- Karnataka leads India’s list of states producing solar energy, with a total installed solar power capacity of about 7,100MW; followed by Telangana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat
- Also, India is now the fourth-largest solar power producer in the world
- In pursuance to enhance Solar Energy production, India along with France launched the International Solar Alliance with the aim to promote solar energy in 121 member countries and to mobilise over $1 trillion of investment for the deployment of solar energy at affordable costs.
- The target set by India, for installed solar energy capacity is 100 GW by March 2023 — 40 GW rooftop solar and 60 GW ground-mounted utility scale.
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was launched in 2010, as part of National Action Plan on Climate Change
- Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) has invited bids from solar module manufacturers for setting up solar manufacturing units under the central government’s Rs. 4,500 crores (US$ 616.76 million) Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme
- “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra-Mega Solar Power Projects” was rolled out in December, 2014 with an objective to facilitate the solar project developers to set up projects in a plug and play model.
- Grid connected Solar Rooftop programme has been launched For achieving cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar (RTS) Projects by the year 2022
100 MW Ramagundam floating solar PV project in Telangana is declared operational from 1st July 2022.It is the largest project of its kind in India.It is endowed with advanced technology and Environment-friendly features.The project spreads over 500 acres of the reservoir. Divided into 40 blocks, each having 2.5 MW.Each block consists of one floating platform and an array of 11,200 solar modules.The solar modules are placed on floaters manufactured with HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) material.The entire floating system is anchored through special HMPE (High Modulus Polyethylene) rope to the dead weights placed in the balancing reservoir bed.This project is unique in the sense that all the electrical equipment including inverter, transformer, HT panel, and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are also on floating Ferro cement platforms.