Prelims Booster

12th June – Prelims Booster

Indian Chamber of Commerce

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi delivered the inaugural address of the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) through video conferencing.

During the address, he outlined his vision for self-reliant India, the recent decision to amend the APMC Act, promotion of North East as a hub for Organic Farming, people centric governance and development and the digital India initiatives taken by the Government of India.

About Indian Chamber of Commerce –

  • The Indian Chamber of Commerce, or ICC as it is popularly known, is the premier body of business and industry in Eastern and North-Eastern India.
  • The membership of the Chamber comprises several of the largest corporate groups in the country, with business operations all over the country and abroad.
  • Founded in 1925, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the leading and only National Chamber of Commerce having headquarter in Kolkata, and one of the most pro-active and forward-looking Chambers in the country today. It is headquartered in Kolkata, over the last few years but it has truly emerged as a national Chamber of repute, with full-fledged State Offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, Agartala, Siliguri and Ranchi.
  • Its membership spans some of the most prominent and major industrial groups in India.
  • ICC’s forte is its ability to anticipate the needs of the future, respond to challenges, and prepare the stakeholders in the economy to benefit from these changes and opportunities.
  • Set up by a group of pioneering industrialists led by Mr G D Birla, the Indian Chamber of Commerce was closely associated with the Indian Freedom Movement, as the first organised voice of indigenous Indian Industry.
  • Several of the distinguished industry leaders in India, such as Mr B M Birla, Sir Ardeshir Dalal, Sir Badridas Goenka, Mr S P Jain, Lala Karamchand Thapar, Mr Russi Mody, Mr Ashok Jain, have led the ICC as its President.

India Rankings 2020

Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has released “India Rankings 2020” of Institutions of Higher Education in various categories on the basis of their performance on five broad categories of parameters.

This is the fifth consecutive edition of India Rankings of the institutions of higher education in India. In 2020, an addition to nine rankings ie  one domain “Dental” has been introduced for the first time bringing the total tally to 10 categories / subject domains.

Details –

  • The ranking framework evaluates institutions on five broad generic groups of parameters, i.e. Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR), Research and Professional Practice (RP), Graduation Outcomes (GO), Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) and Perception (PR). Ranks are assigned based on total sum of marks assigned for each of these five broad groups of parameters.
  • As a matter of practice, 200 institutions are ranked in engineering discipline, 100 institutions are ranked in Overall, University and College categories, 75 each in Management and Pharmacy, 40 in Medical and 20 each in Architecture and Law and 30 institutions are ranked in Dental for the first time. Additional rankings in suitably bunched forms are also being provided.
  • In the overall category, IIT Madras tops the list, followed by IISc Bengaluru, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay etc.
  • IISc Bengaluru has been ranked as the top university in India, with second place occupied by JNU, New Delhi.
  • In the management category, IIM Ahmedabad tops the list, followed by IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta in the second and third position.
  • In the medical category, AIIMS, New Delhi tops the list, followed by PGI Chandigarh.
  • In the newly introduced ‘dental’ category, ‘Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, Delhi’ has topped the list.

National Institutional Ranking Framework –

  • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was launched by the Minister of Human Resource Development on 29th September 2015.
  • This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
  • The parameters broadly coverTeaching, Learning and Resources,Research and Professional Practices,Graduation Outcomes,Outreach and Inclusivity andPerception.
  • NIRF rankings 2019 has been given under 9 categories: Overall, Universities, Engineering, Medical, Management, Law, Architecture, Pharmacy, Colleges and Dental. Till 2019, the rankings were made under 8 categories. In 2020, the ninth category of ‘dental’ was added in the list.

Daulat Beg Oldie Sector

Of the possible triggers cited for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) targeting of Indian territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is possibly the most consequential.

About Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Sector –

  • Running almost parallel to the LAC, the DSDBO road, meandering through elevations ranging between 13,000 ft and 16,000 ft, took India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) almost two decades to construct.
  • Its strategic importance is that it connects Leh to DBO, virtually at the base of the Karakoram Pass that separates China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.
  • DBO is the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh, in the area better known in Army parlance as Sub-Sector North.
  • DBO has the world’s highest airstrip, originally built during the 1962 war but abandoned until 2008, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the LAC, with the landing of an Antonov An-32.

Strategic significance of DBO

  • The DSDBO highway provides the Indian military access to the section of the Tibet-Xinjiang highway that passes through Aksai Chin. The road runs almost parallel to the LAC at Aksai Chin, the eastern ear of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state that China occupied in the 1950s, leading to the 1962 war in which India came off worse
  • To the west of DBO is the region where China abuts Pakistan in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, once a part of the erstwhile Kashmir principality. This is also the critical region where China is currently constructing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), to which India has objected.
  • An alternative route exists from Leh to Daulat Beg Oldie through the 17,500-ft-high Sasser Pass that was part of the ancient Silk Route connecting Leh to Yarkand. It leads from the Nubra Valley into the Upper Shyok Valley en route to China’s Karakoram Pass, indicating the topographical and strategic interlinking of the entire disputed region between India and China and to a lesser extent, Pakistan.

GM Seeds

Recently, Shetkari Sanghatana – the farmers’ union founded by the late leader Sharad Joshi – announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds. In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved.

What are genetically modified seeds?

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
  • Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
  • Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm. Ht Bt, on the other, cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
  • Across the world, GM variants of maize, canola and soyabean, too, are available.

Legal position of GM crops in India –

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
  • In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton.
  • More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1986.

Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?

In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.

What is the movement about?

The Sanghatana has announced that this year they are going to undertake large-scale sowing of unapproved GM crops like maize, Ht Bt cotton, soyabean and brinjal across Maharashtra. Farmers who plant such variants will put up boards on their fields proclaiming the GM nature of their crop. The movement aims to draw attention to the need for introduction of the latest technology in the fields.

Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890

The skirmishes and the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Naku La in Sikkim recently, in an area of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that is considered settled, may be Beijing’s way of attempting a new claim, said defence sources, highlighting the historic Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890 as proof of India’s ownership of the territory.

Details –

  • According to the Convention, the boundary in the area is based on the watershed principles.
  • Its Article 1 states, “The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. …follows the above mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nipal Territory.”
  • The Gazetteer of Sikkim in 1894, while describing the physical features of Sikkim, also mentions the boundary that runs along Naku la Chorten Nyima La.

What is the issue?

Although meetings between former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2003 and maps exchanged subsequently indicated that India recognised the Tibetan Autonomous Region as a part of China, and Beijing recognised Sikkim as a State of the Indian Union, the boundary at Sikkim while undisputed, remains undemarcated on the ground.

About Sikkim-Tibet Convention 1890 –

  • The Convention of 1890 was entered by the King of Great Britain on behalf of India before independence and around the time of independence, the Indian Independence (International Arrangement) Order, 1947 was notified by Secretariat of the Governor-General (Reforms) on August 14, 1947.
  • As per Article (1) of Convention of 1890, it was agreed that the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.
  • The second article recognised the British government’s control over Sikkim.
  • However, Tibet refused to recognise the validity of Convention of 1890 and further refused to carry into effect the provisions of the said Convention. In 1904, a treaty known as a Convention between Great Britain and Tibet was signed at Lhasa. 
  • As per the Convention, Tibet agreed to respect the Convention of 1890 and to recognise the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, as defined in Article (1) of the said Convention. On April 27, 1906, a treaty was signed between Great Britain and China at Peking, which confirmed the Convention of 1904 between Great Britain and Tibet.
  • The Order provided, inter alia, that the rights and obligations under all international agreements to which India is a party immediately before the appointed day will devolve upon the Dominion of India. Therefore, in terms of Order of 1947, the government of India is bound by the said Convention of 1890. However, India’s affirmation of the Convention of 1890 was limited to the alignment of the India-China border in Sikkim, based on watershed, and not with respect to any other aspects.
  • Both China and post-independence India followed the treaty and its boundary demarcation. It continued after Sikkim became a state of the Indian in 1975.

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