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Explained

The High Seas Treaty

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: GS-II, GS-III: Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Biodiversity

What’s the ongoing story- Amitabh Sinha Writes–-“The Indian government on Monday said it would soon sign and ratify the High Seas Treaty, a new international legal architecture for maintaining the ecological health of the oceans. The treaty, negotiated last year, is meant for reducing pollution, and for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and other marine resources in ocean waters.”

Prerequisites: 

— What are the high seas? 

— What is the significance of the high seas?

— Read about the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, the Geneva Convention (1958) on the High Seas, and the Paris Agreement.

Key takeaways: 

— “High seas are areas outside the national jurisdiction of any country because of which the treaty is also known as the agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ). It is formally called the Agreement on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.”

— “The High Seas Treaty has often been compared with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change in its significance and potential impact. The treaty deals only with oceans that are outside the national jurisdiction of any country. Typically, national jurisdictions extend up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline, an area that is called exclusive economic zones or EEZs. Areas outside of EEZs of every country are known as high seas or international waters. They belong to no one and everyone enjoys equal rights for navigation, overflight, economic activities, scientific research, or laying of infrastructure like undersea cables.”

— “But because these belong to no one, high seas are also no one’s responsibility. As a result, many of these areas suffer from overexploitation of resources, biodiversity loss, pollution, including dumping of plastics, ocean acidification, and many other problems.”

— “The High Seas Treaty seeks to achieve three substantive objectives: conservation and protection of marine ecology; fair and equitable sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources; and establishment of the practice of mandatory environmental impact assessments for any activity that is potentially polluting or damaging to the marine ecosystem.

— “There is a fourth objective as well, that of capacity building and transfer of marine technologies to developing countries.”

— “Like any other international law, the High Seas Treaty would come into force only when a certain minimum number of countries ratify, or accede to, it. In the case of this treaty, this number is 60. The treaty would become international law 120 days after the 60th ratification is submitted.”

For Your Information: 

— It is not that there is no international governance mechanism for the oceans. The 1982 UN Convention on Laws of the Seas, or UNCLOS, is a comprehensive international law that lays down the broad frameworks for legitimate behaviour on, and use of, seas and oceans everywhere. It defines the rights and duties of nations regarding activities in the oceans, and also addresses issues such as sovereignty, passage rights, and rights of exclusive economic usages. Demarcations of territorial waters, and EEZs are a result of UNCLOS.

Points to Ponder: 

— What are the key provisions of the High Seas Treaty?

— What are the threats to the biodiversity of high seas?

— What measures should be taken to ensure the conservation of marine biodiversity?

Post Read Question:

With reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, consider the following statements: (UPSC CSE 2022)

1. A coastal state has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baseline determined in accordance with the convention.

2. Ships of all states, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.

3. The Exclusive Economic Zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

India to sign, ratify High Seas Treaty: Minister

Defamation case against Wikipedia and ‘safe harbour’ protection clause

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: GS-II: Government policies and interventions

What’s the ongoing story- News agency Asian News International (ANI) has moved the Delhi High Court against Wikipedia for allowing allegedly defamatory content on ANI’s wiki page. A Bench of Justice Navin Chawla has sought a response from Wikipedia, and listed the matter for further hearing on August 20.

Prerequisites: 

— What is the Information Technology Act, of 2000?

— What is defamation?

— What are the laws against defamation in India?

Key takeaways: 

— Wikipedia, which started in 2001, itself does not produce the content for its online encyclopedia. It is a collaborative, open-source, nonprofit platform whose users contribute to the content of the website.

— The suit against Wikipedia, rather than the individuals who could have made the edits to the page, is intended to ensure enforcement by holding the intermediary liable.

— ANI has argued that Wikipedia is a significant social media intermediary under the meaning of Section 2(1)(w) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

— The petitioner has also relied on Sections 79(2) and (3) of the Act, which lay down the requirements for the “safe harbour clause” to come into effect.

— On October 10, 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India, alleging that an article published on Wikipedia about them was defamatory.

Points to Ponder: 

— What are the recent amendments to the IT Act?

— What are the concerns with the ‘safe harbour’ clause?

— What are the privacy issues with the Act?

— What is the  Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, of 2023?

Post Read Question:

Consider the following statements:

1. In Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India (2015) the Supreme Court has struck down Section 66A of the IT Act.

2. The IT Act has provided a provision for the use of digital signatures for submitting crucial documents online.

Which of the following statements is correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

Centre tables Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023: What it says and why it’s being criticised

What is Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, conferred upon PM Modi?

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: GS-II: International relations

What’s the ongoing story- Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Tuesday awarded Russia’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, during his visit to the country. 

Prerequisites:

— How India and Russia are building their relationship?

— Historical background of the India-Russia relationship

Key takeaways: 

— The award for the PM was announced in 2019, for “exceptional services in promoting special & privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly relations between the Russian and Indian peoples.”

— The award is given to prominent government and public figures, military leaders, and outstanding representatives of science, culture, art, and various sectors of the economy for exceptional services to Russia. It can also be awarded to heads of foreign states for outstanding services to the Russian Federation.

— Its name comes from Saint Andrew, who is believed to be one of the apostles or 12 original followers of Jesus.

— Saint Andrew is regarded as the patron saint of Russia and Scotland. The ‘X’ symbol on the flag of Scotland comes from the saint’s symbol, called the ‘Saltire’. It is believed that he was crucified on a cross of a similar shape.

— Tsar Peter the Great (1672–1725) established the Order of Saint Andrew in 1698.

— Foreign leaders who have been honoured in the past include Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, and the former President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

For Your Information: 

— Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March received Bhutan’s highest civilian award, the ‘Order of the Druk Gyalpo,’ the first foreign Head of the Government to receive the honour.

— In 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the ‘Order of the Nile’ award, the country’s highest state honour, from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Points to Ponder: 

— What is the purpose of awarding the highest state honour to a foreign Head of the state?

— Which other countries have awarded these honours to the Prime Minister of India?

— Is Bharat Ratna limited to Indian citizens?

Post Read Question:

Which nation has awarded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour?

(a) Russia

(b) Bhutan

(c) France

(d) Egypt

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

PM Modi bestowed Bhutan’s highest civilian award ‘Order of the Druk Gyalpo’

Egypt’s ‘Order of the Nile’ latest addition to PM Modi’s list of state honour

 

Editorial

The desperate neighbour

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: GS-III: Security

What’s the ongoing story- Sharat Sabharwal writes: Seven security personnel have lost their lives to terror in Jammu and Kashmir in the last two days, close on the heels of four back-to-back terror attacks in June. Pakistan’s involvement has been reported.

Prerequisites: 

— What is the difference between terrorism and extremism?

— What are the security challenges from Pakistan?

— What is the Financial Action Task Force?

Key takeaways: 

— These tragic incidents are a reminder that after over four decades of suffering Pakistan-sponsored terror, and despite numerous peace initiatives and 10 years of avowed muscularity from us, our goal to put an end to it remains unaccomplished.

— Certain factors on both sides make reduction of tension extremely difficult. The slogan “terror and talks cannot go together” tapped successfully into the deep and justified anger of the Indian public at Pakistan’s conduct in the run-up to our 2014 election. It was not followed as a policy uniformly.

— There is a much bigger problem on the Pakistani side. It results not only from the traditional adversarial posture of its establishment, but also the tight corner that the then Imran Khan government, groping for an answer to India’s August 2019 move, pushed Pakistan into by suspending trade and calling upon India to reverse the move for any bilateral engagement.

— This situation leaves us dependent entirely on our security apparatus, with our diplomatic machinery focused essentially on isolating Pakistan internationally (with limited success) and responding in kind to its anti-India rhetoric at international forums.

For Your Information: 

— The ambush seems part of a broader trend in which terrorist activity has shifted across the Pir Panjal to the Jammu region from the Valley. This year alone, there have been at least six major incidents in the Jammu region, including the death of nine people in Reasi in an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims.

— With the Supreme Court’s deadline (September 30) to hold elections fast approaching, it may well be the case that terrorists and their backers across the border have stepped up their activities to scupper the return of political normalcy.

— For long-term security, it is essential that steps are taken to address the alienation in the UT. The best way to ensure this is to facilitate people’s engagement with, and participation in, processes of representation and accountability.

Points to Ponder: 

— What are the various security challenges for India?

— How does regional instability in Pakistan impact the internal security of India?

— What steps have been taken by the government to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorism?

Post Read Question:

Analyse internal security threats and transborder crimes along Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan borders including Line of Control (LoC). Also, discuss the role played by various security forces in this regard. (UPSC CSE 2020)

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

Kathua attack: Security, with democracy

 

The Ideas Page

Budgeting for science

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Economy

Mains Examination: GS-III: Economy

What’s the ongoing story-  K M Chandrasekhar writes: A new Union budget is around the corner. This is the time for new ideas, for a giant leap forward, like in 1991.

Prerequisites: 

— What is the significance of spending on R&D?

— What is the National Research Foundation?

— What is purchasing power parity (PPP)?

Key takeaways: 

— Since early times, governments in India have been talking about raising the spending on R&D to 2 per cent of the GDP, but it remains at a measly 0.6 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

— The present Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, in a report titled ‘R&D Expenditure Ecosystem’, pointed out that several countries, including the US ( 2.8 per cent of GDP), China (2.1 per cent), Israel (4.3 per cent) and South Korea (4.2 per cent) were far ahead of India in spending on R&D for the future.

— In the 2022-23 budget, the Finance Minister announced the formation of a National Research Foundation with a corpus of Rs 50,000 crore, but thus far, there has been little progress.

— The total expenditure on R&D in China in PPP terms was USD 525.7 billion in 2019, almost ten times the amount spent by India — USD 58.7 billion (2018 figure). China employs 7,38,000 people in R&D compared to 1,58,000 in India.

— The government sector accounts for more than half of India’s R&D (56 per cent), while in other countries, government spending is much less — China (15 per cent), Germany (14 per cent), the United Kingdom (7 per cent) and Japan (8 per cent). 

— India tried incentivising the private sector with liberal income tax concessions, but most companies largely misused them.

— To promote genuine research in the private sector, it would be desirable to mandate setting apart 2 per cent of the companies’ profits for research and development in the same manner as for corporate social responsibility.

— The construction of buildings and fixed assets should be excluded from expenditure figures on R&D. There is also a need to develop a research mentality in higher learning institutions, where India expends minimal resources.

— State governments may be allowed to raise another half per cent of GSDP by way of loans to be exclusively used by the State Councils of Science and Technology for research and development projects approved by the National Research Foundation.

For Your Information: 

— The NRF is founded on the belief that the advancement of human well-being and progress relies on the creation of new scientific and social knowledge… It aims to foster a culture of free inquiry, mentorship and support within India’s universities and institutions of higher education and research.

Points to Ponder: 

— What are the shortcomings of public investment in R&D in India?

— What is the importance of science, technology, research, and development in building the foundations of a great Indian economy?

— What are the various steps taken by the government to enhance R&D funding in India?

Post Read Question:

Prelims

Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding National Innovation Foundation-India (NIF)? (UPSC CSE 2015)

1. NIF is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology under the Central Government.

2. NIF is an initiative to strengthen the highly advanced scientific research in India’s premier scientific institutions in collaboration with highly advanced foreign scientific institutions.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Mains

What are the major reasons for inadequacies in R&D in India? Critically analyse the formation of a National Research Foundation in this regard.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

A new national foundation and the ease of doing research

Govt & Politics

Russia, India agree to speed up delivery of military spare parts

UPSC Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

What’s the ongoing story- India and Russia have agreed to expedite the delivery of spare parts of Russian-origin military platforms by setting up joint ventures in India among other ways, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Tuesday, the Government’s first public acknowledgement of a delay in Russian supplies amid the war in Ukraine.

Prerequisites: 

— History of India-Russia bilateral relations.

— Joint military exercises between India and Russia. 

— What are the major defence systems and equipment procured by India from Russia?

Key takeaways: 

— Most of India’s existing military hardware is Russian-origin and needs a regular supply of spares for maintenance. The Ukraine war has also delayed Russia’s scheduled deliveries of certain big-ticket weapon systems to India, like the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems.

— Top Indian military leaders have, however, maintained that the delay in spares or maintenance support have not affected the Armed Forces’ operational preparedness.

—  A joint statement released Tuesday by the two countries said their defence partnership was reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems to meet India’s quest for self-sufficiency. They confirmed their commitment to maintain the momentum of joint military cooperation activities and expand military delegation exchanges.

— In this regard, the statement added, the two sides agreed on establishing a new Working Group on Technological Cooperation and discussing its provisions during the next meeting of IRIGC-M&MTC (Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation) in Moscow in the second half of 2024.

— Naval platforms such as the Kolkata-class stealth guided missile destroyers, the Shivalik class multirole stealth frigates, the Brahmaputra class frigates, the Kora class corvettes as well as the Army’s anti-tank ammunition, upgrade of its licence-built BMP-2 amphibious infantry combat vehicles, the T-90 tanks are among major platforms requiring Russian spares.

— Aside from the S-400 Triumf, two Tushil-class ships are being constructed in Russia, an unspecified number of Smerch Multiple Rocket Launch Systems and rocket projectiles and Russian-made X-31 missiles, among other missiles, and spares for several weapon systems and equipment are being procured from Russia.

For Your Information: 

From “ India-Russia joint statement: Terror attacks condemned $100 bn trade target”

— India and Russia issued a joint statement underlining that both the countries have remained resilient in the backdrop of the “prevailing complex, challenging and uncertain geopolitical situation”. The statement condemned the terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Dagestan and Moscow and also mentioned setting up a bilateral trade target of USD 100 billion by 2030.

Aiming to further accelerate and sustain the growth in bilateral trade, the leaders agreed to set the bilateral trade target of USD 100 billion by 2030, it said. The joint statement said they agreed to development of a bilateral settlement system using national currencies and consistent introduction of digital financial instruments into mutual settlements.

— They also agreed to increase “cargo turnover with India through the launch of new routes of the North-South International Transport Corridor, the Northern Sea Route and the Chennai-Vladivostok Sea Line”.They also agreed to increase the volume of bilateral trade in agricultural products, food and fertilizers, the statement said.

Points to Ponder: 

— What is the significance of  India and Russia ties?

— What are the emerging areas of cooperation between India and Russia?

— What are the major challenges and issues in India-Russia relations?

— What is India’s stand on the Ukraine-Russia war?

Post Read Question:

Prelims

What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (UPSC CSE 2018)

(a) An Israeli radar system

(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme

(c) An American anti-missile system

(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea.

Mains

How is S-400 air defence system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world? (UPSC CSE 2021)

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

Modi Moscow message: Deepen ties, no solution on battlefield

ALSO IN NEWS

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2. IIT-Jodhpur to offer BTech programme in Hindi too Over three years after the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) first cautioned against the Centre’s decision to teach engineering in regional languages. The new batch of undergraduate students of IIT-Jodhpur, who start this month, will be offered the option of being taught in either Hindi or English.
3. Why does the latest RBI jobs data show a bump in employment The employment growth in the country jumped by nearly 6 per cent in the fiscal 2023-24, as compared to an increase of 3.2 per cent recorded in FY2023, according to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) data.

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