GS Paper 3: International Relations
Prelims exam: Various frameworks and exercise between India-Vietnam
Mains exam: India-Vietnam relations
Why in News
India and Vietnam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. Bolstering friendship between the two countries is a natural outcome of a growing convergence of their strategic and economic interests, and also their common vision for peace, prosperity and their people.
A strong commitment of political leadership along with the necessary institutional frameworks and cooperation between the two countries is likely to be more robust in the future. More importantly, embedding a flexible framework of engagement can contribute positively to regional stability and prosperity.
• India is essentially a maritime nation and the oceans hold the key to India’s future.
• India’s external trade (over 90% by volume and 70% by value) is by sea.
• Very dependent on the seas for its trade and commerce, India has intensified its efforts to engage with
maritime neighbours, including Vietnam.
• India’s relations with Vietnam — some of which is based on a set of historical commonalities — predate any conflict between India and China as well as that between China and Vietnam.
• The strategic dimensions of Indo-Vietnamese relations, initiated during the 1980s, began unfolding in the form of structured and institutional arrangements during the 1990s.
• As India pursues its ‘Act East Policy’, Vietnam has become a valuable partner in India’s political and security engagements in the Indo-Pacific region.
• The two countries are working to address shared strategic concerns (such as energy security and open and secure sea lines of communication), and make policy choices without undue external interference.
• Given India’s broadening economic and strategic interests in the region and Vietnam’s desire for strategic autonomy, both countries will benefit from a stronger bilateral relationship.
• India and Vietnam face territorial disputes with and shared apprehensions about their common neighbour, China.
• Vietnam is of great strategic importance because its position enables it to control ‘the South China Sea — a true Mediterranean of the Pacific’.
• The maritime domain, therefore, has become an essential element of India and Vietnam cooperation.
The driving forces
• There are four key motivations behind India’s growing maritime engagement with Vietnam:
o India’s aspiration to counter an assertive China by strengthening Vietnam’s military power.
o With India’s increasing trade with East and Southeast Asia, India has begun to recognise the importance of its sea lines of communication beyond its geographical proximity; the South China Sea occupies a significant geostrategic and geo-economic position, resulting in India’s renewed interests in the South China Sea.
o India desires to intensify its presence to track potential developments in the maritime domain that could affect its national interests.
o The Indian Navy underlines the importance of a forward maritime presence and naval partnership that would be critical to deter potential adversaries.
• India’s maritime strategic interests in the region are well established, including the fact that almost 55% of India’s trade with the Indo-Pacific region passes through the South China Sea.
• India sees an open and stable maritime common being essential to international trade and prosperity; therefore, it has an interest in protecting the sea lanes.
• With this renewed interest in the maritime domain, freedom of navigation, a peaceful resolution of disputes and a respect for international laws have become salient features of the Indian approach.
• India is willing to take a principled stand on territorial disputes in the hope that it contributes to the stabilisation of the Indo-Pacific. Such positions align closely with Vietnam’s stance on the management of the South China Sea disputes.
• Ever since the formal declaration of a strategic partnership in 2007 and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2016, the scope and scale of the India-Vietnam strategic and defence cooperation, particularly in the maritime domain, is deepening with a clear vision, institutional mechanisms and the necessary political support from both governments.
• The signing of ‘Joint Vision for Defence Cooperation’ and a memorandum of understanding on mutual logistics support in June 2022 has further strengthened mutual defence cooperation.
• While a U.S.$100 million Defence Line of Credit has been implemented, India has also announced early finalisation of another U.S.$500 million Defence Line of Credit to enhance Vietnam’s defence capability.
• India has also agreed to expand military training and assist the Vietnam Navy’s strike capabilities. For example, it is providing ‘comprehensive underwater combat operation’ training to Vietnamese sailors at INS Satavahana in Visakhapatnam.
• India’s Defence Minister handed over 12 high-speed boats to Vietnam recently’ a Khukri-class corvette is also expected to be gifted soon.
• Vietnam is also ‘exploring the possibility of acquiring Indian-manufactured surveillance equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles.
• The two countries are also engaging in wide-ranging practical cooperation in the maritime domain through a maritime security dialogue, naval exercises, ship visits, Coast Guard cooperation, and training and capacity building.
• They have found mutual convergences on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and are synergising their efforts to work in bilateral as well as other sub-regional and multilateral frameworks, such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus.
• The Special Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in June 2022 has proposed an ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise and informal meeting between India and ASEAN Defence Ministers in November 2022.
• Both countries are also looking at collaboration around the seven pillars of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
• The IPOI framework presents immense opportunities for India-Vietnam relations to aid regional progress and peace.
• The road map agreed upon by the leaders will be helpful in addressing common challenges and decisively navigating towards making an India-Vietnam partnership that helps in stability in the Indo-Pacific.
Some other potential areas for deepening ties
There are some other potential areas for India and Vietnam to further deepen collaboration, such as meaningful academic and cultural collaborations, shipbuilding, maritime connectivity, maritime education and research, coastal engineering, the blue economy, marine habitat conservation, and advance collaboration between maritime security agencies.
India-Namibia ink MoU for on wildlife conservation
GS Paper 3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Prelims exam: Project Cheetah
Mains exam: Importance of wildlife conservation
Why in News
Cheetah reintroduction is in full swing as the Government of India and the Government of the Republic of Namibia inked an MoU on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilization for establishing the cheetah into the historical range in India.
The MoU facilitates Cheetah conservation in both countries by exchanging expertise, sharing good practices in the field of wildlife conservation, use of technology, and sustainable management of biodiversity.
What does the MoU say?
• The MoU focuses on biodiversity conservation with a specific focus on the conservation and restoration of cheetahs. They were declared extinct in 1952 in India.
• The MoU seeks to share and exchange expertise and capacities including good practices in wildlife conservation, use of technological advancements and applications.
• Furthermore, it also aims to create mechanisms of livelihood generation for local communities living in wildlife habitats, and sustainable management of biodiversity.
• It will also support collaboration in areas of climate change, environmental governance, environmental impact assessments, pollution and waste management, and other areas of mutual interest.
• Under the MoU, personnel will also be training in wildlife management, including sharing of technical expertise, wherever relevant.
Cheetah Restoration Project
• The Government of India has been working to reintroduce cheetah in India.
• African Cheetahs from South Africa will be entering India in August in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
• Further, 50 Cheetahs, will be introduced in the different National Parks in the country in 5 years.
• The Government of India has also released an action plan for the introduction of Cheetah in India.
• ‘Project Cheetah’ aims at the reintroduction and re-establishment of the population of cheetahs in the country.
• It involves the identification and restoration of the habitat where cheetahs once existed.
The purpose of the reintroduction of cheetahs
• The purpose of the reintroduction of cheetahs, the large carnivores, is to conserve the threatened species and restore ecosystem functions.
• Bringing cheetah back to India would have equally important conservation ramifications.
• Cheetah restoration will be part of a prototype for restoration of original cheetah habitats and their biodiversity, helping to stem the degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity.
Why Kuno National Park?
• The climatic niche of the cheetah from southern Africa exists in India with Kuno National Park having a high probability of cheetah habitat suitability.
• The park, according to IUCN guidelines for reintroductions, was considered ready for receiving cheetah with the least management interventions.
• The current carrying capacity for Kuno National Park is a maximum of 21 cheetahs.
• However, once restored the larger landscape can hold about 36 cheetahs and the carrying capacity can be further enhanced by including the remaining part of the Kuno Wildlife Division (1,280 sq km) through prey restoration.
• All efforts are being ensured for the proper reintroduction, including financial and administrative support, training programmes, outreach & awareness programmes, and more.
• Public awareness campaigns are also underway for the local communities with a local mascot named “Chintu Cheetah”.
Kuno National Park
• Kuno National Park is in Madhya Pradesh.
• It is widely believed that Kardhai tree, which is found in abundance here, turns green even with just presence of humidity in atmosphere, even before the arrival of first monsoon showers.
• It was in shape of a leaf with Kuno river forming the main centre spine.
• Fauna: The main predators occurring in the protected area are Indian leopard, jungle cat, sloth bear, dhole, Indian wolf, golden jackal, striped hyena, Bengal fox, chital, Sambar deer, nilgai, four-horned antelope, chinkara, blackbuck and wild boar.
• Indian white-backed vulture, long-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, Egyptian vulture, crested serpent-eagle, short-toed snake eagle Bonelli’s eagle, white-eyed buzzard, changeable hawk-eagle, brown fish owl and spotted owlet are resident raptors. Western marsh-harrier, pied harrier, Montagu’s harrier, steppe eagle, osprey, common kestrel, short-eared owl, Demoiselle crane and common crane are winter visitors.
GS Paper 3: Disaster and Disaster Management.
Prelims exam: Tetrapods and their uses
Why in News
Residents of two buildings on Marine Drive, the iconic 3-km promenade in south Mumbai, complained of “unusual vibrations” during high tide.
What are tetrapods?
• Tetra pod in Greek means four-legged.
• These are four-legged concrete structures that are placed along coastlines to prevent erosion and water damage.
• Tetrapods were first used in France in the late 1940s to protect the shore from the sea.
• They are typically placed together to form an interlocking but porous barrier that dissipates the power of waves and currents.
• These are large structures, sometimes weighing up to 10 tonnes, and interlocked tetra pods act as a barrier that remains stable against the rocks when buffeted by waves.
GS Paper 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.
Prelims exam: Wormhole
What is this?
• A wormhole is a speculative structure linking disparate points in spacetime, and is based on a special solution of the Einstein field equations.
• A wormhole can be visualized as a tunnel with two ends at separate points in spacetime (i.e., different locations, different points in time, or both).
• Wormholes are consistent with the general theory of relativity, but whether wormholes actually exist remains to be seen.
• Many scientists postulate that wormholes are merely projections of a fourth spatial dimension, analogous to how a two-dimensional (2D) being could experience only part of a three-dimensional (3D) object.
• Theoretically, a wormhole might connect extremely long distances such as a billion light years, or short distances such as a few meters, or different points in time, or even different universes.
Place in News: Micronesia
Pre: GS Paper 1: Current Events of National and International Importance.
Prelims exam: Micronesia
Why in News
The Federated States of Micronesia, a small island country in the Pacific that is home to around 110,000 people, is one of the latest places on Earth to experience an outbreak of Covid-19, after two and a half years of successfully protecting itself from the virus.
• Located in the Western Pacific, in the Micronesia sub-region of Oceania, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of four island states, Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei (where the capital Palikir is located), all in the Caroline Islands.
• Also known as the Carolines, it is a scattered archipelago of small islands that are divided between Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.
• FSM is composed of 607 islands and islets.
• The islands stretch across an estimated 2,900 sq km of sea, giving the nation the 14th largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world.
o EEZs grant countries special right over marine resources up to 370 km from their coasts.
Term in News: Bioeconomy
What is Bioeconomy?
• According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the bioeconomy is “the production, use and conservation of biological resources, including related knowledge, science, technology, and innovation to provide information, products, processes and services to all economic sectors with the aim of moving towards a sustainable economy”.
Examples of bioeconomy
• Food systems occupy the largest niche in the bioeconomy. To these systems, which include sustainable agriculture, sustainable fishing, forestry and aquaculture, as well as food and feed manufacturing, are added bio-based products and bioenergy.
• Bio-based products include bioplastics, biodegradable clothing and other products related with eco-design.
• Like biomass — one of the renewable energies —, bioenergy improves the security of energy supply, reduces energy dependence and creates new opportunities for growth and employment.
• The bioeconomy aims to drive both sustainable development and circularity.
• In particular, the principles of the circular economy — reuse, repair and recycle — are a fundamental part of the bioeconomy.
• Through reuse, repair and recycling, the total amount of waste and its impact is reduced.
• It also saves energy, minimises pollution of soil, air and water, thus helping to prevent damage to the environment, climate and biodiversity.